Liam O Mahony, Cathaoirleach of the Great Southern Trail Ltd (GST) visited the Greenway work in progress at Kilmorna near Listowel. The GST which has campaigned for over thirty years to convert the disused railway from Rathkeale to Tralee into a Greenway welcomes this long awaited extension of the Limerick Greenway across the Kerry Border and which is scheduled to be opened to Listowel by the summer.
Earlier today Cyclist.ie made a submission to Louth County Council in regard to their ‘Part 8’ planning application for the Greenway from Omeath Pier to National Border. See below.
The location of the greenway can be seen in this map taken from the Route Corridor Assessment report. The full documentation on the Council website can be found here: Part 8 – Omeath Pier to National Border.
Louth County Council,
Cyclist.ie is Ireland’s national cycling advocacy network, and the Irish member of the European Cyclists’ Federation. We are delighted to make this submission to Louth County Council in relation to the proposed greenway from Omeath to the Northern Ireland border, on behalf of the many thousands of everyday cyclists throughout the country. Cyclist.ie’s vision is that everyday cycling is the norm in Ireland
This proposed scheme has the potential to increase active tourism levels even further in the area, to encourage greater levels of walking and cycling locally in the immediate vicinity, and in particular to revitalise the village of Omeath as a desired destination, in particular when the full stretch of greenway between Carlingford and Newry is completed. It should also help to increase the daily use of bicycles for a variety of uses.
We commend the Objectives for this project as outlined in the ‘Project Brief’ below
• inspire active travel;
• meet local and regional strategies in terms of tourism and healthy and active living;
• enable more sustainable forms of mobility on a cross-border basis;
• increase cross-border commuting by cycling or walking from 2.7% to 10%;
• improve cross-border social cohesion;
• improve cyclist safety through the construction of a predominantly ‘off road’ shared cycle/pedestrian network; and
• reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions
If these objectives are adhered to, and the results measured following the building of the project, it can help to build information and research and feed into future planning of routes such as this. It will also encourage a wide range of different users of all ages and abilities.
It is also worth noting in the recently published National Greenway Strategy that situations such as this are specifically referred to in the section on ‘Focus of the Strategy’ where it states
‘the development of ‘Greenways’ relates to the development of Greenways of scale i.e. for new developments or extensions of existing Greenways that are more than 20k or shorter distances where it is proposed to join a number of existing Greenways to form a longer, more strategic route.’
This additional section of the Carlingford Greenway supported by EU Interreg funds, can eventually link a longer strategic cross border network of safe segregated cycle routes for all users.
Overall we are supportive of this scheme, although we await some final design details, as these are not absolutely displayed on the available documentation . We commend Louth CC for advancing this proposal, but have a number of suggestions and comments to make, and seek clarification in relation to some minor posted documentation.
2.0 Particular Points
We note the proposal, to provide a 2 – 3m wide greenway along this corridor. Cyclist.ie suggests that while 3 metres is ‘minimum’ standard width for a low volume route as defined in Table 4.1 of TII’s ‘Rural Cycleway Design’ guidelines, 2 metres is not acceptable for a national cross border route as proposed. Unfortunately no cross section details are supplied in the online documentation in regard to particular locations on the greenway route itself so the level of variation in width is difficult to determine. And, this route if promoted well, would be expected to have a High Volume of users, and thus the width should be increased where possible and especially closer to amenities and destinations. It is disappointing that a more ambitious general width target has not been chosen.
We, on behalf of cyclists, would prefer to see a bituminous tarmacadam surface for the greenway surface. This type of surface is the preferred surface for cyclists in general, but also for wheelchair, pram, scooter, and other users – in other words for people of all ages and abilities. There is a mistaken belief that a ‘dust’ surface is more natural, but it also makes the use of the route more difficult for users with disabilities on wheeled vehicles. A bituminous finished surface as outlined in Section 8.4 of the TII Rural Cycleway Design (DN-GEO-03047 ) document is the preferred surface finish and will support the inclusion objectives of this project more directly.
