Greenways are designated traffic-free routes through more rural parts of the island of Ireland, with many on old disused railway lines. You can choose to walk, cycle or run an entire Greenway or you can opt for sections of the route, and if you’re planning to cycle, you’ll be glad to know that you can find places to hire bikes at different points along the major Greenways, which is handy!
There are now seven greenways across the island of Ireland, including a brand new one! Here’s some information about each one:
Let’s begin with the shortest, and newest: the 24km South East Greenway.
This Greenway links the riverside town of New Ross in County Wexford
to bustling Waterford city.
Passing through counties Kilkenny,
Wexford and Waterford,
it follows an old disused railway line, making for a peaceful jaunt through the countryside. Bike hire suggestion: Barrow Greenway Bikes.
The Limerick Greenway
is a 39km stretch through luscious countryside, charming towns and quaint villages. It was built along the old Limerick
railway line, and connects the market towns of Rathkeale, Newcastlewest and Abbeyfeale. Our favourite features of this Greenway are the numerous historical sites. Get ready for the 16th century Port Castle, the 19th century Fergusons Viaduct and the 115m Barnagh Tunnel, which opened in 1880. Bike hire suggestion: Limerick Greenway Bike Hire.
In Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands,
the Old Rail Trail Greenway
covers 43km from Athlone to Mullingar in County Westmeath.
Following the old Midlands Great Western Railway, this Greenway links Athlone Castle on the edge of the River Shannon, to the Royal Canal in Mullingar. If you’re looking for an easier cycle along this route, check out the Athlone to Moate section. It’s 14.5km long and crosses the biodiverse region of Crosswood Bog. Bike hire suggestion: OE Bike Hire Mullingar.
A Comeragh Mountains backdrop, 11 bridges, three viaducts and one tunnel are what you’ll find on the 46km Waterford Greenway.
Not to mention Viking sites, Norman castles, medieval ruins and the Copper Coast with its 19th century history of copper mining – this is definitely another Greenway for the history buffs. Bike hire suggestion: Waterford Greenway Bike Hire.
At 49km long, the Great Western Greenway
is next on our list – it was voted by the New York Times as one of the top three cycle trails in the world! Beginning in the lively County Mayo
town of Westport and following the old Midlands Great Western Railway, the Great Western Greenway weaves through bogland, farmland and woodland until it reaches Achill Sound. It’s a spectacularly scenic route, with views of Clew Bay, Clare Island and Croagh Patrick.
Bike hire suggestion: Westport Bike Hire.
Some of this next Greenway is blue… The Suir Blueway (Greenway)
is 53km in total, with a mix of land (21km) and water (32km) routes. From Carrick-on-Suir to Cahir via Clonmel, you can walk, cycle, run, kayak and canoe! As with bikes, we know not everyone has a kayak or canoe to hand, but luckily they’re easy to hire. Why not take a guided kayaking trip
along this route, too? Bike hire suggestion: Blueway Bike Hire.
And finally, the longest Greenway in Ireland at 130km is the Royal Canal Greenway.
As the name suggests, it follows a lot of the Royal Canal through counties Kildare, Meath,
Westmeath and Longford.
If you plan on doing the entire 130km, why not take advantage of the ample accommodation options along the route, including the impressive Carton House?
Bike hire suggestion: Mullingar Bike Hire.
Has our Community spent some time on the island of Ireland’s Greenways?