DESIGN work on the proposed Scariff to Limerick Greenway is to begin now that contracts have been signed, Clare’s Fianna Fáil TD has confirmed.
Deputy Cathal Crowe, who is his party’s tourism and aviation spokesperson, described the potential of the 41km route as “transformational in South and East Clare”.
The project, led by Waterways Ireland in conjunction with the ESB and Clare and Limerick County Councils, will result in a greenway stretching from Scariff to Killaloe, along the Errina Canal, crossing the River Shannon at the Black Bridge near the University of Limerick (UL) and on to Limerick City.
“There are really good road linkages between south and east Clare and Limerick City but a greenway will take people off the beaten track and allow them to experience the natural wonders of our county,” Deputy Crowe said. “The old Errina Canal was once one of the busiest waterways in Ireland but has fallen into a state of dereliction over the decades.
The development of the new greenway will bring a lot of footfall to smaller villages in our county that heretofore wouldn’t have even dreamt of the tourism trade reaching them.”
Cathaoirleach of the Killaloe Municipal District, Councillor Joe Cooney described new of progress with the greenway as very positive. “The news that contracts have been signed to progress to the design stage is very welcome,” he said. “We are looking at a time-frame for the completion of this greenway in late 2023.”
The Fine Gael member noted that the exact route of the greenway has not yet been decided. “We will have to wait to see what the route is and there will be some concerns to be ironed out with landowners,” he said. “I am sure, though, that by having people sit down together these matters will be addressed and that we will see the project progress in the near future.”
Deputy Crowe, meanwhile, highlighted the opportunity for villages along the route.
“I think it’s important that we now look strategically at some of these villages between Limerick City and Scariff and look to see are there ways of enhancing these villages so that they become attractive rest stops for people walking or cycling the greenway,” he said.
“One such village that I have in mind is Clonlara – the greenway will pass within 100 metres of the village centre and I think there’s now a strong argument for a village renewal scheme there to make it attractive for people to stop for tea, coffee or lunch before proceeding on along the route.
“The greenway will terminate at Scariff and I hope that this will lead to possibilities of people going further afield and exploring Inis Cealtra/Holy Island and all that Lough Derg has to offer.
“The tourism offering in Clare is colossal – but for too many years, has been imbalanced, with visitors favouring the west of our county, particularly the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren, with these sites ranking among the most visited in Ireland.
“The development of this greenway will ensure that there’s a more equal spread of tourism which will also trickle down with more economic benefits for the smaller towns and villages along the eastern border.
“I’m a keen cyclist myself and look forward to using the greenway amenity when it’s developed.”