The greenway trail for West Cork which is due to go to design stage must begin in Clonakilty according to Clonakilty based county councillor Christopher O’Sullivan. His comments came at a meeting of the council’s western committee, where councillors were given a presentation on the progress of the Greenway Trail, which is proposed to run from Clonakilty to Courtmacsherry. The trails will incorporate old and disused railway lines by making them accessible for walking and cycling. A similar type trail has already been launched with great success in county Mayo.
Councillors were informed that three sections of the Trail have been identified and studied so far. Section one goes from Clonakilty to Ballinscarthy, section two goes from Balliniscarthy to Timoleague and section three runs from Timoleague to Courtmacsherry. Feasibility studies have already been carried out in these routes. According to Cllr O’Sullivan, the obvious place to start would be Clonakilty. He said “it makes sense that the trail would start in Clonakilty. Being an important tourist town it already has a ready made market to use the route. Also it has a large resident population who would definitely welcome such an amenity.”
The Fianna Fail councillor also pointed out that proposed Greenway section from Clonakilty to Balliniscarthy would incorporate 26 acres at Gullane Lake at Clonakilty. He said “this is land which the council already owns, therefore they can avoid potential conflict with landowners.” He continued, “it has the potential to become a fantastic amenity for the town. As chairman of the Tourism Sector of Clonakilty Chamber of Commerce I feel it s vital that we are always looking at ways to attract new tourists to the area. The lake at Gullane gives us that opportunity.” Councillor O’Sullivan recently co-organised the planting of 2000 trees on two acres of this land. He said “On that day over 100 volunteers spent the entire day planting species of native Irish woodland trees. It was the reaction of the volunteers to the unique beauty of the area that convinced me that this area had endless potential. Developing the Greenways Trail at this point will kick-start this process.”
He claimed that another big reason for prioritising this section of the route is the opportunity to provide a safe walk for the hundreds of people who work at the Technology Park. For years people have been calling for a footpath to be extended to the Technology Park and Rugby Club, which are only 300 metres east of the lake. O’Sullivan said “the technology park is a huge employer in the town and in West Cork. However employees are finding themselves walking into town along the N71 which has huge health and safety implications. I feel a project like this one provides us with an opportunity to remedy this. A ‘safe walk’ should be created from town to the technology park and this can be incorporated with the lake walk.”
Cllr O’Sullivan is urging the council to make the Greenways initiative a priority over the next 12 months. He said, “if we are serious about tourism in this county we must invest in this initiative. If we do we will see a return very quickly. Marketing studies always identity adventure tourism as the way forward for this area. Offering tourist the opportunity for walking cycling routes will enhance our ability to attract this market.