A SIGNIFICANT upgrading of a new walking and cycling route between north Kerry and west Limerick has been announced.
The development is to take place next year on the former Limerick to Kerry railway line.
Limerick County Council has signed a €552,638 contract with Jons Civil Engineering Ltd, Duleek, Co Meath, to commence works on the Great Southern Trail, from Newcastle West to Barnagh and Newcastle West to Ardagh, Co Limerick.
The dismantled rail line is still owned by Irish Rail which will undertake repairs to the viaduct at Garryduff, near Newcastle West, as part of the upgrading works.
Sections of trails from Abbeyfeale to Barnagh and Newcastle West to Ardagh are already open and being used by the public. The additional works will be over 11km.
The trail will be part of a designated national cycling network linked to cycling hub towns, such as Abbeyfeale and Newcastle West, to improve infrastructure and facilities for both tourists and locals.
Limerick County Council administrative officer, Anthony Coleman, said the landscape of the area was ideal for the outdoor enthusiast and casual walker.
“The Great Southern Trail is a unique, 53-mile (85km) stretch of countryside in west Limerick and north Kerry and will benefit greatly from the planned improvement and grading works,” he added
The work is being part-funded by Fáilte Ireland under the National Development Plan tourism product development sub-programme.
The work will include a rolled gravel surface path and all associated drainage, fencing, signage and repair works to structures.
Upgrading works will also be carried out to the existing path between Newcastle West and Ardagh.