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*Photograph: John Mangan

With funding guaranteed for a new walk and cycle way linking Ennis and Clarecastle, a fresh appeal for a blueway from Clarecastle to Ballyalla has been lodged.

In March, €200,000 was allocated to the River Fergus Walk and Cycle project which will link Ennis and Clarecastle via the Quin Rd. Funding for the project was approved under the Government’s Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme Measure 2. The second phase plans to extend the trail to the Quay in Clarecastle, where a trailhead can be developed as identified in the feasibility report.

Following on from this announcement, Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF) sought an update on the efforts underway to create a blueway from Ballyalla to Clarecastle.

Senior executive engineer, Eamon O’Dea confirmed that the Ennis Municipal District has submitted the ‘Connecting and Co-creating Ennis’ project to the NTA for Active Travel Funding in 2021 with the intention of phasing the works over a number of years. “Some the elements of works identified in the project, will require the completion of the Mobility Plan for Ennis to show the justification for the proposed higher cost works,” he outlined.

He continued, “The EarthRoute ‘Banks of the Fergus and Ecclesiastical Loop Walk’, ‘The River Fergus Town Loop Walk’ and ‘The West Clare Railway Loop Walk’ provide a means of getting from the N85 Bridge at Clareabbey to Ballyalla. This will bring a person on the proposed river bank walkway (ORIS Funding 2021), on the Quin Road over the Railway line, along Clonroad and Tulla Road, Kevin Barry Avenue to Fr Matthew Road to the Gort Road and onwards to Ballyallia. This work will be undertaken in stages as the funding becomes available by NTA Active Travel, ORIS Funding or other forms of grant funding”.

Extensive works between the Quin Rd and Clarecastle were hailed as “very impressive” by Colleran Molloy. She gauged from the response that the planning was for a “long-term project”. Both Cllr Paul Murphy (FG) and Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) signalled their support for the link to Ballyalla. “This is the way of the future, we need to have these facilities near us,” Cllr Mary Howard (FG) commented.

O’Dea cautioned that the proposed walkway “may not be clear of flooding at all times of the year”. He interpreted that an existing walkway at the back of the sheet piles for the Ennis South Flood Relief Scheme was to be used. “t will be seasonal but we cannot adjust it. The detail is being worked out with ourselves and the project office”.

A timeframe requested by Colleran Molloy to have people walking and cycling was not available at the April meeting of the Ennis MD.

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