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Minister publishes economic plan for Barrow Blueway

Minister published economic plan for Barrow Blueway

Heather Humphreys, Minister for Rural and Community Development, has

Heather Humphreys, Minister for Rural and Community Development, has published an Economic Plan for the Barrow Blueway in conjunction with County Kildare LEADER Partnership Chairperson Colm Ó’Gógáin, Kildare County Council Chief Executive, Peter Carey and Director of Marketing & Development with Waterways Ireland, Andrew Nixon King.

The Barrow Blueway is being developed as a 46K long, multi-use trail built on and along the Barrow Line of the Grand Canal in counties Kildare and Laois.

The route will facilitate water-based as well as water-side visitor experiences. Running from Lowtown/Robertstown in the north to Athy in the south the Barrow Blueway links pretty waterside towns and villages and is located only 40 minutes from Dublin. The route will open in 2022.

The aim of the Economic Plan is to inform, guide and encourage community and business economic development initiatives that will maximise the opportunity the Blueway presents for Kildare while bringing the experience of the Blueway to life for local people and visitors to the area.

The project was delivered in partnership between County Kildare LEADER Partnership, Waterways Ireland and Kildare County Council.

Minister Humphreys  said “I warmly welcome the publication of this economic plan for the Barrow Blueway, which has been largely funded by my Department’s LEADER programme. Projects like these will breathe new life into rural Ireland, boost visitor numbers and generate economic activity. In March, I launched ‘Our Rural Future’ – the most ambitious plan for Rural Ireland in decades. This kind of project represent the action behind that policy. I look forward to seeing the Barrow Blueway project progress and the benefits it will be bring to communities.”

Increased economic impact of trail-based tourism is achieved by having a good range of services at appropriate intervals along a route that encourage users to stay longer and spend more. This plan maps the activities and services currently available along the 46km Barrow Blueway route, it identifies what is needed and makes recommendations for Blueway development, creating a coherent plan for all stakeholders to follow. Opportunities for business and communities to increase the range of services and tourism spend in their area are clearly highlighted.

Martin Heydon T.D. Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine said "The Barrow Blueway is a hugely positive development for residents of Kildare South and Laois, both for their own recreational use and the potential economic benefits that it can bring to their local economies in Lowtown, Rathangan, Monasterevin, Vicarstown and Athy. I commend all stakeholders involved in developing this economic plan which will assist our rural communities to maximise the business opportunities that the Blueway brings as well as helping us to develop the facilities that visitors to our area will require. This plan will bring a clear focus on the opportunities and needs that the Blueway brings to our area, and I look forward to working with all involved to seeing such opportunities fully explored and developed.”

Pat Leogue General Manager, of County Kildare LEADER Partnership, stated, “LEADER’s role in this plan has been to ensure that communities along the Barrow Blueway have the opportunity to gain from its development through not only social and recreational opportunities but also from the economic benefits that it will provide. This plan identifies the best opportunities for each area in a coordinated way which will support employment and provide an important amenity for visitors and residents in County Kildare”.


Developing a high-quality international visitor experience requires investment from the public and private sector terms of basic infrastructure, and services such as public transport, public toilets, signage and parking. Visitors to the Barrow Blueway will also require access to a range of accommodation, food & beverage & entertainment options, activities such as cycle hire and guided experiences and chances to engage with nature and heritage.

Peter Carey, Chief Executive, Kildare County Council, said “Kildare County Council is delighted to welcome the publication of the economic plan for the Barrow Blueway and this important next step in the delivery of this major project.  As the Local Authority we are committed to developing and delivering social, economic, and environmental growth.  The development of the Barrow Blueway as a quality visitor experience will deliver significant benefits for the local economy, Kildare’s tourism offering as well as the communities and citizens of Kildare.”


Andrew Nixon-King Director of Marketing & Development with Waterways Ireland stated “Waterways Ireland welcomes the publication of this report and has been delighted to work closely with Kildare LEADER and Kildare County Council in its formulation. Through its process of research and consultation, the plan has established what needs to be done to develop a sustainable and successful visitor economy associated with the Barrow Blueway. We thank the local business community for engaging with this process and we have been hugely encouraged by their passion, ingenuity, and enthusiasm. They have really embraced the opportunity presented by the Barrow Blueway. We look forward to working with all stakeholders further in the implementation of the plan and in collectively developing a first- class visitor experience”.


This project received grant aid from Kildare Local Community Development Committee and support from County Kildare LEADER Partnership financed by the Irish Government under the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 and by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas.

View the Economic Plan, see the invite to attend the event & associated documents at https://www.countykildarelp. ie/bbep


Kildare County Council is shaping a sustainable future while improving the quality of life of all citizens.  Delivering enabling infrastructure and efficient accessible services and pursuing our vision through collaboration, innovation, inclusion and community engagement.

County Kildare LEADER Partnership CLG is a not-for-profit Local Development Company responsible for the delivery of a range of Rural, Enterprise, Social Inclusion and Community Development Initiatives in County Kildare. It is one of over fifty local development companies in Ireland empowering local communities to improve their quality of life. The LEADER programme has been supporting communities and business in County Kildare for over 20 years. 

Waterways Ireland is a cross-border body accountable to the North South Ministerial Council under the 1998 British-Irish Agreement. The organisation is headquartered in Enniskillen and has satellite offices in Dublin, Carrick-on-Shannon, and Scarriff. Its 340 staff are deployed across the management, maintenance, development and promotion of over 1,000 kms of inland navigable waterways. Waterways Ireland assets contribute approximately €560m in economic, societal and environmental value annually. The waterways estate comprises Grand Canal; Royal Canal; Barrow; Shannon, Shannon-Erne; Erne; Ulster Canal and Lower Bann navigations. In 2020 the waterways estate received 3.5 million visitors.

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