We note the proposal to fence along both sides of the proposed route. We regard this as unnecessary and restrictive, and it also reduces the quality of the visitor experience. We recommend a review of necessary fencing, and particularly recommend the removal of fencing on the seaward side of the route, to enhance the visitor experience, and reduce that ‘hemmed in’ feeling. Along this route the views across the waterway are hugely attractive and fencing will detract from this.
Circuitous Route Section
We note that the section of the route from approximately Chainage 1740 to 2820, a distance of more than 1km, is circuitous and winding with a number of sharp turns. While appreciating that this ‘diversion’ is required to circumvent private housing, every effort should be made to improve the alignment and reduce sharp turns, as they are potential collision locations.
We note the outline of proposed individual design of Sheffield style bike parking racks on the Construction Details Drawing. While we are happy with the basic proposed designs, it is critical that the spacing of the individual racks is kept wide enough apart to accommodate different bicycle types comfortably. In particul;ar along this scenic greenway tourist stretch, many bike users will be carrying pannier bags and equipment and need more space. Also bikes with trailers, and the occasional cargo bike will appear. This needs to be considered when installing parking. You might like to check out Dublin Cycling Campaign’s Bike Parking Guide for more information on this.
We note the specific attention rightly paid in the design to potential future rising sea levels, and the effect this might have on the greenway at particular times, despite the lack of detailed local information. The actual proposed methodology for warning users of flooding issues should be more clearly outlined. We are also unclear from the online documentation, why specific construction elements are not proposed in the areas where this possible flooding is envisaged?
In the General Arrangement Plan at Chainage 3470 there is a reference that states ‘Greenway passes under L7002’. This reference does not appear to make any sense in the context of the location and drawing. Please clarify.
Very long stretches of greenway through some (unchanging) surroundings can create a less than ideally stimulating environment. Canal-side and railway line cycle and walking routes can suffer particularly from this weakness. It is for this reason that public art is an essential element of the UK National Cycle Network. It is strongly recommended that the Council and the design consultants reflect on the great potential for enhancing the visual interest and place-making dimensions of the route by incorporating quality public art and other design features into the scheme. See Artworks and art trails on the National Cycle Network.
Cyclist.ie overall is happy that this proposed project is progressing. It will undoubtedly encourage greater levels of cycling and walking in the area if properly promoted, and should help to boost the development of facilities alongside the route. However as mentioned above we request Louth County Council to:
- Increase the greenway width (unless there is a very good reason not to at a particular location)
- Install a bituminous surface along the full length of the route
- Remove fencing on the seaward side of the route where possible
- Use public art to further enhance the facility
We further look forward to the proposed development of the greenway linkage across the Northern Ireland boundary, which will create a link to a network of safe cycle routes north and south.
It was disappointing that Louth CC did not include either a survey link for observers to complete, or a basic email submission detail in the material posted online. In these times that omission is regrettable, and hopefully will not be a feature of any ongoing public consultations.
Donegal County Council is set to issue a tender in June for construction of the first phase of the greenway. The 2.7km section through the town of Muff will create a segregated route to allow cyclists and walkers to move through the village, separate from existing vehicular traffic.
This development comes hot on the heels of Derry City & Strabane District Council submitting a planning application for a new cycling and walking bridge to cross the Penny ‘burn’, located on the shore of River Foyle in Derry city. This forms part of the overall section linking Derry to Muff. The Council in Derry is confident that planning for the 8km section linking the city to the outskirts of Muff will come before its Planning Committee in October.
Donegal County Council has also begun preparatory work on the planning application for the Buncrana-Derry section of the greenway. It is planned that this 29km route will come before An Bord Pleanála some time during Q1, 2021, with the northern section being submitted for planning next month. At present the team tasked with delivering the project is now engaged with landowners regarding accommodation works as part of the construction phase.
