THE official opening of the Cellmount Loop in Dromillihy was a proud day for the people of Connonagh, as this enhanced recreational amenity is already proving a firm favourite with both locals and visitors alike.
Cutting the ribbon to officially open the amenity was then Mayor of County Cork, Ms Barbara Murray, who was very complimentary of all involved in the project – from Connonagh Community Development Association to the various agencies and local businesses – for their support.
The County Mayor was joined on the speakers’ podium by a representative from each of the funding agencies and by Mairin McCarthy, chair of the Connonagh Community Development Association.
There was a marvellous turnout for the event, estimated at between 250 and 300 people of all ages.
After the official opening ceremony, entertainment and guided walks were provided. Light refreshments, music and chat were enjoyed later on at the Morris Arms, in Connonagh village.
The work at Dromillihy Wood consisted of draining and the upgrading of the already existing pathways in the wood, along with the construction of a new section, creating a pleasant, all-weather looped walk suitable for all ages. A number of information points were created, seating was installed along the route and the picnic area in the car park has been greatly upgraded.
The 1.6km Cellmount Loop takes 30 to 40 minutes to complete – depending on how quickly one negotiates what local wags have dubbed as ‘Heart Attack Hill’ at the start!
Without doubt this all-inclusive project has brought new life and energy to the village of Connonagh and it is hoped it will encourage the next generation to be actively involved in village life and its future development.
As the old and wise Irish saying goes: ‘Ní neart go cur le chéile’ – in unity there is strength!
THE Cellmount Loop project in Dromillihy Woods in the parish of Leap beside the N71, one kilometre west of Connonagh village in West Cork, is indeed a worthwhile project that has harnessed a great deal of community spirit and endeavour.
Dromillihy Wood is approximately 81 acres in area. It is an old woodland site, which has been consistently wooded since the 1830s. The walk is named the Cellmount Loop after Cellmount House, which was a large house in the wood that was part of the Morris Estate.
The Morris family were Cromwellian settlers who were the main land lords for this area and one of the local pubs takes its name from them. A very small section of the Cellmount House ruins can be seen along the route and has been marked with a point of information sign.
Some trees in the wood were harvested during the ‘Emergency’ of World War II. It was replanted with commercial conifers in the early 1950s and these were harvested in 2003, after which Coillte allocated the area for leisure use.
The wood today contains mixed broadleaf species including oak, beech, rowan, birch, holly and hazel. One of its outstanding features is the carpet of bluebells and wild garlic in April and May. Its wide and varied plant life includes ferns, foxglove, honeysuckle, bilberry, wood sorrel, woodrush and several other native species.
Wildlife comprises of foxes, badgers, rabbits, otters, dippers, herons, jays, pigeons, barn owls along with a wide variety of native Irish songbirds. The importance of preserving the flora and fauna for the current and future generations is a major consideration for those involved in the Cellmount Loop project.
CONNONAGH Community Development Association was born out of a need to keep the tiny village situated on the N71 route through West Cork, halfway between Leap and Rosscarbery, vibrant.
The catalyst was the closure of the local creamery branch, which was the only shop in the village and a meeting place for locals. Also, the bus stop in Connonagh was being removed and a group of community-minded individuals formed an association to rejuvenate the village and re-foster community spirit locally.
The first obvious manifestation of this was the landscaping of the roadsides leading into Connonagh from both east and west. They succeeded in having the bus stop restored and they ran a number of socials and Christmas parties for the elderly.
The most ambitious project they embarked on was to try to link the Coillte-owned Dromillihy Wood to the village with a pathway, but this presented a number of logistical difficulties. The alternative was the refurbishment of the walking trails through the wood and the idea of the Cellmount Loop was conceived.
Funding for the project under the NeighbourWood was first sought in 2010, but refused. Eventually, towards the end of last year, the money was sanctioned and, allied with a very generous donation from Drinagh Co-Op, topped up by contributions from Cork County Council and the Gwendoline Harold Barry Trust, and guided by the expertise of Coillte and the Forest Service, work began.
It involved the clearing and improvement of the pathways through the wood, new signage and picnic furniture to cater for all abilities and upgrading the existing car park. Connonagh Community Development Association has put a major amount of time and effort to see this project through with a great deal of voluntary work at the planning phase and then at the finishing stage again to get this wonderful amenity they can be proud of open for the 2013 tourist season.
Among the people involved in the project are Maureen O’Donovan, Clare Graham, Paul Kingston, Mairead Jennings, Tony McCarthy, Mary O’Driscoll and Margaret O’Driscoll.
CONNONAGH Community Development Association, before progressing their ambitious Cellmount Loop Walk project, had to identify a number of sources of finance to help pay for materials and machinery and to augment all the voluntary work.
According to association, they were grateful to get valuable financial assistance from:
The Neighbourwood Scheme of The Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine –
Cork County Council –
The Gwendoline Harold Barry Trust
Drinagh Co-Op –
Coillte – who own the woods, were involved at all stages of the walk’s development and were an invaluable source of support, knowledge and encouragement for the Connonagh Community Development Association.
The Southern Star is delighted to nominate the Cellmount Loop walk in West Cork as a project for consideration for the national Get Involved community initiative as part of Local Newspaper Week 2013.
The Cellmount Loop is a woodland walk being developed by Connonagh Community Development Association in Dromillihy Wood, at the side of the N71 route adjacent to the village of Connonagh. The walk takes its name from Cellmount House, a large house in the wood that was part of the Morris Estate.
The aims of this project are:
- to upgrade and expand the existing amenity car park, making it more
- visible and inviting from the main road
- upgrade the picnic area including an all-ability picnic table
- develop a 1.6km looped, way-marked trail
- install recreational signage and a number of nature information points
There was a considerable amount of community involvement in the conception and advance planning of the project, having got the owners of the wood, Coillte, on board and the Neighbourwood Scheme, run by the Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, involved.
Sources of financial assistance for the project were identified, ranging from statutory bodies to a charitable trust and local businesses. All of those who contribute will be acknowledged in due course.
The key to the success of the Cellmount Loop project is voluntary community involvement and people locally were urged to help out by giving of their time and talents to get the work done.
This walk in Dromillihy Wood will provide a fantastic community amenity – an attractive, safe and family-friendly walk for locals and visitors alike, which will be eco-friendly and sustainable and provide a tourism spin-off for the locality.