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Deputy Michael McNamara.

Clare makes cycle tracks


Clare benefits from preferred route for Galway-Athlone cycleway

TOURISM benefits for this region have been highlighted by Clare’s Independent TD, following the publication of the preferred route for the Galway-Athlone section of a leisure trail that will extend all the way to Dublin.
This week, it was announced that a 140km cycleway will run through Ballinasloe, Portumna, Gort, Kinvara, Clarinbridge, Oranmore and then on to Galway City.
“Route 5 will also dip into Woodford and Derrybrien,” said Deputy Michael McNamara. “Woodford is only 15 miles from Scariff which will be the starting point for the proposed new greenway to Limerick.
“There are lots of clear opportunities here for the development of walking and cycling tourism and there are already very quiet routes across the Slieve Aughtys which connect Woodford and Scariff,” he noted.
“What we have here is the potential to link a series of routes from Galway to Limerick, running through South Galway and East and South East Clare.”
The Scariff native added that several benefits will accrue to communities along the cycleway route.
“This is potentially very good news for communities along these routes with opportunities to boost the kind of tourism that this area was famous for,” he said.
“When I way young, there were lots of tourists cycling and touring the route between Portumna, Willliamstown and Mountshannon. That was tending to fall away in recent years, but there’s a real opportunity now to revive it.
“I have discussed with officials the potential of linking the Galway-Athlone and Scariff-Limerick routes and it doesn’t take a huge amount of imagination to spot the possibilities on offer.”
News of the preferred route has also been welcomed by tourism and community development interests in South Galway.
“This route corridor selection will mean that people will be able to experience the beautiful scenery in South and East Galway, learn more about its history, heritage and most importantly, get to know its people,“ said Katleen Bell-Bonjean, from the Red Route 5 Cycleway Group and active South Galway cycling advocate.
“This will make a vastly unexplored area accessible to cyclists and walkers, both on and off the Greenway, and help boost the economy of those areas.”
Karen O’Neill, Vice Chair of the Burren Lowlands CLG also welcomed the selection of Route 5.
“The greenway will have a huge positive effect on the economy and well-being of the towns and villages along and close to the route,” she said.
“As a community group we are delighted with the announcement that the “Red Route” is the preferred route for the national greenway from Athlone to Galway city and is very much aligned with our goals which are centred on the social and economic development of the communities of South Galway and North Clare.
“This is very good news for some of the rural communities along East and South Galway”, added David Murray, from the Red Route 5 Cycleway Group.
“We see clear evidence that cycleways offer many benefits and this route will offer much needed revitalisation to struggling rural communities.
“It’s also brilliant news for cyclists and walkers as we think that Route 5 offers the most in terms of its diversity, impressiveness of its scenery and for the amount of things to see and do along the trail.”
The emerging preferred corridor is a wide route – several kilometres in places – and the project will now go into the next public consultation phase to work out the finer details of the route.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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