In Limerick city we have the good fortune to be able to build an urban greenway throughout our city along one of the most scenic rivers in Ireland. This greenway could be developed along with the improvements to the flood defences throughout the city. The Council should commission a feasibility study into the provision such an amenity. By way of comparison, the Westport to Achill Greenway has been an extraordinary success. In its first year it attracted 80,000 visitors who spent €7 million euro in the region. The greenway cost about €7.6 million and the county has seen an immediate return on this investment. In addition to paying for itself, the Westport greenway has created more than 200 jobs in the area. The time is right for Limerick to look at developing a greenway. Nigel Dugdale, writing in the Limerick Leader mapped out a potential path for such a greenway in Limerick. This potential Treaty City Greenway would be unique in Ireland.
In Waterford, the recent development of the Deise Greenway, from Waterford to Dungarvan, has seen over 250,000 visitors in 2017. A detailed analysis of the greenway users shows it is benefit both to locals and to tourists. These are significant figures, not least because Waterford has had to deal with many of the same issues Limerick has faced over the last two decades in terms of urban regeneration and unemployment. The Deise greenway is both a driver of community engagement and economic activity. It is used by both locals and tourists in significant numbers.
The recent surge in domestic tourists to Limerick shows that Limerick’s tourist strategy is working. The city is developing a tourist trade but we still lag significantly behind our neighbours in Kerry, and Clare, and are the nearest city, Galway. In urban terms Limerick still lags behind other Irish cities for domestic tourism. The below table shows the significant between tourist figures for Limerick compared to other Irish cities. Limerick is 100km from both Cork and Galway and yet has barely 30% of the number of domestic tourists of either city.
The above figure is actually a significant improvement. Limerick recorded the biggest rate of increase in the number of domestic trips last year — up 73,000 to 284,000 — an annual increase of almost 35%. When seen in such stark figures it is clear that Limerick is not realising the fantastic potential the city has. A greenway along the rivers in the city would enhance the tourist experience in the city. Crucially, the greenway could eventually link up with the Great Southern Greenway, which connects Limerick to Kerry.
Crucially, a greenway could also connect the communities of Mungret, Parteen, Westbury, Castletroy and Annacotty to the city in a way that completely avoids the need for cyclists and pedestrians to share the road with drivers. We could run a cycleway from Mungret to the city centre without having to interact with the Dock road. This would be an extraordinary scenic way to enter the city, via the Clondrinagh bank and Spillane’s Tower.
Likewise, a cycleway through Clonmacken could connect the city to Bunratty via Coonagh without having to interact with the N18.
The work the council have undertaken to connect the University of Limerick to the city centre via the remodelled Park canal river path needs to be recognised and praised. It has been a fantastic development. This project would serve to extend this excellent work to other areas of the city. It would help develop the tourist business in the city. It would improve the amenities available to Limerick citizens. In terms of costs, we can see that successful greenways cover their costs in terms of return of investments to their region.
In time, the Treaty City Greenway could link up with the other greenways that are currently being proposed.
The council should commission a feasibility study into the possibility of integrating a cycleway to the river banks in the city. Limerick city is improving month to month. This Treaty City Greenway could be another step towards developing Limerick into the city we know it can be, for both local citizens and tourists.