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The Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD, has announced the inclusion of Ireland’s Floating Heritage in the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The National Inventory is intended to raise awareness of, and respect for, our unique living culture through official State recognition. The National Inventory will also fulfil Ireland’s obligations under the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Intangible cultural heritage represents living forms of heritage that cannot be touched – unlike, for example, our built heritage. It refers to the practices, representations and expressions that are central to the lives and identities of our communities, groups and individuals.

Launching the Inventory recognising 30 different aspects of Intangible Heritage Minister Madigan TD said ‘It is wonderful to see such a variety of customs and traditions from all over the country being acknowledged here today. Each of these threads in the cultural tapestry of our lives makes us richer as individuals and as a country. None of this would be possible without the work of committed volunteers all around the country, whose involvement in their communities’ cultural practices and heritage traditions have sustained them over the generations. I am delighted to honour those customs, practices and traditions through official State recognition on the National Inventory.”

Heritage Boat AssociationMinister Madigan with John Mc Keown, Cormac Mc Carthy  of Waterways Ireland and Paul Martin of the Heritage Boats Association

Irelands floating heritage is characterised by a unique ‘living relationship’ between the community of users and waterway communities and the traditional heritage boats that have been restored, adapted and/or preserved. This relationship is built on a strong foundation of traditions, knowledge and skills. These traditional skills are shared by the boat owners within the wider community and through outreach events and include for example: the intricacies of managing a barge of circa 70 tonnes with rope work; The knowledge to ensure sympathetic and appropriate barge conversions; The use and repair of Bolinder engines for which no manual exists and all knowledge is contained within the flock memory of the boating community.

Many of these vessels, barges from the Grand and Royal Canals, for example, require maintenance and restoration. This knowledge and skill is retained within the boating community and passed on inter-generationally and to new members. Floating Heritage thrives on its interaction with waterway communities and depends on those whose knowledge of traditions, skills and customs is passed on. This is a core tenet of the outreach work and knowledge sharing undertaken by the Waterways Ireland, the Heritage Boat Association and the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland,

Waterways Ireland, through our Heritage Plan 2016-2020, strives to document, preserve, promote and safeguard Floating Heritage through our Community Grants Scheme which enables grass roots awareness-raising, reconnecting communities and training in Traditions/activities/practices. Waterways Ireland and the Heritage Boat Association have also developed a dedicated oral history and placenames collection programme, all of which support the concept of Floating Heritage. These histories have been collected and curated in publications such as Fine Lines – Clear Water and Cool Metal – Clear Water. In addition to the history of these boats the individuals who worked on them, when they were work barges, has also been documented and safeguarded for this and future generations.

Waterways Ireland has previously won the World Canals Conference Guardian Award 2016 for the Traditional Heritage Boat Survey which not only documented all heritage craft on all major Republic of Ireland waterways but also documented boat builders, boating terminology and international best practice in Floating Heritage. This was progressed in 2017 and again in 2019 and will result in all our waterways being surveyed.

Waterways Ireland says it is delighted that Floating Heritage has been recognised on the National Inventory. This will result in raising the status and awareness of floating heritage, heritage boats and their history and support and enhance positive public engagement in cultural heritage.

Published in Inland
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#Heritage - Some 119 years after she first plied her trade as a cargo boat on Ireland's inland waterways, heritage boat number 4E has been pressed back into service to make a special delivery to Enniskillen.

Some weeks ago, in Tullamore Harbour on a bright May morning, an ancient Bolinder engine was loaded onto 4E's front deck, and so began a journey that will take three months along various canals and rivers, eventually leading to the delivery of her cargo to the Waterways Ireland headquarters in Enniskillen.

Early in the last century the Bolinder engine replaced the tow-path heavy horses as the means of propulsion for these trading boats. This engine is being presented on extended loan by the Heritage Boat Association (HBA) to Waterways Ireland for display in their headquarters.

It was thought only fitting that the engine would be delivered by a heritage cargo boat, thus saluting the hundreds of boats and their crews who worked on the inland waterways over the centuries.

The journey continued west along the Grand Canal to the River Shannon, where 4E turned north to Athlone and onward through Lough Ree to Carrick-on-Shannon. Travelling north-east, the boat and cargo then traversed the Shannon-Erne Waterway via the Woodford River to Lough Erne.

