Chairperson : Máire George.
Secretary: Bernie Mullins
Treasurer: Eileen Murphy
Historic Town of Ballon brings local history to life in Ireland’s Ancient East
As part of the Town and Village programme operated by Carlow County Council a heritage and tree trail of Ballon Village was launched last Thursday night in the Old School House, Ballon, one of eleven heritage sites featured along the trails. The local community organisation, Ballon Improvement Group has uncovered interesting and lesser known stories from the area’s history for the visitor to enjoy, with content being displayed through interpretative storytelling panels featuring photography and maps, along with heritage plaques and way finding directional signage.
Commenting on the initiative Máire George, Chairperson of Ballon Improvement Group stated “we are very grateful to the Town and Village programme for this opportunity to interpret and present the fascinating history of Ballon in a dedicated heritage trail. As a community we are also committed to preserving our local environment and presenting the rich bio-diversity around the village. The Town and Village programme has facilitated high quality signage for each of our twelve stops along the Ballon Native Tree Trail. These initiatives allow us to encourage visitors to nearby Altamont Gardens and the cluster of other great attractions in the local area to stop and spend some time in the village”.
The heritage and tree trails feature 23 interpretative plaques which present a concise synopsis of each attraction and native tree while three large storytelling panels present a map of the main heritage sites, locations for the tree trail in the village and the story of the Lecky family graveyard in Ballykealy. Decorative directional poles and finger signs direct visitors between each site.
Chairperson of Carlow Tourism Cllr. John Murphy noted “the rich storytelling aspects associated with Ireland’s Ancient East will be brought to life with the development of this heritage and tree trail of Ballon. At the heart of Irish tourism are local communities and areas whose history and heritage is of great interest to both domestic and overseas travellers. These trails present real storytelling gems from that of Ballon Hill to the visit of the legendary parliamentarian Charles Stewart Parnell to Ballon for the 1891 Carlow By-Election and the fascinating history of the nearby Lecky family of Ballykealy House at their family burial ground. Carlow Tourism in conjunction with Carlow County Council and Ballon Improvement Group was delighted to work on this exciting project which adds to the richness of the visitor’s experience while in the area with a message which reinforces the importance and understanding of the new tourism brand for the region, Ireland’s Ancient East”.
Kathleen Holohan, Chief Executive with Carlow County Council said “government policy indicates that the greatest potential tourism offering over the next ten years is within local communities. The Town and Village programme provides an ideal foundation for communities to develop quality tourism experiences that meet and, ideally exceed the needs and expectations of our visitors. To date Carlow County Council has facilitated a total investment of €2.7 million across 28 different projects, with tourism an important element of each”.