Limerick City and County Council has announced the restoration project of a historic 19th century Railway Goods Shed at Rathkeale on Limerick Greenway as the centre piece of a new visitor facilities project that is due to commence work in the West Limerick town.
The Limerick Greenway Hub @ Rathkeale is one of a series of projects to be undertaken by Limerick City and County Council aimed at further enhancing the first-class network of visitor facilities along the popular Limerick Greenway.
The historic railway building was constructed circa 1860-1870 as part of the Limerick to Tralee railway line. Once restored and repurposed, the Railway Goods Shed at Rathkeale will provide visitors to Limerick Greenway, the scenic 40km walking and cycling route in the West Limerick countryside, with new recreational facilities that have been planned with universal access to the fore.
Limerick Greenway’s success as an exceptional amenity for local people and for visitors from the region, across Ireland and internationally, is evident in the fast-growing visitor numbers which increased by 52% year on year, in July to October 2022 compared with the same period in the previous year. To date, more than 1 million visits have been recorded for Limerick Greenway.
The Railway Goods Shed in Rathkeale will accommodate bike hire and new visitor facilities including toilets. A public realm area around the building will provide recreational space for locals, Greenway users and visitors to the town alike, featuring picnic benches for gatherings, a water point and a bike repair stand, all facilitating an excellent visitor experience around Limerick Greenway.
Part of the €1.9m project to enhance visitor facilities in the Rathkeale Hub will include a newly upgraded car park providing mobility car parking spaces and electric vehicle charging points. Designed in harmony with the rich heritage of the town, the project on completion will complement the Irish Palatine Museum, housed in the adjoining former Railway Station House.
Gordon Daly, Director of Services at Limerick City and County Council, commented, “we are very pleased to commence work on this exciting project in Rathkeale, reinforcing the link between Limerick Greenway and the rich built heritage of the town. Limerick Greenway is a precious amenity for local, national and international visitors and we are committed to ongoing works to restore historic gems such as the Railway Goods Shed, and to enhance services at each of the visitor hubs along the route.”
“Development of the Limerick Greenway Hub @Rathkeale is a key strategic project for Limerick City and County Council and will support the further development of Limerick Greenway and the town of Rathkeale to make a positive impact regionally, with social and economic benefits. With plans in place for an active travel link to the town it will become a major focal point.”
Limerick Greenway follows the old Limerick to Kerry railway line through the tranquil rural West Limerick landscape and offers visitors a rich experience that centres around accessibility, biodiversity with native species of trees and shrubs as well as wildlife, and heritage with its choice of some of the country’s most historic sites.
Limerick Greenway passes via the three market towns of Rathkeale, Newcastle West and Abbeyfeale, through the 115m Barnagh Train Tunnel and across the cast-iron Ferguson’s Viaduct, both restored relics of the 19th century train line.
The €1.9m project to enhance visitor facilities in the Rathkeale Hub is managed by Limerick City and County Council with a multidisciplinary design team appointed to deliver the project, led by the Architectural firm Feeney McMahon Architects who are a Limerick based company. The appointed building contractor, Thomas Nolan & Sons have already completed conservation works on Ardagh and Barnagh Station Houses for Limerick City and County Council.
The expected completion date is December 2023 and the project has been funded by Limerick City and County Council, Transport Infrastructure Ireland and The Department of Rural and Community Development under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme.
Limerick City and County Council will also commence work on a new Greenway car park at Station Road, Newcastle West in 2023 having secured Part 8 planning approval in November. In addition, the Council have confirmed it has now appointed architect led design teams to advance the design/master planning on Limerick Greenway Hubs at Ardagh and Abbeyfeale This will see the restoration of Ardagh Station House and Abbeyfeale Railway Goods Shed along with public realm enhancements, visitor facilities and improved carparking.
A design team has also been appointed to prepare plans to complete works on the iconic Barnagh Station House that was acquired and partly restored by the Council in 2021.
Limerick City and County Council has also confirmed that the construction of additional cattle under and overpasses on Limerick Greenway underway since earlier this year will be completed by July improving the visitor experience and assisting landowners adjacent to the greenway.
The Abbeyfeale to Listowel 10.5km extension joining Limerick Greenway to the Kingdom of Kerry Greenways officially opened to the public in September 2022.
Limerick Greenway reopened in July 2021, following a €10 million investment by Limerick City and County Council.
Limerick City and County Council has confirmed that feasibility studies into extending the Limerick Greenway including from Rathkeale to Adare and Patrickswell are underway. The Council also noted that it continues to liaise with Iarnród Éireann to examine the feasibility of providing a Greenway within their operational railway corridor and that any such facility would be subject to Iarnród Éireann’s future plans, in addition to their operational, technical and safety requirements associated with activities adjacent to a live railway.
Source: Limerick City & County Council