Greenways – a lot done, a lot more to do

Slowly (sometimes very slowly) but surely Ireland is putting together a greenway network.

Already we have the more commonly known and well established Comber Greenway, the Great Western greenway (connecting Westport to Achill Island) and Waterford Greenway that opened in March 2017.

In Waterford it is estimated that more than ¼ million people now use the greenway annually.

The Royal Canal Greenway is Ireland’s longest greenway at 144km.

In the south greenway investment has increased significantly and we may be about to see the same in the north as the requirement for 10% of our transport budget to be spent on active travel (included in the Climate Change Act) starts to kick in.

It can be hard to keep a track of all the greenway development that is currently taking place. This is a taster of some of the work taking place across the country :


  • Last month planning was granted for a €5million urban greenway in Cork City that will form the first stage of the Cork – Bandon ‘super greenway’ following the route of the former West Cork railway corridor.
  • In May the Passage West Greenway was opened that runs from Cork City to Passage West.
  • A public consultation was launched last year into linking the Waterford greenway to the Tipperary / Suir Blueway.


  • Consultation has been ongoing this year in regard to the Barnesmore greenway that will run between Donegal Town and Ballybofey / Stranorlar.
  • In February Donegal County Council confirmed that TII had announced funding for a Carrigans to Lifford Greenway and a Three Trees to Carndonagh Greenway.
  • Public consultation has been taking place in regard to the Carndonagh to Buncrana Greenway
  • The 2.7km Strathfoyle greenway in Derry opened in June and is an extension to the Waterside Greenway. creates a traffic free experience for users from Strathfoyle all the way into the city centre.
  • A 2.4k section  greenway has been approved between Newtownards and Bangor.
  • In Belfast the Forth Meadow Community greenway will create a 12km route between Clarendon Playing Fields and the city centre.
  • A public consultation has launched this month seeking views on a greenway between Portrush and Bushmills.
  • Consultation is taking place regarding a greenway between Ballybay and Castleblaney.


  • The Sligo Leitrim Northern Counties Railway Greenway project public consultation will move to Phase 2 (route options) in October. It is envisaged this greenway will run from Sligo to Enniskillen via Leitrim and Cavan.


  • Dublin City Council published further design proposals in June for the 17km Dodder greenway. The southside greenway will reach from the city centre through to Tallaght and into the Dublin mountains.


  • The new 104m long Athlone greenway bridge that carries commuters over the Shannon opened this month. The government says it marks a ‘milestone’ in the delivery of the ‘coast to coast’ Dublin – Galway greenway.
  • The first phase of the South East Greenway (which will run from New Ross to Waterford City) opened on 25th This first section stretches for 6 k into neighbouring County Kilkenny.

A full list of what funding was allocated to greenways in the south for 2023 can be found here.

Some greenways have notably hit the skids this year. The faltering of the multi-million Ballymoney to Ballycastle greenway, a project that could have rivalled the Great Western greenway, seems to be dead in the water.  The fact that it was hardly covered outside the local newspapers is perhaps an indicator of how much more seriously greenways tourism is taken in the south. Significant opposition also led to the Holywood to Donaghadee greenway proposal being withdrawn earlier this year.

With so much development taking place it will soon become clear that the north will have a lot of catching up to do to match an ever strengthening greenway network in the south. Some northern councils are at the races whereas others clearly are not and the Department for Infrastructure will now have to clearly step up to make the building of our active travel infrastructure more straight forward to ensure projects do not get bogged down unnecessarily in the future.

In 2016 the Executive’s Greenway Strategy set out 7 primary network greenway routes that seem as far away as ever :

  • Belfast to Craigavon
  • Belfast to Larne
  • Belfast to Newtownards
  • Craigavon to Enniskillen
  • Craigavon to Newry
  • Craigavon to Derry
  • Dungannon to Coleraine

We often discuss the Irish railway infrastructure map that shows a huge gap in the north west. It appears that a huge gap in greenway infrastructure is also emerging and unless councils and government step up we will soon be talking about the significant lack of greenway infrastructure in places like Antrim, Derry (county not city) and Tyrone.

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