Through its Council sources, the Wee Greenway Initiative is also confident that Donegal County Council is seeking financial assistance to begin the planning of the sections linking Buncrana to Carndonagh (32kms) and Muff to Quigley’s Point (8kms). These sections are vital to the overall project and if the Council progresses them, it will be a mark a massive boost for cyclists and walkers alike in the region.
For more information, see North West Greenway Network
Liam O’Mahony from the Great Southern Trail Greenway has sent us the following update explaining how the GST Greenway has morphed from a greenway to a ‘working farmyard’ at Coolybrown, Ardagh, County Limerick – and how this is at odds with maintaining the integrity of the publicly owned route.
The directors of the Great Southern Trail Ltd. (GST) have discussed the recent announcement by Limerick City and County Council (LCCC) of a €5 million upgrade for the Greenway and wish to draw public attention to the history of the “Coolybrown working farm” element of the otherwise broadly welcome proposals:
This story begins in 2003 with a successful planning application for a 180 square metre slatted unit to be constructed in a Coolybrown farm to the south of the railway. The application was revised in 2006 to double the size of the unit and this was also approved.
In the interim the adjacent old Limerick to Tralee railway corridor had its right of way protected by the Mid-West Regional Authority for recreational and environmental pursuits in 2004.
Therefore, in 2007, when another incarnation of the yet unbuilt slatted unit manifested itself in planning application (07/1592) Limerick County Council, referencing the Regional Authority guidelines, wrote to the applicant on 20 July that it was “not favourly disposed” to the application and advised that it should be relocated to the northern side of the railway where the bulk of the farmlands and buildings were located. The Council requested further information. Surprisingly, having received no new information or proposals (only a regurgitation of the previous 2003 and 2006 files (received on 30 July), the Council approved the application on the following day, 31 July 2007.
These events all pre-dated the 2010 development of the Rathkeale-Ardagh section of the Greenway; all of which works were undertaken by the GST. It was only then that it came to light that the plans approved three years earlier for (07/1592) had not been complied with. The slatted unit was now several metres closer to the railway than the planning permission permitted. In fact the cattle were being fed on the CIÉ railway property.
It was most surprising to the GST that Limerick County Council hadn’t apparently checked over the intervening three years to see that the structure had been built in accordance with the planning permission. The unauthorised slatted unit also received grant-aid from public funds; a matter which again merits investigation.
With the opening of the Rathkeale-Ardagh section by the GST the regulation of the situation in Coolybrown was an imperative. The landowner applied for retention under new conditions. It was to be hoped that the decision on this application (12/222) would bring closure to the saga and satisfy all the parties. The permission was granted but conformity with the conditions by the applicant and enforcement of them by the Council has unfortunately been less than satisfactory.
That’s the story of the southside of the railway and now we proceed to the northside. CIÉ, being the owners of the railway route, have compounded the “working farm” scenario. They chose to split the railway corridor in half over a length of several hundred metres on the northside of the track in the Rathkeale direction. This was to facilitate the same landowner with direct and easy access to some external lands that he was renting. This more than generous decision of CIÉ in the early months of 2011 was as a result of representations made by a third party (whose name is known to the GST) directly to the then Chairman of CIÉ, Dr. John Lynch (recently deceased).
The overall result of the CIÉ and LCCC indulgence is that non local users of the Greenway when encountering a narrowing of the railway route and its less than attractive appearance, to their left and to their right, actually believe that they are in a farmyard.
To compound all of the above the LCCC current plan to use public funds and to detour away from the railway for a length of 800 metres is the final capitulation. It is also a recipe for similar demands on sections yet to be developed.
During the GST twenty-five years of campaigning, developing and managing the Greenway we never entertained requests to deviate from the railway corridor. We viewed it as land held in trust by CIÉ for the people of Ireland.
Our hope now is that wiser council will prevail with this ill-advised current proposal being further investigated and resolved in the public interest.
