Carving a 40km path through the local countryside, the Limerick Greenway offers an authentic experience of rural Ireland to cyclists, runners and walkers. Following the old Limerick to Kerry railway line, the Greenway seamlessly links West Limerick’s towns and villages with some fascinating heritage sites in between.
Perfect for day-trippers or short breaks, you can experience the Limerick Greenway in one visit or explore in shorter stages. Whichever you choose, there will be a genuine welcome from the towns along the way, offering delicious food, fun activities and quality accommodation.
Rathkeale to Newcastle West
A day or night spent in Rathkeale will give you a great introduction to what West Limerick and the Greenway have to offer. This busy town is steeped in local history and surrounded by natural beauty.
You’ll see the ruins of Rathkeale abbey, which dates to the early 13th century and two fascinating churches, St Mary’s and Holy Trinity, showing the range of architecture on offer in the region. Following the old Limerick to Kerry railway line, the Greenway itself starts at the former Rathkeale Station, now home to the Irish Palatine Heritage Centre, which explores the lives and influence of a group of German refugees who made Limerick their home.
The first stage of the Greenway will take you through lush rural farmland towards the village of Ardagh, a vibrant rural community. The landscape around Ardagh is dotted with ancient ringforts, and the Greenway will take you close to the spot where the iconic Ardagh Chalice was discovered in 1868. The chalice is held in pride of place at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, and a replica can be seen at the Hunt Museum in Limerick City.
Newcastle West to Barnagh
Head off from Ardagh and you’ll soon arrive at Newcastle West, Limerick’s largest town.
As well as offering boutique shops, local pubs and restaurants for rest, relaxation and retail therapy, the town is also a renowned spot for fishing, golf, and horse riding. Newcastle West is also the perfect place to break the journey and stay the night in one of its many B&Bs and hotel.
The town is steeped in local history too, with Desmond Castle, which dates back to the 13th century, and the Castle Demesne park, a 100-acre garden once used by the Earls of Desmond and now open for the public to enjoy.
The ascent to Barnagh begins at Newcastle West, and offers amazing views of the landscape of Limerick and the surrounding areas. The Greenway will take you over Ferguson’s Viaduct, a cast-iron rail bridge that has stood over Garryduff since 1880.
Further on, you’ll pass through Barnagh Tunnel, another Victorian Era railway innovation. At 115-metres long, the tunnel once allowed trains to traverse the steep peak of Barnagh. Closed for decades, it has recently been restored by Limerick City and County Council along with Barnagh Station House and both can now be seen up close by the public. At the top of Barnagh, you can rest at the picnic area, look out over the plains of Limerick and take stock of your journey so far. There is also a privately run Greenway services hub at Barnagh
Barnagh to Abbeyfeale
After Barnagh, the next stop is Templeglantine, a welcoming village with a shop and hotel. The village is home to Holy Trinity Church, built in 1829 and one of the oldest churches still in use in the region. Just outside Templeglantine is Tullig Wood, a tranquil forest rich in native flora and fauna. Take a rest underneath the oak and ash trees and watch out for the willow warblers and chiffchaffs that live in their branches.
The natural surroundings of Tullig Wood soon give way to bustling Abbeyfeale, one of the most culturally unique towns in the region. As part of the Sliabh Luachra tradition, Abbeyfeale is a hub for Irish music and dance, and home to the Glórach Theatre and the annual Fleadh by the Feale festival. As the final town on the Limerick Greenway, it’s a great place to spend the night and take in a trad session at one of the many local pubs.
There’s plenty of local history to be seen too. Starting at the statue of local hero Fr William Casey in the town square, you can follow the heritage trail, indicated by blue plaques around the town that commemorate the people, places and events that made Abbeyfeale the town it is today.
Just outside Abbeyfeale, you’ll see the ruins of Port Castle, known locally as ‘Purt Castle’, which guarded a ford on the River Feale. The Limerick Greenway then comes to an end at the Kerry border, where further adventure awaits.