PLANS to develop a greenway cycle trail between Skibbereen and Baltimore – first mooted almost four years ago – have received a welcome reboot in recent weeks.
Back in 2017, then Fianna Fáil councillor Christopher O’Sullivan raised a motion at a Western Committee meeting calling for a feasibility study to be carried out on the provision of a such a trail. However, it never happened.
‘It is really disappointing that a feasibility study was never undertaken at the time after I raised it, but now is the time to look forward and progress this project,’ Deputy O’Sullivan told The Southern Star.
Deputy O’Sullivan said he was part of a Zoom call on the subject a few weeks ago.
‘Members of Cycle Sense in Skibbereen, along with members of Skibbereen Chamber of Commerce, Council engineer Damian Murphy, local walking and cycling groups, along with myself, took part in this initial exploratory discussion on a greenway.’
‘We all agreed that it is a great idea and we discussed how we can progress this to make a safe cycle path between Baltimore and Skibbereen.’
While acknowledging there are huge challenges in creating such a trail, Deputy O’Sullivan said it was heartening to have a Cork County Council representative on board to listen to their concerns.
Deputy O’Sullivan said at the time that the development of such a trail would be a ‘game changer’ for the area and would also help boost tourism.
However, a spokesperson for Cork County Council told The Southern Star this week that it does not currently have plans to develop such a greenway and added that the members did not set aside funding from the GMA (General Municipal Allowance) in 2018 or subsequent years so therefore a feasibility study was never carried out.
Although many greenways are laid out on old railway lines, it is not clear if the entirety of the former Skibbereen to Baltimore railway line would now be accessible for a cycle path, even after extensive restoration.
Katie Mann of Cycle Sense said there is great enthusiasm for a greenway between the two areas and the meeting was really well attended.
‘There is no obvious route, so the work will be finding a feasible way. First steps are to set the group up by forming a committee and members, then identify what destinations along the way there would be and who it would be built for,’ said Katie.
‘We will explore the feasibility of various route options, ideally with funding to do this. A greenway would be for the community by the community and all are welcome to get involved.’ For more info email [email protected] or text 087-7589716.
Meanwhile, Cork City Council has said they hope to start construction of a greenway on the old Bandon Kinsale railway next year.
The section will start from the Kinsale Road roundabout up to the Chetwynd Viaduct and could perhaps lead to the development of the trail further west into Innishannon and Bandon.