Minister Ring T.D. has awarded €500,000 to Waterways Ireland for the completion of the Shannon Blueway between Leitrim Village and Drumshanbo town. The project will include an iconic boardwalk around the southern side of Acres Lake. The attractive new walkway will be constructed partly on land and a significant section will be designed to float over the water. This work will complete a 14–km section of the Blueway, bringing it into the Blueway network which is now nearing 200km in length running across Leitrim, Roscommon, Longford and Cavan.
The Shannon Blueway is a new recreation and tourism concept that has been developed by Waterways Ireland and a number of key partners including Leitrim, Roscommon and Longford County Councils, the National Trails Office and Canoeing Ireland.
The Blueway is a series of quality multi-leisure activity trails both on and off water that offers a wider and deeper experience through associated activities and attractions. There are now 8 activity providers operating on the Blueway and accommodation & hospitality sector in the wider geographical area developing interesting and exciting packages for families and friends to experience. (www.bluewaysireland.org)
The first section of Blueway (funded by the Rural Recreation Grant Aid) opened in October 2014 and has achieved huge success and recognition to date. It comprises 3 looped walks and 16km of canoe trails connecting Carrick-on Shannon to Drumshanbo. It has already received two awards and has attracted over 100,000 visitors since opening.
The grant approved by Minister Ring T.D., will provide a critical connection in the walking and cycling element of the Blueway. The iconic boardwalk provides linkage for the existing 14km of looped walks to the facilities and services at Acres Lake and Drumshanbo town another key element of Blueway infrastructure.
Waterways Ireland and Leitrim County Council, manage and operate a fully serviced community and boating resource at Acres lake which includes a marina, car-parking, toilets and showers, outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, angling facilities and the Sliabh an Iairann Visitor Centre. By connecting these facilities to the existing looped walk and cycle path the area can be utilised as a trail head and will anchor and integrate the Blueway in the town of Drumshanbo and the wider Roscommon and Leitrim hinterland
The project will involve the construction of a path from the current terminus near Drumhauver Bridge to the edge of Acres Lake; the procurement and installation of the floating walkway, and the construction of a new path linking the walkway to the services at Acres Lake. It is anticipated geotechnical works and preliminary site works will commence by the end of November 2016. Waterways Ireland is in the process of procuring the floating walkway. The scheme is expected to be completed by May 2017 in time for the main boating and tourist season.