One Clare man is leading the crusade to see a 360km Shannon Greenway developed that would benefit towns and villages along Ireland’s biggest river.
East Clare tourism promoter, Eoin O’Hagan this March pitched the idea of The Shannon Greenway to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste Simon Coveney and Ministers Helen McEntee and Josepha Madigan. Both the Taoiseach and Tánaiste liked the idea with Varadkar mentioning “it’s something we could look at”.
On Monday, he gave a presentation to elected representatives of Clare County Council outlining his vision of the project. “I was told to think big and I couldn’t think much bigger than the River Shannon,” he began. “The middle of Ireland has suffered from not being on tourists radar, it’s time to make a move on it”.
It is planned that the Shannon Greenway would run from the length of the River Shannon from the Pot in Cavan to the last light at Loop Head. “Every town village and community along the river would benefit from the Greenway. The Greenway will attract slower tourism and encourage people to cycle, walk and explore the Shannon. Tourism infrastructure and attractions will grow to meet the demand for places to stay, eat, drink and visit,” Eoin said.
Following on from his meeting with the Taoiseach, Eoin welcomed Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Brendan Grifﬁn TD to the Killaloe Hotel. From here, they travelled along Lough Derg from Killaloe to Ogonnelloe into Tuamgraney and then Scariff where he showed the Junior Minister the positive work being done in East Clare by local groups and communities.
Upcoming developments in Killaloe and UL are very positive for East Clare, according to O’Hagan. “The imminent construction of the new bridge in Killaloe/Ballina and the bypass of the twin villages will make them more attractive to visitors and locals. This will free up the towns for future development and the Shannon Greenway would be a driver for increasing the tourism infrastructure in the area”. He feels the ESB in Ardnacrusha can be key stakeholders in the South East and East Clare section of the Greenway.
O’Hagan highlighted necessary works to ensure the Greenway would flourish in the county. “In East Clare we have suffered a shortage of beds for visitors. The two hotels planned by Padraig Giblin in Scariff will go a long way to solving that problem in the area. These hotels along with The Lakeside and Killaloe Hotels can benefit from the construction of a Shannon Greenway. Self Catering, Bed and Breakfasts, Hostels and Camping sites will benefit, and with the increase in visitor numbers will come a demand for an increase in accommodation. History and Heritage is a key part of the tourism landscape in East Clare as well as throughout the county. New tourism attractions will open alongside the Shannon Greenway. The Ironworks of East Clare, Brian Ború, Music and Culture are all potential spin offs or spurs for visitors”.
According to the Dublin native, “In Waterford and Mayo every town village and community along the routes of the Greenways have seen a positive growth in both the economy and health of the community. A Shannon Greenway will raise the economy, spirits and community of all who live along its banks. Clare Co. Council can take the lead and start the ﬁrst section of the Greenway from UL to Whitegate and in so doing, lift the communities of Parteen, Clonlara, O’Briensbridge, Killaloe, Ogonnelloe, Tuamgraney, Scariff, Mountshannon and Whitegate”.
In recent months, the Scariff Bay Community Radio presenter has been actively lobbying members of the government and opposition and gaining support for the proposal where has received cross party support in constituencies all along the Shannon.
Limerick Senator Maria Byrne in June raised the proposal as a commencement matter in Seanad Éireann to Minister Shane Ross, who did wish the proposal well. Eoin noted, “Minister Ross also said that he knew the Shannon Greenway was a potentially huge project that might miss the funding round this year but he is open to including it in the future”.
Shannon Airport can use the Greenway “as a unique selling point” while the motorway network can be “marketed as a quick way to reach the slow tourism centre of Ireland instead of passing it by”.
There “is very little need for CPOs” for the Shannon Greenway in Clare which means it can be constructed on public lands. The support of state agencies is key to the success of the project.
As he concluded his well-received presentation, Eoin quoted what former U.S. President John F. Kennedy read on the apron of Shannon Airport before boarding Airforce One on his departure from Ireland in June 1963. “Tis the Shannon’s brightly glancing stream, Brightly gleaming, silent in the morning beam, Oh, the sight entrancing, Thus returns from travels long, Years of exile, years of pain, To see old Shannon’s face again, O’er the waters dancing”.