Friday 28 April 2017

Green Light: Ireland's longest greenway opens in Waterford

#WaterfordGreenway

Cyclists on the Waterford Greenway
Cyclists on the Waterford Greenway
Mayor of Waterford, Cllr Adam Wyse with Reuben Moran-Davy (7), Leah Moran-Saunders (5) and Joshua Moran-Davy (10) from Passage East, Co Waterford.
A cyclist on the Waterford Greenway.
A viaduct along the Waterford Greenway, Ireland's longest off-road walking and cycling experience.
Leah Moran-Saunders (5), Joshua Moran-Davy (10) and Reuben Moran-Davy (7) from Passage East, Co Waterford. Picture: Patrick Browne
Kevin Dwyer, Grainne and Seán de Paor celebrate the opening of the Kilmacthomas to Dungarvan section of the Waterford Greenway. Picture: Patrick Browne
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Spooky tunnels, dramatic viaducts and Copper Coast views are all in store for walkers and cyclists on Ireland's newest greenway.

The Waterford Greenway, a 46km reboot of the Great Southern and Western Railway line, opens today as Ireland's longest off-road walking and cycling experience.

"When the sun is out, there's already been a kind of a Mediterranean feel with bikes lying around and people dallying and soaking up the atmosphere," says Helen O'Mahony, who runs O'Mahony's pub and shop in Durrow with her husband Tom.

The €15 million trail stretches from Waterford City to Dungarvan - with 11 bridges, three viaducts and a 400-metre tunnel dotting a swathe of coastal, forest and farmland landscapes that show An Déise off at its very best.

A cyclist on the Waterford Greenway.
A cyclist on the Waterford Greenway.

The route is 4km longer than Co Mayo's Great Western Greenway, the gold standard for Irish greenways, and businesses are already feeling a boost.

"It's made a difference - socially and economically," says O'Mahony, who has recently welcomed visitors from Wales, Scotland and England to her 150-year old pub.

Leah Moran-Saunders (5), Joshua Moran-Davy (10) and Reuben Moran-Davy (7) from Passage East, Co Waterford. Picture: Patrick Browne
Leah Moran-Saunders (5), Joshua Moran-Davy (10) and Reuben Moran-Davy (7) from Passage East, Co Waterford. Picture: Patrick Browne

"Before any signage went up, people seemed to have found out about it. I think social media does the trick."

Irish greenways have mushroomed since the success of the Westport to Achill trail, breathing new life into old railway lines and canal paths - and providing safe and scenic ways for both locals and visitors to experience the Irish outdoors.

Several new greenways are at various stages of development - albeit with plenty of land ownership and acquisition issues along the way.

Waterford's greenway was developed by Waterford City and County Council with the co-operation of local property owners and communities along the route, and supporting funding from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

A viaduct along the Waterford Greenway, Ireland's longest off-road walking and cycling experience.
A viaduct along the Waterford Greenway, Ireland's longest off-road walking and cycling experience.

"It's steeped in history and natural heritage," says Mayor of Waterford, Cllr Adam Wyse, who expressed his delight at seeing the railway "re-imagined" into an amenity 50 years since the last passenger train travelled the line.

The official launch takes place at Kilmacthomas Station House today, with festivities including multiple family-friendly events at Waterford Institute of Technology’s West Campus, the Dungarvan Causeway and Kilmacthomas village.

See visitwaterfordgreenway.com for more.

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