Rothar Routes

Cycle routes & pilgrim journeys in Ireland and Europe …..

Blueways, Greenways, Rivers, Railways, Carlow Dream Way!

Thanks to Pádraig Dooley of Carlow Historical and Archaeological Society for telling me about this fantastic Youtube clip of the now defunct railway line from Bagenalstown to Pallas East! Its a great piece of Carlow history.

The brouhaha has died down about the proposed development of the Barrow Blueway by Waterways Ireland since An Bórd Pleanála refused permission to change the use of the Barrow Track to a cycle route. But is that the end of it?

Borris Viaduct

Surely fresh thinking is now required. Where do we go from here?

The concept itself had great merit; rural ireland is crying out for sustainable development and eco tourism offers some hope to isolated communities that are trying to stay alive and reinvent themselves in a country that is becoming as urbanised and centralised as most developed countries around the globe.

I don’t believe any of the people opposed to the development of the Blueway were anti development but they had the foresight to realise the plan was fatally flawed.

It didn’t mean that they were opposed to developing the national Greenway infrastructure in Carlow, rather that they wished for deeper consultation and the selection of the most appropriate route. The establishment of the Greenway network has been hailed as a major success, developing new places of interest for visitors and increasing employment in tourist related activities along the routes. What was overlooked when it came to developing a Carlow Greenway was the basis on which routes were selected in other counties. Disused railways featured heavily across the network.

Ironically we in Carlow have a disused railway running almost parallel to the River Barrow through some of our most beautiful scenic areas – and it would visit our villages of Drummond, St Mullins, Glynn, Borris and Bagenalstown along its 30kms of pristine natural beauty.

Railway Bridge near Glynn

The difficulty of course is that the lands have gone into private ownership and accessing it presents a challenge. it’s no different to the challenge in Waterford and Mayo. With leadership, vision, consultation, dialogue and goodwill there is no obvious reason why we in County Carlow cannot achieve the same outcome.

It would be a major tourist infrastructure for the County and would need the support of statutory bodies to be developed. if we can dream it, we can make it happen. It’s about selling an idea, it’s about promoting our locality, its’ about developing an eco tourism product that will benefit all the stakeholders along the route and one that will not damage the natural environment as the proposed Blueway would have done.

Old Railway Station at Ballyling near Glynn?

Here is a link to what I have marked as the Bagenalstown to Pallas East Railway based on satellite imagery of South Carlow. Could the route become part of the national Greenway infrastructure?

Maps showing line of the old Railway:

Bagenalstown to Poulmounty 1
Bagenalstown to Poulmounty 2

5 Responses to “Blueways, Greenways, Rivers, Railways, Carlow Dream Way!”

  1. Colum McCaffery

    It’s a local solution. The problem, however, is the extraordinary scale of Greenways and Blueways. They are closed to motor traffic but essentially they are roads, roads where outside of urban areas, an unobtrusive cycle track would be sufficient. The root of the problem seems to lie with public service professionals who think that service means building. Existing amenities are mere sites for “development”.
    https://colummccaffery.wordpress.com/2019/01/22/the-destruction-of-amenities-from-knocknarea-to-greenways/

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    • Turlough

      A very interesting read Colum and it makes a lot of sense. The availability of EU funding was the driving force for the Barrow Blueway; it never registered that it would ruin a well used and loved existing amenity. There have been alls t=for the Barrow track to be wheelchair friendly, buggy friendly and bike friendly when in fact it is not suitable for such use. To follow that idea through to its logical conclusion we will need to install a stairlift tot he top of Carrauntohill and Crouch Patrick.
      The use of disused railways is a possibility in many areas and I feel it would certainly work in the Carlow situation.
      All these greenways have not been universally successful and, if I am correct, the Westmeath Greenway, which is tarmac is under utilised given the cost involved.
      Tragic to see a national monument such as Queen Maeve’s grave on Knockarea being damaged in the interest of ‘development’.
      We have to be careful what we wish for.

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  2. Colum McCaffery

    Colum McCaffery It’s a local solution. The problem, however, is the extraordinary scale of Greenways and Blueways. They are closed to motor traffic but essentially they are roads, roads where outside of urban areas, an unobtrusive cycle track would be sufficient. The root of the problem seems to lie with public service professionals who think that service means building. Existing amenities are mere sites for “development”. https://colummccaffery.wordpress.com/…/the-destruction…/

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  3. Emer Flynn

    A very interesting read and a possible solution to a divisive issue for sure . I cycled from st Mullins to the second lock and back this weekend with my daughter , my 13yr old grandson and 5yr old granddaughter . It was idyllic . It is already possible to cycle the path at a gentle pace that does not impose on the many happy walkers . I have been holidaying with my family in st Mullins for the past 24 yrs . There have been many changes and a greater influx of visitors since all the controversy and publicity about the Blueway. I would hate to see the tow path destroyed .
    I did not know there was a railway line that would be a much better option , no matter the challenges .Thank you for sharing that information Turlough . Emer

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    • Turlough

      Glad to hear that you have enjoyed cycling the path as it is; this is a well established much loved existing amenity shared by many. Its one of the longest off road walking routes in the country – it was an incredibly silly suggestion to put a hard surface down!
      Hopefully the old railway line can be resurrected and we can have the best of both worlds.

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