Wrong to blame transport minister for stalling of Dublin to Galway greenway

COMMENT & ANALYSES: Transport and tourism minister Paschal Donohoe confirmed to RTE Radio One this morning that the funding for the western section of the Dublin to Galway greenway is now on hold. 

IrishCycle.com readers will have read recently that the minister and Department of Transport were building up to such a move. These hints were warning to any locals interested in building the Athlone to Galway section in the short term. 

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Opposition from farmers along the route is intense, and local political support is close to nonexistent. Blaming the minister for this is wrong. 

As we wrote at the end of last year, claims of greenways putting farmers “out of business” and “destroying” farms is over the top — coming from the the Irish Farming Association, it was irresponsible. 

The suggestions to route the greenway along the old Dublin to Galway road were, maybe, well meaning. But those who suggested such were complely missing the point of a tourism-focused and family friendly greenway. Not to mention that such a route would be placed between the roadways and the driveways to a very large number of houses and farms. That would have been impractical and possable more distruptive to farms than a route via fields.

Some in rural Ireland have taken bunker-like mentality to a number of issues and this does not help with greenway issues. Irish Farming Association stoking up flames with hyperbole does not help, but this is made worse again by reasonable local and regional politicians jumping on bandwagons in fear that they will lose out to other politicians who object to almost everything if they can see it as helping them get elected.

If the opposition was only a county in the middle of the country and all other areas were mainly supportive of the project, then the minister would have grounds to push ahead. But without any notable support west of the River Shannon, the minister was correct in standing down funding.

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The next steps for the project is to progress the sections east of Athlone — including in the Dublin commuter area which should have great cycling as commuting potential, and a much needed link into the centre of Athlone.

Options will also be looked at for re-starting the greenway between Athlone and Galway. However, the Department of Transport should also look at re-routing the greenway from County Galway, which has been relatively unsupportive, to County Mayo, a country which understands greenways more than most (Disclosure: the author of this article is Mayo-based).

Why County Mayo? It’s not much further than Galway City and the council are already developing a network of greenways around the county. The Great Western Greenway out of Westport to Achill Island was the start of that. But progress has also started around the county’s largest towns, Castlebar and Ballina. The council have said that the Great Western Greenway brand is to be used for the county’s network, not just the original route. 

If nothing else looking at re-routing the first national greenway to County Mayo would be a good back up if there is no progress in Galway. It would also act as an incentive for progress in Galway. In the long-run we need a network of such routes linking into counties Galway, Mayo, Sligo etc. So, if Galway lacks the support, it’s only right to look elsewhere.


  1. Very dissapointing . Was really looking forward to this . Predictable tunnel vision from the parish pump crowd of course .The big problem in Irish society is many elements of it refuse to accomodate anything that serves the greater good if they believe infringes on their own percieved honey pot . Can’t run a scociety that way . Hopefully rerouting through Mayo will be a great success and the galway gombeen men will have to eat their hats .

  2. The opposition is partly a result of the lack of consultation by the RSA with local people in the areas. They only found out the route was to go through their homes and businesses because the information was leaked to them. They could get no response from those over the proposals until they had formed groups of interested parties who had to seek out representatives of the proposals themselves. Not one business owner or home owner received a notification prior to this that they’re properties were to be effected in one area that I am aware of. They were right to stand in opposition. It is much easier to build the track to Athlone using the old disused rail lines and canal paths which, as was done for the Greenway in Mayo, without cutting through businesses and private land. If that portion of the cycleway had been proposed through vast tracks of private land in the rest of the country there would have been the exact same opposition. The condescending tone of this article and insulting remarks in the comments are unjustified and baseless. have not heard of one business in Dublin, one home, being sacrificed for cycle infrastructure. In fact I have seen the exact opposite, where at Baggot street bridge, a two lane cycle lane curves onto the canal edge in the path of the canal gate arm and pedestrians just to curve around a private back garden of what I believe is a dental clinic (I could be wrong on the buildings current use). The areas in Galway affected by this cycle lane have had homes, businesses and land CPO’d in the past for the ‘greater good’ when it came to the Galway to Dublin motorway and the Gas pipe line, they are more the willing to do their bit, just as much as the people of Mayo.

  3. Yep, I agree with the idea of going through Mayo. There is a greater understanding around what is involved, and the benefits. Greenways are not only for tourists, the community also gains by having improved infrastructure. I would expect this to be particularly important for younger travellers. Cycling on rural roads is a lot more dangerous than on urban roads. There are consistently more deaths and injuries per capita in rural areas.

    In fairness to the opposition in Galway, there are lots of unanswered questions. It makes sense now to suspend Plan A and look at Plan B instead. As a potential tourist, I would be just as happy cycling to Mayo as to Galway.

  4. Farm folks west of the Shannon need to reflect on the fact that direct transfers to agri-food from national Exchequer and EU amounted to €2.1B during 2010! Plus the duty tax forgone on agricultural green diesel. Two-fingers to the taxpayer and the greater good (i.e. a trans-European project) is not acceptable.
    When they see other rural areas benefiting from agri-tourism based on cycling and walking income they will regret their short-sightedness.

  5. Disappointing news but hopefully this gives space for a calm discussion on the way forward. Without consenus and local support there is absolutely no point in continuing with the route in Galway.

    I also like the Dublin to Mayo option. I understand that Longford Council are keen to agree with Roscommon on linking the Royal canal greenway all the way to Mayo. Furthermore there is talk of a Sligo/Athenry greenway that could potentially be linked into by a Dublin to Mayo route. This could make the northwest a major destination for cyclists and based on the success of the Western greenway I would suggest there will be more support than the galway route.


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