Ireland’s majestic Shannon River is celebrated in song and story, and now plans are afoot for a Greenway that will make it more accessible to all. The proposed corridor will run on the western shore of the river from Cavan through Leitrim, Roscommon, Galway and Clare, and cover 224 miles – from its source in the Cavan mountains to the Atlantic Ocean at Loop Head in County Clare.
Construction could begin as early as 2023, with 25 miles linking Limerick City to Scariff in County Clare, which sits on the southwestern shore of Lough Derg, the third and bottom lake of the three that are on the River Shannon. Eoin O’Hagan who has promoted tourism in the Lough Derg area on a voluntary basis, believes, that the local infrastructure can grow to meet the demand from visitors for cafes, restaurants, activities, and accommodations. It’s his hope that “families in villages and towns along the Greenway route will rear their children to work at home in the tourism industry, instead of having to emigrate to far-flung shores to earn a living.”
Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland’s executive vice president – North America & Australia/NZ, also sees the greenway as an added enticement to overseas visitors.
“The Shannon Greenway is an exciting project which will add to the many great reasons to visit Ireland and connect
Limerick to Lough Derg. From a tourism perspective, the Shannon River is a wonderful natural resource and is such an integral part of Ireland’s Hidden Heartland’s and beyond. The project will further connect areas along the path of the river from Roscommon/ Leitrim, the whole way to Limerick. It will link to walkways, cycleways, and canoe trails, bringing together new soft adventure experiences, and opening up new areas to visitors.”
Clare County Council is also developing a greenway from Ennis to the coast via Ennistymon and this will link with the Wild Atlantic Way.
Waterways Ireland and several County Councils along the Shannon have already created the Shannon Blueway that encourages visitors to kayak, cruise, sail, swim, and walk alongside the water. Local County Councils in other areas along the river route will, and are, working with Waterways Ireland, Coillte (forest and recreation sites) Bord na Mona (boglands) and the ESB to develop the walk/cycleway the full-length of the greenway.
“It will be an added attraction to Tourism Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands marketing suite,” said O’Hagan, who pitched the idea of the greenway to then-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in 2018.
You could say that O’Hagan’s passion for promoting the Lough Derg and the River Shannon area, began when he was just an infant.
“Little did my mother Nuala O’Hagan know when she held me up at 12-days-old for U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy to wave at, that I would use his words, spoken on his departure from Ireland in June 1963, to propose, over fifty years later; a huge new tourism project for Ireland’s longest river, the mighty Shannon.”
“’Tis the Shannon’s brightly glancing stream,
Brightly gleaming, silent in the morning beam.
Oh! The sight entrancing.
Thus returns from travels long,
Years of exile, years of pain
To see old Shannon’s face again,
O’er the waters glancing.”
– From a poem read by John F. Kennedy on his visit to Shannon in 1963. ♦