Last weekend 4E and her cargo were due in Shannon Harbour, close to Banagher, to attend the Shannon Harbour Canal Boat Rally. This annual rally, which took place over the weekend of 20-22 June, was organised by the Shannon Harbour branch of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI).

There she was joined there by many other heritage cargo boats, most of which were also set to travel on to Enniskillen as part of the heritage fleet.

Members of the HBA are particularly interested in meeting with people whose families would have had connections with the commercial trade on the canals and rivers. For information contact Paul Martin at [email protected].

Published in Inland Waterways

#NaomÉanna – Following last week's meeting between Irish Ship & Barge Fabrication Co and Minister for Heritage, over a €1.85m plan to restore former Aran Islands ferry Naom Éanna, in which campaigners described the meeting "as not constructive" however a fundraiser appeal is underway so to survey the vessels-riveted hull, writes Jehan Ashmore.

According to the Naomh Éanna Trust's Save Our Ship (SOS) campaign, both Waterways Ireland and Department of Heritage are reluctant to have any relationship with the restoration of the historic vessel, which has been berthed in Dublin Port's Grand Canal Basin for a quarter century and faces potential scrapping.

Both parties were at pains to point out they will not support the restoration project financially and as to breaking up the ship, this does not involve dry-docking.

As for the campaigners, the costs to survey the vessel in dry dock amounts to €15,000 and no funds would not be met by the minister.

The Trust's ship-survey fundraiser appeal seeks a minimum donation of €10, which would include names of contributors listed on an appeal plaque placed on board.

The campaigners cite without a hull survey to ascertain how much work is involved, they would not be in a posiiton to approach an investor or institution regarding the proposed plans to convert the Liffey Dockyard 1958 built vessel.

The plans consist of a restaurant, hostel, micro-brewery, café and museum ship and relocation to her old homeport of Galway Harbour, in which the port company have given their support of a permanment berth.

Naom Éanna (without the letter 'h') as she is spelt on her 137ft riveted hull, makes this vessel historically significant in terms of her been the oldest surviving Irish built ship constructed of this technique and is said to be one of the last surviving examples in the world.

The survey would not only require an inspection of the hull's keel and ballast tanks that can only be carried out while the ship remains in dry dock but the process also requires timbers and renting machinery.

In addition to removing rubble from the 200 year-old NAMA owned dry-dock in which she currently occupies in the Grand Canal Dock Basin close to her old berth along Charlotte Quay.

The Naomh Éanna Trust are also appealing to any group that might provide diving assistance? in the dry-dock so to survey the blocks and put the timbers in place.

As mentioned, the trust are seeking donations (see their Facebook link to donate) as a first step of progressing plans to restore the vessel through dry-docking. The facebook campaign page includes updates and comments following the story.

In addiiton the trust in recent weeks launched an online petition campaign (to date 600 signatures) to raise public awareness of the vessels heritage value and primarily to prevent the vessel broken-up.


Published in Historic Boats

#NaomÉanna- The historic heritage ship, Naom Éanna, a former Aran Islands ferry has been granted a month's stay from scrapping, following a decision by Seanad Éireann, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The sudden turn-around of events follows less than a week ago, as previously reported the decision by Minister Deenihan of the Department of Arts & Heritage and the Gaeltacht to reject an appeal by campaigners to save and restore the Liffey Dockyard built vessel from scrapping by Waterways Ireland.

The 438 grt vessel is the oldest surviving example of an Irish ship completed using riveted-hull construction techniques, having been launched in 1958 as yard No. 176. It is also said to be 'one of the last riveted ships built in the world'. The 137 foot was moved last Wednesday from her Grand Canal Basin berth due to safety concerns following hull inspection along Charlotte Quay, home to the vessel for more than a quarter century. She is currently berthed in a nearby 200 year-old graving dock owned by NAMA.

Last week also saw the installation of a new graving dock gate that was hoisted in position by a crane, to allow the facility to pump out water and provide a 'dry' dock for Naom Eanna. In order for campaigners to save her, some €100,000 costs to Waterways Ireland would need to be met, on top of insuring the vessel and permission from NAMA to hold her in dry dock until repairs could begin.

Among those campaigning is the Naomh Éanna Trust which has been calling for the vessels reprieve so to enable efforts to save the ship. Sam Field Corbett of the Irish Ship & Barge Fabrication Co. (IS&BF) has also sought time to implement a business plan to attract private investment for the vessel to be part of a Dublin-based 'maritime quarter'. In addition several T.D.'s lent their support during a debate in Dail Eireann.

