The walks in Edgeworthstown were reopened to the public on Monday, July 20 after extensive redevelopment that was a collaborative project between Edgeworthstown Tidy Towns, Longford County Council, the HSE and the Lynch family.
This project is the county’s first dedicated cycleway to a primary school, which services the majority of the population of Edgeworthstown and is a vital link between the town’s housing estates and the school, Community Centre and the graveyard.
The walks were offically opened by John Cahill of Edgeworthstown Tidy Towns, blessed by Reverend Christian Snell and Fr Tom Healy and in the presence of Cathaoirleach of Longford County Council, Paul Ross.
This started out as a small project to clean up what was an overgrown, dark dangerous walkway that was prone to flooding after complaints were raised to the council by Cllr Ross.
The matter was raised and supported by the members of the Ballymahon Municipal District and Edgeworthstown Tidy Towns then proposed that the walk be upgraded to include the cycleway and, following a successful application for Clár Funding they qualified for €50,000 towards the project with the balance covered by Ballymahon Municipal District special projects fund.
Cllr Ross said that the state of the previous walkway was brought to his attention by Devine Crescent residents Sharon Hughes and Siobhan Murphy who live in Devine Crescent who asked if the council could do anything about it as it was still used by parents everyday to walk to school with their children.
“The original idea for the walk was brought together in the late 1970s to make a safe shortcut to the Granard road for walkers and cyclists,” Cllr Ross explained.
“But unforunately in recent times the walk had become unfit for purpose and when the opportunity arose to upgrade the walk the same vision now was even more relevent with the new school and community centre built in the last ten years.
“This cycleway is now very much in line with future policy of carbon free travel, a safe route for cyclists and pedestrians and will be a huge asset to the town.
“While we did not get applying for funding iniatially, when we got our new Area Engineer Paul Newell, he saw the merit in the project and has supported this with all his energy since day one and I would like to personally thank him for his support and enthusiasm for this project.”
Cllr Ross explained that he mentioned the project to Edgeworthstown Tidy Towns who were delighted to support it.
“They then came back with a study that showed that we could link up 11 of the 12 estates to the school, community centre and parish graveyard by this trackway. They then proposed that we upgrade it to a cycleway,” said Cllr Ross.
“While we had qualified for Clár Funding in 2019 under former Minister Michael Ring, when Paul Newell saw what could be acheived for the town, he and his team, John Doyle, PJ Gill and Pat Moran redesigned the plans to what we have today.
“This was not without some problems and the first of which was to get some additional land from the HSE site next door.”
This was made possible by Niall Collery of HSE estates who kindly provided the land to widen the path and include the cycleway.
“Niall was more than helpful and I must say that this consent all happened in a matter of weeks around the Christmas period and I must sincerely thank the HSE and Niall for their support of this project,” said Cllr Ross.
“The increase in the scale of the project meant increased cost and my collegues in the Ballymahon Municipal district allocated €10,000 from our special projects fund and I thank them for their support on this project.
“This really is a transformative project which is future proofed and something that we can all be proud of . This will form part of a wider plan of a connected cycleway around the town and this section was the key to unlocking the access to the school.
“While this is a small gathering today due to Covid 19 guidelines I look forward to seeing this as a very busy cycleway when we see a return to school in September,” he concluded.