While the Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway is long gone, a new proposed tourism development could mirror the route of the former railway line and link up the main towns of Sligo and Enniskillen as well as smaller towns and villages along the way.

The SLNCR Greenway has had its first public consultation at centres in Sligo, Glenfarne and Belcoo. Greenways are paved routes not opened to motorised traffic but suitable for walkers and cyclists. They are generally about 3.5 metres in width.

The estimated cost of the Sligo to Enniskillen Greenway has not been released but it is widely expected to cost in excess of £20m.

Leitrim County Council in partnership with Sligo County Council, Cavan County Council and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council under the auspices of Transport Infrastructure Irelnad and the Department for Infrastructure are developing the greenway from Sligo to Enniskillen passing through Collooney, Ballintogher, Dromahair, Manorhamilton, Glenfarne, Blacklion, Belcoo and Letterbreen.

While public land will be used as far as possible, there could be opportunities for landowners either for the development of the greenway infrastructure or potential opportunities for tourism amenities as the greenway is expected to attract national and international visitors.

The key objectives of the project are to increase the economic contribution of tourism to the economy by increasing the number of visitors, promote physical activity in a safe outdoor environment, provide opportunities to enhance the local amenity and heritage value of the area and benefit local communities through enhancing existing amenities and providing new linkages to local towns and villages.

Engineering consultants, ARUP have been appointed by the lead local authority, Leitrim County Council to provide engineering and consultancy services.

This first stage of the project is to investigate the feasibility and identify a suitable study area. With the consultation period just finished, the next stage will be in around June this year when proposed route options are identified and landowners are consulted.

At the public consultation in Belcoo Community Centre, there was significant interest over the period the exhibition was open.

A spokesperson for Leitrim Council explained that the 75 kilometres long greenway would have its longest stretch in Co. Leitrim of around 30 kilometres with about 18 kilometres in both Fermanagh and Sligo and less than 10 kilometres in Cavan.

It was identified that pop-up businesses such as cafes and other tourism amenities were possible once a greenway was constructed.

Further information is available from the website; www.slncr-greenway.com.