Monasteries of the Moy trail moves closer

Work continues on the Monasteries of the Moy – a 14km off-road walking and cycling greenway between Ballina and Killala.

Work on the Ballina section of the Monasteries of the Moy Greenway at Belleek Wood, towards Knockatinole, has already been completed. The Killala section of the route has also been completed.

And Leader funding of €346,472 for the construction of a 4.35 km off-road walking and cycling route between Killala and Rosserk as part of the project has been welcomed by Michelle Mulherin TD.

Said Deputy Mulherin: “I want to compliment all involved and, in particular, thank the landowners who are allowing the use of their land along this section and hope that any concerns of landowners along the rest of the route can be resolved to the satisfaction of all in due course.”

The announcement that €250,000 seed funding in May 2014 by the Government to develop the Monasteries of the Moy heritage trail is a very welcome boost to tourism and local people alike in North Mayo.

The Monasteries of the Moy Greenway will follow the old road between Ballina and Killala along the West bank of the River Moy where the world-famous salmon river makes its journey to Killala Bay.

The route will start at the ruins of the Augustinian Abbey, beside St Muredach’s Cathedral in Ballina, and continue along the old Ballina to Killala road, taken by the Humbert’s French Army in 1798.

The historic trail passes by Rosserk Abbey, located about 4 km from Ballina. The Franciscan friary was founded by the Joyce family for the Third Order of St Francis in 1460 and is in a very good state of repair with an impressive bell tower, which can be climbed.

Moyne Abbey

Moyne Abbey, just outside Killala, was founded by the Burke family as a Franciscan friary in 1462 and is an impressive national monument overlooking the River Moy Estuary. Access to this site is not easy and this will have to be addressed in the development of the greenway.

The Priory of the Holy Cross at Rathfran is located a few kilometres North of  Killala on the road to Kilcummin and is also in a reasonably good state of repair. It was founded for the Dominicans in 1274 and like many of the monasteries in Ireland, the building was torched during the reign of Elizabeth 1 of England.

The historic religious sites have always been popular and are regularly visited by locals and tourists impressed by the scenic locations and the tranquillity that surrounds each of the monastic sites.

It is early days yet and it will take a number of years before the project, estimated to cost €1.5 million, is completed in phases as funding becomes available.

Mayo Fine Gael TD Michelle Mulherin who has been a prime mover in getting the project off the ground has welcomed the news and said it would be a huge boost for both tourism in North Mayo and also a wonderful local amenity to be enjoyed by generations of people into the future.

“This is great news for the people of North Mayo who are seeing the development of a number of exciting tourism and cultural projects alongside the greenway, including a museum at Belleek Castle; Downpatrick Head and blowhole as a signature point on the Wild Atlantic Way, the refurbishment of the Ceide Fields Interpretative Centre and the Mary Robinson Centre in Ballina,” Deputy Mulherin said.

By Anthony Hickey

Follow writer and photographer, Anthony Hickey, as he travels around his native Co. Mayo, Ireland.

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