Just Transition approves €99k for new Baylin bog trail

Flashback to last year - Baylin Development Association members pictured after the first Christmas Lights were turned on in the village. Pictured are from left to right, Ciaran Noonan,Tom King, Michael Connolly, Catherine Collins, Chairperson, Tom Stuart Trainor, Jimmy Duignan, Brian Lawless, Cllr Frankie Keena, and James Hatton. Missing from the photo were Leo Buckley and Michael McMahon

Exciting plans for a new looped bog walking trail linking Baylin village and the adjoining bog, which is part of the Carn Bog Special Area of Conservation (SAC), have taken a major jump forward following approval of €99,450 from the Just Transition Fund.

Work is expected to begin within weeks on the first phase of the new 2.61 km route, according to Baylin Development Association. It starts in the village before heading out on the Mount Temple Road and then cuts in onto a bog road and back out on the Tully Road.

“The committee is delighted to have been successful in our application to the Just Transition Fund. This new bog trail will be a great boost to the Baylin community, providing a great walking and educational amenity for local residents, school children and visitors alike,” the group said this week, thanking everyone for their great interest and energy to get the project off the ground.

Welcoming the news, Cllr Frankie Keena, a member of the group, paid tribute to Michael Connolly, who first came up with the idea for the Baylin bog trail, and Catherine Collins, the Chairperson.

The work to be done to put the new amenity in place includes surface restoration and access control to the existing gravel bog road which is 1.13km long, construction of 250m of footpath linking the north end of the bog road to the existing footpaths in Baylin village.

The remaining sections of the looped trail comprise of 590m of existing village footpaths and 640m of a minor local public road.

The project also provides for additional works along the bog road consisting of the removal of dumped waste to licensed waste facilities, erection of access styles at each end, and provision of information signs and seats.

A map of the Baylin bog trail. The route starts in the village and cuts across the bog via the route marked in pink.

The local group believes the location of the existing bog road adjacent to Baylin village gives a unique opportunity to open up easy access to a protected natural environment and creates opportunities for social interaction, education and awareness-raising in relation to the biodiversity of this important site.

A protected SAC, Carn Park Bog contains a substantial area of active raised bog and is typical of the midland raised bog type, with hummock/hollow complexes, pools and Sphagnum lawns. The diversity of Sphagnum species is notably high and includes the nationally rare Sphagnum pulchrum, according to Baylin Development Association.

No turf-cutting has been permitted on the bog for several years.

The grant of over €99,000 comprises of 85% of the estimated cost of the works, with the remainder coming from local funding which the group will have to raise.

It is anticipated that works will commence in the coming weeks and be completed in two phases. The second phase covers the construction of the footpath link to the village, and this is earmarked for completion in February and March.

Concluding, Cllr Frankie Keena said Baylin Development Association, with the aid of a TUS worker, maintains the village to a very high standard and they are working hard on new initiatives to enhance the area.

“For instance, last year our project was the provision of a 270m footpath on the Twyford road in conjunction with Westmeath County Council which was funded under a Community Involvement Scheme.

“This year, committee member Michael Connolly came up with the marvellous idea of developing a loop bog walking trail around the village. The energy, enthusiasm and commitment from every member of the committee to make this exciting project become a reality was marvellous," he said, thanking Westmeath County Council for all of their help, and the wider community for their support.

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