The extension of the Great Western Greenway into the heart of the Polranny village on Achill will be opened in the next fortnight. It is hoped that the new section will alleviate ongoing major safety concerns where the greenway runs out before reaching the island.
The Greenway currently ends roughly 1.5km short of the entrance to the island, forcing users to join the main R319 road to complete their journey onto Achill. This part of the road is governed by a 80kmp/h speed limit, and in recent years there have been near misses involving cyclists and motorists.
Following negotiations between a landowner and Mayo County Council, the landowner gave consent for land access, and work began earlier this summer to extend the greenway to the entrance to the island.
Due to the lack of funding, the project was not fully completed. However, in recent weeks, Cllr Paul McNamara and Cllr Michael Holmes allocated close to €100,000 of LIS allocation to complete the work. This will also allow an unfinished section of the greenway in Saula to be completed.
“The completion of this work will make a huge difference to the whole greenway experience in Achill,” said Cllr McNamara. “At present cyclists and pedestrians have to come onto the road at a dangerous junction, and it has resulted in major safety concerns, especially for young children.
“Myself and Cllr Holmes have lobbied for this work to be done, and we are delighted it is nearing completion,” he said.
Speaking at the launch of the Achill Community Action Plan on Sunday, Minister Michael Ring said he wanted to see the greenway extended onto the island.
The only section of the greenway on the island is the as-yet-unfinished part along an old bog road in Saula. Cllr McNamara said he would like to this section completed, and extended from there to Cashel.
“I welcome Minister Ring’s committment to the greenway … Tourism is important to the parish, and we all have to work together to see it completed.
“I will be lobbying for money to connect the Greenway from Achill Sound to Springvale and through Saula to Cashel,” he said, adding that a large financial injection from the State is needed rather than small tranches of funding.