Ireland is a must to explore, whether by bus, car or hiking. But have you thought about exploring Ireland by bike? Ireland’s Greenways and trails offer a great way to see some of the most beautiful and unspoilt parts of the country while enjoying spending time outdoors.
A Greenway is a predominantly traffic-free path, designated for the use of pedestrians, cyclists and other non-motorised. Greenways are designed specifically to meet the needs of cyclists in terms of gradient and surface and are wide enough to accommodate shared usage. Greenways are ideal for cyclists, and in particular cyclists with limited experience and children. Greenways have become very popular on old disused railway lines.
There are currently six Greenways which have been finished and are opened to the public:
- Waterford Greenway
- Great Western Greenway
- Old Rail Trail
- Limerick Greenway
- Royal Canal Greenway
- Suir Blueway Greenway
The Waterford Greenway is located along a disused railway line and travels through some of the south-east’s most fascinating historic places which include Viking sites, medieval ruins, Norman castles, old railway stations, Famine workhouses and an Ice Age rock believed to have mythical and mysterious powers!
Waterford Greenway also forms part of the Atlantic Coast Route, a European long-distance north-south cycling route which passes through Norway, the UK, Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal.
The Great Western Greenway was completed in 2011, this panoramic route winds its way along the coast of Clew Bay. The Great Western Greenway follows the line of the old Midlands Great Western Railway, which closed in 1937. It can be completed in either direction, although the best approach is from west to east, with the prevailing wind at your back.
The Old Rail Trail begins in the town of Athlone and ends in the old market town of Mullingar, County Westmeath. The Old Rail Trail is a converted stretch of the Midlands Great Western Railway carved through rich fertile farmland and leads visitors through the very heart of Ireland. The route traces the historic Midlands Great Western Railway track, past restored station houses and under pretty stone-arched bridges.
The Limerick Greenway in Limerick is a 39 km off-road walking and cycling route along the old railway line that connects the three lovely market towns of Rathkeale, Newcastlewest and Abbeyfeale in west Limerick.
The Suir Blueway in County Tipperary opened in 2019. The Suir Blueway runs for 53km in an east-west direction from Carrick-on-Suir to Cahir via Clonmel. The route is made up of a walking/ cycling trail for 21km which runs from Carrick-on-Suir to Clonmel and a further 32km of waterway along the river Suir which can be canoed or kayaked.
The Royal Canal Greenway, at 130 km, is the longest off-road Greenway in Ireland. The Greenway runs along the towpath of the Royal Canal which was constructed between Dublin and Longford at the turn of the 18th century to connect the River Liffey to the River Shannon.
And more than 10 more Greenways are planned to be built in the future.
If you want to find out more and stay up to date about the Irish Greenways check out Greenways Irelands website.