Great Western Greenway will no longer end on busy regional road

Construction is to start shorty on an upgrade of the Great Western Greenway between Westport and Achill in Co Mayo — the project will take greenway user off a busy rural regional road.

Currently the western end of the greenway ends short of the end of the former railway, which means users have to take to the main road if they want to travel to or start at Achill Island.'s reader-funded journalism won't survive without your help. With over 762,000 views so-far this year, it's not just "avid cyclists" who read this website, but, if you want it to keep going, more support is needed from readers like you. Now, back to the article...

IMAGE: Greenway users on the main road east of Achill Sound.

A local newspaper, the Mayo News, reported on Tuesday: “The landowner initially refused to give Mayo County Council access and the greenway could not be extended to the end of the line. However, after many months of negotiations between the landowner, officials from Mayo County Council and members of the community, an agreement has been reached. It is hoped that work will start shortly and be completed before the end of the year.”

The greenway extension will mean that users traveling to Achill Sound village will be taken away from the main road for longer and will only join the main traffic route in the village of Polranny where there is a footpath and a 50km/h speed limit applies. Connected by a bridge, Polranny is on the mainland and Achill Sound is the gateway village to the rest of the island.

Currently the route along the former railway line ends 1km short from the old Achill railway station, located beside the bridge to Achill Island. It means that greenway users wanting to travel to the island are diverted onto a busy regional road for around 1.3km, around 700 metres of which is on a narrow road with a 80km/h speed limit.

As we reported last year, Mayo County Council are already working on a greenway network on Achill Island. At the time, the council said: “Work currently underway on phase one of the extension of the Greenway on Achill Island. We expect to complete phase 1 this year and the entire 12km section to Keel within the next 2 years.”

MORE: Read the full story on


  1. It is a beautiful greenway, but the last part could be uncomfortable for less confident cyclists. Kudos to the country council for persisting. I haven’t cycled on Achill island but suspect it will be the best part – on a sunny day.

  2. Given that we are talking about a stretch of former railway line, shouldn’t the landowner be the state? Or was this land given away as was the case in South Kerry, that is now putting that greenway project in jeopardy? Does the landlord in this case reserve the right to withdraw access on a whim?
    The core problem here is the so-called “Permissive Access” model whereby access is negotiated with landlords who are under no obligation to grant it even if a historic right of way is established. That access can then be withdrawn at any time if the landlord is aggrieved for any reason or has some unrelated beef with the council. This system needs to be replaced with an open access model as is the case in some form in almost every other country in Europe. This website on the topic is well worth a look:

  3. Having cycled this greenway with a group of eight in 2014 and included the Atlantic Drive around Achill in superb weather we all found the final approach to Westport challenging and puzzling. After all the rail line must have ended at a station in the town so why did the greenway have to take a route through an industrial estate with no signage to the town centre?


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.