For as long as I remember Olivia O Leary has been the great advocate of the River Barrow. Long before anyone else saw its potential. Many many years ago my late father had me read an article she wrote, either in the Nationalist or the Times I can’t remember which, but it had a powerful impact on me, extolling the natural beauty of the area, of an idyllic childhood spent swimming and playing in and along the Barrow near Borris.
She has never forgotten her roots, nor ever failed to promote Carlow when an opportunity arose. I cannot imagine her opposing something that would be good for the County.
Opponents attack her defence of the status quo as a case of Nimbyism. Fighting for what you believe doesn’t necessarily equate to nimbyism.
It was Roosevelt who said “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing”. If people who believe in the importance of retaining the Barrow Track say nothing, it will be a fait accompli and the damage done to the Track will be irreversible. Future generations will not thank the people of conviction for failing to speak out.
What strikes me about the people opposed to the cycleway is that they actually use the towpath and are familiar with every bend in the river, know every rock jutting out of the water, know every tributary and marvel at the sheer beauty around them. They truly care about it.
Olivia spoke with George Hook recently on Newstalk and I think she presents a very good case for protecting the Track.
This is an important national way marked walking route; why would anyone think it a good idea to replace a perfect walking surface with a hardcore surface? Anyone who walks as a pastime, walks in wilderness areas not on roadsides! With access to open countryside so difficult in this country many of our long distance walking routes have to be routed along roads for lengthy stretches; here we have a perfect walking route and a proposal to lay a 112km hardcore surface….does that sound right to you?
I cycle the barrow Track more than most and I do that because I love it for what it is. Turning it into a cycle path will turn it into a bike super highway where walkers and anglers will be placed in danger. There is no room for error!
I haven’t heard a single objector yet who is anti development of the River. There are other ways to improve access and promote the river and the region that are environmentally sound yet will provide a more sustainable tourism model.