The IS&FC has worked on several vessels, notably, the former Cobh based liner-tender, Cill Airne, also built by Liffey Dockyard. Likewise of Naom Eanna, she is a riveted hulled ship completed in 1962 and was restored into service in 2006 as a floating restaurant and bar venue on the Liffey near the Convention Centre.

For three decades the Naom Eanna had operated CIÉ's passenger and livestock three-hour ferry service between Galway City and the Aran Islands.

She appeared in many TV documentaries which depicted the unique way of life of the islanders and the only main form of a lifeline with the mainland, bringing people, cargo and livestock. The latter presented an iconic image as cattle were slung from the ship's hold and lowered into the water to swim ashore while escorted by currach crews to the smaller islands of Inishmaan and Inishsheer, while at Inishmore, the largest island had a pier to disembark livestock.

In 1988 she was withdrawn from Galway Bay service, having failed new safety conditions introduced. She then relocated to Dublin Port's northside Alexandra Basin, where she was laid-up at the lead-in jetty of the old listed graving dock (currently in-filled in recent years) close to former site of the Liffey Dockyard. 

The following year the Irish Nautical Trust took her over and she moved southside to the Grand Canal Dock Basin, where she was home to several onboard businesses.


Published in Historic Boats
The magnificent Tall Ships are not the only rare boats visiting Waterford next week. Coming to salute their past partners in maritime commerce is the fleet of the Heritage Boat Association. Among their number are Grand Canal Company barges 68M and 72M. These veteran boats, in their commercial working life, carried cargos from all over the country along the rivers and canals, to the port of Waterford. From there they were transhipped to the far corners of the world by boats similar to the Tall Ships and their successors.

Cheekpoint was an important milestone on the barges journey, for it was here that the barges turned onto the Suir for the final leg upriver to the ports of Waterford and Carrick. It was also here that the local Eel Fishermen would often cadge a tow from an upriver barge saving them a long and difficult row in their traditional Prongs. In turn the barge men might enjoy a bit of company, a chat over a brew of the 'kittle' on the Bolinder and perhaps a few fresh fish for the supper. And so a fine co-operative grew up between the bargemen and the fishermen that led to many lasting friendships. It is fitting therefore that Cheekpoint once again acts as host to these unique boats, for they enjoy a shared heritage that deserves to be celebrated by both their crews and the local communities.

This year's journey commenced on a frosty morning in March when 68M headed north on the River Shannon and turned onto the Grand Canal north of Banagher. At the same time 72M quietly slipped her moorings in Naas and led the now growing fleet south onto the River Barrow at Athy. At towns and villages along the waterway, communities celebrated the arrival of the Heritage Boats and the revival of the Barrow Navigation, thanks to the excellent work by the engineers and staff of Waterways Ireland. 2011 is a significant year, marking the 220th anniversary of the opening of the Navigation. Five counties are celebrating with a series of events and festivals taking place all year to mark the occasion.

From the June 27th until the July 3rd, the Heritage Boats will be based at Cheekpoint Quay and a wide range of activities are planned with the local community. This visit will highlight the work of the Friends of Cheekpoint Quay to restore the harbour as the focal point of the village.

The Reading Room in the village will be the venue for a River and Maritime and Heritage Boat Association Exhibition. There will be guided walks in Cheekpoint and Faithlegg Woods, a Village Fete on the Green, the launch of the Newfoundland Dory, a Flotilla of Boats from Cheekpoint to Waterford, a School Art Happening and other events.

Published in Inland Waterways
On a summer Saturday afternoon a week from now the beautiful valley of the River Barrow will echo to the bygone sound of ancient engines. Vintage and Veteran cars participating in the Gordon Bennett Rally will be travelling the old towpath along the river bank. There to greet and salute them with a dip of their ensigns will be the Heritage Boats of the Three Sisters Fleet. These magnificent cars and boats share an era when men were men and machines were mighty. They will meet up on the river bank as part of Barrow 220 which celebrates the opening of this unique river navigation two hundred and twenty years ago.

