Lee Valley Trail extension anounced

AS work begins on the construction of the new 10km Tralee to Fenit Greenway, Kerry County Council has announced plans for the extension of an adjacent walking and cycling route along the coast of Tralee Bay which would connect with the greenway and provide a new leisure amenity for the area.

The council is proposing to extend an existing Lee Valley Trail which has been developed in recent years from Ballymullen to Ballyard and from The Basin to Cockleshell.

Plans are being developed to continue this coastal route – which forms part of the North Kerry Way – as far as Spa village. This would allow users to connect to the new greenway at the Spa at the rear of the Oyster Tavern.

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin TD recently visited the walkway at the of end of Cockleshell Road and discussed with councillors and officials the proposal to continue the walkway to The Spa, a distance of approximately two kilometers.

Subject to funding and the agreement of local landowners, the walkway and cycleway, when completed, would allow users to travel along the coast to The Spa, cross the road in Spa village and join the Fenitgreenway to continue their journey on foot or by bicycle.

It would effectively provide a looped route to and from Tralee via the greenway and the coastal walkway/cycleway and ultimately extend to Ballyseedy wood.

Kerry County Council looks forward to the extension of the route at the earliest opportunity. Meanwhile preliminary work is underway on the new Tralee-Fenit Greenway along the route of the old railway line, following the receipt of €3m from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Is Kerry ready for the Greenway economy?

Barnagh Tunnel on the Southern Trail

The recent announcement of funding of €6.5 million for two Kerry greenway projects, the Southern Trail extension to Listowel and the Tralee/Fenit Greenway, was a hugely significant victory for the many people who have been campaigning for decades for these under-utilized assets to be developed. Indeed, the planning application for the 10.47Km long Tralee/Fenit Greenway received no less than 277 submissions, the vast majority expressing strong support for the project.

Upon completion of the final stretch from Listowel to Tralee, the Southern Trail will stretch 85km from Limerick to Tralee and on to Fenit, making it the longest greenway in the country. It will link many towns in north Kerry, including Ardfert, Abbeydorney and Lixnaw, providing a welcome economic boost to these towns. The Tralee/Fenit Greenway will connect Kerry’s biggest town to the port town of Fenit, enjoying spectacular views of Tralee Bay and the Slieve Mish mountains.

The countywide significance is amplified by the other potential greenways in South Kerry, Killarney, Dingle and Castleisland. But is Kerry ready to take advantage of this fantastic new development? If we look at the existing Irish greenways in Mayo and Waterford, we can get a good insight into how best to leverage these phenomenal resources.

Train carriage turned cafe on the Waterford Greenway.

A 2011 Failte Ireland study of the Mayo Greenway estimated that it annually attracts 23,000 people from outside the area, bringing an extra €7.2million into the local economy. Aside from cycle hire and transport, the Greenway also brought significant increases in demand for food and accommodation, spreading the benefits across many sectors.

Similarly, the Waterford Greenway has given a huge boost to local economy there. A public house at Durrow reportedly took in more money in one day when the Greenway opened than it had the whole previous year. Dungarvan town, at the far end of the Greenway, actually ran out of accommodation last summer and a new hotel is currently being built there to accommodate the influx of visitors.

This public house in Durrow, Co Waterford, took in more money in one day when the Greenway opened than in the whole previous year.

All along the Waterford Greenway, both new and old businesses have been thriving: the old railway carriage turned into a café at Kilmeaden or Mount Congreve House and Gardens which has received a huge boost from the Greenway passing along its northern boundary. The Coach House is another busy expanding restaurant, with cycle hire and music venue situated in historic Famine Workhouse in Kilmacthomas right on the Greenway.

The Tralee/Fenit Greenway has many historic and cultural amenities along the route. As detailed by local archaeologist Laurence Dunne, the area the rail-line passes through has a rich history going back millennia. There are thirty seven ringforts adjacent to the route which date from early medieval times, and during the Civil War Sammy’s Hill at Kilfenora was the site of a pitched gun battle between the local IRA and Free State troops who had landed in Fenit. The grave of Mary O’Connor, the original Rose of Tralee is also situated along the route.

