Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring TD, opened a new 4 km section of the Grand Canal Greenway in County Offaly.
This stretch of the Grand Canal Greenway, which has been developed by Offaly County Council along with Waterways Ireland and local partners, takes the user from urban Tullamore to Ballycowan Bridge.
The Department of Rural and Community Development has allocated funding to Offaly County Council for further extension of the greenway.
“The stretch of greenway being opened today along the idyllic Grand Canal is another key link in the Greenway which will run from Grand Canal dock in Dublin all the way to the River Shannon and eventually on to Galway," said Minister Ring on Thursday
“The Grand Canal Greenway has the potential to make a significant social and economic impact on the areas that it passes through and it is wonderful to see it coming to fruition. I encourage local people and those from further afield to get out and use it. I can’t think of a better way to experience the Irish countryside. I have no doubt that the Grand Canal Greenway will entice people from near and far into the heart of Ireland for generations to come.
“The creation of greenways across the country is leading to a change in how we engage with our natural environment. Last year, over 850,000 people used the Waterford Greenway in the first nine months after it opened. Over 70% of users are local people while visitors from outside the county are spending an average of €109 per day on local hospitality services. The Great Western Greenway in Mayo has transformed the Clew Bay area economically and provides a wonderful local amenity.
“According to Fáilte Ireland, over 2.5 million visitors engaged in either walking or cycling when they visited Ireland in 2016. This, coupled with the increasing use of such facilities by our own population, reinforces the importance of facilities such as the Royal Canal Greenway from both an economic and social perspective.”
The Minister added "I am delighted to have been able to provide additional financial support of €200,000 under the 2017 Outdoor Rural Recreation Scheme, operated by my Department, for further development of the Grand Canal Greenway in Offaly from Rahan to Ballycowan Bridge and from Tullamore Harbour to Digby Bridge.
“One of the main objectives of the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, which will provide an additional €1 billion for rural development through my Department up to 2027, will be to drive collaborative, co-ordinated and complementary packages of investment between Departments, agencies, local authorities and other public bodies. By pooling assets and working with local communities, and the private sector where appropriate, we can transform our rural towns and villages and outlying rural areas.”