12€ million has been invested in the walking and cycling path, which 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. CEO of Waterways Ireland John McDonagh stated: “We thank all stakeholders for their involvement, in particular the local communities who have been so invested in this Greenway. For them, this will have added economic benefits through job and new business creation with a wide range of accommodation options, bike hire offerings, attractions, as well as restaurants and cafes along the route.”
The trail of the Royal Canal Greenway stretches from the towns of Maynooth, Enfield, Mullingar and Cloondara in Longford, featuring 90 bridges, 17 harbours and four aqueducts along the way. Cyclists can choose to either complete the entire 130-km trail or to take shorter routes, ranging from 6 km to 15 km. The route can be easily accessed via fourteen points of connection with public transport. The Greenway has been designed to fit walkers, runners and cyclists of all ages and abilities.
Detailed information on services and maps to help with planning a route on the Royal Canal Greenway can be found on the website of Waterways Ireland. Cyclists who wish to reach the route directly from Dublin will have to wait until the works on the cycling path that will connect to Maynooth are finished. Please note that those wishing to experience the Royal Canal Greenway in the next few weeks are advised to adhere to Government guidelines on movement and social distancing.
A destination for nature and history lovers
The Royal Canal Greenway offers a wide range of natural and historical heritage. While running through rolling fields, passing waterside villages and working locks, it provides attractions allowing to immerse oneself into the rich history of Ireland’s Ancient East and Hidden Heartlands. The trail, formerly having functioned as a towpath, was built along the Royal Canal, which was constructed in 1817 to connect the River Liffey in Dublin with the upper River Shannon. Linking onto the Royal Canal Greenway are trails to Carton House in Maynooth,; Corlea Trackway Visitor Centre, one of the largest prehistoric roads in Europe, and Center Parcs. Additionally, cyclists can follow the National Famine Way, that was taken by 1490 emigrants at the peak of the famine 1847.
The Royal Canal Greenway forms a new segment of the EuroVelo 2 – Capitals Route, a 5.000 km route that crosses Ireland, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Belarus and Russia. Passing through six compelling but different capital cities, the route allows to combine first class dining, partying and culture with beautiful scenery such as the untouched Snowdonia National Park in the UK or the Białowieża Forest between Poland and Belarus.
Greenways as contributors to economy, public health, and sustainable tourism
The Royal Canal Greenway is only one of several popular greenways in Ireland that have been realised within the last few years. As reported by the Department of Tourism, Transport and Sport, the State’s investment in Greenways has delivered a significant economic boost to local communities, enhanced both the environment and the quality of life in the surrounding area, as well as been a contributor to the health and wellbeing of the public. In 2020 the government of Ireland announced, through the wellness initiative “Our Shared future”, a five-year, multi-annual funding programme, to allocate 10% of the total transport capital budget for cycling projects, and Greenways are part of it.