The tourist potential of such sites speaks for themselves, but it will require a concerted effort to promote them to fully realize this potential. Proper signage needs to be developed at either ends of the Greenway and along the route, indicating the significance of the various places. Importantly, the intersection of the existing Greenway at Rock Street in Tralee town requires considerable redesign, if only for reasons of safety.

Proper signage along the route is very important.

A key issue is accessibility: will visitors be able to park at convenient locations along the Greenway? Will local people be able to get onto the Greenway at a location close to their homes?

For the Waterford Greenway, careful consideration was given to these issues so that access points with adequate carparks are located at sites of other amenities, such as at pubs or restaurants or at towns along the route. For the Tralee/Fenit Greenway, natural points of entry would be in the Spa and Kilfenora, where such amenities already exist, but no provision was made for this in the Kerry County Council planning application.

St. Brendan’s National School, Fenit (in red) relative to the Greenway (in green).

Similarly, the two primary schools along the route – Spa and Fenit National Schools – have not been directly connected to the Greenway. In the latter case, the line passes right beside the school but at such a depth as to require a significant ramp being built. It is encouraging that, as reported in the County Manager’s planning application response, discussions are on-going with the school to facilitate this.

Farm and Greenway share a tunnel on the Waterford Greenway.

For the Spa National School, the 200 pupils will have a long trek over poor roads to get to the closest access point on the line, taking them through the busy junction in the village centre. This has so far not been addressed and will require urgent consideration for the safety of the children.

As soon as it is completed, the schoolchildren will not wait for the Council to design a proper, safe intersection and to improve the road: they will use it immediately as their daily commute. This certainly was the case of the first part of the Greenway from Tralee to Mounthawk School, which was used regularly by school children long before the Council finally opened it up.

Another important aspect that needs to be considered is connectivity, and it is remarkable that the two Greenways join at the edge of Tralee. Ideally, Greenways should offer a variety of return routes, linking up with existing infrastructure. For example, a return route from the Spa along the seafront to Blennerville would link the Greenway with the Canal walk from Tralee, adding significantly to both amenities.

Finally, local businesses should seize the opportunity to attract more custom by offering some of the simple amenities which can have a big impact on visitor experience. For example, it should not be too much to expect that businesses offer proper bicycle parking, while hotels should offer rental and repair services. These adjustments are fast being made by all businesses along the existing Greenways, and it would be encouraging to see local enterprises leading the way here.

After so many years of delay, it is time for Kerry to embrace these new developments and to ensure that the maximum benefit accrues to the region.

€6.5 for Kerry Greenways

So the rumors were true it was announced today that 2 greenways in Kerry are to share €6.5m in funding under the Project Ireland 2040 plan. €3 million is being allocated for the Tralee-Fenit greenway, while €3.5 million will go towards the North Kerry project from Listowel to Kilmorna.

Minister Griffin says this funding will ensure both projects will be fully completed and as both projects are “shovel ready”, and says it will only be a matter of months before work on the projects gets underway.

Minister Confident of Funding for Kerry Greenways

After some rumours last week we just received this statement from Minister Brendan Griffin, great news for the Great Southern Trail and Tralee-Fenit Greenway.

And good to hear that the funding previously committed to the South Kerry Greenway has been reserved.

Statement by Brendan Griffin TD, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

MINISTER of State for Tourism & Sport, Brendan Griffin, is today (Thursday) assuring people that he is totally confident of a positive announcement of substantial funding for the Tralee-Fenit and Listowel-Kilmorna Greenways in the coming weeks.

Minister Griffin says that a competitive application process for greenway funding has just concluded within the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and that both North Kerry Greenways have fared well.
He said that he is fully confident that the projects will receive the funding they need from his Department to proceed to full construction and looks forward to making the official announcement in the coming weeks.