The Irish Veteran and Vintage Car Club (IVVCC) and the Heritage Boat Association (HBA) announced today that a gathering will take place on Saturday afternoon, June 11th, when the Mercedes Benz IVVCC International Gordon Bennett Rally will drive on the Barrow towpath. Setting out at 1400 from historic Graiguenamanagh the cars will stop to meet up with the Heritage Boats at beautiful Bahana Woods above St Mullins Lock and Weir.

The Rally commemorates the race that was held in Ireland in 1903 and this year the cars participating date from 1904 to 1930. Amongst the Heritage boats will be Grand Canal Company barges 68M and 72M, both built in the same period and who in their earlier lives carried cargoes along Irish rivers, lakes and canals.

The Barrow Navigation linked the Grand Canal with the rivers Barrow, Nore and Suir and opened up a large area of the hinterland to the ports of Dublin and Waterford. Following the excellent work by Waterways Ireland on the river and towpath, the cars have been granted a unique opportunity this year; permission to drive along parts of the towpath from Fenniscourt to St Mullins.

The afternoon's events will culminate in St Mullins where Carlow Tourism will greet the drivers and crews.

Both the IVVCC and the HBA welcome this opportunity to work with Carlow Tourism and Waterways Ireland in highlighting the exquisite River Barrow and its environs. Ian McCulloch, Clerk of the Course for the Rally, stated "driving along some of the most beautiful stretches of the Barrow is an opportunity not to be missed"

Published in Inland Waterways

General Information on using Waterways Ireland inland navigations

Safety on the Water

All users of the navigations are strongly recommended to make themselves aware of safety on the water for whatever activity they are involved in and to read the advice offered by the various governing bodies and by:

The Dept. of Transport, Ireland: and The Maritime and Coastguard Agency, UK, The RNLI – Water Safety Ireland for information in terms of drowning prevention and water safety.

Registration of Vessels

All vessels using the Shannon Navigation, which includes the Shannon-Erne Waterways and the Erne System must be registered with Waterways Ireland. Only open undecked boats with an engine of 15 horsepower or less on the Shannon Navigation, and vessels of 10 horsepower or less on the Erne System, are exempt. Registration is free of charge.

Craft registration should be completed online at:

Permits for use of the Grand and Royal Canals and the Barrow Navigation

All vessels using the Grand and Royal Canals and the Barrow Navigation must display appropriate valid Permit(s) i.e A Combined Mooring and Passage Permit (€126) and if not intending to move every five days, an Extended Mooring Permit (€152).

Permit applications should be completed online at:

Passage on the Royal and Grand Canals – Dublin Area

For boat passage through the locks east of Lock 12 into / out of Dublin on either the Royal or Grand Canals, Masters are requested to contact the Waterways Ireland Eastern Regional Office (M-F 9.30am-4.30pm) on tel: +353(0)1 868 0148 or email [email protected] prior to making passage in order to plan the necessary lock-keeping assistance arrangements.

On the Grand Canal a minimum of two days notice prior to the planned passage should be given, masters should note that with the exception of pre-arranged events, a maximum of 2 boats per day will be taken through the locks, travelling either east or west.

Movements in or out of the city will be organised by prior arrangement to take place as a single movement in one day. Boaters will be facilitated to travel the system if their passage is considered to be safe by Waterways Ireland and they have the valid permit(s) for mooring and passage.

Newcomen Lifting Bridge

On the Royal Canal two weeks’ notice of bridge passage (Newcomen Lifting Bridge) is required for the pre-set lift date, and lock assistance will then also be arranged. A minimum of 2 boats is required for a bridge lift to go ahead.

Waterways Ireland Eastern Regional Office (Tel: +353(0)1 868 0148 or [email protected] ) is the point of contact for the bridge lift.

A maximum number of boats passing will be implemented to keep to the times given above for the planned lifts (16 for the Sat / Sun lifts & 8 for the weekday lifts). Priority will be given on a first come first served basis.

On day of lift, boaters and passengers must follow guidance from Waterways Ireland staff about sequence of passage under bridge & through Lock 1, and must remain within signed and designated areas.

Events Held on the Waterways

All organised events taking place on the waterways must have the prior approval of Waterways Ireland. This is a twelve week process and application forms must be accompanied with the appropriate insurance, signed indemnity and risk assessment. The application should be completed on the Waterways Ireland events page at :

Time Limits on Mooring in Public Harbours

On the Shannon Navigation and the Shannon-Erne Waterway craft may berth in public harbours for five consecutive days or a total of seven days in any one month.

