Community effort leads to safer pedestrian footpath on busy Donegal road
The need for a footpath from Donegal Town to Killymard has long been recognised and now thanks to a great community effort, a safe walkway for pedestrians is finally complete.
It is almost a year since dozens of people from the parish with support from a number of local businesses put their shoulders to the wheel to start clearance work for the footpath.
The work was carried out in co-operation with Donegal County Council as part of a Community Involvement Scheme (CIS) applied for by Killymard Old Church Restoration Committee.
A spokesperson for the committee said: "There have been fears for many years that someone would be seriously injured or killed on the road.
"This road is popular with walkers and it serves a primary school, pre-school, church, graveyard, and our old church where we host community events. It is also used by hundreds of residents and by visitors to the hotels and guest houses of the Lough Eske area.
"The idea of a footpath goes back to when the school and new church were built in the 1980s and 1990s. It was revived in recent years with so much more awareness of health and environmental issues. One of the big aims with this footpath was to give children and families the option of being able to walk to school. It is great to see that happening now."
A number of people from the community were out on Saturday morning putting the finishing touches to the community share of the work. This was almost a year since a bigger group gave up two full days in very wet conditions to do the initial clearance work along the entire stretch of road. This in turn allowed Donegal County Council's road crew to get to work on the footpath and on upgrading the road at the same time, making it safer for motorists as well as pedestrians.
The committee spokesperson said: "It is great to be at the stage now of doing the finishing touches, making sure the landowners are happy with the way their fields are left.
"The bulk of the work was done before Covid-19, and this footpath couldn't have come at a better time. All through lockdown there were people out walking the path every day. It was great to know that people were benefiting so much from this footpath.
"Scoil an Linbh Íosa is back open now and for the first time since it was build more than 30 years, families coming out from town have the option of walking safely to school.
"We would like to thank the men who came out on Saturday to do these last few jobs. We couldn't have too many people there this time round due to social distancing, so they did a great job.
"Donegal County Council also have a last few bits to do and then the project will be finished.
"I saw one person on Facebook describe this project as 'a leading light' and it made me feel very proud of our community and the way people just stepped up and got on with whatever needed to be done. Because it was carried out under a CIS, the Killymard Old Church Restoration Committee as the applicants had to provide 30% of the cost in labour and services. It amounted to around €80,000 worth of labour, machinery hire, fuel, the dedication of land to be used for the project, etc.
"That is an immense community contribution by any standards, so a huge, huge thank you to everyone who helped in any way with land dedication, clearance work, traffic management or serving food, as well as to Donegal County Council, in particular Donal Murphy, Mark Sweeney, Anthony McGrath and all the workers, and Cllr Noel Jordan who has been very involved in getting this project from the outset, Cllr Tom Conaghan for his ongoing support, and all our local councillors who supported this project in any way.
"We would ask everyone who is enjoying the benefits and safety of this fantastic footpath to remember the local businesses whose generosity with machinery, professional services, fuel and lunches for volunteers meant that we didn't have to fundraise or to call on the parish or school for financial contributions. Those businesses/professional services are: Seamus McGowan, Brendan Brady of Brady Construction, digger drivers Mark McHugh and Jim Kelly, tree feller John McGovern, Andrew Gallagher of Cosy Home Fuels, Michael McIntyre of Doonan Service Station, the team at Lough Eske Castle Hotel, and Kevin Gallagher and his team at the Mill Park Hotel."
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