Using the Masterplan to Develop the Sliabh Beagh Area

Posted by Cathy Bennett on Mar 25, 2021

Funding is needed to develop the area. The Sliabh Beagh area is a beautiful amenity in North Monaghan that has been underdeveloped and underfunded. The Sliabh Beagh Masterplan has been created with ideas to develop and enhance the area. These ideas need funding to be progressed.


Business, Development Group, Natural Resources, Climate Action, Biodiversity, Youth Development, Local Services, Health And Wellbeing, Circular Economy, Children And Families, Food & Drink, Tourism

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Cathy Bennett

Thanks Carol for this information. I have been part of all this great work that is presently going on with Monaghan County Council, so I therefore hope to see big changes in the next years. This training course for the Sliabh Beagh is in addition and very supportive to all the good work the Council are doing.
Innovating communities is concentrating on organising tours, so we are reaching out to community groups and businesses to come on board to be part of the tours that will also help the Councils develop the Sliabh Beagh Masterplan.

Carol Lambe

The Masterplan started out as an initiative of the local authorities on both sides of the border coming together and asking the communities up on the mountain what they could do to support them. It transpired that while many of the communities had ideas and plans, they were finding it difficult to get traction on their plans and turn them into funded projects, because the funding agencies weren't sharing their vision for the region. And that was because it wasn't written down anywhere. The local authorities agreed to fund a consultancy to come in and work with the communities to develop a vision and framework which would cover all the projects that the 14 communities spread across the mountain were developing. It also looked forward, beyond where the communities currently were, and looked at the potential of the region, and at issues such as climate change and how the region would need to respond to their impact. The result is a very, very good Masterplan.

Monaghan County Council has put together a cross border team to drive the Masterplan forward. It comprises representatives from the 3 local authorities which cover the region, as well as reps from the communities. This body will generate projects and manage funding for the benefit of all areas across the region.

Already, a sculpture of the biblical character Bith, after whom the region is named, has been commissioned and placed on the mountain, funding has been secured for upgrading the walking trails on the RoI side, and an application has been made to the ORIS scheme for funding to create an outdoor activity hub at Knockatallon. This will serve as the kick-off point to explore the region from the RoI.

So, the branding work has started. An Taisce recently purchased all of Lord Rossmore's hunting grounds on the mountain, and have plans to develop it into a wildlife reserve. This is very much compatible with the Masterplan's ambitions to sensitively develop the region as an eco-tourism destination of high quality. It is home to a number of protected and rare species, including the hen harrier, the curlew and the marsh fritillary butterfly, as well as being a blanket bog in very good condition and one of only a handful of water sources left in Ireland still rated as being of excellent quality.

There is an INTERREG IVA project on the mountain at the moment, which is focusing on restoring the blanket bog habitat - CAAN (google it, it has its own website). So there's lots going on, and all of it very positive.

Una Coyle

There is a great Dark Sky Park in Davagh Forest Park Cookstown NI, along with Mountain Bike Trails and Glamping Pods. Maybe one to review and learn from.

Carol Lambe

Perhaps the starting point is to form teams around each area in the Masterplan. For example, there is an area in the Masterplan focused on setting up a Dark Sky Park. Gathering together a group of volunteers who are interested in the night sky would be a good place to start. They could research the steps required to become a recognised Dark Sky Park with the International Dark Skies Association, talk to Kerry and Mayo, who are already established, make a calendar of astronomical events and plan some activities out on Sliabh Beagh to coincide with some of those events to get the ball rolling. For example, the county library team held a talk with an Irish astronaut in Knockatallon during Science Week a couple of years ago. There is an active rambling club out on Sliabh Beagh - might their walk leaders organise a night time ramble to take people up onto the mountain during a meteorite shower? There is funding available to Councils to replace street lighting with less polluting types

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