North Leitrim Independent councillor, Seán McSharry has pointed out the huge tourism potential that could benefit the county by proposing the upgrade of the disused Sligo-North Leitrim and West Cavan railway line to a cycle/walk Greenway.
Speaking to the Leitrim Observer, Cllr McSharry identified the example of the Mayo Greenway, which stretches from Achill to Westport.
“This project started off as a 5km pilot project which has turned into a 42km cycle greenway. Over 50,000 tourists visited the line between March and June of last year which had great economic benefits for the local businesses of the area,” he said.
Due to a significant uptake in the Cycle to Work Scheme, this area has seen a major increase in the amount of cyclists on the roads. Cllr Mc Sharry recently travelled to the Mayo Greenway and pointed that Co Leitrim has as much outstanding natural beauty as Mayo.
“The fact is that it is a carbon neutral form of tourism and it requires very little maintenance and will not damage the environment,” he added.
These Greenways are not exclusive to cyclists. The routes around Mayo are used for a number of popular 10km runs which is safer and more convenient than using roads. Another recreational use of the Greenway is Horse Trekking, which has proved successful in the UK and on the Continent.
“I believe with the right community groups, local landowners, Leitrim Tourism and Fáilte Ireland, this project has the potential to bring millions to the economy of the North Leitrim area,” he said.