Dublin to Galway cycle link proposal
MINISTER FOR Transport Leo Varadkar has instructed the National Roads Authority to examine possible routes for a cross-country cycle path from Dublin to Galway, similar to the award-winning Great Western Greenway in Co Mayo.
Mr Varadkar, who is also responsible for tourism and sport, said he wanted to secure funding for the project he predicted had the potential to bring in at least €15 million per annum. While a proposed route remained to be decided, the Royal Canal was an “obvious candidate” for the stretch outside Dublin from Mullingar to Maynooth, he said.
The National Transport Authority is already funding detailed design work for sections along the Royal Canal in Dublin, while funding of €600,000 has been allocated to develop the Royal Canal path from Blanchardstown to Ashtown. The NTA and local authorities are considering how to extend this to Maynooth.
Mr Varadkar said funding from his department had already extended the Grand Canal cycle scheme through the south docklands to Sheriff Street.
“A national off-road cycle trail would be a first for Ireland and would be a great tourism asset. I have instructed the National Roads Authority and the National Transport Authority to start planning for the project,” he said.
“Cycling holidays are already hugely popular in Europe. If we can secure necessary levels of funding, I would love to see this project being completed within the next few years.
“It has the potential to bring in at least €15 million per annum, much of that going straight into local businesses along the route.”
Mr Varadkar said the proposed Galway-Dublin facility should be open to walkers as well as cyclists, like the Great Western Greenway. The Co Mayo route runs along the line of the disused Westport to Achill railway track, which closed in 1937. At 42km (26 miles) it is the longest such facility in the country.
Mr Varadkar cycled the route when he was in Westport for the Fine Gael “think-in” recently, while colleagues climbed Croagh Patrick.