The GST Greenway has the capacity to be a world class facility and of major benefit to locals and visitors alike. The integrity of the entire way without any proposed private diversion is a key element of the facility now and for future generations.
The news is spreading in Fingal that An Bord Pleanála (ABP) has granted permission for the construction of a 6 km Greenway from Malahide Castle across the Broadmeadow estuary to reach Newbridge House & Farm (permission granted May 19th). This news has a particular resonance with me and my colleagues in the Skerries Cycling Initiative (SCI). Why is it so important to us?! A brief history will answer that.
As far back as 2008 we made a submission to the Dublin Transportation Office as it was then, advocating the creation of a cycleway from Balbriggan to Bray, noting that the Sutton-to-Sandycove cycleway concept was receiving attention from local authorities but the needs of cyclists north of Sutton along the coast were not being addressed. Then, in August 2009, the rail viaduct at Malahide collapsed and was repaired by November. But before the restoration contractors had departed the scene, the government and Iarnród Éireann brilliantly offered them the job of sinking the piers of a pedestrian/cyclist bridge across the estuary into the seabed. Those piers are there now, all 13 of them, and this will make the task of creating the Broadmeadow Way much easier. The following year, the SCI participated in an effort to organise a meeting between Fingal County Council, Iarnród Éireann and local representatives to discuss the bridge and how to promote cycling on the Fingal coast but the circumstances were not right at the time.
In 2013 the SCI wrote to the DTO’s replacement (sort of), the National Transport Authority, about their draft cycle network plan for the Greater Dublin Area and we again tried to sell the idea of what we then called “The Fingal Coast & Castle Way”. We wrote:
“This cycleway was conceived as one which not only provided excellent tourist and recreational coastal cycling, but also included direct links to major heritage and tourist-attractive sites along the way, such as Ardgillan Castle, Skerries Mills, Rogerstown Estuary, Newbridge House & Farm, Broadmeadow Estuary and Malahide Castle. Such a cycleway offers Fingal a genuine tourist product. ”
You can see how the Broadmeadow Way in our minds was critical to our overall goal of getting the Fingal Coastal Way – as it is now called – constructed.
In 2014 a public consultation process for the Broadmeadow Way began. The SCI made a submission, advocating that the cycle/pedestrian track continue along the rail line as far as the Corballis Road, followed by a left turn up to the R126 and the gates of Newbridge House & Farm. Again we tried to put this cycleway into the context of the Fingal Coastal Way, a plan which “embraces both cycling and the local amenity and heritage connections which powerfully raise the tourism profile of the cycleway.”
For the Fingal Coastal Way to work, two estuary crossings are required: one across the Broadmeadow estuary, which happily has been granted permission, and the second across the Rogerstown estuary. This latter project must now take centre stage in the development of this marvellous Greenway.
In Listowel, County Kerry on Friday 29 November 2019
Brendan Griffin T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Transport Tourism and Sport, turned the first sod of the 10.5km section of the Great Southern Trail Greenway (GST) which will connect Listowel to the existing 40km in County Limerick.
Later, at a similar ceremony in Fenit he inaugurated the 10km of works to link Fenit to Tralee.
When these two projects are completed attention will be turned to the remaining 28km from Listowel to Tralee of the old railway line so that the villages of Lixnaw, Abbeydorney and Ardfert can also enjoy the benefits of a Greenway. When that is achieved the GST will become the longest Greenway in IrelandOther
- Listowel ceremonies (YouTube 3m38s)
- Denis McAuliffe,Vice-Chair, Great Southern Trail Greenway (GST); James Collins, Purt, Abbeyfeale; Michael Guerin, GST Coordinator, North Kerry; Cllr. Jimmy Moloney, Cathaoirleach, Listowel Municipal District Council; Minister Brendan Griffin T.D.; Liam O Mahony, Cathaoirleach GST Ltd; Cllr. Niall Kelleher, Mayor of Kerry; Mike Mac Domhnaill, GST Ltd Minister
- Liam O Mahony, Cathaoirleach, GST Ltd; Michael Guerin, GST Coordinator North Kerry; Denis McAuliffe Vice-Chair Great Southern Trail Greenway (GST); Cllr. Jimmy Moloney, Cathaoirleach, Listowel Municipal District Council; Mike Mac Domhnaill, GST Ltd
At long last on 21st June 2019 State funding of €3.5 million for a 10.5km extension of the GST from the Limerick/Kerry Border to Listowel plus a further €3m for the 10km Tralee to Fenit Greenway has been announced.
