The Royal Canal Greenway, Ireland’s longest greenway, has been awarded first place in the ‘Excellence Award’ category at the 11th European Greenways Awards.
The Awards, which took place last night in Rome, saw the Royal Canal Greenway compete against routes such as Greenway of the Trabocchi Coast, Italy and The European Bridge and a cross-border Polish-German greenway, to be named as the leading greenway in Europe.
Established in 2003, the European Greenway Awards are biennial awards that assess Europe’s leading greenways, those that stand out for their excellence and demonstration of best practice.
The Royal Canal Greenway was commended by the judges as “a very ambitious project to enhance a 130 km long historical canal with high heritage value as a greenway” and for showing a “high quality and great support from stakeholders.” The Royal Canal Greenway was also commended for having an outstanding promotion and product development, and for the economic impact it has delivered.
The Royal Canal Greenway was officially opened in 2021 following a significant €12m investment as part of a joint restoration programme with Waterways Ireland, the Department of Transport and Transport Infrastructure Ireland and the local authorities of Kildare, Meath, Westmeath and Longford. In its first year the Royal Canal Greenway attracted over 650,000 visitors, generating €17.2m for the local economy.
Since launching in 2021, the Royal Canal Greenway has been recognised with multiple awards – winning awards at both national and international levels. In April 2022, the Royal Canal Greenway was awarded European Cycle Route of the Year 2022 at the leading Dutch Walking and Cycling Fair ‘Fiets en Wandelbeurs’. In addition, the greenway was also recognised at the Local Government Awards ceremony where it scooped the Best Tourism Initiative in 2022.
The 130km route runs along the historic 225-year-old canal, it passes 90 bridges, 33 locks, 17 harbours and four aqueducts, not to mention dozens of shops, B&Bs, restaurants and pubs. Greenway users can choose to complete the entire 130km flat, off-road trail or explore the shorter designated routes – ranging from 6km to 15km – between the 14 connection access points and towns.
Commenting on the announcement of the award, John McDonagh, CEO, Waterways Ireland said: “It is an honour to see the Royal Canal Greenway internationally recognised at the European Greenways Awards. Receiving the Excellence Award acknowledges the unwavering efforts of all parties involved in making the Royal Canal Greenway what it is today – all while ensuring our visitors enjoy an exceptional experience. We are proud to see the Royal Canal Greenway achieve this award on the international stage and invite anyone, no matter their age or fitness level, to come and enjoy this fantastic amenity for themselves.”