An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, will travel to Moate on October 18 to officially open the new Athlone to Mullingar Greenway.
Four decades after the closure of rail services between Mullingar, Moate, and Athlone, this old corridor has been rejuvenated with a new bicycle track costing in the region of €7m.
The line, previously a movie location for the 1979 hit movie The Great Train Robbery starring Sean Connery, has been hailed as a major step in the reinvigoration of midlands communities from a tourism and economic perspective.
That is the view of Fianna Fáil Councillor Aengus O’Rourke, who has encouraged local communities to get out and utilise the amenity: “I think people need to make the most out of it. I really think this can be transformational for the midlands region, and I don’t think that is overstating things. It has so much potential in terms of tourism and from an economic perspective, and can be a big economic driver for the region.
“We can learn from the success of the Greenway in the west of Ireland. The Greenway that runs from Westport to Achill Island has been a phenomonal success. That has itself prompted other initiatives along the way. Communities along the route have really bought into it. They have taken sections and developed orchards along parts of the route and communities really have embraced the Greenway there and I think the same can happen here.”
Councillor O’Rourke is optimistic that locals will embrace the Greenway in terms of the opportunities for outdoor activity it provides: “I think that people should and will take the opportunity and embrace the cycleway. Outdoor activities have really come to the fore of late. There are far more people looking to get involved in outdoor activities, and what better way to do so than to bring the children, get on the bike, or push the buggy. I have done it myself.
“At the time, some of the children were too young to cycle, but there are little trailers you can hire out that attach to the back of the bicycle. I remember cycling the Greenway in Mayo a couple of years ago. My young fella was about two, and he sat in the trailer drinking his bottle soaking up the scenery, atmosphere, and fresh air, and what better way is there to spend time with your family.
“It should be and will be something that is cherished for generations to come.”
The opening of the Greenway will coincide with the first ever Moate Bike Fest, a free family fun day to celebrate all things cycling. The Moate Bike Fest will include a spectacular stunt bike display from the renowned Savage Skills, the UK’s leading freestyle mountain bike stunt team.
The team will provide an interactive, jaw-dropping show suitable for audiences of all ages. There will also be performances by Tonnta Street Theatre and Community Arts Group, a key performer at the Notting Hill Carnival and an associate member of Masquerade 2000, the largest carnival band in Europe. Other activities throughout the day will include High Nellie activities, bike displays, stands including one by the Road Safety Authority, live music, and lots more.
For a full line-up of the events taking place on October 18 visit the Moate Action Group Facebook page at www.facebook.com/moateactiongroup