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30 Nov 2021

All along the banks of the Royal Canal Greenway: Longford to benefit from new greenway route

All along the banks of the Royal Canal Greenway: Longford to benefit from new greenway route

The Royal Canal Greenway, a scenic 130km walking and cycling amenity stretching alongside the historic 225-year-old canal, was officially launched last Wednesday morning, ahead of the summer 2021 season.

The €12 million project co-ordinated by Waterways Ireland is the country’s longest Greenway, traversing through Kildare, Meath, Westmeath and Longford.

The newest outdoor adventure tourism attraction for the country, the Royal Canal Greenway is a former towpath for barges featuring 90 bridges, 33 locks, 17 harbours and four aqueducts.

Greenway users can choose to complete the entire 130km flat, off-road trail in one visit or explore the shorter designated routes — ranging from 6km to 15km — between the 14 connecting access points and towns.

“The Royal Canal Greenway is a wonderful amenity and a safe place to walk , run or cycle for people of every age and standard,” said Paul Hennessy, who is one of Longford’s Royal Canal Greenway ambassadors.

“I have been cycling on the Royal Canal since 2019 and I absolutely love it. When you set off from Longford there’s plenty of options and routes to take and even though Clondra is only a few kilometres out the road, it’s about a 35km round trip on the canal from town through Killashee. Or you can head in the other direction and go to Kenagh, Ballymahon, Abbeyshrule before heading to Westmeath and all the way to Meath and Kildare.

“On that route, there’s also a new section connecting the canal to Newcastle Woods. So the options are amazing and the routes are so safe. New signage is being added all the time so these routes are easy to follow.

“I’ve been on the other well publicised Greenways too, Waterford and the Western Greenway in Mayo. I travelled to both several times and stayed over to take full advantage of the fantastic routes they offer,” he added.

“They attract a lot of visitors from Ireland and overseas and I’ve no doubt The Royal Canal Greenway will attract many visitors to Longford and this will be wonderful for the local economy.

“I’m very proud to be an Ambassador for The Royal Canal Greenway and I urge everyone to go out and experience this wonderful free amenity on our doorstep (when we can travel again).”

Those wishing to experience the Royal Canal Greenway are advised to adhere to Government guidelines on movement and social distancing.

The Greenway has been completed in partnership with Waterways Ireland; the four local authorities of Kildare, Longford, Meath and Westmeath County Councils; the Department of Transport, and Transport Infrastructure Ireland and also forms part of EuroVelo 2, a 5,000km ‘Capitals Route’ that passes through Ireland, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Belarus and Russia.

Its launch has been warmly welcomed by people in Longford and beyond, with the lengthy route offering huge opportunities for local businesses and tourism.

Robert Crilly of Midlands Cycle Hub is one business-owner who hopes to benefit from the influx of tourist who are expected to enjoy the Greenway once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted somewhat.

Mr Crilly will launch his family-run bike-hire centre in Clondra on May 1, subject to Covid levels and restrictions.

“We’re strategically placed at the end of the Royal Canal to offer traffic free cycling,” he explained.

“With over 40 bikes at hand, we can provide assistance for routes that will suit all ages and our brochure will provide detailed cycle routes on the canal and throughout county Longford including information on accommodation and Coffee stops.

“We are also working closely with Longford County Council, providing details on existing cycle trails that are already sign posted throughout the county.

“The Royal canal is a great opportunity for restaurants, accommodation and outdoor activity providers to take advantage of ‘Ireland’s Longest Greenway’,” he added.

“ These same services have provided a boom in trade in the Waterford Greenway, where local interests claim that it has transformed the county.

“I would encourage all providers to contact local activity providers as studies have shown that customers will stay in accommodations longer if there are activities close by.”

Members of Longford County Council welcomed the announcement of the Greenway launch at a recnt meeting.

Cathaoirleach of Longford County Council, Paul Ross said: “We welcome the launch of the Royal Canal Greenway, which will be transformative for Longford.

“Those wishing to visit the Greenway can start their journey from the tranquil harbour village of Clondra or from Longford Town, and then travel towards Kenagh, Ballymahon, and Abbeyshrule.

“Once it is safe to travel again, we welcome walkers, runners, and cyclists to explore the wonder that is Longford for a truly incredible experience.”

For more on the Royal Canal Greenway visit royalcanalgreenway.org.

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