THURSDAY’S fine weather brought walkers and cyclists out in large numbers, all eager to enjoy the re-opening of the Limerick Greenway and to see for themselves the improvements made.
“It’s a fantastic job,” declared Denis O’Connor, who lives just yards away from the greenway at Barnagh. And his grandsons, Caiden and Finn Broderick from Croom were in agreement. “This is our first time here. It is a lovely place, very quiet and relaxing,” said 13-year-old Caiden. Their grandmother,Maureen, was also enthusiastic. “I think it is a great idea for children cycling. They are safe,” she said. “You can’t walk the roads anymore.”
“It is brilliant,” beamed Heleen McNamara who was cycling her brand new bike at the Barnagh underpass. “I only got it yesterday, “ she grinned. Originally from Holland, and now living in Askeaton, she said: “I am in my element today.”
Fiona Hennessy, from Ardagh was walking the Barnagh stretch with her son Evan and friends Erin and Megan from Carrigkerry. “We go in at Ardagh all the time. Just today we came here, “ she said. The greenway allows Evan to cycle safely while she and her friends walk along but Evan, she added, was “the pacemaker”.
Christina Sayers was also stretching her range along with daughters Eimear and Amy O’Keeffe. “We are between Duagh and Abbeyfeale and normally cycle,” she said. But on Thursday, they were walking to explore the Barnagh Tunnel.
“I was on it when nobody else was on it,” declared Ann-Marie Leonard, who used to hop over the wall and nip through the fields to the old railway line at Ballaugh, outside Abbeyfeale. That was when the sleepers were still down, she said. She and friend Jacqui Lyons and Jacqui’s children Sophie and Darragh were loving the experience of the renovated greenway and the re-opened Barnagh Gardens and Tea Rooms.
“It is a brilliant amenity,” said Mary O’Connell who came from Killarney for the day to try out the new greenway . She had, she said, been following progress on Facebook and had already cycled the Mayo Greenway. On Thursday, she and friend, Nora Murphy, originally a Feenagh woman now living in Kerry, were cycling from Abbeyfeale to Newcastle West and back again.
For Mary Hartigan, however, it was more a case of revisiting old haunts. Mary and her late brother Larry were born and reared in Barnagh Station House, where her father, Denis Murphy worked. “A lot of people associate the station with the people who came and went,” she told the Limerick Leader as she stood outside the beautifully restored station house which was once her home. “But it was way more than that. It was more like a post-office. Nobody had a phone. Nobody had a car. There were just four phones in Templeglantine in 1961,” she explained, “so they came here if they wanted a doctor or a vet. They came here to my dad. He would ring my uncle, Tim Whelan in Newcastle West who would get on to Dr O’Brien.” If a prescription were needed, station master Denis Hartnett would be summoned to the chemist’s in Newcastle West and bring the medicine back to Templeglantine, often on the last train at night.
Her dad, she continued, used to keep a big fire down in the waiting room in winter and often provided mugs of tea to those waiting, Ms Hartigan continued. And he kept award-winning flower gardens at both ends of the station house.
Also recalling memories was Liam O’Mahony, chairman of the Great Southern Trail Group which pioneered the transformation of the old railway line as a greenway. He was walking from Templeglantine to Newcastle West and stopping off at Barnagh Gardens where, he recalled the group’s first event, the launching of a leaflet, took place 30 years ago. “I am very impressed with the increased accessibility,” he said of the upgraded trail.
For Aoife and Eamonn Foley, however, Thursday signalled a leap of faith in the future. With a bike business already up and running in Abbeyfeale, they have opened Locomotion Bike at Barnagh where bikes for all ages are available for hire. And they hope shortly to have disability trikes and wheelchair platform bikes also available for hire so that people of all abilities can enjoy a cycle along the smooth, new tarmac of the greenway. “
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