The Connemara Greenway has taken a step forward this week with funding announced to develop a walking/cycling track along the disused Clifden to Oughterard rail line.
Minister for Rural and Community Michael Ring announced half a million in funding for the track as part of an €8 million funding package announced for 18 rural recreation projects this week.
The Connemara Greenway project has been advancing in sections, with 6km of the route between Athry and Cloonbedg opening in May, but other sections along the 76km route have gotten bogged down with land access issues over the years.
This section doesn’t have the same problem as the rail line is entirely state owned. The Clifden to Galway Greenway has the backing of all five of Galway West’s TDs.
Deputy Hildegarde Naughton thanked Minister Ring for his support for the Greenway project on twitter.
Very pleased that my colleague Minister @MichaelRingFG has approved an additional €500,000 for the Connemara Greenway project between Clifden & Oughterard today. Vital investment for the West. @galwaygreenway @FineGael #Galway pic.twitter.com/AmSa4uD3UD
— Hildegarde Naughton (@1Hildegarde) November 20, 2018
Minister Ring said, “Recreational tourism is a growing part of Ireland’s tourism offering, and we have seen an increase in the number of Irish and overseas visitors enjoying the many greenways, blueways and walking trails which have been developed around the country in recent years.”
According to the Minister, this funding builds on €1.8 million given to 128 smaller projects earlier this year.
The Connemara Greenway Alliance believes that when complete the project could add €18 million to the local economy every year and support 450 jobs in small rural towns and villages along the route.
The funding announced this week comes from the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme to promote the creation of new infrastructure that gets people out enjoying Ireland’s spectacular landscape.
Other major projects in the West that will benefit from this windfall include €500,000 to develop 19km of trail along Mayo’s Clew Bay and another half a million for Phase 2 of a national mountain bike trail centre in Coolaney, Sligo.
“I firmly believe that the continued development of our recreational infrastructure will not only support Ireland’s rural tourism potential,” said Minister Ring,
“but will also provide a diverse range of recreation options for local communities to support their own health and fitness and enjoy the countryside with their families.”