The 40km Limerick Greenway is now open to the public | PICTURES: Sean Curtin / True Media
Carving a 40km path through the local countryside, the Limerick Greenway offers an authentic experience of rural Ireland to cyclists, runners and walkers.
Following the old Limerick to Kerry railway line, the Greenway seamlessly links West Limerick’s towns and villages with some fascinating heritage sites in between.
With plenty of family-friendly hotels, cafes, restaurants and activities along the way, the Limerick Greenway is perfect for a day out, or even an overnight stay for a holiday at home.
Whichever you choose, there will be a genuine welcome from the towns along the way, offering delicious food, fun activities and quality accommodation.
The Greenway weaves through West Limerick’s traditional agricultural landscape, linking the major towns of Rathkeale, Newcastle West and Abbeyfeale, taking in Ardagh, Barnagh, and Templeglantine along the way.
You can start the full route at Rathkeale or Abbeyfeale, or join at any of the entry points located at key stops along the Greenway. Along the way, you’ll walk through a Victorian Era railway tunnel, visit ancient castles and abbeys, bask in the solitude of a native forest, and meet the local people that make Limerick unique.
For a day trip, try picking one of the major towns of Rathkeale, Newcastle West, and Abbeyfeale and walk or cycle through the countryside to one of the smaller villages nearby.
For a holiday at home, why not book into one of the many B&Bs or hotels in one of the towns along the route? Take a journey along the Greenway each day, and take your time enjoying the cafes and the unique atmosphere West Limerick has to offer.
Rathkeale and Ardagh
A day or night spent in Rathkeale will give you a great introduction to what West Limerick and the Greenway have to offer. This busy town is steeped in local history and surrounded by natural beauty.
Following the old Limerick to Kerry railway line, the Greenway itself starts at the former Rathkeale Station, now home to the Irish Palatine Heritage Centre, which explores the lives and influence of a group of German refugees who made Limerick their home.
The countryside around Rathkeale is rural Ireland at its best, and the Greenway is the perfect way to explore it. The first stage of the Greenway will take you through lush rural farmland towards the village of Ardagh, a vibrant rural community.
The landscape around Ardagh is dotted with ancient ringforts, and the Greenway will take you close to the spot where the iconic Ardagh Chalice was discovered in 1868.
The chalice is held in pride of place at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, and a replica can be seen at the Hunt Museum in Limerick City.
Head off from Ardagh and you’ll soon arrive at Newcastle West, Limerick’s largest town.
As well as offering boutique shops, local pubs and restaurants for rest, relaxation and retail therapy, the town is also a renowned spot for fishing, golf, and horse riding. If you’re planning on doing the whole Greenway, Newcastle West is the perfect place to break the journey and stay the night in one of its many hotels and B&Bs.
The town is steeped in local history too, with Desmond Castle, which dates back to the 13th century, and the Castle Demesne park, a 100-acre garden once used by the Earls of Desmond and now open for the public to enjoy.
Free, guided tours of the castle are available, and make sure to check out the Castle Demesne public park too, which is full of family-friendly amenities, including a skatepark
Newcastle West also has a historic town square. In pride of place is a statue of Michael Hartnett, a famed Irish poet who hailed from Newcastle West. Each year, he is commemorated at the Éigse Michael Hartnett literary and arts festival.
Famed aviator Lady Mary Heath grew up in the square of Newcastle West. She went on to become a trailblazer in the male-dominated world of flight in the early 20th century, completing the first ever solo flight from Cape Town to London in 1928
The ascent to Barnagh begins at Newcastle West, offering amazing views of the landscape of Limerick and the surrounding areas, while letting you experience some fascinating relics of the golden age of railway travel.
Barnagh Station was once one of the highest points of the old Irish railway system and was an important stop for steam trains to replenish their water tanks after negotiating the steep terrain in the Sliabh Luachra area.
The station house is typical of the architectural design of the period, and was purchased and renovated by Limerick City and County Council in 2020/21.
Further on, you’ll pass through Barnagh Tunnel, another Victorian Era railway innovation. At 115-metres long, the tunnel once allowed trains to traverse the steep peak of Barnagh. Closed for decades, it has recently been restored by Limerick City and County Council along with Barnagh Station House and both can now be seen up close by the public.
At the top of Barnagh, you can rest at the picnic area, look out over the plains of Limerick and take stock of your journey so far. There is also a privately run Greenway services hub at Barnagh.
Templeglantine and Abbeyfeale
After Barnagh, the next stop is Templeglantine, a welcoming village with a shop and hotel. The village is home to Holy Trinity Church, built in 1829 and one of the oldest churches still in use in the region.
Just outside Templeglantine is Tullig Wood, a tranquil forest rich in native flora and fauna. Take a rest underneath the oak and ash trees and watch out for the willow warblers and chiffchaffs that live in their branches.
The natural surroundings of Tullig Wood soon give way to bustling Abbeyfeale, one of the most culturally unique towns in the region. As part of the Sliabh Luachra tradition, Abbeyfeale is a hub for Irish music and dance, and home to the Glórach Theatre and the annual Fleadh by the Feale festival.
As the final town on the Limerick Greenway, it’s a great place to spend the night and take in a trad session at one of the many local pubs.
There’s plenty of local history to be seen too. Starting at the statue of local hero Fr William Casey in the town square, you can follow the heritage trail, indicated by blue plaques around the town that commemorate the people, places and events that made Abbeyfeale the town it is today.
Visit limerickgreenway.ie to plan your visit today or follow on Facebook and Instagram.
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