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Restoration of Ulster Canal Proves A Technical Challenge

3rd April 2017
Cross-border canal:  (L-R) F Fox, Fox Contracts, D Livingstone CEO, Waterways Ireland, Minister Humphreys, P Graham & S Acheson Waterways Ireland Cross-border canal: (L-R) F Fox, Fox Contracts, D Livingstone CEO, Waterways Ireland, Minister Humphreys, P Graham & S Acheson Waterways Ireland

The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD, visited the construction site on the Ulster Canal at Derrykerrib Bridge, Co Fermanagh in the company of Waterways Ireland Chief Executive, Dawn Livingstone on Friday the 31st March 2017.

The construction works in this flagship cross-border project consists of a new bridge and canal cut which will allow navigation up the Finn River from Upper Lough Erne to Castle Saunderson, County Cavan. The construction will allow navigation to bypass the low span on the existing Derrykerrib Bridge. Based on Derrykerrib Island, the project, is a considerable technical challenge due to the poor ground conditions, frequency of flooding and the need to maintain access for residents at all times.

The project has been designed by Waterways Ireland Technical Services staff taking into account the technical difficulties. The new bridge is to be north of the existing Derrykerrib bridge and will have an arch profile like an old canal bridge. In line with planning conditions, the bridge will have a modern finish. The canal cut will be 250 metres long and will run parallel to the existing river.

The contract has been awarded to the Carrickmore based contractor Fox Contracts Ltd at a tender value of €1.8m approx including VAT and is to be completed by April 2018.

Minister Humphreys said:
“I am pleased that the contract has been signed by Waterways Ireland to allow for this important work to get underway at Derrykerrib Bridge. This is the next phase in the restoration of the old Ulster Canal and follows on from works completed in 2016 to dredge the channel from Lough Erne to Castle Saunderson, making it ready for navigation. It is my hope that the works can progress without delay so this section of canal can be restored for the benefit of people in surrounding areas and indeed visitors from further afield.”

The Ulster Canal closed in 1931 after 90 years of operation. Linking Charlemont on the River Blackwater with Wattlebridge on the River Finn, the canal made it possible to travel from Lough Neagh to Lough Erne, through Blackwatertown, Benburb, Caledon, Middletown, Monaghan, Smithborough and Clones.

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