Supporting Rural Development in
Waterford County


Waterford LEADER Partnership fund repairs to St. Declan’s Way via the Walks Scheme

Waterford LEADER Partnership has funded essential repairs to the popular St. Declan’s Way trail, via the Department of Rural and Community Development Walks Scheme.

A section of St. Declan’s Way in Cush of Grange, Co. Waterford had been experiencing significant drainage issues, causing the trail to be wet, muddy and unpleasant for walkers.

To solve this, Waterford LEADER Partnership has funded the drainage and repair works on this trail via the Walks Scheme. Sections of the trail have been resurfaced, side drains have been cleared and a piped cross drain has been added to prevent further drainage issues on this section of the trail.

Waterford LEADER Partnership secured €10,000 funding for St. Declan’s Way in 2023 via the Department of Rural and Community Development Walks Scheme Development Fund.  This contributed to the repairs required on the trail.

Over 50 landowners are currently supported by Waterford LEADER Partnership via the Walks Scheme, to maintain the sections of trails which pass through their land.

The Walks Scheme contributes to the maintenance and development of walking and hiking trails across Co. Waterford, benefiting rural communities and economies.

For example, St. Declan’s Way attracts thousands of walkers each year and was recently described by the Irish Times as the “Irish Camino”.
Click here to read more about the St. Declan’s Way feature in the Irish Times.

Waterford LEADER Partnership will be supporting 12 more trails across Co. Waterford, in addition to St. Declan’s Way and the Anne Valley Walk in Dunhill, as the following trails will be joining the Walks Scheme this year:

  • Rathgormack Boolas Loop Walk
  • Ardmore Cliff Walk
  • Waterford Estuary Coastal Path: Dunmore East to Ballymacaw Cove Linear
  • The Nire Valley – Coumduala Loop, Coumlara Loop, the Gap and the Sgilloges
  • Mt. Melleray Pilgrim Paths – The Cross, The Grotto, The Source, The Well and Byrne’s Bridge

St. Declan’s Way featured in Irish Times as “The Irish Camino”.

St. Declan’s Way, Ireland’s longest Pilgrim Path at 115km, has caught national attention as the Irish Times describe the trail as “The Irish Camino”. The continued maintenance of this nationally significant trail is supported by Waterford LEADER Partnership.

The Irish Times describe St. Declan’s Way as a trail that could “rival the Spanish Camino with a walking experience based around slow-tourism and mindfulness”.

St. Declan’s Way provides opportunities to appreciate the varied landscapes of Co. Waterford, entering the county over the Knockmealdown Mountains, crossing lush countryside and ending in the seaside village of Ardmore.

52 landowners are supported by Waterford LEADER Partnership, via the Department of Rural and Community Development Walks Scheme, to maintain the sections of this iconic trail which pass through their land.

Waterford LEADER Partnership also contributed to the development of the St. Declan’s Way 5-year Strategic Plan via the LEADER Programme. The St. Declan’s Way Strategic Plan can be viewed here: St-Declans-Way-Strategic-Plan-_-2024-to-2028.pdf

Read more about the Irish Times exploration of St. Declan’s Way:

Photo Credit: The Irish Times, 2024.


Walks Scheme Development Fund – €20,000 awarded for the upgrade of trails in Co. Waterford.

Waterford Leader Partnership CLG was delighted with the recent announment from the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, on the upgrading of 43 walking and hiking trails across rural Ireland under the Walks Scheme, including 2 trails in Co. Waterford.

In Co. Waterford, the Anne Valley Walk has been awarded €10,000 for the resurfacing of a section of the trail. This work will ensure that the Anne Valley remains a multi-access trail, suitable for buggies, wheelchairs and all levels of walkers.

St. Declan’s Way has also been awarded €10,000 for the re-route of a section of the trail in Cappoquin. This re-route will take walkers off of a public road. Walkers will instead follow along the scenic Blackwater river.

This funding will further strengthen Co. Waterford’s outdoor recreation offering. The Walks Scheme Development Fund will enhance the trails, which are a fantastic amenity for local communities. The projects are also supporting local economies in rural Waterford through the use of local contractors and attracting tourism to small towns and villages across Waterford.

Launch of St Declan’s Way Strategic Plan 2024 -2028 on Friday, 5 April 2024

The Successful Launch of the St. Declan’s Way 5-Year Strategic Plan

Minister Mary Butler TD launched the St. Declan’s Way Strategic Plan 2024-2028 at a ceremony held in the Hall of the Vicar’s Choral in the scenic Rock of Cashel on Friday April 5th, 2024.

