Blueways Ireland Development and Management Guide

The Challenge

To recommend structures, processes and guidelines that will ensure Blueways in Ireland are sustainable, visitor focused and of a consistent high quality.

The Role

To advise the Blueways Ireland Working Group* on a number of key areas:

  • Critical success factors identified from international best practice in the area of water trail development
  • Suitable structures to coordinate and manage Blueway development in Ireland and Northern Ireland
  • Blueway Development and Management Guidelines

In order to deliver these objectives, we conducted the following:

  • In-depth research (desk and one-to-one research) with those responsible for the development, management and accreditation of water and land-based recreation trail networks including National Water Trails USA, Outdoors Finland, Scottish Canals, Great Glen Way, European Ramblers Association and Green Flag. The analysis of this research enabled the development of critical success factors
  • Consultation with current and potential Blueway Developers in Ireland to gain feedback into current challenges of Blueway development, key criteria for ensuring high quality Blueway development and training and support mechanism required
  • Consultation with industry stakeholders to identify roles, responsibilities and relevant criteria for aspects of Blueway development e.g. NPWS, National Governing Bodies, Inland Fisheries Ireland
  • Development of recommended process for Blueway accreditation and supporting structures for the management of this process
  • Development of a Blueways Ireland Management and Development Guide as a resource to assist developers to develop, manage and promote Blueways more effectively.

* The working group comprised Sport Ireland Trails, Waterways Ireland, Failte Ireland, Tourism Northern Ireland and Sport Northern Ireland.

The Results

Based on our recommendations, the Blueways Ireland Working Group conducted the following activity:

  • Formalised their structure into Blueways Ireland Partnership, Technical Advisory Panel and Accreditation Panel
  • Launched a formal accreditation and inspection process for Blueways in Ireland
  • Launched the Blueways Ireland Management and Development Guide (supported by a series of training workshops) https://www.sportireland.ie/sites/default/files/2019-10/blueway-management-development-guide.pdf
  • Recruited a Blueways Accreditation Inspector to undertake preliminary and accreditation inspections