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€76m Ten-Year Tourism Masterplan for "Tranquil" Shannon Waterway

2nd March 2021
River Shannon Cruising in County Leitrim
River Shannon Cruising in County Leitrim Credit: Afloat

Remote and “tranquil” cabin cruiser moorings, kayak trails, canal walks and greenways form part of a €76.5 million tourism plan for the river Shannon published today.

As Times.ie reports today, the ten-year masterplan is the first such “whole river” approach to the entire Shannon region, according to Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin and Minister for Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien.

The 360km waterway is the longest river in Ireland and Britain, and runs through ten counties – all of which are involved in the strategy drawn up by Fáilte Ireland and Waterways Ireland.

Prone to periodic flooding, the river also has untapped potential as an international and national tourism destination, according to Fáilte Ireland which plans to invest 2.1 million euro in the waterway this year.

As Afloat reported yesterday, the masterplan identifies seven priority areas, and three key themes within Fáilte Ireland’s “Hidden Heartlands” brand  -  “The Shannon, Mighty River of Ireland”, “Shannon Journey’s” and “Adventures and The Natural Timeless Shannon”. 

Redevelopment of Connaught harbour in Portumna, Go Galway; a “canoe step” for access to Lough Derg; a new cycle and walking trail linking Connaught harbour and the Lough Derg “blueway”; and extra cruise berths in several counties and in Athlone, Co Westmeath are among initial projects allocated for funding.

 Fáilte Ireland’s head of product development – activities Fiona Monaghan said that a pilot project to develop “remote” or “tranquillity” moorings for cabin cruisers would focus on three such locations on Lough Derg, three on Lough Ree and three on the upper Shannon.

The plan also involves supporting a number of tourism businesses along the river and the Shannon-Erne waterway.

The entire ten-year plan has been costed at 76.5 million euro, Monaghan said, with a focus on “quality, rather than quantity”, and a sensitive approach to the river’s environment.

Strategic environmental assessments and public consultation have already taken place, she said.

 Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin said that “this unique area is highly valued for its special environmental qualities and biodiversity and is home to many unique species, and native flora and fauna”. 

“ It will be a haven for on-water and off-water experiences offering a range of ways to be active in nature, in a sustainable manner.  The Shannon will invite the visitor to slow down, stay longer and to engage with local communities,” she said.

Martin said the region will be developed as a “model of ecologically sustainable tourism”, with a “leave no trace” code of practice and a “slow travel” approach for visitors. 

Other elements of the plan include the development a water-based “activity hub” at Red Bridge (Ballymahon), Co. Longford,  due to its proximity to Lough Ree, Ballymahon and the Center Parcs complex.

Ten additional cruiser berths will be developed in Roosky, Co Roscommon, and there will be additional car parking, landscaping, and interpretation of the waterways “industrial heritage”.

Read more on Times.ie here

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