“This is really great news for the county. The tranche of funding about to be announced is being allocated for shovel ready Greenways and we have two such projects in the county.
“I worked hard to secure a national greenway fund in Budget 2018 with Minister Shane Ross and the existence of this fund now means that both Greenways will go ahead.
“I am glad to be bringing even more funding to Kerry and these projects have the potential to be major game changers for the greater Tralee and Listowel areas.
“I look forward to working closely with Kerry County Council to ensue that the process of constructing the Greenways begins as soon as possible and I look forward to cycling on both beautiful routes before long.
“Finally, it’s important to state that a pot of funding has been reserved for projects currently going through the planning process, such as the South Kerry Greenway. I will continue to monitor developments on that project and our Department will do everything we can to assist at the appropriate time in the future.”

Public consultation days on North Kerry Greenways

Things finally seem to be moving along on the development of the Kerry section of the Great Southern Trail the Tralee to Fenit Greenway as Kerry County Council announce that they are to hold a public consultation day regarding each projects in Fenit and Listowel respectively.

Maps of the route of the proposed greenway will be on display for inspection throughout the day. Kerry County Council officials will be available to discuss any aspect of the projects on a one-to-one basis with landowners and interested parties during the hours specified above. In the event that a person cannot attend, an appointment can be made on an alternative date in their office in Tralee or at their landholding if preferred.

Public consultation day regarding the proposed Tralee to Fenit Greenway 

Venue: Fenit Parish Centre
Date: Wednesday 23rd May 2018
Time: 11am – 8pm

Public consultation day regarding the proposed North Kerry Greenway – Listowel to Limerick County Bounds (Sluicequarter).

Venue: Listowel Arms Hotel (Greenville Room)
Date: Thursday 24th May 2018
Time: 11am – 8pm




John Grimshaw (Sustrans) GST talk

The Great Southern Trail will host a presentation from John Grimshaw next Friday (13th April 2018) at 8pm at the Glórach Theatre, Abbeyfeale, Co.Limerick.

John Grimshaw is a pioneer of Greenway developments for almost 50 years, he founded the UK’s leading sustainable transport charity Sustrans heading it up for 30 years before standing down to set up his own consultancy ( johngrimshawassociates.co.uk ).

John was the author of the Great Southern Trail report commissioned by Shannon Development which was published in 1988 and proposed a trail on the former Kerry/Limerick railways, the project which has still to be realised is seen as Ireland’s first planned Greenway, at that time John walked the entire route from Tralee to Ballingrane.

John and a few associates are visiting several Irish Greenways including the Great Southern where he and his colleagues will cycle from Rathkeale to the Kerry Border and they are delighted to hear of the positive developments which will hopefully see the Greenway extended into North Kerry in the not too distant future.

As part of the presentation John will outline his experiences in developing Greenways and the multiple benefits that accrue to communities as a result. For both dedicated Greenway enthusiasts and those who wish to inform themselves this will be a rewarding evening.

Kerry County Council begins consultation along the proposed North Kerry Greenway

Following the transfer of the two North Kerry railways from CIE last year, Kerry County Council has this week begun the consultation process with interested parties along the proposed North Kerry Greenway.

Letters were delivered to residents and landowners adjoining the route which will run from the current Great Southern Trail head at the county bounds to Tralee where it will join with the Tralee to Fenit Greenway.

This is a long awaited development in a project which was originally initiated 30 years ago this year. In 1988 Sustrans was commissioned by Shannon Development to carry out a comprehensive feasibility study on the development of the Great Southern Trail.

The report outlined Ireland’s first planned greenway, over the intervening three decades the entirety of the  Limerick section of the route has been converted. While Kerry has fallen behind there has been action on both ends over the last number of years with the opening of the urban section in Tralee and the ongoing clearance of the 10.5km section between Listowel and the Kerry border. A survey of this section is currently being carried out, and it’s expected the design of the greenway will be completed by the end of August then preparation of the necessary planning documentation can begin.

