AMBITIOUS Padraig Philbin said Mayo County Council wants to create 200km of greenways right across the county. Pic: Michael McLaughlin
A SENIOR official with Mayo County Council has told councillors that the goal for the county is to have 200km of Greenways which will ‘separate’ Mayo from the rest of country and make the county the destination of choice for cyclists.
Padraig Philbin, a Senior Executive Engineer with Mayo County Council, outlined the vision for what the county hopes to achieve when giving an update on the 19km Westport to Louisburgh Greenway, which will be known as the Clew Bay Trail.
Minister for Rural Affairs, Michael Ring allocated close to €1 million for the project in the summer, which will be used to build 8km of walking and cycling trails.
Mr Philbin said that project will be split into phases with phase one from Bertra to Murrisk and the other from Old Head to Louisburgh. He said they are looking to work with landowners and businesses along the route and expected work to ‘start in earnest’ in 2018.
Mayo was seen as the pioneering county in developing cycle and walking trails when the 42km long Great Western Greenway from Westport to Achill was opened in 2010. Since then a number of counties have opened their own trails, with the 46km long Waterford Greenway from Dungarvan to Waterford now the longest in Ireland.
Mr Philbin told councillors said they wanted to continue to expand Greenways around the county and the plan was to have 200km of Greenways.
“There are other Greenways around the country who are trying to replicate what we are doing here in Mayo over the last ten years. We need to ensure the Greenway remains competitive and better than what is done in the rest of the State.
“If you look at the Greenway north of Clew Bay, there is not a landowner along the route who is not proud as punch of the Greenway and what it has done to the area. [Having] 200km of Greenway is our goal in the future … it will separate us from the others,” he said at last week’s meeting of the West Mayo Municipal District in Murrisk Community Centre.
The funding for the new Clew Bay Trail was welcomed by the councillors who agreed that Mayo should be developing their tourism product to generate growth in the region. Westport-based Independent councillor Christy Hyland said the Greenways will create employment in the area give opportunities to young people.
Cllr Michael Holmes said that getting 170 landowners along the Great Western Greenway to agree to give access to their lands was a miracle and at the time did not believe it would happen. He encouraged co-operation between the Council and landowners along the route and believed once the project starts it will be completed in full.
Cllr Brendan Mulroy issued a word of caution, saying he foresees problems occurring if the Greenway brings extra visitors to areas like Murrisk, which still does not have an adequate water supply at present.