The Limerick Greenway, the newly renovated 40km scenic off-road walking and cycling route connecting the three market towns of Rathkeale, Newcastle West and Abbeyfeale, opens to the public today (1 July). Earmarked to be transformative for the region, the €10 million visionary project is the biggest outdoor tourism amenity project ever undertaken in Limerick by Limerick City and County Council.
Built along the former Limerick to Kerry train line, extensive works on Ireland’s newest tourism amenity include the restoration of two 19th century station houses at Ardagh and Barnagh, the renovation of the Barnagh Train Tunnel, and the complete resurfacing of the route. Weaving its way through West Limerick’s traditional agricultural landscape, the Greenway can be accessed from the towns and villages of Ardagh, Rathkeale, Newcastle West, Barnagh, Templeglantine and Abbeyfeale, with a wealth of shops, restaurants, cafes, public amenities and accommodation options.
Limerick City and County Council Chief Executive Pat Daly said: “Trojan work has gone into making the opening of the Greenway possible this summer despite the pandemic. Although construction ceased earlier this year, causing significant delays to timelines, our ambition for the Greenway never faltered. Now, due to the tireless work of so many, we are delighted to open it this week.
“Stretching through the rural countryside of West Limerick, the Greenway will help to balance investment across the county and give a boost to areas beyond the urban draw of Limerick city. The towns of Rathkeale, Newcastle West and Abbeyfeale already have so much to offer, and the Greenway will be pivotal in assisting them, and the region as a whole, to thrive and flourish”
The Limerick Greenway project has been led by Limerick City and County Council with funding from the Department of Rural and Community Development, Department of Transport and Fáilte Ireland. Along the route, visitors can pass through the 115m Barnagh Train Tunnel and cross the cast-iron Ferguson’s Viaduct, both restored relics of the 19th century trainline. Visitors can also tour Desmond Castle in Newcastle West, visit the village of Ardagh where the iconic Ardagh Chalice was discovered, and explore the unique musical tradition of the Sliabh Luachra region in Abbeyfeale and Templeglantine.
Activities across the region include fishing on the River Deel in Rathkeale, golf and horse riding in Newcastle West, and public parks and playgrounds, including a skatepark at Castle Demesne in Newcastle West.
Gordon Daly, Director of Service at Limerick City and County Council, said: “The past 16 months have shown the value of outdoor amenities, and the Limerick Greenway aligns with the Government’s strategy to invest in infrastructure that supports healthy lifestyles and sustainable travel options. Running all the way from Rathkeale to Abbeyfeale, this fully accessible route will allow people from all over the country to safely explore and enjoy County Limerick.
“The Greenway is also a strategically important piece of economic infrastructure for the region, and will provide a major boost for tourism this summer and in the years ahead, creating jobs and supporting local communities. We are delighted to reach this milestone and welcome visitors to the Limerick Greenway this summer and look forward to an official opening ceremony for the project later this year.”