Greenway Map 2
Map illustrates how the proposed C & L greenway adds value to the Shannon Erne waterway by providing quality off road connectivity in areas where the blueway is obstructed by lakes. The greenway and SEW make possible long distance off road walking and cycle routes in the Border Area between existing outdoor recreational infrastructure at the Shannon and similar at the Erne.
National Cycle Network Map
This map, showing the proposed National Cycle Network, is part of the ‘Smarter Travel’ policy report produced by Dept of Transport. Ballinamore to Belturbet is on Corridor One (Dundalk to Sligo). The report points out that routes which are segregated from traffic and on level ground like disused railways provide a quality standard and these should be prioritized whenever possible. The Ballinamore to Belturbet proposed route is entirely on disused railway land or along the Shannon Erne waterway.
Section 1. Mohill-Fenagh-Ballinamore
The southern terminus is at Mohill, Co Leitrim close to the former railway station. The Loc Rynn amenity is about 4 km away and has developed a variety of outdoor facilities in activity tourism along with formal gardens and woodland. Mohill station was an important station because in addition to the passenger traffic, the town hosted two great fairs on February 25th and October 19th annually. At its peak in 1945, 106 wagon loads of livestock were handled at Mohill. After leaving the town at 3.2 km distant is Gortfada Road, the first of eight level crossings before Ballinamore where the former stone built Victorian era station house is still in use. This is the case at almost all the level crossings. Adoon is over 7 km from Mohill, the site of a former ‘Halt’ and served Cloone village approx 4 kms away. The landscape is predominantly flat but the route follows a very slight uphill gradient which continues to Fenagh with several curves along the way to navigate the drumlin landscape. The landscape is very rural with a variety of pastureland, woodland, bogs, streams and lakes.
About 10 kms from Mohill is the former Fenagh station. Fenagh area has some of the most significant ecclesiastical heritage sites in the North West as well as Megalitic and pre Christian sites. It is well served with excellent social facilities including a recently refurbished Community Centre, Handball alley, Heritage Centre as well as primary schools. Fenagh is also a summit point on the Greenway in that the overall gradients start to fall towards Ballinamore. At Lauderdale, the gradient is falling at 1 :47 over almost a kilometre on the approach to the canal bridge, the Dromod bound coal trains would have been working near their limit getting to Fenagh !. Lauderdale crossing is approx 1 km from the newly refurbished Glenview Folk museum at Aughoo Bridge. Approaching Ballinamore, the canal bridge is now removed and the Greenway would follow the new canal side walk along the Shannon Erne Waterway for approx 3 kms before entering Ballinamore Marina at the south end of the town. Ballinamore is the location of the Leitrim County Library, an 18 hole golf course and hosts annual festivals in drama, music and family recreation. Also the newly opened Community School, Sports Hall and Scouting facilities.
Section 2. Ballinamore-Aughawillan-Templeport-Ballyconnell
Section 2 starts at the former St Felims College and Railway station at the northern end of the town, now the subject of a discussion regarding its future. Ahead, there are numerous cuttings and embankments to overcome the challenges of the drumlin landscape with cut stone 3 arch masonry bridges at Drumcullion, Aughawillan and Killyran. The alignment has significant merit because it is shorter than the main road between Ballinamore and Ballyconnell and at least 6.5kms shorter than the canal route. The landscape would be charactised by many low lying small fields, woodland, bogland all in the shadow of Sliabh an Iarainn first and then Sliabh Rushen mountain in Co Cavan. At Kildorragh, 2 kms from the town is the site of an old water tank, still in place. Originally, Ballinamore station got its water from a local well which proved unreliable. The station needed about 15,000 gals of water per day and in 1908 a steam operated pumphouse was build at Lake Bolgonard which pumped to a large tank on the high ground at Kildorragh where it then gravity flowed to the tank at Ballinamore station until 1938. The expanded width of the old railway cutting at Kildorragh is a result of quarrying here in the early years to provide ballast for the railway track. Similarly at Ballyheady and Stradermott on the Drumshanbo branch line, a conspicuous open space is all that remains of former track side quarries which were used to providing rail ballast.
The Greenway crosses the river Blackwater just inside the Cavan County boundary on a fine cut stone arch bridge with a second smaller arch presumably to accommodate a local landowner. All of the route (16 kms ) within County Cavan is in the UNESCO recognised Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark. A Geopark is an area with outstanding geological, archaeological, ecological and cultural heritage. Further ahead is approx 1.5km of asphale paved public road which serves as a qwuiet access road approaching the former Templeport Railway station. The former station house is now refurbished and extended serving as a Resource Centre. The adjacent stone build goods store is intact and the outline of a large land take around the station can be observed. This accommodated sidings used primarily for the Ballymagovern Fair. In the early years, livestock and coal destined for Belfast were the main traffic commodities on the line. Ballymagovern Fair, like Mohill was a major event and occurred on May 23rd and Nov 23rd annually. Up to 100 wagon loads of livestock were traded at each fair and a cattle bank for unloading special trains was provided at the station for this purpose. The Fair declined rapidly in the 1920’s following the political division of the state in 1922. Bawnboy village is situated approx 4 kms from Templeport. This is the location of the Bawnboy Workshouse, a large Victorian structure dating from 1852. Recent studies have been undertaken to identify a viable future for this large building as a local amenity.
Leaving Templeport, approx 3 kms ahead is Ballyheady and the Greenway then follows the Shannon Erne Waterway canal bank for approx 5 km into Ballyconnell marina. Ballyconnell is on the border with Co Fermanagh.
Section 3. Ballyconnell-Belturbet
The preferred option here is along the Shannon Erne waterway. The following is a general outline of the alternative rail corridor option. Beyond Ballyconnell, the Greenway would seek to avoid crossing the N87 national route and would probably join the old track west of Killywilly Lough. The route to Belturbet is very flat with a lot of gentle curves and skirts three large lakes over this 10 km section. There are some metal bridges on stone abutments where the line crossed several small rivers. Tomkin Road was the most significant station on this section partly due to additional traffic associated with the Tomkin Road creamery which had its own railway siding. The Erne Bridge at Turbett Island is at the approach to the refurbished Belturbet railway station site. There would be considerable merit in extending the greenway for approx 4 km along the Erne to the international scouting site at Castle Saunderson.