So, what is a Greenway, and why have one in Monaghan?
There are Greenways all over the world, including the USA and throughout Europe. They basically are old transport routes which have been re-developed for new, more sustainable, transport modes, primarily walking and cycling.
Usually Greenways use abandoned rail lines and canal banks, and have proven to be both highly popular with the public and highly effective tools for achieving a shift away from the private motor car to more sustainable transportation, especially for short journeys.
You can read more about the role that Europe envisions for Greenways here:
– Declaration of Lille 2000: requesting a European Greenway Network
– Declaration of Madrid 2010: Declaration for a ‘European Green Network’ which updates the Declaration of Lille and calls for funding streams to be provided
Ireland is obliged to meet European targets around sustainable transport, and the Dept of Transport sees both an everyday and a tourism benefit to Greenways.
The provision of safe, off-road walking and cycling paths have been identified as being a key necessity before any intervention aimed at encouraging people to ‘ditch the car’ in favour of more sustainable transportation modes can be achieved. As such, the development of Greenways is an integral part of the Dept’s Smarter Travel programme.
In Monaghan, we saw the opportunity presented by the Ulster Canal to create a safe route for cyclists to traverse the entire town, and to access the town centre. The canal passes close to nearly all the town’s primary and secondary schools, which offered the opportunity to engage with children and their parents to introduce green schools policies in regard to traveling to and from school. In essence, the Ulster Canal Greenway provides a central ‘spine’ from which other ‘smarter travel’ initiatives can be hung.
We see the development of the Greenway through Monaghan town as the first phase of an Active Travel Town initiative for the town. Over the coming years, we hope to engage with schools, communities and workplaces to facilitate them to introduce measures and incentives which encourage people to make short journeys around the town by foot or bike rather than by car.
You can find out more about our Active Travel Town work at www.gomonaghan.ie.
We see great potential for tourism in the Greenway.
The Dept of Transport agrees with us. In 2006 they commissioned a ‘scoping study’, which analysed the tourism offering north and south and drew up a map of preferred long distance cycling routes, called the National Cycle Network. One of the proposed routes runs from Sligo through Cavan, Clones, Monaghan and on to Dundalk. The Ulster Canal fits into this route, and also brings an extra dimension, linking the route northwards into Armagh – an added benefit.
Co. Monaghan is well established as an ‘activity and adventure’ destination, with outdoor activities such as horse riding, angling, walking and cycling being strong attractors of visitors. The Greenway enhances these tourism offerings. And who knows what delights the enterprising people of Monaghan will develop along the route in the years to come!