The Future is Bright for Ballyhoura, as it Becomes Part of Fáilte Ireland’s ‘Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands’ brand

The stunning Ballyhoura region, situated at the crossroads of Munster, looks set to build on its reputation as an up-and-coming outdoor activity destination. This follows Fáilte Ireland’s recent extension of the Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands tourism brand to include the rural region, which incorporates areas of south and east Co Limerick and part of north Co Cork.

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Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands offers myriad possibilities for visitors to get active in nature, and to uncover hidden gems–be that places, people or experiences–by getting off the beaten track and enjoying the offerings of its region at the visitors’ own pace. Ballyhoura Country is an area with a wide-open landscape of hiking and bike trails, significant heritage sites, thrilling outdoor activities, and rustic accommodations…and did we mention the friendliest of people? This makes it a perfect addition to Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, and a simply wonderful place to uncover this part of rural Ireland.

“Fáilte Ireland believes there is a strong alignment between the Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands brand proposition, which centres around being ‘active in nature’, and the tourism offering of the Ballyhoura area, in particular visitor experiences such as the Ballyhoura Mountain Biking Centre.” Paddy Matthews, Head of Operations, Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands.

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Ballyhoura Country, named after a local mountain range, is an inland, predominantly rural area in the mid-west of Ireland. It consists of 54 local communities across south and east Limerick and north Cork on the borders of Limerick, Cork and Tipperary, which is beautifully styled as The Crossroads of Munster. The small market town of Kilfinane is the beating heart of the region, while nearest large urban centres are the cities of Cork and Limerick, approx. 60 km and 40 km respectively from the town.

Traditionally an agricultural area, Ballyhoura Country emerged as an authentic rural tourism destination in 1986 due to the efforts of Ballyhoura Fáilte - Ireland's first community tourism cooperative, whose main objective is to enhance the region as a rural tourism destination to benefit and promote the welfare of local communities and to prevent social and economic disadvantage.

Between 2019 and 2022, Ballyhoura was part of Fáilte Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way regional brand, and previously was part of Ireland’s Ancient East. The local tourism trade, as well as the visitor experiences, felt that these brand identities didn’t quite fit with Ballyhoura’s tourism offering, and the decision to move to the much better-aligned Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands brand, is an exciting one for local tourism and hospitality businesses, who will now have a far greater opportunity to maximise their tourism business and to align naturally with the true identity of this very authentic rural destination.

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Margaret Atalla, Ballyhoura Fáilte DAC chairperson and owner of Deebert House Hotel in Kilmallock:

“As Chairperson of Ballyhoura Fáilte DAC, I am delighted with the inclusion of the Ballyhoura region in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands. Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands proposition centres around being ‘Active in Nature’, and Ballyhoura fits naturally into this proposition. Working with Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands will enhance the visitor experiences and strengthen our tourism offering whilst putting Ballyhoura Country firmly on the map.”

Marie Healy, Regional Development Officer at Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands team is a dedicated officer responsible for the Ballyhoura area:

“The inclusion of the Ballyhoura area is a seamless addition to the Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands brand area at the southern end of the region. Furthermore, the inclusion of east County Limerick will also further align the Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands brand area with the geography associated with the Shannon Tourism Masterplan which was published last year.”

Jana Mannion, Tourism Marketing Officer for Ballyhoura Country:

“We are very much looking forward to working with Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands team on optimising the tourism potential and opportunities of Ballyhoura Country over the coming years.”