WELCOME TO NEWPORT Young Ronan Chambers welcomes An Taoiseach Enda Kenny to Newport while Minister of State Michael Ring re-hydrates during last Friday’s opening of the full Great Western Greenway.?Pic: Michael Mc Laughlin
Taoiseach Kenny and Minister Ring lead Greenway celebrations
Conceived on a Council junket in the middle of the English Lake District, the Great Western Greenway was brought to life last Friday with a 42km cycle along the old railway line led by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.
After leaving Westport well behind schedule and with stop-offs in Newport and Mulranny, the peloton finally arrived in at the finish line in Achill for more celebrations to mark the official opening of the Greenway.
Earlier in the afternoon, Mr Kenny and his Minister of State at the Department of Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring officially performed the opening of the Greenway on the steps of Westport House.
Mr Kenny called the opening a day of celebration of forward thinking and vision in the county which can be copied across the country.
“What is involved here is real leadership in a tourism sense because there isn’t any other place in the country that has a facility of this extent and diversity available to people. I think it is quite brilliant, this is a microcosm of what we can achieve nationally. We have at our disposal brilliant opportunities to enhance what we have here today right across the country.”
Mr Kenny invited the assembled guests to join him on the cycle to as far as they could but joked that the schedule which included a buffet and gourmet food was not designed for cyclists.
The Greenway has become one of the main tourist attractions of the county with visitors coming especially to travel on it. More than 50,000 have reportedly used it between March and June of this year and Mr Kenny called for all these visitors to be made welcome and treated as VIPs.
The first phase of the Great Western Greenway, an 18km route off-road cycling and walking route from Newport to Mulranny, was opened in April 2010. Following the huge success of this first phase, the initial 18km route was extended, from Mulranny to Achill and from Newport to Westport, resulting in a 42km route. It was co-funded by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and Fáilte Ireland.
Minister Ring praised the vision and foresight of all the people who developed the Greenway which he said was not only a tourism amenity but also for the local people.
“But this route is not just about tourism. It has also facilitated people in the area in making local journeys by foot or by bike and has particularly helped local children achieve their Green Schools Travel ambitions. The route shows everyone that sustainable travel can be enjoyable travel.”
County Manager, Peter Hynes thanked all the government departments and agencies who worked on the Greemway. He praised Anna Connor, Walking Officer of Mayo County Council and Padraig Philbin for their work on the project and also the landowners for giving their consent.
Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Cllr Austin Francis O’Malley and Cathaoirleach of Westport Town Council, Cllr Christy Hyland also praised those for bringing the project to fruition.