Greenway dots joining up to link Dublin to the midlands

Three greenway projects — all of which are connected to the Royal Canal Greenway — are to be given unspent funding from a previous round of greenway funding the Department of Transport said yesterday afternoon. The three projects will go a long way in joining the greenway dots between Dublin and the midlands.

The three projects are in counties Kildare, Meath, Longford and Westmeath. The department said they are shovel ready, with planning permission already obtained.

Minister for transport, tourism and sport Shane Ross said: “I am confident that the projects in Longford and Westmeath will be finished by the end of this year whilst the project in Kildare and Meath will be finished by the end of 2017.”

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FINAL B Royal Canal and Dublin to Athlone greenways

We have asked the Department of Transport where the money was earmarked for, but given we did so on Friday evening, we don’t expect a reply until Monday at the earliest. It could be from projects which are incomplete, stalled or which came in under budget — at this stage we don’t know.

The funding for the three projects is as follows:

  • €2,533,000 for 38km of a section of route along the Royal Canal from Maynooth to Westmeath County Border, where it will meet an existing section of the Royal Canal Greenway, from the county border to Mullingar. This project includes counties Kildare and Meath and is part of the eastern section of the Dublin to Galway Greenway.
  • €513,000 for 15.2km of a section of the Royal Canal Greenway between the village of Abbeyshrule to Longford Bridge, outside the town of Ballymahon. This is an extension of the canal greenway currently branded as the “Mullingar to Abbeyshrule Greenway”. This greenway is in County Longford and is not part of the Dublin to Galway route
  • €496,187 for 2.2km of an urban section of the Mullingar to Athlone Greenway within Athlone town. The Mullingar to Athlone Greenway follows the disused railway between the two towns, but the current route ends on the eastern outskirts of Athlone, at Garrycastle. The new section will bring the route as far as a railway level crossing on the Ballymahon Road, just north of Athlone train station. This will bring the route closer to the town centre but will fall short of reaching the River Shannon by about 1km or so. All of this route is within the Westmeath county area.

Minister Ross said: “Since my appointment as Minister, I have been particularly struck by the far-reaching benefits that greenways can bring to the localities in which they are situated as is evidenced by the success of the Great Western Greenway and other projects around the country. These benefits are not just confined to the economic realm from jobs created and sustained through the construction of the greenways to the spend on food, drink and accommodation by those using the greenways. They also extend to the health benefits, both physical and mental, of cycling and walking and to the environmental benefits from a reduction in emissions.”

He added: “It has recently been brought to my attention that some funding awarded to projects under the National Cycle Network funding call of 2014 would not be fully drawn down in 2016. I have been examining a number of other ‘shovel-ready’ projects that would be in a position to utilise this funding in 2016 and am pleased to now announce funding for three projects in four counties that have planning permission in place.”

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“These projects build on the great success of the Old Rail Trail between Athlone and Mullingar and will provide the country with a long distance, multi-day, off-road cycling route that I’m sure will prove to be a great attraction for tourists, both foreign and local, and indeed anyone looking for a wonderful day out.”

Referring to the objections by Galway landowners to the western section of the Dublin to Galway Greenway, Ross said: “Funding the Kildare and Meath sections of the Galway to Dublin Greenway shows my department’s commitment to the medium-term goal of completing this coast to coast greenway. Whilst I understand the concerns raised regarding the preferred route in Galway that led to the pausing of the planning for the route west of the Shannon, the time is now right to continue construction of this project east of the Shannon and ensure that progress is maintained.”

Hinting at the programme for government which referenced new greenway funding, he said: “I look forward to the further roll-out of Greenway projects in the coming years as they provide so many benefits that meet the goals of this partnership Government most notably rural re-generation, job creation and tourism development”.

IMAGES: Main image of the existing towpath between Abbeyshrule and Ballymahon from Google Street View, graphic by, using a Google Maps base.