The event was very well-attended with over 65 people present at the launch which took place at the St. Declan’s Way trailhead, the Rock of Cashel. Many of the attendees were representatives of key stakeholders such as Waterford City and County Council, Tipperary County Council, Waterford Leader Partnership Clg., South Tipperary Development Co., Munster Vales, Fáilte Ireland, Visit Waterford, Tipperary Tourism, Knockmealdown Active, the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland, the Cistercian Order, local historians and a number of the 45 Walks Scheme participants along St. Declan’s Way in County Waterford.

Many key political representatives were also in attendance, including Minister Butler, Cathaoirleach of Tipperary County Council Gerard Darcy, Deputy TDs Marc O’Cathasaigh and Mattie McGrath, Senator Gareth Ahearne and elected councillors from both Waterford and Tipperary.

The strategic plan, partly financed by Waterford Leader Partnership and collaboratively authored by the St. Declan’s Way Steering Committee and Tourism Development International, sets out steps to raise the profile of this historic pilgrim route to greater national and international prominence.

The plan outlines a detailed roadmap for the trail’s development, including enhancing trail infrastructure, improving off-road paths, hiring a development manager and launching targeted marketing campaigns aimed at capturing the growing interest in walking tourism. With an estimated investment of €2.4 million, the plan envisions attracting over 20,000 walkers annually by 2029, aiming to generate a significant economic impact in rural Ireland, estimated at €35.4 million.

Words of support and congratulations for the St. Declan’s Way landowners, Steering Committee and other key stakeholders were issued by all speakers at the event. Speakers included Cllr Gerard Darcy, David McNulty of Tourism Development International, St. Declan’s Way Committee Chairperson Gráinne Moynihan, and Minister Butler.

The Minister praised the excellent work of the Committee and all the stakeholders involved for being the perfect example of “what can be achieved when people start working together for the good of the community”.

#Ourruralfuture #Leader #rurallife #trails 


Leader 2023 -2027 Targeted Call – CLOSED

A new round of LEADER funding is available under LEADER 2023-2027.

Please find details of the targeted call in the link below.

LEADER 2023 -2027 Targeted Call for Funding

Waterford Leader Partnership new CEO Christine Rossi

Waterford LEADER Partnership (WLP) has a new Chief Executive Officer. Christine Rossi joined WLP in 2021 and started in her new role on 2 January 2024 replacing her long-serving predecessor, Jimmy Taaffe. 

With 29 years’ experience working in Africa, Europe, Asia and Latin America, Christine is looking forward to this new challenge.

“I feel privileged to have this opportunity to make a tangible difference to rural development in County Waterford, together with the excellent team at WLP, the WLP board and local and national role-players,”

WLP delivers programmes on behalf of local and national government to address the needs of individuals and communities within County Waterford and in the case of Social Farming, the Southeast.

“I trust that my experience in the diplomatic service and more recently as Rural Recreation Officer for the Walks Scheme and Social Farming Development Officer will make a valuable contribution to the work of WLP.”

WLP is community-based and people centred, delivering on the following programmes: LEADER, the Rural Social Scheme, the Local Area Employment Scheme, the Tús Community Work Placement Scheme, the Walks Scheme and Social Farming.

“I particularly look forward to engaging and supporting individuals and groups on the ground who are participating or want to participate in our programmes.  I believe that close collaboration towards a joint goal can make a real difference.”


Cheers to a well-deserved retirement, Jimmy!

Last Friday was a momentous occasion as we marked the retirement of Mr Jimmy Taaffe from Waterford Leader Partnership CLG (WLP). For the past 32 years Jimmy has served as CEO of WLP and we sincerely thank him for his tremendous commitment and contributions to the company, County Waterford and beyond. Jimmy’ dedication, passion, and unwavering commitment over the years have been extraordinary and it certainly won’t be the same without him.

Newly elected Chair, Vice Chair and Company Secretary

WLP are delighted to introduce our newly elected Chair, Vice Chair, and Company Secretary:
Chair: Austin Flavin (Teagasc)
Vice Chair: Richard Hayes (SETU)
Company Secretary: Brid Kirby (WCCC)
We wish them every success in their new roles.

Thank You to Our Retiring Volunteer Board Members

It was with both sadness and immense gratitude that we bid farewell to our esteemed volunteer board members who have dedicated their time, passion, and expertise to Waterford Leader Partnership CLG over their years of service.

Mr Micheál Cosgrove  (IBEC),   Mr James Coughlan (IFA), Mr Donal Murphy (WCCC) and Mr Noel Hackett (WWETB).

Mr Austin Flavin, newly elected Chair made a presentation to each retiring Board member as a small token of appreciation of all their work on behalf of WLP.

Thank you for your invaluable contributions.