On the Erne System, revised Bye Laws state that: No master or owner shall permit a vessel, boat or any floating or sunken object to remain moored at or in the vicinity of any public mooring, including mooring at any other public mooring within 3 kilometres of that location, for more than 3 consecutive days and shall not moor at that same mooring or any other public mooring within 3 kilometres of that location within the following 3 consecutive days without prior permission by an authorised official.

Winter Mooring on the Shannon Navigation and Shannon Erne Waterway

Winter mooring may be availed of by owners during the period 1 Nov to 31 Mar by prior arrangement and payment of a charge of €63.50 per craft. Craft not availing of Winter Mooring must continue to comply with the “5 Day Rule”. Winter Mooring applications should be completed online at :

Owners should be aware that electricity supply and water supply to public moorings is disconnected for the winter months. This is to protect against frost damage, to reduce running costs and to minimise maintenance requirements during the winter months.

Vessel owners are advised that advance purchasing of electricity on the power bollards leading up to the disconnection date should be minimal. Electricity credit existing on the bollards will not be recoverable after the winter decommissioning date. Both services will be reinstated prior to the commencement of the next boating season.

Smart Cards

Waterways Ireland smart cards are used to operate locks on the Shannon Erne Waterway, to access the service blocks, to use the pump-outs along the navigations, to avail of electrical power at Waterways Ireland jetties.

Berthing in Public Harbours

Masters are reminded of the following:

  • Equip their vessel with mooring lines of appropriate length and strength and only secure their craft to mooring bollards and cleats provided for this purpose.
  • Ensure the available berth is suitable to the length of your vessel, do not overhang the mooring especially on finger moorings on floating pontoon moorings.
  • Ensure mooring lines, electric cables and fresh water hoses do not create a trip hazard on public jetties for others users.
  • Carry sufficient fenders to prevent damage to your own vessel, other vessels and WI property.
  • Allow sufficient space between your vessel and the vessel ahead /astern (c.1m) for fire safety purposes and /or to recover somebody from the water.
  • Do not berth more than two vessels side by side and ensure there is safe access/egress at all times between vessels and onto the harbour itself.
  • Do not berth in such a way to prevent use of harbour safety ladders, slipways or pump-outs.
  • Do not allow the bow of your vessel to overhang the walkway of a floating mooring thus creating a hazard for others with an overhanging anchor or bow fendering.
  • Animals are not allowed to be loose or stray at any time.
  • Harbour and jetty infrastructure such as railings, power pedestals, fresh water taps, electric light poles, safety bollards, ladders etc are not designed for the purpose of mooring craft , they will not bear the strain of a vessel and will be damaged.
  • At Carrybridge on the Erne System, Masters of vessels are not permitted to use stern on mooring. Masters of vessels must use the mooring fingers for mooring of vessels and for embarkation / disembarkation from vessels.

Passenger Vessel Berths

Masters of vessels should not berth on passenger vessel berths where it is indicated that an arrival is imminent. Passenger vessels plying the navigations generally only occupy the berths to embark and disembark passengers and rarely remain on the berths for extended periods or overnight.

Lock Lead-in Jetties

Lead-in jetties adjacent to the upstream and downstream gates at lock chambers are solely for the purpose of craft waiting to use the lock and should not be used for long term berthing.

Vessel Wake

Vessel wake, that is, the wave generated by the passage of the boat through the water, can sometimes be large, powerful and destructive depending on the hull shape and engine power of the vessel. This wake can be detrimental to other users of the navigation when it strikes their craft or inundates the shoreline or riverbank. Masters are requested to frequently look behind and check the effect of their wake / wash particularly when passing moored vessels, on entering harbours and approaching jetties and to be aware of people pursuing other activities such as fishing on the riverbank.

Speed Restriction

A vessel or boat shall not be navigated on the Shannon Navigation at a speed in excess of 5 kph when within 200 metres of a bridge, quay, jetty or wharf, when in a harbour or canal or when passing within 100 metres of a moored vessel or boat.

Vessels navigating the Shannon-Erne Waterway should observe the general 5 kph speed limit which applies along the waterway. This is necessary in order to prevent damage to the banks caused by excessive wash from vessels.

Vessels navigating the Erne System should observe the statutory 5kt / 6mph / 10kph speed limit areas.

