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  • Writer's pictureBill Hollingsworth

The Summer Cycle

Crashing into butterflies on the backroads of Kilkenny.

This is one of those lovely projects.

I was asked by Kilkenny Leader Partnership to help with marketing a trial bike hire scheme in County Kilkenny. The aim scheme is to encourage people to get out and about on the backroads of rural Kilkenny.

It involved two things I like doing; cycling and graphic design. The trial would have five hire hubs; Callan, Inistioge, Castlecomer, Windgap and Thomastown with both standard and electric bikes for hire, together offering a wide choice of routes and places of interest to explore right across the county. Each of the hubs had something individual to offer, whether it's the beauty of the Nore Valley, or, from the perhaps lesser-known villages of Windgap and Callan, access to the fantastic Lingaun Valley with its early Christian and pre-Christian sites. Our strategy was targeted at visitors to Kilkenny who were 'seeking something more undiscovered to tell their friends about'. These were likely urban - and definitely based on the island of Ireland (because travel was under heavy restrictions during the 2021 summer). Most of our activity therefore was to be online; using organic and paid search, optimising our web page kindly hosted on the Trail Kilkenny site, and an active social media campaign. We also aimed to attract visitors ' on the ground' in Kilkenny too, by using strategic print; local posters and signage and brochures tailored for each location.

We designed routes that had the specific aim of getting the cyclists out into deep countryside as quickly as possible. Some of the routes had a number of interesting sites that we could build into a route, such as a simple route from Windgap into the Lingaun Valley visiting the Knockroe Passage Tombs, the High High Crosses of Ahenny, Kilkieran and Killamery and the beautiful disused Ahenny Slate Quarry.

And some of the routes simply took you along beautiful quiet roads where the only living things you were likely to meet along the way were butterflies, pheasants and pine martens. We documented many of these routes - which involved the best bit, actually cycling the routes and to 'savour the sights and sounds of the real Kilkenny, and truly feel its magic'. Practically though, this had three functions; to test that the maps worked and were accurate, to gather a wealth of material for web and social media content and to create stories for Instagram that took the viewer virtually through the routes 'pedal by pedal'.

As we come to Autumn, things are slowly opening up and so the scheme has been extended until the end of October. So if you want to 'set yourself free on the backroads of Kilkenny’s beautiful and historic countryside' - get rolling. I can thoroughly recommend it. Instioge: Cois Abhann Community Centre 086 308 6996

Thomastown: The Tower House B&B 085 101 2754

Windgap: Lakeside Shop and Tea Rooms 051 626944

Callan: Steppes Bar 085 154 2775

Castlecomer: The Parlour 083 822 0601

Thanks to Colette Henry, super solid Strategic Planning; Alex Foster, Videography and roller skating (enhanced with the enthusiastic help of Molly Sterling and Amelia Caulfield); SEO & Grow, charting the complicated paths of SEO and Search; Nick Kelly, essential Copywriting and Hazel Shaw, mapping the Social Media Content.

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