Galway to Athlone Greenway: Detailed ‘Emerging Preferred Route’ published

— Part of greenway route to run alongside Oranmore bypass.

The long-awaited detailed route of the Athlone to Galway section of the Dublin to Galway Greenway cross-country greenway has been published.

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The route is part of the cross-country Dublin to Galway Greenway, which is largely built between Athlone and Dublin. The 205km route has been subject to substantial opposition from some landowners along it and the project team and is only expected to go to be submitted to An Bord Pleanála in 2024.

The route starts near Ballyloughane Beach to the East of Galway City and then goes through or close to Oranmore, Rinville, Clarinbridge, Kilcolgan, Kinvara, Gort, Woodford, Portumna, Meelick, Clonfert, Ballinasloe, Shannonbridge, and Athlone.

It was already known that the project team had selected the highly indirect ‘red route’ corridor west of Athlone, largely to maximise the use of State-owned lands and to route via tourist destinations. But the more detailed routing today shows the project is also taking the long way around towns like Oranmore.

In most cases, the greenway avoids towns because it would mean detouring to them. But in the case of Oranmore, the detour is via the town’s bypass rather than going through the town. For motorists, the town is effectively bypassed twice, by the N67 and by the M18 motorway. In recent years, there was also an access road built just west of the town’s main street.

It is estimated by the project team, led by Westmeath County Council and consultants RPS, that there are around 490 potentially impacted private landowners along the route. As recently as the start of March, one councillor claimed that some landowners have yet to be contacted but this claim extends not just to affected landowners but those living or who have land “very near to” the route.

The project team meanwhile claims that “extensive engagement is on-going”, it said: “Where landowners have engaged with this process, they have been listened to and their thoughts and potential issues identified. Where feasible, the route has been amended to address identified issues whilst ensuring the continuity of the route, end to end.”

The project team also published generic cross-sections representing different types of areas/scenarios:

(article continues below images)

Four public consultation events are to take place in the coming week, starting tomorrow. These are:

  • Oranmore: Oranmore Lodge Hotel, Tuesday 28th March at 3-8pm;
  • Gort: Lady Gregory Hotel, Wednesday 29th March at 3-8pm;
  • Portumna: Town Hall, Thursday 30th March at 3-8pm; and
  • Ballinasloe: Shearwater Hotel, Friday 31st March at 3-8pm.

The project team said: “Landowners, farmers, cyclists, those in the hospitality industry and the wider community are all invited to view the preferred route for the 205 km stretch. Representatives of the project team will be on hand to answer questions about the route at each event.”

For more details and to submit feedback see: galwaytoathlonecycleway.com.

The detailed Emerging Preferred Route of Galway to Athlone Greenway:

Ballinasloe Branch:

For more details see: galwaytoathlonecycleway.com.

CORRECTION: The project team is led by Westmeath County Council and not Galway County Council as previously stated.

11 comments

  1. Good news for everybody even the landowners who’s children may get benefit from the increased economic activity just look at Waterford and achill Greenway they are a boom to the locals

    Reply
    • Waterford and Achill – Westport have and always had pre-existing tourist attractions , and already were popular destinations . Not to mention already being easily accessible by rail and road (bus).

      The same can’t be said for most of the south Galway areas that are part of the proposed route . There’s not a hope that cycling tourists are going to hang around for long around there . They want to get into Galway and or closer to the bigger town areas asap for proper food and resources

      Moreover , there are more sheep than people of all ages in many of those Rural areas

      Reply
  2. Project Team is being lead by Westmeath CC not Galway. Galway CC unanimously passed a section 85 motion ceding complete authority to Westmeath CC to design and build the green way.
    Galway CC also gave authority to Westmeath CC to acquire farmland using CPO for the project.
    Since 2014 Westmeath CC has turned the provision of cycling infrastructure west of the Shannon into a completely toxic and divisive issue.
    Westmeath CC’s Michael Kelly is the project head since 2014.

    Reply
    • @Adrian — I’ve edited the article and added a correction note re which council was leading it, my mistake, sorry and thanks for pointing it out.

      Regarding “into a completely toxic and divisive issue” — I’ve seen people blame TII, the councils and their consultants. But I haven’t seen much evidence for it.

