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  • The Mayo Greenway

    In January 2012, the Mayo Greenway won the prize for best public project at the Local Authority Members Association (LAMA) awards.Read about one of the real success stories in adventure tourism in Ireland.


    • The world-class Great Western Greenway is a 42km traffic-free cycling and walking facility. It primarily follows the line of the famous Newport/Mulranny Railway, which opened in 1937. Its development has been made possible by agreement of local landowners who have given permissive access to users to pass through their lands. This route offers gentle gradients and some of the most idyllic scenery in the West of Ireland. The route forms part of the National Cycle Network, and it is the longest off-road cycling experience in the country.

    • The first 14km stage of the Greenway opened in 2010, while the extension opened on 18 June 2011, lengthening the route to 42km, all off-road.

    • The foundation stone for the construction of the Great Western Greenway was laid in March 2007 with the publication by Fáilte Ireland of the Sustrans report “A strategy for the development of Cycle Tourism”. The report identified Galway, Clifden, Westport and Achill in the West of Ireland as hub towns and suggested the development of a series of cycle loops from each of the hubs one of which should be family-friendly, while the other hubs should be linked via cycle-friendly routes or, where possible, via greenways.

    Awards won

    The Great Western Greenway is one of the real success stories for adventure tourism in Ireland. In January 2012 the Mayo greenway won the overall award as the best public project at the Local authority member’s association (LAMA) awards. In February 2012, the Mayo greenway won the public sector category at the Irish Times innovation awards presented in the Royal Hospital in Dublin.

    Key players involved

    • Fáilte Ireland/Department of Transport/Department of Rural affairs – provided funding

    • Mayo County Council – secured access, developed the route/provided funding

    • Local landowners – gave permissive access

    Action taken

    • Securing funding in principle

    • Securing landowner permission, which eliminated the need for a CPO (compulsory purchase order) for the route

    • Completion of the route from Newport to Mulranny in 2010 as stage one of the routes, helping to ensure that the rest of the route was secured and developed

    Achievements to date

    The Fitzpatrick’s report commissioned by Fáilte Ireland on the economic impact of the Greenway notes:

    “Estimates derived from the study suggest that all direct expenditure associated with the Greenway would contribute to a projected €7.2m in spend in the local economy over a full year in 2011.

    This expenditure includes:

    • nearly €940,000 in expenditure by local residents, made up of 34,400 “visits” to or “uses” of the Greenway, at an average spend of €27.31 per visit or use

    • over €3.5m in expenditure by domestic visitors, made up of 14,800 domestic visitors spending an average of €49.85 per day with an average length of stay of 4.8 days

    • nearly €2.8m in expenditure by overseas visitors, made up of 8,000 overseas visitors spending an average of €50.71 per day with an average length of stay of 6.8 days

    • contribution to a projected local economic impact of about €6.3m, which consists of nearly €2.8m in spend by overseas visitors and over €3.5m in spend by domestic visitors

    • contribution to a projected national economic impact of nearly €2.8m, which consists of the spend by overseas visitors”

    Next steps

    • Support the formation and development of community and trade groupings that add value to the Greenway experience for visitors e.g. Gourmet Greenway, Artists Greenway etc.

    • Become an active member of the EEWA Direction (EU Greenway Association) and apply best international practice to the Greenway.

    • Support the expansion of the Mayo Greenway to incorporate the Connemara Greenway and expand the route from Galway to Clifden, Westport, Achill, Belmullet and on to Ballina.

    • Pursue current research that supports the development of a Great Western Blueway along the coast of Mayo to mimic the existing Greenway project.