Garvin Cummins, known as “The Greenway Man,” operates a bike hire as well as school trips along the route. He was also instrumental in getting the project off the ground to begin with, several years previously. Despite being one of many who had a vision of its success, he’s still blown away with just how popular the Greenway already is.
“It is absolutely unbelievable. People from all over the country have been coming here since last summer, well before it officially opened. Sundays have been like a beach in Durrow with all the cars parked.”
Garvin believes the success of The Greenway is down to the fact that it’s a singular reason to draw people to Waterford.
“Before this we didn’t have a stand-alone thing to bring people here. We have a lot of history, beautiful villages, Lismore Castle and so on. But we needed this one outstanding thing. Once the tourists come down they can then go to the other attractions.”
It’s up there with the Cliffs of Moher and Newgrange, I think.
Garvin also acknowledges that this has been a great time to build a Greenway, with the increasing popularity of cycling as a hobby for adults and kids alike.
“Someone said to me recently that leisure cycling is the new golf, except it’s more than that, because it’s accessible to everyone. A man visited in September from Clonmel, he was 101 years of age, and he walked and cycled the Greenway. An 89 year old man in Durrow bought his first bike in over 50 years when the Greenway came along.”
Garvin shares the sentiments of many in believing that the opening of The Greenway will be a major game-changer for hospitality locally.
“It will be absolutely massive, and more massive than people ever envisaged. Dungarvan is completely booked out this weekend. A couple were onto me who had to stay as far out as Castlemartyr,” he said.
Another town which is expected to greatly reap the benefits of the Greenway is Kilmacthomas. It was the site of the official opening of the route in March, and physically lies at the centre. Already there been a surge in visitors to the area, a number of bike hire companies have started and there are several plans for more cafes and restaurants.
“Kilmacthomas will be a massive beneficiary, and that’s a town that really suffered from the recession. So this is their opportunity and they’ve grabbed it with both hands. There are plans for up to eight new places in Kilmacthomas. The Coachhouse has opened in The Workhouse, and there are already queues out the door there on weekends. In the village you have Kiersey’s tea rooms, on the same street will be Maggies, The Mill in Kilmacthomas is being taken over by Gortanore Whiskey and they’ll put a coffee shop in there too. So you certainly won’t be stuck for coffee,” Garvin said, laughing.
He added that plans are also afoot for a number of new premises in Kilmeaden, while Waterford City and Dungarvan are likely to grow and expand their offerings too.
Garvin echoed Paul Flynn’s sentiments, that the future is very bright for hospitality in Waterford, but that bed capacity could be an issue, in particular in Dungarvan, in the near future.
“If you take Mayo – the Greenway there cost €5.7 million to build, and in the first year they had several million in extra revenue. I think the Waterford Greenway will be even bigger. It’s less than two hours on the motorway from Dublin, so more convenient to get to.
“There are a lot of hotels in Waterford but there could be more accommodation in Dungarvan. There’s a need for a new hostel in Dungarvan for sure, as good hostels go hand in hand with cycling and walking. They’re a good fit,” he said.
For more information on The Greenway Man, visit www.thegreenwayman.com.