PROGRESS with a greenway project for South and East Clare has prompted optimism that the development will have a transformative effect on tourism in the region, in the near future.
Deputy Michael McNamara has learned that Waterways Ireland, who secured €140,000 last July, is to go to tender for a feasibility study and preliminary design works next week.
Contractors for the study and design on the 41km route, which will start from the existing greenway to the University of Limerick (UL), crossing the River Shannon over the Black Bridge and following the old Errina Canal to O’Brien’s Bridge and onwards to Scariff, are expected to be appointed before Christmas.
“Both reports should be complete by the end of the first quarter of 2021,” the Independent TD told The Champion. “Because so much of the land along the route is in the ownership of the ESB, I would hope that issues that are affecting the development of greenways in Kerry and in West Clare would not arise. This should be a simpler process.”
The Scariff-based TD noted that there are a range of local route options including a path from Killaloe to Ballycuggaran and another from Ogonnelloe to Tuamgraney. “Ogonnelloe Community Council had the foresight to build a path almost to Raheen Community Hospital and Clare County Council have recently upgraded that. It’s going almost as far as Tuamgraney and offers a possible alternative route, if one is needed. All of this could progress quite quickly.”
Deputy McNamara cited the huge potential the Waterford Greenway had offered tourism business along its route and said that the impact of a greenway in south east Clare could be transformative. “In tandem with the development of the Holy Island Visitor Centre in Mountshannon, the greenway would offer the potential to transform tourism in this region,” he said. “When I was growing up, there was considerable tourism activity here. Then, West Clare powered ahead with the likes of the Cliffs of Moher and Loop Head Lighthouse and all of the attractions there, while East Clare declined in tourism terms.”
Deputy McNamara added that the saw particular potential for areas like Clonlara and O’Brien’s Bridge. “The building of Parteen Weir limited accessibility from O’Brien’s Bridge and it declined somewhat as a result,” he said. “I would hope this greenway would help to reverse that decline.”
The deputy also commended the local activists and Waterways Ireland for their role in progressing the greenway. “Waterways Ireland have form in this regard,” he said. “They have been instrumental in developing other greenway routes and there is potential for this project to link in with other routes beyond this region.”