A craft on the Royal and Grand canals shall not be navigated at a speed in excess of 6km per hour.

A craft on the Barrow Navigation shall not be navigated at a speed in excess of 11km per hour except as necessary for safe navigation in conditions of fast flow.

Bank Erosion

Narrow sections of all the navigations are particularly prone to bank erosion due to the large wash generated by some craft. Masters are requested to be vigilant and to slow down to a speed sufficient to maintain steerage when they observe the wash of their craft inundating the river banks.

Unusual Waterborne Activity

Unusual waterborne vessels may be encountered from time to time, such as, hovercraft or amphibious aircraft / seaplanes. Masters of such craft are reminded to apply the normal “Rule of the Road” when they meet conventional craft on the water and to allow extra room to manoeuvre in the interest of safety.

Sailing Activity

Mariners will encounter large numbers of sailing dinghies from late June to August in the vicinity of Lough Derg, Lough Ree and Lower Lough Erne. Sailing courses are marked by yellow buoys to suit weather conditions on the day. Vessels should proceed at slow speed and with due caution and observe the rules of navigation when passing these fleets, as many of the participants are junior sailors under training.


Mariners should expect to meet canoes and vessels under oars on any part of the navigations, but more so in the vicinity of Athlone, Carrick-on-Shannon, Coleraine, Enniskillen and Limerick. Masters are reminded to proceed at slow speed and especially to reduce their wash to a minimum when passing these craft as they can be easily upset and swamped due to their very low freeboard and always be prepared to give way in any given traffic situation.


Canoeing is an adventure sport and participants are strongly recommended to seek the advice of the sport’s governing bodies i.e Canoeing Ireland and the Canoe Association of Northern Ireland, before venturing onto the navigations.

Persons in charge of canoes are reminded of the inherent danger to these craft associated with operating close to weirs, sluice gates, locks and other infrastructure particularly when rivers are in flood and large volumes of water are moving through the navigations due to general flood conditions or very heavy localised precipitation e.g. turbulent and broken water, stopper waves. Shooting weirs is prohibited without prior permission of Waterways Ireland.

Canoeists should check with lockkeepers prior entering a lock to ensure passage is done in a safe manner. Portage is required at all unmanned locks.

Canoe Trail Network – "Blueways"

Masters of powered craft are reminded that a canoe trail network is being developed across all navigations and to expect more organised canoeing along these trails necessitating slow speed and minimum wash when encountering canoeists, rowing boats etc

Rockingham and Drummans Island Canals – Lough Key

It is expected that work on Rockingham and Drummans Island Canals on Lough Key will be completed in 2021. Access to these canals will be for non-powered craft only, eg canoes, kayaks, rowing boats.

Fast Powerboats and Personal Watercraft (Jet Skis)

Masters of Fast Powerboats (speed greater than 17kts) and Personal Watercraft (i.e.Jet Skis) are reminded of the inherent dangers associated with high speed on the water and especially in the confines of small bays and narrow sections of the navigations. Keeping a proper look-out, making early alterations to course and /or reducing speed will avoid conflict with slower vessels using the navigation. Personal Watercraft are not permitted to be used on the canals.

Towing Waterskiers, Wakeboarders, Doughnuts etc

Masters of vessels engaged in any of these activities are reminded of the manoeuvring constraints imposed upon their vessel by the tow and of the added responsibilities that they have to the person(s) being towed. These activities should be conducted in areas which are clear of conflicting traffic. It is highly recommended that a person additional to the master be carried to act as a “look-out” to keep the tow under observation at all times.

Prohibition on Swimming

Swimming in the navigable channel, particularly at bridges, is dangerous and is prohibited due to the risk of being run over by a vessel underway in the navigation.

Age Restrictions on operating of powered craft

In the Republic of Ireland, Statutory Instrument 921 of 2005 provides the legal requirements regarding the minimum age for operating of powered craft. The Statutory Instrument contains the following requirements:

- The master or owner of a personal watercraft or a fast power craft shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person who has not attained the age of 16 years does not operate or control the craft

- The master or owner of a pleasure craft powered by an engine with a rating of more than 5 horse power or 3.7 kilowatts shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person who has not attained the age of 12 years does not operate or control the craft.

