The Limerick Greenway opens to the public this Thursday | PICTURES: Sean Curtin
THE Limerick Greenway - the 40km of scenic off-road walking and cycling route connecting the three market towns of Rathkeale, Newcastle West and Abbeyfeale - opens to the public today following a €5m upgrade.
Earmarked to be transformative for the region, the visionary project is the biggest outdoor tourism amenity project ever undertaken in Limerick by Limerick City and County Council.
Built along the former Limerick to Kerry train line, extensive works on Ireland’s newest tourism amenity include the restoration of two 19th century station houses at Ardagh and Barnagh, the renovation of the Barnagh Train Tunnel, and the complete resurfacing of the route.
The Greenway, which weaves its way through the traditional agricultural landscape of west Limerick, can be accessed from the towns and villages of Ardagh, Rathkeale, Newcastle West, Barnagh, Templeglantine and Abbeyfeale with each offering a wealth of shops, restaurants, cafes, public amenities, and accommodation options.
Commenting on the opening of the Limerick Greenway, Dr Pat Daly, chief executive of Limerick City and County Council said: “Trojan work has gone into making the opening of the Greenway possible this summer despite the pandemic. Although construction ceased earlier this year, causing significant delays to timelines, our ambition for the Greenway never faltered. Now due to the tireless work of so many, we are delighted to open it this week".
There Limerick Greenway has generated significant interest in West Limerick and it's hoped it will help balance investment across the county and give a boost to areas beyond the urban draw of Limerick city.
"The towns of Rathkeale, Newcastle West, and Abbeyfeale already have so much to offer, and the Greenway will be pivotal in assisting them, and the region as a whole, to thrive and flourish,” said Dr Daly.
The Limerick Greenway project has been led by the local authority with funding from the Department of Rural and Community Development, The Department of Transport and Fáilte Ireland.
Along the route, visitors can pass through the 115m Barnagh Train Tunnel and cross the cast-iron Ferguson’s Viaduct, both restored relics of the 19th century trainline. Visitors can also tour Desmond Castle in Newcastle West, visit the village of Ardagh where the iconic Ardagh Chalice was discovered, and explore the unique musical tradition of the Sliabh Luachra region in Abbeyfeale and Templeglantine.
Gordon Daly, Director of Service at Limerick City and County Council, said: “The past 16 months have shown the value of outdoor amenities, and the Limerick Greenway aligns with the Government’s strategy to invest in infrastructure that support healthy lifestyles and sustainable travel options. Running all the way from Rathkeale to Abbeyfeale, this fully accessible route will allow people from all over the country to safely explore and enjoy County Limerick."
He added that the Limerick Greenway, which will be officially opened later in the year, is also a strategically important piece of economic infrastructure for the region, and will provide a major boost for tourism this summer and in the years ahead.
"We are delighted to reach this milestone and welcome visitors to the Limerick Greenway this summer and look forward to an official opening ceremony for this project later this year.”
For more information, visit limerickgreenway.ie.
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