Towpaths and greenways


Sir, – Paddy Woodworth (inadvertently, I trust) gives too much oxygen to the Nimby view in his piece “Grass or tarmac? The towpath debate” (Weekend Review, June 10th).

The opinion of a handful of locals who oppose having the peace and quiet of their locality disturbed by tourists, or by the jobs that go with them, is the narrative that has made most of the running in this debate over the last year or so. It is far from the full picture.

The success of the recently opened Deise Greenway in Waterford has shown that greenways don’t just create superb and safe amenities for families and people who like fresh air and exercise, but they bring jobs too, often to the places that need them the most. There are plans afoot to extend the Deise trail back to New Ross, a stone’s throw from St Mullins at the end of the Barrow Way. Using publicly owned land along the Barrow and Grand Canal corridors, a long trail could connect the heart of Dublin to Dungarvan and beyond, finally delivering the mileage that sustains the kind of tourism business that is the norm in European countries.

Such infrastructure doesn’t have to impact negatively on the environment. The banks of the Barrow already have an overgrown roadway, the towpath that was built to allow horse drawn barges to ply the navigation. The Waterways Ireland proposal to restore some of this strip still leaves plenty of room for plants and wildlife.

The choice on the Barrow is between the desire of a local (and vocal) minority to prevent change, and the creation of a superb amenity for the people of Ireland that will also create jobs and sustain services for the same people who are now so firmly opposed to it. Once it is built, the controversy will be a nine-day wonder and people will question what all the fuss was about. If in doubt, ask any of the councillors in Waterford who were intransigently opposed to the construction of the Deise Greenway, but who still smilingly took their seats at the official opening in March. There isn’t a peep out of them now. – Yours, etc,


Boyle, Co Roscommon.