— Council CEO congratulated for his “determination and single-mindedness”.
Move over Mayo — the 42km Great Western Greenway in the western county has this week lost its title of Ireland’s longest greenway as the 46km Waterford Greenway opened with an official launch today.
Local sources said that workers were busy this week getting the signage and surface of the greenway finished for the launch today.
The 46km routes uses the former Great Southern and Western Railway line to go from the edge of Waterford City to the town of Dungarvan. The Waterford Greenway is also viewed to be a better quality route than its Mayo counterpart, for example it has a better surface and has more under and overpasses of major roads.
Part of the reason for the higher quality is that the €15 million Waterford project was able to more closely follow the former railway alignment than was possable in County Mayo. The disused Waterford railway route did not include a direct link into Waterford city centre — the council however told this website recently that it is working on a solution.
A press release from Waterford City and County Council today claimed that “up to 10,000 people celebrated the official opening today” and attended the opening events along the greenway today.
The council said: “The ribbon cutting ceremony was held at the old Kilmacthomas Station House, the half way point on the trail, while family-friendly events took place at Waterford Institute of Technology’s West Campus, the Dungarvan Causeway and Kilmacthomas village.”
At Kilmacthomas, mayor of Waterford, Cllr Adam Wyse said: “The Greenway is a wonderful asset for the South East. The trail will be an invaluable tourism draw for the region, where visitors, either on foot or by bike, can take in spectacular views, from the Comeragh mountains to the Copper Coast.”
Simon Coveney, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government launched the greenway on behalf of the government.
Minister Coveney said: “This world class amenity will provide a boost to the local economy, along with offering leisure, health, transportation and environmental benefits. A shining example for future projects of its kind across the country, the Waterford Greenway highlights Ireland’s focus on promoting sustainable tourism.”
The Deise Greenway campaign group — which has for years campaigned for the project — congratulated the council’s CEO, Michael Walsh, for his “determination and single-mindedness and motivation of his team”.
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“We as a group set up a number of years ago with the goal of the transformation of the Waterford to Dungarvan old railway line into a greenway. The realisation of that is today,” they said on Facebook, which has been the main home of the group.”We set out by campaigning through many medias including social media, newspaper articles, competitions, meeting the public at different events and gathering signatures of support, meeting politicians, meeting and linking up with other greenway groups, tee-shirts, radio and just generally getting the message out to everyone and anyone whenever we could.”
They added: “We would like to thank the people of Waterford who supported the campaign, the politicians with backbone who came on board even when it wasn’t popular to be associated, those who started the campaign many years ago who we took the baton from to bring it on further and Michael Walsh, our County CEO who without his determination and singlemindness and motivation of his team, we would not have this Greenway. Waterford City and County Council need to be congratulated for delivering this world class project.”
As well as the council CEO, the group also highlighted the support of former city and county mayors, John Cummins and Damien Geoghegan.
The Waterford Greenway, the Great Western Greenway, and the Great Southern Trail (37.5km) in Limerick all form part of the Eurovelo 1, the European Atlantic Coast Route — but these are so-far unconnected and there are few firm plans to fill in the gaps between them. Other notable sections of the Eurovelo 1 route in Ireland are marked as opened but these are on-road routes which are just signposted.
Paul Corcoran, chairman of the Dublin Cycling Campaign was part of a group of cycling campaigners from other parts of the country who travelled to the launch today. Speaking to IrishCycle.com, he said: “The route is well constructed and has a really smooth surface and is well sign posted. The viaducts and tunnels will be major attractions and the views along the coast will rival the Mayo greenway.”
He added: “I chatted to one of the locals and it’s a game changer for tourists coming into the area already in the last few months that certain sections that have already opened. Locally it will benefit kids cycling to schools connected the route too.”
Corcoran said representatives from County Kerry were also at the launch looking for ideas and inspiration.
At the start of this week it was reported by the Irish Examiner that the planned Glenbeigh to Renard greenway in Kerry would require an environmental impact study which will have to be submitted to An Bord Pleanála. Kerry County Council said that this will not unduly delay the project as An Bord Pleanála also has to handle the Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) needed for that route.
IMAGES: Thanks to Paul Corcoran.