Royal Canal Greenway setback to delay Dublin to Athlone route until 2021

An existing walking and cycling path along the Royal Canal in Dublin 15.

A delay in planning an 8km section of the Royal Canal Greenway means that the 130km Dublin to Athlone Greenway will likely not be finished until 2021 at the earliest.

In 2012 then transport minister Leo Varadkar said the coast-to-coast Dublin to Galway greenway would be open by 2020. By 2015, when opposition grew to compulsory purchasing land in County Galway, then transport Minister Paschal Donohoe paused the route west of the Shannon.

Priority was given to the Dublin to Athlone section of the route — this included the disused railway between Athlone and Longford and the Royal Canal Greenway between Longford and Dublin.

However, yesterday it was confirmed that one section of the canal greenway in the Fingal County Council area won’t be even going to the planning permission stage until 2020 — with tendering and construction this could mean the route might not be open until 2021 or later, which is after the original opening year for the full Dublin to Galway route.

Local councillor Roderic O’Gorman (Green Party) said he was disappointed with the delay on Twitter he said he “will put in a motion for next meeting to get clarity on the reason for delay.”

Here’s Cllr O’Gorman’s question to and answer from council officials on the timetable for the council’s section of the route:

Sections of the Royal Canal Greenway in the Dublin City Council area have planning permission but has also been delayed by various reasons including permissions from Waterways Ireland and railway safety authorities where the route crosses a railway.

I am editor of IrishCycle.com and have reported on and commented on cycling in Ireland for over a decade. My background is in journalism -- I have a BA in Journalism from DCU and HDip in Print Journalism from BCFE. I wrote about cycling for national newspapers, and then started CyclingInDublin.com for overflow stories. Later the website was re-branded to reflect a more national focus.

9 Comments

  1. Never mind, eh. Plenty of new roads being built for vastly greater sums of money, chewing up vastly greater tracks of land and being finished far far far quicker than any piece of cycle infra. I wonder why that is.

  2. waterways Ireland does not seem to be in favour of any leisure use of the towpaths as seen in the use of gates to make any use by anything other than ordinary cycles impossible. They need to be told in all caps that they are there to promote use of the canals which are owned by the Irish people and not by empire builders in w.i.

  3. Absolute cowboys. Couldn’t organise a drinking session in a brewery. I’ll probably be dead by the time this cycleway is completed from Dublin to Galway….. I’m only 40!

  4. To be honest from the perspective here in Galway the use of the Royal canal for a route to Galway was not an obvious choice. The natural route was always to follow the Grand canal. And it still is.

  5. Ah FFS… I’ve been bumping along this particular stretch from North Kildare to Porterstown for the last decade until it becomes an impassable quagmire in early winter and I’m forced onto dark back roads to play chicken for my life with (some) drivers who hate my guts and yell abuse at me for daring to delay them for a few seconds.

    As other portions of the route elsewhere have been built and opened (with respect Shane the farmers have killed off the Galway section, it will only ever be a Dublin to Shannon greenway in my lifetime), I spent the last eight plus years figuring that surely any day now Fingal County Council would get their collective fingers out and deliver an absolute solid gold no-brainer of a vital piece of cycling infrastructure that not only completes an important cycle commuting artery into the city without the need for CPOs or eternal wrangling with NIMBY’s for a relatively tiny financial outlay, but also creates a proper long range tourist cycle route with all the economic benefits that involves for communities all along the canal a reality. Win win all round, right?

    And nearly a decade later, they haven’t even submitted the f***ing planning application yet and they won’t do so for two more years? WTF are they playing at? That this is so can only be down to colossal incompetence as well an incredible apathy and arrogance that is seriously undermining the good work of other councils along the route. Is there some kind of hostility to easy to implement, cheap, popular, useful, urgently required, solutions that help to deliver a better world and make Fingal County Council look good? I don’t get it.

  6. I for one am glad to see they are still converging on an emerging preferred route along a canal. It must be difficult for the planners to figure out the route a canal bank greenway should have

    We wouldn’t want to stress the little brains of them having to commit to using the bank the towpath is on, or the bank the towpath isn’t on

  7. @Colm in fairness, the article doesn’t make it clear that this section includes the deep sink section which requires heavy works.

  8. @Cian
    The technically challenging part of the deep sinking section is from Porterstown bridge to Castleknock train station which is about 1.5km of the 8km total. It is a tricky section where for whatever historical reason the tow path abruptly stops on the left bank and moves to a much higher, narrower and overgrown section on the right bank.

    However, there isn’t really any reason for work not to be already completed on the remaining 6.5km section which does not present any special challenges. And there has been ample time over the last nearly-a-decade to come up with a plan to deal with the challenging section.

  9. @aka good point.

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