Minister announces funding of €11m for 78 greenways across Ireland

Some €800,000 will go to projects in Co Mayo including Westport-Achill greenway

 Greenway in Westport, Co Mayo: the amenity is to receive €200,000 in funding for an extension.  Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Greenway in Westport, Co Mayo: the amenity is to receive €200,000 in funding for an extension. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Almost 80 walking and cycling greenways and trails across rural Ireland are to be developed and upgraded with €11 million in funding announced on Tuesday.

Among the projects is a €200,00 extension of the Westport to Achill greenway in Co Mayo and a walkway/cycleway at Mallow Castle grounds in Co Cork, which will also receive €200,000.

About a quarter of overseas tourists took part in some level of hiking or cross-country walking last year

It is a “a tremendous investment in the future of Ireland”, Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring said as he announced funding details for the 78 projects. The second phase of the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme is a joint initiative between the Government and Fáilte Ireland.

Mr Ring described competition for greenway/walkway funds from local communities nationwide as hugely competitive. “Every area in the country is now fighting for funding”, he said. “Communities realise the benefits of activity tourism”.

About a quarter of overseas tourists took part in some level of hiking or cross-country walking last year, equating to 2.3 million tourists, the Minister added. A further 451,000 overseas tourists took part in cycling activities, he said.

Some €800,000 of the funds will go to greenway projects in Co Mayo including €200,000 for phase two of Bower’s walk in Ballinrobe; €200,000 for the further upgrading of the Bangor Trail as well as funding for the provision of a suspended bridge linking Ballycroy and Geesala.

Development plans

Other notable projects include, the Great Arch trail from Pollet to Fanad Head in Donegal (€136,000); the development of an outdoor activity hub in Graiguenamanagh, Co Kilkenny (€124,000); a pedestrian walkway from Cashel to the Rock of Cashel and Hore Abbey in Co Tipperary (€200,000); the development of the Boyne greenway in Drogheda, Co Louth (€200,000); bike docking stations across the Carlow countryside (20,000); and the development of an “eco” park in Portumna, Co Galway (€100,000).

Mr Ring pointed out that greenway activity is also attracting local people out into the outdoors in large numbers. He said a survey of users on the Waterford greenway, Ireland’s longest off-road cycling and walking trail, indicated that almost two thirds of users are local people.

Fáilte Ireland’s director of strategic development Orla Carroll welcomed the announcement and said it is one of their strategic objectives to ensure that the economic benefits of tourism are spread regionally across the country.