A flotilla of light and fast boats set off at pace on the River Liffey from the sea lock at Grand Canal Dock to Seán Heuston Bridge below Heuston Station this lunchtime (Wednesday 1 January) to kick off the 2020BC initiative.
The date also marks the 60th anniversary to the day the Grand Canal was closed to commercial traffic by CIÉ.
2020BC will centre around a calendar of waterside community celebrations and events to which boaters and other waterway users can travel next year.
This reflects the navigation circuit being very much ‘open for business’ for leisure, pleasure and amenity use.
The 2020BC project is being co-ordinated for IWAI Dublin by longtime waterways advocate Mick Kinahan with support from IWAI’s Kildare, Offaly, Shannon Harbour, Royal Canal and Barrow Branches.
Today’s flotilla also carries some offerings from the Grand Canal to Heuston Station — symbols from locations along the canal’s length, of both past and present commercial and leisure activities.
Little known outside the boating community, the Grand Canal is also part of what is known as the Green & Silver: a navigation route comprising the Royal Canal, Camlin River, River Shannon, Grand Canal and River Liffey — and one that the IWAI is keen to promote during 2020BC and beyond.
IWAI president Alan Kelly said: “We are fortunate in IWAI to have experienced volunteers who are fully committed to the promotion of our waterways for the common good and the socio-economic benefit of all.
“We also have an excellent working relationship with Waterways Ireland and with Government departments, local authorities, development associations and community organisations all along the inland waterways network.
“We look forward to 2020 being a year of further positive engagement with all of our waterways partners to promote the development and improvement of our waterways.”
Jim O’Riordan, IWAI Dublin chairperson, added: “IWAI Dublin look forward to 2020BC and are grateful for the support from our peer IWAI branches around the inland waterways network for the project.
“We also want to thank Waterways Ireland who have been involved in helping us plan today’s launch and events for the coming year; and Clontarf and Poolbeg yacht clubs among others who have assisted arrangements for the launch flotilla.
“For 2020BC, what we are promoting is not just about boating, we intend to work with as many communities as possible to develop their interests further in the inland waterways in their vicinities and look forward to meeting many new waterways friends.”
Full details of events for 2020BC will be made available on the IWAI website.