Michael Ring T.D. Minister for Regional Economic Development visited the site of the iconic new Boardwalk planned for Acres Lake, Drumshanbo, the final part of the Shannon Blueway linking Carrick-on-Shannon to Drumshanbo. Recently awarded €500,000 of Rural Recreation Funding from the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs the attractive new walkway will be constructed partly on land with a significant section designed to float over the water. This work will complete a 14km section of the Blueway, bringing it into the Blueway network which is now nearing 200km in length running across Leitrim, Roscommon, Longford and Cavan.
Minister Ring confirmed his support for the project stating "The first section of the Shannon Blueway (funded by the Rural Recreation Grant Aid) opened in October 2014 and has achieved huge success and recognition to date. This latest investment in the Blueway Boardwalk at Acres Lake, will be an iconic attraction and will create a recreational and tourism project of international significance and scale. Already 8 new activity providers have opened along its length with work ongoing to facilitate many more to come on-stream, creating jobs and income in the very rural region"
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. (www.bluewaysireland.org)
Éanna Rowe, Waterways Ireland Regional Manager, confirmed "the grant approved by Minister Ring, 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. We appreciate the co-operation of our partners in Leitrim County Council who have worked with us on this project."
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.