Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Thursday 8 December 2016

Trails there for taking

Published 02/08/2011 | 05:00

Build it and they will come; sustainable tourism development for rural Ireland.

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Here's how to do it.

Link Galway and Sligo by combining disused railways with cycle lanes, to join the existing road-based cycle trail through Donegal and Sligo. This will create a total of 260 miles of linked trails and a linear route of some 170 miles that connects Derry to Galway via Sligo.

Connect this route to Dublin along the Royal Canal Way and via minor roads and lanes to Charlestown in Mayo, and extend it on to the existing successful greenway from Newport to Achill.

Create walking and cycling paths through Donegal to Derry on the old rail lines, moving cyclists gradually off the roads and on to the pathways as sections are completed.

The existing walking route along the Grand Canal from Dublin to Athy should be upgraded for cyclists, and extended along the beautiful Barrow Way to St Mullin in Wexford.

Extend the Abbeyfeale-Rathkeale trail to Tralee and Limerick.

Limerick will soon be connected to Nenagh by dedicated cycle lanes along the old Dublin road; it would be easy to extend this route to join the Barrow Way, making the south-west accessible to cyclists leaving Dublin.

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The Boyne Canal is being restored; the project should incorporate a cycle path that would link Drogheda to Navan via Newgrange and the Battle of the Boyne site, with a future link via Trim to the Royal Canal Way.

The estimated cost of a project to connect Dublin, Galway, Sligo and Donegal is €20-25m, applying costings from the Mayo Greenway project.

Savings might be made by using a lower but adequate specification.

A combination of EU co-funding and various existing schemes could deliver this infrastructure at very little net cost to the taxpayer; it just needs decisive leadership, as well as a buy-in from local communities.

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