As last Saturday’s sun saw people across the country venturing out to enjoy all that was on offer West Limerick community groups and businesses were exploring oppor-tunities to further enhance the areas heritage and recreational offerings at a half day workshop in the Courtenay Lodge Hotel, Newcastle West. Entitled “Accessing Leader Fund-ing for Rural Recreation and Heritage Projects,” the seminar officially launched West Limerick Resources animation initiative which will see dedicated specialists working on the ground to animate and encourage development of a broad range of countryside recreational and heritage projects under LEADER’s Rural Development Programme. Speaking at the event, keynote speaker John McKenna of the Bridgestone Guide, stressed that the most important aspect of rural tourism is finding your “Unique Selling Point” – what West Limerick has to offer that cannot be found anywhere else. While Mr. McKenna gave examples of local food produce unique to the area, he highlighted that every sector has something to offer that makes it unique – the trick is to first identify it and then to capitalise on it. He along with the other speakers on the day, which included West Limerick Resources new Countryside Recrea-tion Animators and Local Heritage Animator, spoke of the need to offer a West Limerick Tourism Package and to enhance the identity of West Limerick from a social, cultural and recreational perspective, both for the benefit of the local community and from a tourism and economic perspective.

The animators, who have been working on the ground for just over a month, have already identified a number of initiatives with significant potential but all agree that there is as yet a lot of untapped potential in the West Limerick area. “Significant LEADER funding is available to support and fund a wide variety of projects in West Limerick in 2012 and 2013,” explained Joan Casey of West Limerick Resources. “We are keen that new projects and initiatives are encouraged and supported. Ultimately, we hope to translate good ideas into sustainable projects and jobs on the ground.” To download presentations from the event visit: http://www.wlr.ie/rdp-presentations/ or contact Deirdre Lewis, WLR Countryside Recreation Animator at dlewis@slrconsulting.com or Mary Dillon, WLR Heritage Animator at mary.c.dillon@gmail.com or call WLR on 069 62222.