THE 40km Limerick Greenway, stretching from Rathkeale to the Kerry border, was officially opened on Friday, November 5 by Mayor of Limerick City and County Daniel Butler.
County Limerick TDs Niall Collins, Minister of State with responsibility for Skills and Further Education and Patrick O’Donovan, Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works were also in attendance.
Mayor Daniel Butler unveiled a commemorative plaque in memory of all those who built and worked on the former Limerick-Kerry Railway.
The plaque, made by local stonemasons W O’Connor and Sons, of Newcastle West is engraved with a photograph of Locomotive No. 186 climbing Barnagh Bank on June 5 1972.
The inscription reads:
I gcuimhne ar gach duine a thóg agus a d’oibrigh ar an iar-Iarnród Luimnigh-Chiarraí
In memory of all those who built and worked on the former Limerick-Kerry Railway
Minister Patrick O’Donovan (FG) said: “For me this is a really proud day too because my family are a railway family. My great grandfather Michael Whelan came to Newcastle West from Kenmare to work on the old Great Southern and Western Railway over 100 years ago, and his family became rooted in the local community here. So when I became Minister with responsibility for Tourism, I immediately made investment in this a priority for me and the Department.
“I’m delighted that we’ve reached this historic milestone today. It marks the rebirth of the historic Great Southern and Western Railway here in Limerick giving it a new vibrant future for all the communities it winds its way through on its way through our beautiful landscape here. A proud day for all of us.”
Minister Niall Collins said: “I am delighted to be here today for the official launch of this fantastic new Greenway in Limerick, the local community had great vision in developing this route over the years and it is wonderful to see the Local authority now bring it to a European standard.”
Almost a quarter of a million people have visited the Limerick Greenway since it opened to the public on July 1. The Greenway is Limerick City and County Council’s largest outdoor tourism amenity.
Connecting the towns and villages of Rathkeale, Newcastle West, Ardagh, Templeglantine and Abbeyfeale, the €10 million investment has provided a strategic piece of sustainable travel infrastructure and a tourism amenity, which will support local community development socially, culturally and economically.
The busiest day recorded was Sunday 29 August with 5,230 cyclists and pedestrians enjoying the Greenway.
Mayor of the City and County of Limerick Cllr Daniel Butler said: “These figures show that the Limerick Greenway has already become a hugely important amenity in the west of the county and with locals and visitors alike remarking at how good the Greenway is its potential is unlimited.”
“Local communities along the Limerick Greenway have played an important role in its development and ultimately its success. Their passion and belief give the Greenway an authenticity that visitors can enjoy through the people who live here.”
“It is heartening also to note that we are not resting on our laurels with the Greenway but there are future plans for further development along the route.”
Gordon Daly, Director of Community, Tourism & Culture with Limerick City and County Council said: “This investment has provided a strategic piece of sustainable travel infrastructure and a tourism amenity, which will support local community development socially, culturally and economically. We will continue to develop and harness the potential of the Limerick Greenway for the betterment of all people in Limerick.”
Limerick City and County Council led the project with the support of the Department for Rural and Community Development, the Department of Housing Local Government and Heritage, the Department of Transport and Fáilte Ireland.
The project is funded through the LEADER programme and managed by West Limerick Resources. Built on the former Limerick to Kerry train line, the extensive works carried out include the restoration of two 19th century station houses at Ardagh and Barnagh, the renovation of the Barnagh Train Tunnel, the complete reconstruction and resurfacing of the route and installation of new signage, benches and discovery points.