Pioneers of Limerick Greenway to reenact their first walk

Great Southern Trail founder Liam O'Mahony on the Limerick Greenway

BACK in 2013, a group of pioneers set out on a walk along the disused railway track from Abbeyfeale to the borders of Kerry to mark the 50th anniversary of the last time a passenger train travelled on the line.

Their commemorative walk planted the seeds that would blossom into a multi-million euro Greenway that is proving a joy for locals and visitors to the area.

That first outing saw the walkers do battle not just with mud and overgrowth but with some landowners who erected  barricades as they didn’t want the Irish Rail owned route opened up and the event resulted in a heated exchange of views.

Now work on the route has been officially funded and members of the Great Southern Trail Group plan to reenact those first steps on the route which, it it is hoped, will be finished and officially opened this summer.

“Back then , the whole idea of using the disused rail tracks as a public walkway was a new one. Now Greenways have become a much more popular concept,” Liam O’Mahony, Chairman of the Great Southern Trail told the Limerick Post.

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Members have campaigned to keep what is known in railway jargon as the Permanent Way open so that the walks follow the original trails that are now disused and in many places were in danger of becoming extinguished even though they were owned by Irish Rail.

The group was  given their first break in the campaign to open the routes to public use when work went ahead to lay fiberoptic cables along the route taken by the tracks.

“Some of the worst overgrowth was cut back and land dug up to lay the cables,” Liam explained.

The fact that there were cables laid, confirmed the land was in private ownership so that it could not be claimed by other landowners.

When the latest work is finished to the Kerry border, it will  mean there will be 50 kilometres of greenway opened for public use.

“On that first anniversary walk, we stopped afterwards in a local pub for refreshments and we plan to retrace our steps and do that again once the latest section is finished,” said Liam.

Tongue firmly in cheek, he added, “We might even organise for another barricade to be erected at the border, which is what greeted us on the first walk.”