New virtual guide for Nire Valley in Waterford available in Irish and English

9 Jul 2012

Danielle McGrath helps launch the Nire Valley app. Seated behind her is 87-year-old John Coffey, 90-year-old Denis McGrath and RTÉ broadcaster and walking enthusiast John Murray

Waterford technology company ZolkC has created a new smartphone app in both Irish and English to virtually guide visitors when they are exploring the Nire Valley in the Comeragh Mountains in Co Waterford.

The app will be available to download from 16 July, initially for Android users on Google’s app marketplace Google Play, followed by the Apple App Store.

Nire Valley Trail Guide has been created by ZolkC, a Waterford-based company that creates audio-visual guides and interactive technology, and is the result of a collaboration between Waterford County Council, Fáilte Ireland, the Comeragh Mountains Forum and Nire Valley Tourism.

According to ZolkC, itself a spin-out from Waterford Institute of Technology’s Telecommunications Software and Systems Group, the app will act as a virtual guide for tourists who visit west Waterford, helping them navigate four new Nire Valley walking trails.

Nire Valley runs into the Comeragh Mountains, meeting them under the Nire lakes. Inhabited since the Early Bronze Age, the valley is glaciated and contains six of the 16 lakes found in the Comeraghs.

Local walking guide Michael Desmond said the creation of the app also led to the discovery of some old traditional songs that had nearly been forgotten.

“When I was researching our local history for the app I met two senior residents who started singing tunes from times past. We took the opportunity to record them and they can be heard on the app, ensuring the songs will be there for future generations.”

Trails range in distance from 6km to 9km, taking walkers through lake, mountain and valley scenery, according to ZolkC.

The company has already created multi-media guides that are being used in tourist sites, such as Wexford’s Ros Tapestries, the Dunbrody Famine Ship in New Ross, Co Wexford, Scotland’s Loch Ness, the Scottish Highland’s Culloden Battlefield site and the Jasper Tramway in Alberta, Canada.

The Nire Valley app will cost €1.99 and users will be able download walks maps that will link them to restaurants and accommodation in the valley.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic