Mayo’s Great Western Greenway scoops top European award

Cycling and walking route recognised at international conference

Views of the Greenway in Westport, Co. Mayo. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Views of the Greenway in Westport, Co. Mayo. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Fri, Sep 13, 2013, 18:32

The Great Western Greenway in Mayo has been awarded first prize at a European greenways development competition in Portugal, beating off competition from Spain and the UK.

The project won in the exemplary initiatives category at the sixth European Greenways Awards Ceremony, which is taking place as part of an international greenway conference.

The Great Western Greenway (Westport-Newport-Mulranny-Achill) is a traffic-free cycling and walking route that follows the line of the old Great Western Railway, which closed in 1937.

“The Greenway is a classic example of taking an underused local asset, looking at it in a new way and exploiting its full potential for the betterment of the local community and economy,” said Fiona Monaghan, head of operations for Fáilte Ireland in the west.

Almost 160,000 trips have been recorded along the route since the beginning of 2013 with about 180,000 trips expected to take place by the end of the year.

“This is fabulous news for Co Mayo,”Minister of State for Tourism Michael Ring said. “The Greenway has transformed the Newport and Mulranny areas in terms of tourism performance while creating almost 40 jobs locally.”

The European Greenways Award aims to promote best practice and to support greenways projects across the continent.