LIMERICK’S local authority has confirmed it is to take over operation of the 40km Great Southern Trail (GST).
Limerick City and County Council said it was assuming responsibility “for the management and maintenance of the Great Southern Trail” and outlined plans for the maintenance, promotion and development of the popular amenity, which runs along the old Limerick to Tralee railway line to the Kerry County boundary at Kilmorna via Abbeyfeale, Newcastle West and Rathkeale.
It comes as the Great Southern Trail Group ended its management of the greenway on Sunday, which had been done on a voluntary basis.
The Irish Sports Council has added the GST to the National Trails Scheme under the jurisdiction of the local authority, while a licence agreement has been signed with CIE to operate the amenity.
Mayor of the City and County of Limerick, Cllr Liam Galvin, who joined members of the local community in Newcastle West on Saturday to celebrate 25 years of the greenway’s management at the weekend, welcomed the news.
“The rolling green landscape of West Limerick, much of it untouched by development, has established the Great Southern Trail as a popular route for the outdoor enthusiast and casual walker alike,” he said.
“There had been real fears however, that the trail would be left without a proper management structure in place to maintain this very popular off-road walking and cycling route. I am delighted that Limerick City and County Council has stepped in and has committed to maintaining the trail into the future.
Mayor Galvin noted that the GST is an important feature of the local economy due to its popularity amongst domestic and international visitors, while it also “delivers significant health and social benefits” for the wider community.
“The Great Southern Trail makes its way through the West Limerick countryside giving walkers and cyclists the opportunity to stop off in towns and villages along the route including Rathkeale, Ardagh, Newcastle West, Templeglantine and Abbeyfeale. As well as providing a direct link between the communities in question, the route generates considerable business for the local economy. Therefore, I warmly welcome Limerick City and County Council’s decision to commit to managing the route going forward,” he added.
Mayor Galvin also paid tribute to the Great Southern Trail Limited, adding that he looked forward to their ongoing promotion of and support for the route.