There is also recognition that the Tralee to Listowel old railway will be incorporated into the GST the future.
Also in the Limerick Leader
On Friday 5th April 2019 the head of the Irish Government, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (5th from the left), and his entourage visited the Great Southern Trail Greenway tunnel at Barnagh; 7km West of Newcastle West on the N21 road.
Read more on SouthernTrail
NORMA PRENDIVILLE – [email protected]
More than three decades after the Great Southern Trail Group was established, one of its founder members and current chairman, Liam O’Mahony has been invited to address the conference of the European Greenways Association on the issue of citizen involvement.
The conference, which takes place in Spain next week, has attracted participants from countries all over Europe including a speaker from the Department of Transport and Tourism who will outline the Irish strategy in developing Greenways.
Speaking to the Limerick Leader in advance of the conference, Mr O’Mahony said the building of an underpass to Barnagh Tunnel, currently underway, was to be welcomed.
The application by Kerry County Council for funds to develop two stretches of the old Great Southern railway line from the Limerick border to Listowel and from Tralee to Fenit was also a positive, he said.
But he questioned whether there was “joined-up” thinking between the Kerry and Limerick councils on the matter and argued that an opportunity was being missed to e develop a national greenway.
“It appears that both councils are working independently of each other” Mr O’Mahony said. “Kerry is not even using the Great e Southern tag in their two projects.
“Both councils have also failed to highlight that the railway route is 100km long,” he pointed out.
He is also concerned that the momentum that was injected when Limerick City and County Council took over management of the Limerick trail in 2016 has faded.
“A grand plan is one. Implementation is something else.”
And he has voiced concern that the Great Southern Trail group, is once again being sidelined. When the idea of a trail along the railway line was first raised, Shannon Development ignored the group and effectively “created the opposition among landowners”, he said. For ten years, Mr O’Mahony said, the trail group was “regarded as an undesirable element.”
But the group persisted in its plan, gradually doing stretches of the line and gained recognition. Now, Mr O’Mahony feels the group is again being ignored. “Now everybody seems to be consulted except us’ he said. “Anything suggested by us has been put on the long finger,” he said.
And he includes in this, a suggestion from the trail group to site artefacts of railway heritage along the route. These include old wagons, wheels etc. which could be adapted to new purposes but would serve as reminders of the past.
The group however, is particularly concerned about preserving the integrity of the line.
“When the GST Group was developing 40km of the old railway line in Limerick, it prevailed, despite trenchant opposition form some sources, in preserving the integrity of the route,” Mr O’Mahony said.
“It is a matter of much regret that in 2017, Limerick City and County Council failed to develop a stretch from Rathkeale to Ballingrane Junction due to local opposition. To compound this failure, there are indications the council is now contemplating a deviation from the already developed 40km Greenway to facilitate one individual.”
This is totally unacceptable to the Trail Group, he continued, and could set a precedent for further deviation in the yet to be developed stretches of the line.
“Our position is clear: State-owned railway routes are not up for grabs by private individuals.” he said.
A Greenway route for Co. Cork is a step closer after councillors gave the go ahead to outline planning permission for the 23km route
Business and tourism interests in Midleton and Youghal along Ireland’s ‘Ancient East’ have welcomed the unanimous vote which now allows the council to formalise the leasing of the railway line from Iarnród Éireann
It is estimated the initial cost of the project will be €19.1m