  1. While the Mullingar to Ballymahon Longford greenway isn’t part of the Dublin Galway greenway, it will provide a spur that provides the option of a multi day cycling loop from Mullingar to Lough Rea, along the shores of lough Rea and back via the Athlone to Mullingar old rail trail. This will provide an immediate cycling holiday option and will hopefully build support for the continuation of the DubGal greenway west of the Shannon. Overall a wise decision by minister Ross.

  2. I just hope that there are no kissing gates or other similar blocks to making this a proper cycle-route.

    Also, whilst this will be good for tourism I wish there was more awareness of how these projects can benefit the local communities most of all. Go anywhere in the Netherlands and these sort of routes are used all the time by locals.

  3. Good news. Not a big fan of Ross, but he seems to be on the ball here. No mention of the status of the section between Blanchardstown and Leixlip? I’ve been cycling that rough track in the summer for a decade, hearing all kinds of promises of an imminent proper route but very little progress. It becomes impassable in the winter and I’m forced onto dark back roads.

  4. Thanks Cian. I can see how the stretch from Porterstown to Blanchardstown in particular is going to be technically difficult. There should be no such problems further west though between Clonsilla and Leixlip. I guess I’ll just keep on waiting. They might get there before I retire.

  5. The Leixlip to Co Dublin border is covered here:

    It now has planning permission and I think is awaiting funding. Local campaigners are also pushing to get the details improved.

    The Clonsilla to Kildare border is relatively simple, so hopefully if there’s further delays with the deep sink section, the route west of Clonsilla can go ahead.

  6. “The Clonsilla to Kildare border is relatively simple, so hopefully if there’s further delays with the deep sink section, the route west of Clonsilla can go ahead.”

    I put that point to a local councilor here in Fingal and he made representations to Fingal CoCo. It appears that an engineering report is being drafted for the ENTIRE section from castleknock to the kildare border. Engineers being engineers – they are very focused an engineering solution to the deep sinking and it seems they want to get a plan for this before they do the relatively ‘easier’ part west of Clonsilla. I will get an update from my contacts and update my blog when I get any news.

  7. Thanks Brett. It would seem logical to complete the simpler stretch west of Clonsilla as this will allow for the completion of the route between Porterstown and Maynooth, which already has great commuting and tourist potential. Nice blog by the way.

  8. does any of you bloody cyclists realise the irreverseable damage that is being done to the flora and fauna of these greenways etc such as the royal canal.In kilcock for instance you could drive a truck on this tarmacadam ROAD with all the banks scraped and planted with lawn seed.There is no place for wildlife here anymore,ironically so the likes of you GREENminded people can cycle a fucking bike,sickening.

  9. @Paddy Do you protest against motorways which bulldoze hedge rows, woodlands etc which are in some cases older than our canals or do you only have a problem with transport when it’s bicycles along man-made canals?

  10. Paddy, I take your point, and it is something that does concern most lot of us, believe me. I personally think that beyond the commuter belt on the Royal canal, cycle lanes should be as unobtrusive as possible. It would be a shame to lose more of the few wildlife sanctuaries we have left, given that we have destroyed so many through agriculture, one-off housing, industrialization and road construction.
    Cians point stands however, I would hope that the destruction of all wildlife habitat disgusts you, and it is not only that which is done to allow cycle lanes that you find so obnoxious. We need to try to see the whole picture instead of just ranting at those who are trying in their own way to plan for a future that is much less impactful on the environment than the way we currently do things.

  11. Jayzus, that’s a bit of an uninformed rant by Paddy there. Hey Paddy, are you likewise writing letters of protest to your TD and local officials about road and house-building? I bet not. And I bet you drive everywhere too. And probably in a diesel to boot.

  12. the Royal canal way has been vandalized to the point where it is no longer usable between Enfield and west of kinnegad. Diggers moved in and ripped it up as if in preparation to lay down a track, and then promptly moved out again. It is a scandal. I used to cycle and walk it regularly, but now it is not even walkable …


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