Lifejackets and Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

Lifejackets and PFD’s are the single most important items of personal protective equipment to be used on a vessel and should be worn especially when the vessel is being manoeuvred such as entering / departing a lock, anchoring, coming alongside or departing a jetty or quayside.

In the Republic of Ireland, Statutory Instrument 921 of 2005 provides the legal requirements regarding the wearing of Personal Flotation Devices. The Statutory Instrument contains the following requirements:

- The master or owner of a pleasure craft (other than a personal watercraft) shall ensure, that there are, at all times on board the craft, sufficient suitable personal flotation devices for each person on board.

- A person on a pleasure craft (other than a personal watercraft) of less than 7 metres length overall shall wear a suitable personal flotation device while on board an open craft or while on the deck of decked craft, other than when the craft is made fast to the shore or at anchor.

- The master or owner of a pleasure craft (other than a personal watercraft) shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person who has not attained the age of 16 years complies with paragraph above.

- The master or owner of a pleasure craft (other than a personal watercraft), shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person who has not attained the age of 16 years wears a suitable personal flotation device while on board an open craft or while on the deck of a decked craft other than when it is made fast to the shore or at anchor.

- The master or owner of a pleasure craft (other than a personal watercraft) shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person wears a suitable personal flotation device, at all times while – (a) being towed by the craft, (b) on board a vessel or object of any kind which is being towed by the craft.

Further information is available at:

Firing Range Danger Area – Lough Ree

The attention of mariners is drawn to the Irish Defence Forces Firing Range situated in the vicinity of buoys No’s 2 and 3, on Lough Ree on the Shannon Navigation. This range is used regularly for live firing exercises, throughout the year, all boats and vessels should stay clear of the area marked with yellow buoys showing a yellow "X" topmark and displaying the word "Danger".

Shannon Navigation, Portumna Swing Bridge Tolls

No attempt should be made by Masters’ of vessels to pay the bridge toll while making way through the bridge opening. Payment will only be taken by the Collector from Masters when they are secured alongside the jetties north and south of the bridge.

Navigating from Killaloe to Limerick on the Shannon Navigation

The navigation from Killaloe to Limerick involves passage through Ardnacrusha locks, the associated headrace and tailrace and the Abbey River into Limerick City. Careful passage planning is required to undertake this voyage. Considerations include: lock passage at Ardnacrusha, water flow in the navigation, airdraft under bridges on Abbey River in Limerick, state of tide in Limerick

Users are advised to contact the ESB Ardnacrusha hydroelectric power station (00353 (0)87 9970131) 48 hours in advance of commencing their journey to book passage through the locks at Ardnacrusha. It is NOT advised to undertake a voyage if more than one turbine is operating (20MW), due to the increased velocity of flow in the navigation channel, which can be dangerous. To ascertain automatically in real time how many turbines are running, users can phone +353 (0)87 6477229.

For safety reasons the ESB has advised that only powered craft with a capacity in excess of 5 knots are allowed to enter Ardnacrusha Headrace and Tailrace Canals.

Passage through Sarsfield Lock should be booked on +353-87-7972998, on the day prior to travel and it should be noted also that transit is not possible two hours either side of low water.

A Hydrographic survey in 2020 of the navigation channel revealed that the approach from Shannon Bridge to Sarsfield Lock and the Dock area has silted up. Masters of vessels and water users are advised to navigate to the Lock from Shannon bridge on a rising tide one or two hours before High Tide.

Lower Bann Navigation

The attention of all users is drawn to the “Users Code for the Lower Bann”, in particular to that section covering “Flow in the River” outlining the dangers for users both on the banks and in the navigation, associated with high flow rates when the river is in spate. Canoeists should consult and carry a copy of the “Lower Bann Canoe Trail” guide issued by the Canoe Association of Northern Ireland. Users should also contact the DfI Rivers Coleraine, who is responsible for regulating the flow rates on the river, for advisory information on the flow rates to be expected on any given day.

DfI Rivers Coleraine. Tel: 0044 28 7034 2357 Email: [email protected]

Lower Bann Navigation – Newferry – No wake zone

A No Wake Zone exists on the Lower Bann Navigation at Newferry. Masters of vessels are requested to proceed at a slow speed and create no wake while passing the jetties and slipways at Newferry.

