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A greenway plan across rail route could be tourism gem


The opening of a demonstration stretch of a new cross border greenway could prove to be a significant long term tourism boost for Sligo.

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross was on hand last week to open a section of the demonstration stretch of the Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway (SLNCR) Greenway from Cornacloy to Sradrine near Glenfarne.

He said: "Increasingly we are looking to market Ireland as an activity tourism destination and Greenways are an important part of that offering.

"The SLNCR Greenway project as a whole has great potential. If it were to be completed, it could have economic benefits for the many communities it encompasses and would enable people to walk and cycle on a segregated route from Sligo in the Republic to Enniskillen in County Fermanagh."

DUP leader Arlene Foster was amongst the guests who attended the launch at the Ballroom of Romance in Glenfarne.

The length of the proposed greenway to run along the former Sligo, Leitrim and Northern counties railway is 72 kilometres and will cost an estimated €11 million to complete over the next seven years or so.

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Sligo, Leitrim and Fermanagh and Omagh District councils are backing the project.

The proposed rail trail will convert the disused railway route between Collooney and Enniskillen into a multi-use rail trail for cyclists, walkers and the mobility challenged.

It would start at Collooney and pass through Ballintogher, Dromahair, Glenfarne, Blacklion and Enniskillen.

Councillor Marie Casserly, who was instrumental in organising for Minister Ross to come to Glenfarne to open the demonstration stretch of the route said she was proud to be involved with the cross border project.

"I am proud to be involved with this cross border show of support for the SLNCR Greenway project, with plans to develop a 74km Greenway running from Sligo through counties Leitrim and Cavan and into Enniskillen in Fermanagh.

"With the uncertainty of Brexit it is vital now more than ever to support fantastic cross border projects such as this one.

"A 2km demonstration stretch was officially opened near Glenfarne by Minister Ross and Arlene Foster. According to Leitrim County Council's cost benefit analysis the finished Greenway will result in an economic boost in the region of €7 million locally in the first year of opening creating 227 full time jobs in the area as well as resulting in 100 jobs in its construction.

I wish to pay tribute to the staff of both local authorities of Sligo and Leitrim for working on and progressing this project," she said.

The greenway encompassing 57km within the Republic and 18km in Fermanagh.

Funding of €300,000 was received from Transport Infrastructure Ireland enabling the development of the 2km demonstration stretch of greenway along the N16 from Cornacloy to Sradrine in County Leitrim.

An application for the developmental costs of €635,000 for the entire SLNCR Greenway project was submitted to DTTAS in November 2018 under the National and Regional Greenways Fund. The application was submitted by Leitrim County Council in conjunction with Sligo County Council and Cavan County Council.

The application is requesting funding for the development of the project to construction stage and it is anticipated that a full funding application for construction of the Greenway would be submitted in 2020.