Businesses beginning to thrive as popularity of Navan-Kingscourt Greenway grows
The creation of a greenway on the old Kingscourt to Navan railway line is predicted to benefit the region to a tune of almost €6million a year and the benefits are already plain to see.
New businesses are opening and others expanding, as the route opens up villages like Kilberry, Wilkinstown, Nobber, Castletown and Kilmainhamwood to cyclists and walkers.
“Studies have predicted that the greenway will attract up to 150,000 visitors when it is fully up and running,” said Cllr Eugene Cassidy who is delighted to already see businesses setting up and expanding along the route.
The overall plan is to link Navan to Kingscourt along the old freight railway line with looped walkways and routes to the various villages.
The greenway will begin at Blackwater Park in Navan and at the end, it will link with the town of Kingscourt and the Dun na Ri Forest Park.
“We have already completed the Nobber, Castletown and Wilkinstown links to the greenway, which have been an outstanding success, used by young and old, from far and near and availed of by local schools for PE classes,” said Cllr Cassidy.
“There is also an application for funding in for a link to Kilberry and work is expected in September on the Wilkinstown to Navan stretch of the greenway.”
Tenders will shortly be sought for the stretch of greenway along the old rail line from Nobber to Castletown which will include a cycling and walking bridge over the N52 and an application for funding has been made for the stretch from Wilkinstown to Castletown.
“Next year, we will be seeking funding for the stretch from Nobber to Kingscourt and at the other end, Cavan County Council is planning a loop walk around the town that connects to the greenway and to Dun na Ri.”
Studies have estimate an annual 150,000 visitors annually to the Greenway and confidence in the projects is evident along the route.
Geraldine Keogan who recently opened a new coffee shop, The Greenway Cafe, said one of her main reasons for setting up at her current location in Nobber was the greenway.
“The greenway has raised the profile of the area. I have walked the Nobber part many times. I feel safe as a woman on my own walking it and it is great for children.
“I've noticed that a lot of people come into the cafe after the walk.
“Next year and I am hoping to develop the back of my building to appeal to walkers and cyclists.”
As well as her cafe which sells coffee, snacks and hot daily specials, she also has a shop selling local Boyne Valley produce and artisan foods.
Dermot McDonnell of the Crossguns Gastropub in Castletown is enthusiastic about the new route.
“We are also getting ready for the new greenway which will bring a lot of visitors to the area,” he said.
“We have extended the premises, but we are also planning for an eco pod village.
“We are at preplanning at the moment, but we are proposing a 20 pod village which would provide accommodation for users of the greenway.
“The lack of accommodation is one of the biggest barriers to trade in Meath and tourist accommodation in rural Meath is even rarer again.
“People are becoming aware of the need for sustainable tourism. It is a niche market that we are interested in developing,
“We need businesses to feed into the greenway and the greenway to feed into business,” he said.
Emer Smith Doughty who run the Texaco Filling Station and Mace at Wilkinstown with her husband, Brendan, said the greenway will bring security to their small family business.
“We are looking forward to it. We are very close to the greenway and with a small business like ours, we will be very glad of the increasing footfall and spend.
“We can see ourselves in investing in the business and putting in a sit down area.
“We also have space for anyone interested in doing something like bike hire,” she said.
“It will be a lifeline for us. We don't know what is coming down the line for the filling station, with elrectric cars, so we can look at food and other services.
“It will be a great benefit to all businesses in the area and this location has so much potential with the O'Carolan connection, the Tain Trail is nearby and we have Clongill Castle.
“It is a big opportunity for the area and will definitely increase employment.
“We hope that somewhere down the line we might develop parking and camping facilities to service the greenway.
“As well as the boost to business, it is a huge benefit to locals and makes the area more accessible.
“This is a very busy road with traffic and particularly trucks, so it gives people the chance to get around more easily.
“It is even used by children as a safe way to cycle to school,” she said.
Geoff Cooney who runs Tiernans Pub in Wilkinstown said the greenway will see a huge improvement in the area.
“It will provide a whole new amenity for an area that doesn't have a lot of other outdoor activity.
“I'm hoping it will bring a lot of people here and show off this lovely part of Meath.”
He can see his daytime trade returning with the development of the geeenway with demand for teas and coffees, and he will provide toilet facilities.
“It will be a big boost for the area and for local people – it will encourage people to get back on their bicycles.”
Fergus McCarthy recently opened The Kilberry Pub and Kitchen and believes the greenway will be a major boost to local business.
“I'm a Kerryman and I've seen the success of greenways in my own county.
“If we get a footpath from the village to the greenway it will be a wonderful development, especially with the new bus services.
“People will be able to get the bus from Navan to Kilberry and walk back into Navan along the Greenway,” he said.
He is looking forward to the continued development of the amenity.
“It is the way to go in modern Ireland. “Staycations are so popular and people are appreciating Ireland more than ever,” he said.
Cllr Cassidy, who has been campaigning for the greenway for many years, is convinced the completed project with be a major success.
“Our beautiful rolling landscape, our old and mature trees and hedges will make this greenway an enjoyable and memorable experience for all it users for generations to come,” he said.