Walking and cycling route from Dublin to Galway planned

Shane Ross announces €53m National Greenway Strategy in Co Westmeath

Cyclists on the Waterford Greenway, the longest off-road walking and cycling experience in Ireland. File photograph: John Foley

Cyclists on the Waterford Greenway, the longest off-road walking and cycling experience in Ireland. File photograph: John Foley

 

A walking and cycling route stretching from Dublin to Galway is hoped to form the centrepiece of the Government’s National Greenway Strategy.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross announced the strategy at the Old Rail Trail in Moate, Co Westmeath, on Friday afternoon.

He praised Minister of State at the Department of Transport Brendan Griffin for promoting greenways. “Without him we wouldn’t have €53 million for the next three years, by the end of 2021, to be spent on greenways in this country when they were almost unthought of in this country six or seven years ago,” he remarked.

Mr Ross said funding applications will open shortly and close in November, with funding being allocated next year. “It is certainly our ambition that there will be at least one greenway that is coast to coast,” he said, later explaining that tourism research indicted the need for such a project and stating his preference for a Dublin to Galway route.

“It is most important that there is at least one icon project on which the others can be built and that is what the research shows,” he remarked. This is something that is going to appeal to a large number of people and benefit the midlands and the Hidden Heartlands, he said.

Noting previous landowner concerns, Mr Ross said: “we have had problems in the past. We are absolutely determined that any insensitivities that were shown by people involved, particularly to the farming community, will be resolved. We do accept that in the past there might have been insensitivities . . . We are starting again, I hope, with a clean sheet.”

Minister of State at the Office of Public Works Kevin “Boxer” Moran said he was very encouraged to hear about the project. He praised councillors and stakeholders across the country for their work. “Today is a massive day for the Moate area, but it is also for the midlands and nationally,” said Mr Moran. The projects would be beneficial to a rural Ireland which is now seeing “green shoots” but Mr Moran said, “we are not finished, we have a lot more work to do and we will do it together.”

Mr Griffin said the greenway strategy offered enormous potential and the old railway infrastructure, which once took people from their homes, now symbolises an opportunity for the communities to stay in their own areas.