If there was a factory of 80 or 100 jobs created in Tralee or Fenit politicians would be jumping up and down saying isn’t it great and everything etc. But you know it’s time to step up to the mark because obviously there are issues that need to be sorted but millions and millions and millions or euro and hundreds of jobs are being lost because this isn’t being built…
Well said Alan Kelly we couldn’t have put it better ourselves !
After 25 years of tireless work developing the greenway along the old Tralee to Limerick railway the Great Southern Trail Limited have decided to cease managing the day to day running of the route.
For Limerick this makes a lot of sense as managing the route was proving taxing for a voluntary community group and it will be better managed and promoted by Limerick County Council.
This is great news for the Kerry too as the change of role will hopefully free up time and resources for the group to return to an advocacy role and to help realise of the rest of the route, from the Kerry border to Fenit.
The full statement is bellow, hat off to all involved for the great work, here to another 25 year, but hopefully it wont take that long !
The Directors of the Great Southern Trail Limited (GST) have decided to cease managing the Greenway as and from Sunday November 8th 2015 and their licence with CIÉ who are the owners of the Greenway will end. The GST thanks the Board of CIÉ for their vision in 2002 in facilitating the initial development of what was to become the first rural Greenway in Ireland along CIÉ property.
The GST is the only Greenway in Europe which is currently managed by a voluntary group. This fact had its origins over 25 years ago when the then State Agency, Shannon Development, withdrew from what had been their flagship and visionary Greenway project. As a result the prospect of the old Limerick-Tralee railway being reclaimed as farmland loomed large with the consequent loss of a very valuable State owned corridor. To safeguard the railway right of way the GST was founded and with excellent public support much of the old line was subsequently rejuvenated.
Initially only the 4km from Newcastle West to Ardagh was opened to the public as a walking route. Gradually, the GST was extended to 40km in West Limerick from Rathkeale westwards to the Kerry Border and upgraded to a cycleway. This success has placed a considerable onus on a volunteer group and despite the support of Community Employment, Rural Social and TÚS schemes the challenge of maintaining the Greenway to the standards demanded throughout the E.U. is a demanding one. In particular a very small number of farm crossings are the subject of unfavourable comment due to the difficulties encountered in keeping them clean.
In recent years all newly developed comparable Greenways have been managed by the respective local authorities. CIÉ has current partnership arrangements with Kerry, Waterford and Westmeath County Councils in respect of disused/abandoned railways that remain in CIÉ ownership and are also in negotiation with Kilkenny and Wexford County Councils about new projects. In fact it is probable that the entire Irish Greenway network will become part of the remit of the new Transport Infrastructure Service [TIS] when that organisation takes over the responsibilities of the National Roads Authority and the Railway Procurement Agency.
In June the GST notified CIÉ and Limerick City & County Council (LCCC) of its intention to cease management of the Greenway and is confident that an arrangement will be forged between CIÉ and LCCC to ensure that the 40km of infrastructure in West Limerick will continue to be available to the public after November 7th. This is an amenity into which about €2 million has been invested by many State and local agencies including the GST Ltd. which has also contributed thousands of voluntary hours to the project.
The GST Ltd. will be happy to support any new management structure and to be represented on it. The GST will also assist in promoting the Greenway and its further extension along the old North Kerry railway to Tralee/Fenit and looks forward to a link also being provided from Limerick City westwards to the GST at Ballingrane/Rathkeale thereby providing an attractive 120km route from the city to the sea.
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.
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.