Landowners in Cork will be contacted over the coming weeks as Cork County Council advances plans to open former rail routes to walkers and cyclists.
The local authority has secured National Cycle Network funding to develop its plans for the West Cork Railway Greenway project.
Abandoned rail lines linking Cork to Kinsale and Ballinascarthy to Courtmacsherry will be the initial focus of 180km of former rail lines around west Cork.
The Greenways project could boost tourism to the region in the form of off-road cycling holidays, while providing alternative transport links to a string of towns and villages on the tourist trail, council officials said.
The county council's Greenways project manager, Clare Cronin, pointed to the success of the Great Western Greenway in Mayo, where landowners have given their permission to develop the Greenway under a "permissive access agreement" resulting in a major boost to the local economy.
Ms Cronin said the proposed development would only be possible with the goodwill, generosity and support of the landowners along the route.
The former rail lines pass a number of iconic structures including Chetwynd Viaduct, Halfway Viaduct and the Ballinhassig Tunnel.
Cork County Council secured seed funding of €30,000 for the two projects, allowing it to proceed with plans to submit a proposal under the next round of the National Cycle Network Funding Programme (2014- 2016), scheduled for autumn.