We love good news. (Who doesn’t, you ask.) When it comes to visitor destinations and places of interest in Ireland, we are all ears, and always cheering for encouraging developments.
And this one is certainly something to cheer about. Age Friendly Ireland has awarded Age Friendly recognition to Beyond the Trees Avondale. Located in Avondale Forest Park, County Wicklow, this world class visitor destination had reopened its door in June 2022 following a €19 million redevelopment project by Coillte in partnership with Fáilte Ireland and EAK Ireland.
And now, Age Friendly has acknowledged it as the first age friendly tourist destination in the country. A case study publication was also launched today, outlining the work undertaken at Beyond the Trees Avondale.
It will now also be recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an international model of good practice for age friendly development.
If you have been to Avondale, you would have certainly done the stunning 700 metre Treetop Walk, and admired the views from the 12-story high Viewing Tower. In fact, it had been very popular during the summer with families queuing up to take in the panoramic 360-degree views over the Wicklow Mountains, the Avonmore River, and the Vale of Avoca. A lot of visitors had also posted glowing reviews about the gigantic 90m spiral slide that they took on their way back.
But coming back to the recognition, it has to be noted that under its Age Friendly Programme, Wicklow County Council, in partnership with the key stakeholders, co-ordinated the age friendly four stage process to ensure that older people’s needs were considered in the development. This work included consultation with a diverse range of older people and a walkability audit.
In undertaking the improvements, Beyond the Trees Avondale referenced the guidance material provided by Age Friendly Ireland for the development of outdoor space and buildings and the World Health Organisation’s checklist for age friendly cities and communities.
Speaking at the official recognition ceremony, Mary Butler TD, Minister for Mental Health and Older People, said: “I am delighted to be here at the Launch of Ireland’s First Age Friendly Tourist Destination Beyond the Trees Avondale. As Minister of State with responsibility for Mental Health and Older People, it is wonderful to be able to visit and see in person this extremely impressive world class amenity where you can journey through the forest and above the canopy of the trees. The Government is firmly committed to the Programme for Government goal of creating an Age Friendly Ireland and making Ireland a great place to live as we age. This age-friendly tourist destination brings us one step closer to achieving this goal.”
She added: “The importance of creating age-friendly public spaces cannot be overstated. Design that takes an age friendly perspective can help to create environments which provide enhanced access for all. By making our outdoor spaces pleasant, clean, accessible, and safe for older people, we can create inclusive communities and age-friendly spaces across the State for everyone. I would like to congratulate all involved in this project for creating this unique offering within the tourism sector that has been specially tailored to the experience of Ireland’s ageing population.”
If you have been to Avondale, or are planning a visit, and have something to share about your experience there, we are happy to hear from you.