Hopes are high a 60km canal-side cycling track from Shannon Harbour to Edenderry will get funding to progress this year.
Vice chairperson of Offaly County Council Liam Quinn said this week Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport Alan Kelly gave promises to “look favorably” on the project on his visit to Offaly to officially open the Tullamore to Tubber cycle track earlier this week.
“The midlands needs something to boost our tourism numbers,” Cllr Quinn said, adding that the project when complete could offer a favourable alternative to visitors from the east of the country who might otherwise travel to the Great Western Greenway in Westport, Co Mayo.
The proposed route would also create an attractive cycling link between the towns and villages in Offaly situated on the canal and would link up with the national cycle network via the Tullamore to Tubber cycle lane.
Like the Mayo cycle track, which uses a former railway line, an Offaly cycleway would make use of the track already provided by the canal and therefore take much of the work that would otherwise be associated with such a project away.
The project would not just see a cycle track added however, but would also include appropriate signage along its route pointing out tourist attractions.
“Built into the entire approach would be tourism elements the county has to offer,” Cllr Quinn explained. The route would also offer transport solutions for visitors who might join the route at one point, leave it at another and need transport back to the original area as well as a possible bike rental scheme.
While the route would be ideal for a two to three day adventure, Cllr Quinn says it would also be an ideal day trip destination.
“The overall thinking is if a family in Dublin wants to go to Westport it’s a pretty big undertaking,” he said. “If a family wanted to come down to Edenderry for a day trip it’d be quite feasible.”
It’s unknown as yet what the project might cost to complete, but Cllr Quinn said he’s keen to see it progress whether funding is modest or more.
“With a modest amount of funding we could do a basic amount of work,” he said. “If they gave us a decent amount of funding we could add more.”