The Shannon-Erne Waterway begins its 25th year of operation tomorrow, Thursday 23 May.
It also marks start of a year of community, heritage and fun events all along the waterway linking Lough Erne in Co Fermanagh, through Co Cavan and into the River Shannon in Co Leitrim, taking in many towns and villages along its 63km length.
The largest cross-border infrastructure project of its time, the works involved the restoration of locks, dredging of the navigation channel, the installation of an electro-hydraulic lock operating system and the use of smart cards to operate the locks and service blocks which were placed at six locations along its length.
The Shannon-Erne Waterway has welcomed thousands of local and international boaters over the years, and introduced northern boaters to the south and southern boaters to the north, all bringing an economic dividend to places like Leitrim village, Keshcarrigan, Ballinamore and Ballyconnell.
Tomorrow the first of the year’s events, the Paddles Up Transition Year Programme reaches, its climax with a group of 100 students crossing the border on a 10km kayak paddle from the south to the north.
Paddles Up is a six-week programme involving learning the basic skills of kayaking and water safety and culminating in a 10km paddle. The students completing the programme will receive a qualification awarded by Canoeing Ireland, the national governing body, in either a Level One or Two Kayaking Proficiency Skills.
Further events are planned for the year including a visit of heritage boats to the Ballinamore Festival, exhibitions of heritage materials, oral history recordings and much more.
This include the Shannon-Erne Oral History Project, which is inviting contributions from people with memories of the waterway over the last 25 years.
Communities and activity clubs along the Shannon–Erne Waterway interested in organising events between now and May 2020 are asked to contact Waterways Ireland at [email protected] to be added to the events calendar.
To find out more about what’s on, find Waterways Ireland on Facebook.