Fianna Fáil Councillor, John Paul Feeley has welcomed progress by County Councils in the region on the opening of the route of the Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway running from Enniskillen to Collooney in Sligo.
‘Last year, I proposed that Cavan County Council would look at the now closed railway lines in the County with a view to developing Greenways, walking and cycling routes on the routes of the old railways and in particular the old SLNCR line running through Blacklion. There had been some very welcome work done by members of the community in North Leitrim.’
In recent weeks, Eoin Doyle, Director of Services and Paddy Connaughton, Head of Community & Enterprise in Cavan County Council, Joe Gilhooley, Director of Services of Leitrim County Council, Dorothy Clarke, Director of Services in Sligo County Council and Eddie McGovern, Tourism Officer of Fermanagh District Council have met to discuss how the local authorities can work together to progress the project.
‘This project is unique. It would see an extensive route linking the Shannon-Erne Waterway, the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark, the North Leitrim Glens, the Ox Mountains and Yeats Country together through the utilization of the defund railway line. It is a cross border project and whilst that gives rise to certain challenges it makes the project all the more interesting and worthy of support by the County Councils, the Government and the Stormont Executive.’
The plans by the local authorities which would see the 47 mile route opened up based on the model used in Mulranney, County Mayo would see the lines re-opened for use by cyclists and walkers. The landowners along the route would consent to necessary works such as the laying down of a proper surface, the completion of fences and gates. No compensation was paid in County Mayo to any landowners but everyone is fully indemnified against any damage or injury. The landowners would not be asked to grant any kind of right of way to the users and would simply allow persons use the lands by way of licence only.
‘The County Councils will now work with members of the local community. They will work to identify landowners, survey the routes and prepare a detailed report and feasibility study on the project to form the basis for future funding applications. An initial application for funding for this element of the project will be lodged with the Department of Transport. This is a medium term project but it is one that can be brought on stream on a phased basis. It is a very exciting project that can be a major amenity for the local community and a huge attraction for tourists into the future.’
The Cavan County Councillor pointed out that on the Western Greenway in Mayo it was not practical in some areas to use the old railway line and in that event the Greenway diverted to local by-roads.
‘The local community have played a key role todate in this project. At this stage it is vital that the local authorities now step up to the plate and take a leadership role in driving this project forward. This project open to cyclists, walkers and possibly horseriders has the potential to bring many regional attractions together and provide a major tourist attraction for the region. I hope that landowners will get behind the project and that local business will avail of the opportunities that it will give in the future.’