Plans for a €1.3 million upgrade of the Great Southern Trail in County Limerick were unveiled yesterday.
Works are proposed for the 41 kilometre route between Rathkeale and the Limerick-Kerry border near Abbeyfeale, connecting Ardagh, Newcastle West and Barnagh.
The proposed plans would improve the surface of the trail and remove the need for cyclists to regularly dismount at gates along the trail.
The Great Southern Trail runs through some of County Limerick’s countryside and follows along the disused Limerick to Tralee railway line which closed in 1977.
The 41 kilometre Co Limerick section of the Great Southern Trail is suitable for off road walking and cycling between Rathkeale and Abbeyfeale and has become an attraction for hikers, cyclists and leisurely walkers.
The proposed development on the Great Southern Trail includes the replacement of numerous farm crossing gate pairs, installation of ten road crossing gate pairs and the repair of a partially collapsed culvert north-east of Abbeyfeale.
An estimated 3,000 metres of post and rail fencing will be constructed at different locations along the trail. Surface maintenance and drainage work will also be carried out.
Seating and cycle stands will be be installed at various points along the route and a signage system of information boards, directional signage and information about points of interest will be mounted along the trail.
Brian Kennedy from the Economic Development Directorate with Limerick City and County Council said, “This latest development of the Great Southern Trail will significantly enhance the amenity for everyone. We are working hard to create a greenway that will become a magnate for experienced and causal hikers and cyclists, along with families out for a stroll.”
“We are also looking at extending the trail towards Limerick city. Our ultimate goal is to have a greenway which stretches from Limerick city all the way to the Kerry border at Abbeyfeale,” he said.
The Great Southern Trial Group was awarded a special jury prize for developing the trail over 20 years at the European Greenways Awards in 2011.
Mr Kennedy said, “The Great Southern Trail has major tourist potential and we are hoping to exploit that for the benefit of businesses and communities across the county.”