The Great Southern Greenway Limerick has the capacity to be a game-changer for tourism in the west of the county, an event to mark the commencement of the latest investment in the project heard.
Attended by Deputy Mayor of the City and County of Limerick, Cllr Michael Collins, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Minister Patrick O’Donovan and other public representatives, Friday’s event saw the commencement of the Barnagh Tunnel element of the project, by contractors working for Limerick City and County Council.
The Great Southern Greenway Limerick (GSGL) is already suitable for walking and cycling off road along a 39 kilometre stretch from Rathkeale to Newcastle West and onto Abbeyfeale. But this latest investment in the project will create an exciting new feature as an underpass is built under the N21 to link it with the Barnagh Railway Tunnel and onto the Barnagh viewing area.
The project will increase the safety of those using the GSGL who cross the N21 to the Barnagh viewing/picnic area and Barnagh Railway tunnel.
Limerick City and County Council received €2.7 million for the further development of the GSGL in December from the Rural Regeneration Development Fund (RRDF), with the Council also providing match funding.
Speaking at the event, Cllr Collins said that it will strengthen tourism in the region. “The Great Southern Greenway Limerick has the potential to be a game changer for tourism in West Limerick. Huge volumes of tourists pass through West Limerick on the way to Kerry and, while we already have plenty of reasons here for them to stop and enjoy this part of the county, the Great Southern Greenway Limerick is a compelling offering. The connection of the route to the Barnagh Tunnel is a huge plus for the greenway and it’s now up to us to promote this facility to the country and beyond.”
Speaking at the launch, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “I was really pleased to visit this beautiful stretch of the Great Southern Greenway, which I have no doubt will prove very popular with locals and visitors alike. It has huge potential to attract tourists from home and abroad, and will rival the greenways in Mayo and Waterford once completed.”
Gordon Daly, Director of Social Development, Limerick City and County Council said the Greenway had the potential to really boost tourism in Limerick. “The development of the Great Southern Greenway Limerick project is a huge boost to Limerick tourism. But it’s not just tourists. It will enhance the quality of life and services for people in the area by providing a fantastic leisure amenity for healthy activity.”
A range of upgrades already funded by Limerick City and County Council and the Hinterland fund have included crossing points, fencing, track surfacing, bridges and signage.
As well as joining two separate sections of greenway, Limerick City and County Council also intends to carry out two junction improvements at Ardagh and Rathkeale, to allow further ease of access onto the trail and to commence the resurfacing of the existing Greenway to bring it up to the national standard.
Failte Ireland has identified the development of 3,000km of cycle networks throughout Ireland which will serve both overseas and domestic visitors, and also the secondary target market of recreational cyclists.