      The problems west of Athlone closely enough mirror issues in Kerry where CPOs were used and some permissive access projects such as Ballina to Killala close to me. Fundamentally, it seems to be down to some people never wanting to see things change and some people/groups having an ideological issue with CPOs for greenways (which the Courts have now dismissed), and then add in a bit of scaremongering and misinformation, then people rally together.

      Similar issues happened with scaremongering and misinformation in urban contexts too along the Fingal Coastal Way in Skerries and Balbriggan.

      Reply
  3. My parents live next to the Old Rail Trail greenway and it crosses through our farmland, where there was an existing railbed. I really think people and farmers who live along existing routes should be invited to speak to those on proposed routes, as it has been a massive boost for our area just in terms of reducing social isolation and creating new public social spaces. We were a bit concerned about possible antisocial behaviour, and people accessing our land, but it has never been an issue and people are generally very respectful. A big bonus is that a great playground and public toilets were built at a nearby access point – there really weren’t that many amenities in the area. My 79 year old father cycles an electric bike now, sometimes using it to check the cattle. Local access points are essential, but lots of people have made their own stiles and access points.

    Reply
    • Is that the streamstown – Castletown area? . Lovely part of that route , fair due to the locals there who have made it work

      Different scenario though. The rail line was public property. Obviously the locals had to cooperate during the construction etc but it’s not the same situation for many in the Galway side where the proposals seek to split up their property

      Reply
  4. This looks like a wonderful scheme, especially for anybody living near it. For many people living in rural areas walking or cycling on public roads without paths or hard shoulders can be nerve-wrecking, which can lead them to instead drive on same roads and strengthen car dominance. These greenways will bring people outside, will humanise and strenghten communities.

    One niggle with the above scheme though is the amount of bends and switch-backs. Just like the cattle grids at Dublin Airport security that send people walking up and down even when the place is quiet! The sharp bends are potential conflct points between cyclists and other greenway users as negoitating a bend on a bicycle puts the bicycle on a defined trajectory and it can be diffcult to pull out of that trajectory mid-turn if presented with another greenway user. Also visibilty can be retrictive at sharp bends.

    Reply
  5. Talk about a circuitous route to Galway and highly fractalised too. Mad, Ted. “Now if I was setting out from here to Galway I wouldn’t be on this path”.

    Reply
    • It doesn’t even attract the more populous areas of the county that happen to be at a more direct route to Dublin or to Galway

      Get a more direct spine down first , then add to it to later for those more out of the way areas , if there truly is a demand for it , which is unlikely

      It is suppose to be the Dublin to Galway Greenway , not the discover Galway Greenway . Galway CC are more than welcome to draw up their circuitous route that is devoid of key support facilities like bike shops and access to public transport (or even decent hotels and bnbs )

      Reply
  6. The Dublin to Galway greenway has been a subject of debate, particularly regarding its route and access to services. While some argue for a direct path, building the greenway away from populated areas can actually stimulate new economic activity and provide numerous benefits.

    Ireland is known for its widespread micro-businesses, and the greenway presents an opportunity to spur the growth of these enterprises. By constructing the greenway away from existing towns and villages, it allows for the development of craft businesses, accommodations, and food services. Local artisans and crafters can showcase their unique creations to a broader audience, attracting customers seeking authentic, locally crafted products.

    The greenway’s route can also foster the establishment of new accommodations, such as bed and breakfasts, inns, and eco-lodges. These establishments cater to greenway users, generating income for providers and creating employment opportunities for locals. Moreover, food services can flourish along the greenway, with cafes, restaurants, and food vendors offering sustenance and showcasing the diverse flavors and culinary traditions of different regions.

    Building the greenway away from populated areas also minimizes conflicts with existing infrastructure, creates a more peaceful and enjoyable experience for users, and encourages visitors to explore and support local businesses. The greenway can attract tourists, both domestic and international, who seek a unique experience in scenic surroundings. This promotes tourism growth, distributes economic benefits across the region, and revitalizes smaller communities.

    To strike a balance, it is crucial to ensure appropriate access points and amenities along the greenway. Connecting paths and signposting can facilitate easy access to nearby services and attractions, providing convenience and enhancing the overall experience for greenway users.

    Reply

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