Destination Kerry Tourism Forum – The people want greenways !

THE Destination Kerry Tourism Forum, the umbrella body for tourism in the county, established by Kerry County Council, organised a series of public meetings throughout the county in relation to the new Kerry Tourism Strategy, 2016-2020.

The forum visited Tralee on Tuesday May 12 and the notes of the public feedback from that meeting were published recently. It is inspiring to see that by far the most popular topic was Greenways and cycling walking facilities, with the Tralee to Fenit Greenway getting a couple of mentions specifically.
All these mentioned are highlighted in yellow bellow, with the lone mention of roofing the square in blue :)

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Phase 2 complete, well kind of…

Phase 2 of the Tralee to Fenit Greenway​ / Great Southern Trail in Kerry opened late last week and we have posted a few photos of the new route below.
As to be expected there have been ‘issues’ which have prevented the section from the Big River to Rock Street from being completed, this are due to a delay in authorisation from Dunnes Stores for the lowering of the wall of the super market car park bounding the path. It is hoped that this should be resolved and this section of the route completed within the next few weeks.

Castleisland 25 years ago, you could be talking about Fenit today !

A couple of interesting articles from over 25 years ago have appeared on the Down the Years section of The Kerryman newspaper recently, although the subject is Castleisland the similarities with the current situation with the Tralee – Fenit and the North Kerry line are uncanny:

  • A community that is crying out for a unused railway to be revitalised.
  • The land in question is state owned
  • A project that is part of the county development plan
  • Owners ( Irish Rail) who want to transfer the ownership to the local authority (Kerry Co Co)
  • And a local authority (Kerry Co Co) sitting on their hands !

We wonder how that turned out…

 

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Tralee to Fenit Greenway featured on RTE Nationwide

RTE’s Nationwide did a feature on the village of Fenit recently, the show opened with a 5 minute segment on the Tralee to Fenit Railway / Greenway highlighting the benefits to both locals and tourist alike.

Even on a dull day Fenit and Tralee Bay looked great on the screen, case you missed it you can view the clip here:

Presenter Anne Cassin introduced the segment by talking about how many rural communities have been looking at new ideas in order to bring visitors to their areas, and that due to the runaway success of Mayo’s greenway, many have been looking to cycling and walking routes.

It is ironic that Anne spoke these words as she strolled along the the recently opened section of the Greenway in Tralee, as this was part of the the first planned Greenway in Ireland the Great Southern Trail, long before the Mayo Greenway was a glimmer in Mayo County Councils eye !

The development of the route was detailed in a report in the late ’80s compiled by Sustrans (who now manage the U.K. cycle network) and commissioned by Shannon Development which detailed the potential of developing a trail along the 80 km railway, the report makes for interesting reading , and had it being carried out would have certainty transformed North Kerry, and probably become the project held up as the exemplar Greenway in the country.

Looking back it is clear that we in Kerry were asleep at the wheel over the last 2 decades when it comes to developing facilities like these and while we did nothing other parts of the country who did have the vision and drive are now reaping the rewards. Westport is repeatedly voted in the top the class in both tourism awards and accolades for quality of life, in short business in booming and the locals are happy !

Of course tourism and the economy are not the be all and end all here, there are more more serious issues at hand. On the same week as this episode aired, Ireland was shocked by reports that showed that the country is on the road to becoming the most obese population in Europe, with diet and lack of exercise being the root causes.

So what do we want, if we do nothing then the weeds continue to grow, the litter accumulate, tourists go elsewhere and we risks our childrens heath due to them having nowhere safe to walk or cycle.

The choice is ours…

Wild Atlantic Way Map

Wild Atlantic Way Map

One of Ireland’s leading illustrators Fuchsia MacAree has created this wonderful map of the Wild Atlantic Way for Cara, the Aer Lingus in flight magazine.

Of course Fuchsia chose to place a bicycle where the planned Tralee to Fenit Greenway and the Great Southern Trail will be located !

You can check out more of Fuchsia’s work on her website.

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Full Steam Ahead for Waterford Greenway while North Kerry still awaits.

This message received from The GST.
The best wishes of all lovers of the outdoors go Waterford  City & County Council who have obtained a licence from CIÉ to convert the very scenic old railway from Dungarvan to Waterford into the 50km Déise Greenway. The Council hope to have the entire project completed by the middle of 2016 (read full article in the link below). https://scontent-ams.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpa1/t31.0-8/10658698_1625774047652238_7211729681051107849_o.jpg?efg=eyJpIjoidCJ9

This Greenway will then become part of the EuroVelo1 Atlantic Coastal Route ( www.eurovelo.com/en/eurovelos ) which is being developed along all the coastal States from Portugal to Norway. The  40km Limerick section of the Great Southern Trail [GST] is also part of EuroVelo1 as is the Tralee Environs portion of the GST. The completed Limerick portion of the GST at present ends in open country at the Kerry Border and this situation has pertained since late 2012.

Following an initial public consultation process in 2013 Kerry County Council made an unsuccessful application for State funding to  develop the 10km from the Limerick Border to Listowel in 2014.  Since then they are in the process of acquiring the railway route from CIÉ and hope to have developed the 10km from the Limerick Border to Listowel by late 2016 if funding can be obtained.
It can be argued that this generous timeframe compares very unfavourably with achievements elsewhere in Ireland as exemplified by the Waterford example.
It is the view of the GST Ltd., who have led the Limerick development, that there should be a Greenway link all the way from Limerick City to Tralee/Fenit with maximum use being made of the dismantled railway.

Priorities ?

Kerry County Council have been in the news recently regarding two controversial projects both of which involve the development of cycleways and compulsory purchase orders.

These are the South Kerry greenway in which KCC plan to buy back the railway in South Kerry (which was sold off after it was abandoned decades ago) and the other is the N86 development which also involves buying land for a widened road and a cycleway, ironically parts of this land was also once part the Tralee to Dingle Railway alignment.

So essential your tax money is going to buy back the two abandoned railways, which once were in state ownership, but no longer due to either been sold off or lost due to neglect.

At the same time there are two other railways in Kerry which are still in public ownership and lying idle, (the Tralee – Fenit and Tralee – Limerick) and which could easily be converted to greenways (as per the objectives of the county development)

Wouldn’t would be great to see these routes developed, wouldn’t this be much cheaper and in so better value for the taxpayer !

But maybe an Irish solution to this Irish problem is that we all sit on the fence for a few more years by which time we will have to buy back this land too ?