THE BARROW BLUEWAY – WHAT IS IT?
An invitation to find out more
Waterways Ireland in partnership with Carlow, Kilkenny, Kildare and Laois County Councils and LEADER Companies is proposing to develop a Barrow Blueway, a 112km long shared-use trail for local people and visitors to enjoy along the route of the Barrow Way-Marked Way.
Following on from a number of studies and reports commissioned by various authorities including Waterways Ireland, the Local Authorities, LEADER Partnership Companies and Fáilte Ireland a series of interventions and programmes have been agreed and are being implemented by the agencies both collectively and individually. ONE SUCH INITIATIVE IS THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE Barrow Blueway.
The Barrow River and Barrow Line of the Grand Canal arewaterway corridors of National and International importance and spectacular recreation and leisure amenities. Both the river and canal support a myriad of sustainable activities and sustain a rich and diverse built and natural heritage. It is the intention of Waterways Ireland to develop the existing trackway along the Barrow Line of the Grand Canal and Barrow River as a 112km Blueway. The Blueway would support a myriad of recreation activities, help grow and develop business along the length of the Barrow Blueway. The proposal entails the upgrading of the existing trackway to allow a multi use shared leisure route connecting Lowtown in Co. Kildare to St. Mullins in Co. Carlow, travelling through Lowtown, Rathangan, Monasterevin, Athy, Carlow, Leighlinbridge, Bagenalstown, Goresbridge, Graiguenamanagh and St Mullins.
Éanna Rowe, Head of Marketing & Communications, Waterways Ireland confirmed“Waterways Ireland is delighted to have progressed the Barrow Blueway proposal to the point where we now have meaningful information to share. We look forward to the Public Information Evenings where local businesses, activity providers, clubs, associations and all interested parties can come and view the proposals, examine design options and engage with our staff. We welcome all feedback and indeed will consider it as plans are finalised for this exciting new recreation and tourism initiative. “
The project is currently at design stage with tailored surface finishes to be employed to ensure a durable and fit for purpose trail in accordance with National Trails Office Guidance. This surfacing will not only improve accessibility but provide a more robust surface that will be able to better withstand footfall and traffic. Whilst it is proposed to employ a compacted stone and dust surface, a reinforced grass solution may be used in sensitive locations as guided by environmental requirements to preserve the grassy surface so valued by many people.
Carlow County Council Spokesman stated ” In the context of progressing the economic and social development of the county, Carlow County Council is open to exploring and considering all recreational and tourism products, which may have a positive impact for the county, region and country, being mindful of the importance of its obligation to protect and enhance the environment and quality of life for all who live in, work in or visit the county”.
Environmental studies have been commissioned including an Appropriate Assessment, given the route is partly within an SAC, and an Environmental Impact Assessment. These reports will be informed by detailed ecological assessments commissioned by Waterways Ireland ensuring the design of the Blueway is led by the baseline ecology present along the corridor.
Kilkenny Director of Services John Mc Cormack stated “Kilkenny County Council is supportive of this initiative which will maximise the tourism and recreational potential of the River Barrow for the benefit of the local economies of Graiguenamanagh, Goresbridge and the South East region in general.”
The Blueway brand which Waterways Ireland has developed in conjunction with the National Trails Office, Fáilte Ireland and Canoeing Ireland, will also be used to promote internationally, the special journeys which take place either on foot, bicycle or boat on shared use trails along Ireland’s Inland Waterways. Walking, cycling and canoeing activities have been shown to be highly sustainable as people engage in low group numbers, all year round and require services and facilities similar to those readily available in the towns and villages along the Barrow Valley. The Barrow Blueway is ideally suited to belong to this brand and well- placed to add to the economic and social sustainability of its towns and villages.
Before progressing the project further, Waterways Ireland would like to invite interested parties from local communities, activity providers, accommodation and food establishments to view the designs, proposed route and take the opportunity to meet and speak to Waterways Ireland personnel and give feedback on the project.
Please come and join us at the following locations
Laois: 27th November 2-7pm in the Vicarstown Inn, Vicarstown
Kildare: 4th December 2-7pm in the Community Library, Athy.
If unable to come to any of the meetings, view the information online at http://www.waterwaysireland.org/Pages/Blueways/Barrow-Blueway.aspx and submit your feedback online.
Waterways Ireland is happy to receive feedback up until the 5th January 2015. At that point all the feedback submitted will be reviewed, appropriate amendments made and an application for planning permission submitted.