Barnagh tunnel

Last year Limerick Council took over the running of the Limerick section of the route from the volunteer led GST Ltd. and plans to invest significantly in the amenity allocating €1.2 million in their 2018 budget to the project. They are currently in the process of re-branding the route as The Southern Greenway, along with the installation of new signage there are also plans to rejoin the Barnagh tunnel to the route which was previous cut off due to road realignment as well as resurfacing the trail. Longer term plans include extending the route right into the heart of Limerick City.

In Kerry the route would not only provide a much needed boost to tourism in the area but would also serve to provide a safe off road link connecting the North Kerry towns of Tralee, Ardfert, Abbeydorney, Lixnaw and Listowel, as well as linking isolated rural communities.

The Great Southern Greenway which if fully developed would be almost 100km in length making it Ireland’s longest greenway. The route will also form part of Trans-European  EuroVelo 1 and in time will link up with other greenways such as the Waterford and Mayo greenways in order to provide a dedicated cycle route from Wexford to Belfast along the Atlantic coast, much of the route would be in parallel with the Wild Atlantic Way.

Greenway funding ?

Kerry TD John Brassil raised a parliamentary question recently regarding funding for the stalled Tralee to Fenit Greenway:

To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will allocate funding to Kerry County Council to allow it to proceed with the Tralee to Fenit greenway now that all land ownership issues have been resolved; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

As part of his reply Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross stated that:

it is not intended to issue a further funding call in the immediate future.

A week later Minister Ross was in Athlone to open an extension to the Dublin Galway Greenway where he indicated that new Greenway funding would be announced this year.

I expect to be announcing a new competitive round of funding later this year.

We are not too sure if things change that much in a week but it seems that a new funding round for Greenways may come on stream later this year, this can only be good news for the Tralee to Fenit Greenway and similar projects around the country.

Update 21st April

John Brassil has indicated that he has sought clarification from Minister Ross.

Update 8th May

Minister Ross has responded to the additional PQ raised by John Brassil in order to clarify the funding timeline.

Unfortunately it seems that additional Greenway funding may not be available in the near term. This has implications not only for the Tralee-Fenit Greenway project but also for the South Kerry Greenway and the Kerry section of the Great Southern Trail.

That said it is good to hear that the department is committed to funding these project over the remaining years of the current capital plan.

There will be no new funding calls for greenways until the review of the Capital Plan is complete and there is clarity on the funding that will be available for greenways for the remaining years of the capital plan.

Greenway Linkage

One of the main complaints of the first phase of the Tralee to Fenit Greenway was the lack of route permeation and linkage with estates it passes, with only one intermediate access point along the whole route, this issue was observed by numerous individuals and groups as part of the planning process.

A prime example of this was at Gort Na Greine where the existing access point was blocked up with industrial palisade fencing despite the fact that at the time of the development this was a well trodden route.

Within a short period of the fencing being installed a few sections were removed and people were able to ‘unofficially’ use the link again , it was a common sight to see people lifting bikes and even children in pushchairs through the gap in the fence.

The ultimate irony here was the fact that the Gort Na Greine road had an existing cyclepath, the white line can be seen runnign down the center of the footpath  in the picture above.

It was great to hear that this very issue was raised by Cllr. Pa Daly at the November Tralee Municipal District meeting, and that the fencing will be removed and access restored.


11. Cllr. P. Daly:
That this Council will construct an official gateway on to the Fenit Walkway from Gort Na Greine.
The existing palisade fence and gate will be removed and a new pedestrian access will be provided to facilitate connectivity between the local
estates and the Walkway
Cllr. P. Daly said that he welcomed this reply


Update April 2016

Kerry County Council have finally removed the fencing to allow ‘official’ access onto the greenway from Gort Na Greine and adjoining estates, this is great for linkages along the greenway.

It is surprising that the full fencing was not removed only the part bounding the roadway meaning that pedestrians have to depart the footpath and travel along the roadway, a situation not ideal especially for the elderly, people with pushchairs, and wheelchair users.