Newly appointed tourism officer for Offaly, Olive Farrelly, says she's planning to focus on Offaly's 'big six' of Clonmacnoise, Tullamore Dew, the River Shannon, Slieve Bloom Mountains, Lough Boora and Birr Castle and Gardens to drive tourism.
In her new role just three weeks, Ms Farrelly was meeting with the Offaly Tourism Board for the first time last Thursday to discuss how to optimise on what Offaly has to offer.
"We have a strong brand in Ireland's Hidden Heartlands which was launched recently. Obviously we fall into the two main tourism drivers, Hidden Heartlands and Ireland's Ancient East, and while most of the county falls within Ireland's Ancient East, I think there's a real opportunity there for the west of the county to promote what it has to offer under the Hidden Heartlands tag.
"We will be focusing on our blueways and greenways, and of course the work has just commenced on the Slive Bloom Mountain Bike Trail, while work has also commenced on our greenway along the Grand Canal. The long term plan is to join The Shannon at Shannon Harbour with the greenway from Athlone at Clonmacnoise. Clonmacnoise obviously falls within the Ireland's Ancient East tourism brand, but we will be optimising on both. We're a perfect here in Offaly to make the county the cycling hub of the country because of our natural flatlands."
Olive says Failte Ireland will begin promotion of the Hidden Heartlands in July of this year, with funding will become available from next year, "so we will be looking to access revenue streams from that."
"We'll also be focusing on making the National Ploughing Championships this year, our last time to have them, the best yet, while we'll continue to improve the Tullamore Show with all of its many facets, and with a particular emphasis on artisan foods and producers this year.
"So I'm looking forward to getting stuck in and drive tourism in whatever way I can. There will be three of us on the team, so I think it's very positive for Offaly that we now have a team dedicated to promoting tourism in the area," she ends.