The allocation of €8 million by the Government towards the €15 million cost of a greenway in east Cork has been welcomed by local politicians.
Mayor of Cork County, Cllr Christopher O'Sullivan said the decision to provide the funding for the MY (Mideton-Youghal) Greenway would help ensure the greenway is built.
The proposed 23km long greenway will be developed along the route of the disused railway line between Midleton and Youghal, incorporating stop-off points at the former stations in the villages of Mogeely and Killeagh.
The project has an estimated potential to attract close to 250,000 visitors annually and to boost tourism in the area.
"On the week where we welcome Ireland's Full Ironman to Cork with Youghal playing centre stage, it is fantastic to receive today's confirmation of MY Greenway, " said Mr O'Sullivan.
Cork County Council chief executive Tim Lucey also welcomed the funding and paid tribute to the council's in-house team for bringing the project to this stage.
“This award of €8 million, coupled with a potential additional equivalent investment by Cork County Council, will enable the delivery of this significant project”.
Mr Lucey said planning for the proposed Midleton to Youghal Greenway was approved in January 2019 and negotiations with Irish Rail and CIE Group Properties are underway in order to secure a licence to develop and maintain the Greenway.
He said the route had a favourable topography for cyclists which would appeal to leisure walkers and cyclists.
The Greenway will traverse Ballyvergan Marsh near Youghal where it is proposed to create a boardwalk structure over a distance of approximately 2.58km. This will form a wildlife viewing point over this varied habitat.
The council received over 300 submissions from the public in relation to the project and support from several local councillors. The Green Party in East Cork had opposed the move and said efforts should be made to try and re-open the rail line for commuter services to Cork city.
Newly elected Green Party Cllr Liam Quaide from Youghal said traffic congestion was a major issue for thousands of commuters travelling the N25 from East Cork to Cork city daily and a commuter train service from Youghal to link up with the Midleton rail service offered a sensible solution.
The rail line between Midleton and Youghal opened in 1860 with regular passenger services operating daily until 1963 before they were reduced to a popular summer Sunday service which ran until 1987 with all freight services ceasing a year later in 1988.
Cork County Council Senior Executive Officer for Rural Development, Sean O’Callaghan said while
the council expected construction to take 18-24 months, it was possible the greenway would be operational by 2021 and he was confident it would attract similar 250,000 users per annum as happens with the Waterford Greenway.