Phase 2 of the Tralee to Fenit Greenway / Great Southern Trail in Kerry opened late last week and we have posted a few photos of the new route below.
As to be expected there have been ‘issues’ which have prevented the section from the Big River to Rock Street from being completed, this are due to a delay in authorisation from Dunnes Stores for the lowering of the wall of the super market car park bounding the path. It is hoped that this should be resolved and this section of the route completed within the next few weeks.
A couple of interesting articles from over 25 years ago have appeared on the Down the Years section of The Kerryman newspaper recently, although the subject is Castleisland the similarities with the current situation with the Tralee – Fenit and the North Kerry line are uncanny:
A community that is crying out for a unused railway to be revitalised.
The land in question is state owned
A project that is part of the county development plan
Owners ( Irish Rail) who want to transfer the ownership to the local authority (Kerry Co Co)
And a local authority (Kerry Co Co) sitting on their hands !
RTE’s Nationwide did a feature on the village of Fenit recently, the show opened with a 5 minute segment on the Tralee to Fenit Railway / Greenway highlighting the benefits to both locals and tourist alike.
Even on a dull day Fenit and Tralee Bay looked great on the screen, case you missed it you can view the clip here:
Presenter Anne Cassin introduced the segment by talking about how many rural communities have been looking at new ideas in order to bring visitors to their areas, and that due to the runaway success of Mayo’s greenway, many have been looking to cycling and walking routes.
It is ironic that Anne spoke these words as she strolled along the the recently opened section of the Greenway in Tralee, as this was part of the the first planned Greenway in Ireland the Great Southern Trail, long before the Mayo Greenway was a glimmer in Mayo County Councils eye !
The development of the route was detailed in a report in the late ’80s compiled by Sustrans (who now manage the U.K. cycle network) and commissioned by Shannon Development which detailed the potential of developing a trail along the 80 km railway, the report makes for interesting reading , and had it being carried out would have certainty transformed North Kerry, and probably become the project held up as the exemplar Greenway in the country.
Looking back it is clear that we in Kerry were asleep at the wheel over the last 2 decades when it comes to developing facilities like these and while we did nothing other parts of the country who did have the vision and drive are now reaping the rewards. Westport is repeatedly voted in the top the class in both tourism awards and accolades for quality of life, in short business in booming and the locals are happy !
Of course tourism and the economy are not the be all and end all here, there are more more serious issues at hand. On the same week as this episode aired, Ireland was shocked by reports that showed that the country is on the road to becoming the most obese population in Europe, with diet and lack of exercise being the root causes.
So what do we want, if we do nothing then the weeds continue to grow, the litter accumulate, tourists go elsewhere and we risks our childrens heath due to them having nowhere safe to walk or cycle.
This Greenway will then become part of the EuroVelo1 Atlantic Coastal Route ( www.eurovelo.com/en/eurovelos ) which is being developed along all the coastal States from Portugal to Norway. The 40km Limerick section of the Great Southern Trail [GST] is also part of EuroVelo1 as is the Tralee Environs portion of the GST. The completed Limerick portion of the GST at present ends in open country at the Kerry Border and this situation has pertained since late 2012.
Following an initial public consultation process in 2013 Kerry County Council made an unsuccessful application for State funding to develop the 10km from the Limerick Border to Listowel in 2014. Since then they are in the process of acquiring the railway route from CIÉ and hope to have developed the 10km from the Limerick Border to Listowel by late 2016 if funding can be obtained.
It can be argued that this generous timeframe compares very unfavourably with achievements elsewhere in Ireland as exemplified by the Waterford example.
It is the view of the GST Ltd., who have led the Limerick development, that there should be a Greenway link all the way from Limerick City to Tralee/Fenit with maximum use being made of the dismantled railway.
Kerry County Council have been in the news recently regarding two controversial projects both of which involve the development of cycleways and compulsory purchase orders.
These are the South Kerry greenway in which KCC plan to buy back the railway in South Kerry (which was sold off after it was abandoned decades ago) and the other is the N86 development which also involves buying land for a widened road and a cycleway, ironically parts of this land was also once part the Tralee to Dingle Railway alignment.
So essential your tax money is going to buy back the two abandoned railways, which once were in state ownership, but no longer due to either been sold off or lost due to neglect.
At the same time there are two other railways in Kerry which are still in public ownership and lying idle, (the Tralee – Fenit and Tralee – Limerick) and which could easily be converted to greenways (as per the objectives of the county development)
Wouldn’t would be great to see these routes developed, wouldn’t this be much cheaper and in so better value for the taxpayer !
But maybe an Irish solution to this Irish problem is that we all sit on the fence for a few more years by which time we will have to buy back this land too ?
The Great Southern Trailmakes the Top Ten list in last weekends Sunday Business Post magazine. It highlight the wonderful facility in County Limerick as well as the fact that it is hoped to eventually stretch to Tralee, to meet up with the the the currently developed section.
As posted recently Kerry CoCo unanimously voted to approve the Part VIII planning application for the second phase of the Tralee-Fenit Grennway /GST in Kerry, and they sure haven’t being slow to get working on this section of the route. Work clearing the rail-line began at the start of the month and huge wok has been completed over the last couple of weeks.
Kerry County Council have posted the Part VIII planning application for the second phase of the Tralee Fenit Greenway. This application deals with the section of the line from the station to the previously developed section at Rock street.
The planning documents are online and the date for receipt of submissions is the Friday August 29th. If you are in favour of this project then please make sure you make a submission to that effect.
Although this is a short section ((~500m) it is important as it provides a safe pedestrian and cycle route to the regions main public transport hub, connects with the existing Big River path, and in doing so connects with CBS national school.
Providing cycle links to all public transport hubs and schools by 2020 is part of the governments objectives as set down in the National Cycle Policy Framework.