Tourism services in Clare have teamed up with Google to provide Street View access to some of the most remote and picturesque sites in the county.
Clare Local Development Company borrowed the Street View equipment, which allowed walkers to capture scenic photographs with the Google Trekker, a 42-pound backpack containing 15 lenses, the result of which is 360-degree panoramic views of some of Clare’s most famous landscapes.
It’s the first Irish project using Google’s Trekker Loan Program, a collaboration between Google and organisations, like tourist boards, which are invited to use Google technology to capture images in areas which are not usually accessible by the Google Street View team.
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The project was a joint effort from Clare County Council, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Fáilte Ireland and Shannon Development. Local farmers also helped out, as many of the treks cross farmland.
The Trekker is one of several pieces of equipment Google uses for Street View imagery. Others include the well-known cars and trikes, trolleys, and snowmobiles.
Eoin Hogan, rural recreation officer for Clare Local Development Company, said their motivation for getting involved in the programme was to enable them to showcase “our stunning native landscape and inspire a wider audience to come and visit the county’s trail for themselves.
“Over the period of three weeks and 46km, we collected 21 hours, or 1,260 minutes of footage from six key trails.”
The project was fairly extensive covering areas that are not accessible by vehicles and ensuring that remote ares are now covered comprehensively by the mapping tool. The Cliffs of Moher 12km coastal walk from Liscannor to Doolin has been documented. Other loop walks, farm tracks, and sandy paths around Clare that were captured include the Lough Avalla Loop through a working farm; the Ballycuggeran Loop overlooking Lough Derg and the O’Brien’s Bridge trail of canal towpaths and riverbanks.
It is hoped that the documentation will make it easier for trekkers to walk the routes and encourage more people to explore these areas. Of course, it will also allow armchair travelers to see exactly what they're missing out on.