An extra €500,000 in funding has this week been allocated towards the construction of the Connemara Greenway between Oughterard and Clifden.
As part of the €8.14 million third phase of the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme, the maximum amount of half-a-million euro has been granted to the project which aims to create a greenway along the old Galway to Clifden railway line.
The funding has been welcomed by campaigners for the greenway who say any funding for the project moves it one step closer to completing the full 76km stretch between Galway city and Clifden.
Representative for the Connemara Greenway Alliance, Tiernan McCusker, said the announcement was hugely positive.
“We would welcome the funding. Considering that there’s a lot of competition from a number of greenways around the country, and a lot of those are shovel-ready, this is very good news for the people of Galway and the people of Connemara,” said Mr McCusker.
Mr McCusker said they have been supported by Galway County Council in their pursuit of a greenway – the construction of which campaigners believe will be hugely beneficial from both and environmental and economic point of view.
A six kilometre stretch of the greenway from Athry to Cloonbeg, running close to Ballynahinch Castle, was opened in May of this year.
Mr McCusker said that while the news of this funding was still fresh, it was their belief that section would continue to be extended.
If completed, the greenway from the city to Connemara would be the longest in Ireland, and has the potential to create jobs and new business along the route – opening the communities from Moycullen to Clifden up to the huge numbers of tourists that visit Galway City every year.
Campaigners hope to emulate the success of the Waterford Greenway, creating a walkway and cycle path along the railway line that has been out of use since 1935.
Commenting on the announcement, Minister for the Gaeltacht, Seán Kyne, said the additional funding will further boost efforts to upgrade the old railway route for walkers, runners and cyclists.
“The funding is under measure three of the Outdoor recreation Infrastructure Scheme which is specifically for the development of larger, strategic projects.
The maximum allocation of €500,000 has been granted for the Connemara Greenway in this round,” said Minister Kyne, adding that this brings to €2.8 million the amount that has been provided to the project to date.
“This funding will ensure further progress on the Greenway in Connemara which is a facility that will benefit local communities as well as visitors to our county.
“The funding builds on the sections of the greenway already developed and will help spur on the progress of the remaining sections,” said the TD for Galway West.
While progress on the project has been slow, particularly due to disputes over land on the city to Moycullen section, Mr McCusker said they remain optimistic that the project will be completed.
“We hope to see an extension from Galway to Moycullen in the coming years,” he added.