The Royal Canal Greenway has been announced as the winner of the award for the ‘Best Tourism Initiative’ at the 2021 All-Ireland Community and Council Awards, which took place at the Crowne Plaza Dublin Airport.
Sponsored by Fáilte Ireland, the ‘Best Tourism Initiative’ award seeks to recognise an initiative that directly increases visitor numbers to an area, or to Ireland as a whole, and its overall impact on visitors, communities, and new and existing businesses.
The Royal Canal Greenway recently celebrated its first birthday, announcing that over 600,000 visits had taken place since its launch in March 2021, deriving €17.2 million for the local economy. It is the longest greenway in Ireland, stretching across four counties, and runs through both Ireland’s Ancient East and Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands. It was developed by Waterways Ireland in partnership with the four local authorities of Kildare, Meath, Westmeath and Longford.
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The Royal Canal Greenway is 130km of level towpath, and, starting from the trailhead in Maynooth, Co. Kildare, it follows the canal as it passes through the towns and villages of Kilcock, Enfield, Longwood and Killucan, before reaching Mullingar. Continuing west from Mullingar, the route passes through Coolnahay Harbour, Ballinacarrigy, Abbeyshrule, Ballymahon and Keenagh. At Keenagh, the trail either continues along the Royal Canal to where it meets with the Shannon, at the harbour village of Cloondara, or heading north, following the Longford branch of the Royal Canal to Longford Town.
The national award comes following last year’s announcement that the Royal Canal Greenway was recognised as ‘highly commended’ by the judges at the European Greenway Awards, in the category of ‘Excellence’. The judges noted that the Royal Canal Greenway as ‘a model of sustainable development achieved through effective partnership working that has delivered a visitor experience of tremendous scale and unique distinction’.
The European Greenway Awards took place in Valencia in October 2021, to promote examples of best practice and to support their replication on other greenways across Europe.
The Royal Canal Greenway is also a finalist in the European Bike Route of the Year 2022.
Statement By Waterways Ireland’s Chief Executive
Waterways Ireland’s chief executive, John McDonagh, stated, “We are pleased to see the All-Ireland Community and Council Awards recognise the potential of this phenomenal asset, which – thanks to the relatively level towpath – is suitable for walkers, runners and cyclists. Launched in spring 2021, the greenway is in its infancy, yet continues to impress visitors from across Ireland and beyond, and has already contributed immensely to the local tourism industry. As we continue to further enhance the offering for those who visit the greenway, we are encouraged by the recognition received by these awards.”
Statement By Waterway Ireland’s Head Of Marketing And Communications
The head of marketing and communications for Waterways Ireland, Sharon Lavin, stated, “Since its launch, we have been overwhelmed by the popularity of the Royal Canal Greenway. Winning this award is testament to the widespread support for the outdoor attraction and demand from visitors seeking nature-led holiday breaks, particularly within the staycation market. As we move forward, we hope to demonstrate how we have developed a world-class amenity that has transformed the towns, villages and communities along it, while also creating a destination with international appeal.
“We want to congratulate all fellow finalists at the All-Ireland Community and Council Awards for their success.”
More information can be found at royalcanalgreenway.com.
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