National Cycle Network

Ireland's National Cycle Policy Framework recognises the need to support and encourage all types of cycling, including recreational and tourist cycling.  "Recreational routes", says the policy, "in and around urban areas, which in turn link to rural areas, are very important." 

With this in mind, in August 2009, the National Roads Authority was tasked with completing a scoping study on a National Cycle Network. An advisory group, under the auspices of the National Trails Advisory Committee and with members such as Fáilte Ireland, Waterways Ireland and Coillte, was set up for this work. The scoping study was published in August 2010, and can be downloaded here (The National Cycle Network Scoping Study).

The study identified potential route corridors between urban centres of 10,000 population and upwards that could make up a National Cycle Network. The potential Network identified in the scoping study is approximately 2,000km in length. It is envisaged that the identified route corridors will provide a skeleton around which routes should develop nationwide, with potential for links into and between the corridors, particularly where existing infrastructure allows cost effective delivery.

Since 2009 funding has been provided for a number of projects which align with the concept of a delivery of a National Cycle Network. For example, a new route section of the Great Southern Trail, a route from Passage West to Douglas, a route section in Dungarvan Town, and the completion of the 42km Great Western Greenway.

While the current funding environment will not allow completion of the extensive route corridors identified in the NCN scoping study, a further funding scheme was launched in March 2012 aimed at route delivery in 2012 and 2013. 

The funding is in line with a commitment in the programme for Government to continue National Cycle Policy Framework.

Following a competitive process, funding was announced in June 2012 for sixteen separate cycling projects built across the country over the next two years. This covered a wide variety of route types , including on road routes along rural roads and former national roads, and off-road routes along former rail lines and canal tow paths. The routes will provide valuable transport and recreational infrastructure, with some of the routes having the potential to become tourism attractions in their own right.

The table below is the full list of the 16 projects (by Local Authority area) that have received or will receive funding.  The applications submitted are available to download under County Name (see Download Application column below).

This phase of the NCN programme expired at the end of 2013.   On the 2 August, 2013 Minister Kelly announced a further €6.5m in funding to local authorities to deliver cycle routes under the second tranche of the NCN Local Authority Funding Scheme 2014-2016. 


Local Authority

Project Summary

Grant Amount (€)

Route length (km)

Download Application

Carlow & Kilkenny Co. Co.

An on road cycling route from Carlow to Paulstown to Kilkenny       providing 44km of cycle lanes along the R448.



Carlow and Kilkenny

Clare Co. Co.

An off road shared use cycle path linking Ennistymon and Lahinch.




Donegal Co. Co.

An extensive 195km rural roads based route from Donegal Town to Newton Cunningham, providing a route through some of the country's most attractive landscape and linking a large number of towns.




Fingal Co. Co.

Provision of 3km route section from Ashtown to the Blanchardstown/Castleknock train station along the Royal Canal tow path, joining up with the existing route from Ashtown into the city.




Kerry Co. Co.

A 1.2km extension to an existing cycle/pedestrian route, which will now link Killarney to Fossa.




Limerick Co Co

A 3km extension of the Great Southern Trail, from Abbeyfeale Town to Rathoran, adding to the existing 38km of trail from Rathkeale to Abbeyfeale.




Louth Co. Co.

A 6.2km Greenway along an old railway line between Greers Quay, Omeath and Carlingford, with future potential for this route to form part of a 32km route from Dundalk to Carlingford and on to Newry.




Mayo Co. Co.

An 8.8km off-road Greenway along the banks of the Castlebar River, from Castlebar to the National Museum of Ireland - Country Life which is located in Turlough Park. The route connects into the recently build Lough Lannagh Greenway.




Meath Co. Co.

A primarily off-road cycle/walkway from Drogheda Ramparts to Oldbridge entrance (Battle of the Boyne site), with future potential for extension on to Newgrange visitor centre.




Monaghan Co. Co.

A 4km route through Monaghan town, making use of both canal towpath and roads, with future potential for an extensive route linking to Cavan Town and Armagh. 




North Tipperary Co. Co.

Extension of the existing walkway/cycleway along the N52 linking with tourist trail.



North Tipperary

Offaly Co. Co.

Provision of 16.8km of dedicated cycle lanes along the R420 (former N80 national road) from Tullamore to Moate with future potential to extend route on to Athlone along a disused rail line.




Roscommon Co. Co.

Provision of 20km of dedicated cycle lanes along the former N6 from Athlone to Ballinasloe, with future potential to link to the Tullamore to Moate route along a disused rail line.




Waterford City Council

Provision of a 3.2km mainly off road route which will connect directly to the Waterford County Council route to Tramore.



Waterford City 

Waterford Co. Co.

Tramore to Waterford - provision of a 6.4km on road route along the regional road, linking directly to the proposed Waterford City route, resulting in a 10km route from Tramore to Waterford City.



Waterford County

Westmeath Co. Co.

Royal Canal route: upgrading of 11.3km of canal tow path from Boardstown Bridge eastbound towards Meath. The works will extend an existing route, with further potential to develop the entire extent of the canal town path within the County.