Overhead Power Lines (OHPL) and Air draft

All Masters must be aware of the dangers associated with overhead power lines, in particular sailing vessels and workboats with cranes or large air drafts. Voyage planning is a necessity in order to identify the location of overhead lines crossing the navigation.

Overhead power line heights on the River Shannon are maintained at 12.6metres (40 feet) from Normal Summer level for that section of navigation, masters of vessels with a large air draft should proceed with caution and make additional allowances when water levels are high.

If a vessel or its equipment comes into contact with an OHPL the operator should NOT attempt to move the vessel or equipment. The conductor may still be alive or re-energise automatically. Maintain a safe distance and prevent third parties from approaching due to risk of arcing. Contact the emergency services for assistance.

Anglers are also reminded that a minimum ground distance of 30 metres should be maintained from overhead power lines when using a rod and line.

Submarine Cables and Pipes

Masters of vessels are reminded not to anchor their vessels in the vicinity of submarine cables or pipes in case they foul their anchor or damage the cables or pipes. Look to the river banks for signage indicating their presence.

Water Levels - Precautions

Low Water Levels:

When water levels fall below normal summer levels masters should be aware of:


To reduce the risk of grounding masters should navigate on or near the centreline of the channel, avoid short cutting in dog-legged channels and navigating too close to navigation markers.

Proceeding at a slow speed will also reduce “squat” effect i.e. where the vessel tends to sit lower in the water as a consequence of higher speed.


Reduced slipway length available under the water surface and the possibility of launching trailers dropping off the end of the concrete apron.

More slipway surface susceptible to weed growth requiring care while engaged in launching boats, from slipping and sliding on the slope. Note also that launching vehicles may not be able to get sufficient traction on the slipway once the craft is launched to get up the incline.

Bank Erosion

Very dry riverbanks are more susceptible to erosion from vessel wash.

Lock Share

Maximising on the number of vessels in a lock will ensure that the total volume of water moving downstream is decreased. Lock cycles should be used for vessels travelling each way.

High Water Levels:

When water levels rise above normal summer level masters should be aware of:


Navigation marks will have reduced height above the water level or may disappear underwater altogether making the navigable channel difficult to discern.

In narrow sections of the navigations water levels will tend to rise more quickly than in main streams and air draft at bridges will likewise be reduced.

There will also be increased flow rates particularly in the vicinity of navigation infrastructure such as bridges, weirs, locks etc where extra care in manoeuvring vessels will be required.

Harbours and Jetties

Due care is required in harbours and at slipways when levels are at or near the same level as the harbour walkways' as the edge will be difficult to discern especially in reduced light conditions. It is advised that Personal Flotation Devices be worn if tending to craft in a harbour in these conditions.


Slipways should only be used for the purpose of launching and recovering of water craft or other objects from the water. Before using a slipway it should be examined to ensure that the surface has sufficient traction/grip for the intended purpose such as launching a craft from a trailer using a vehicle, that there is sufficient depth of water on the slipway to float the craft off the trailer before the concrete apron ends and that the wheels of the trailer do not drop off the edge of the slipway. That life-saving appliances are available in the vicinity, that the vehicle is roadworthy and capable of coping with the weight of the trailer and boat on the incline. It is recommended that slipway operations are conducted by two persons.

Caution to be Used in Reliance upon Aids to Navigation

The aids to navigation depicted on the navigation guides comprise a system of fixed and floating aids to navigation. Prudent mariners will not rely solely on any single aid to navigation, particularly a floating aid to navigation. With respect to buoys, the buoy symbol is used to indicate the approximate position of the buoy body and the ground tackle which secures it to the lake or river bed. The approximate position is used because of the practical limitations in positioning and maintaining buoys in precise geographical locations. These limitations include, but are not limited to, prevailing atmospheric and lake/river conditions, the slope of and the material making up the lake/river bed, the fact that the buoys are moored to varying lengths of chain, and the fact that the buoy body and/or ground tackle positions are not under continuous surveillance. Due to the forces of nature, the position of the buoy body can be expected to shift inside and outside the charted symbol.

Buoys and perches are also moved out of position or pulled over by those mariners who use them to moor up to instead of anchoring. To this end, mariners should always monitor their passage by relating buoy/perch positions with the published navigation guide. Furthermore, a vessel attempting to pass close by always risks collision with a yawing buoy or with the obstruction that the buoy or beacon/perch marks.

Masters of Vessels are requested to use the most up to date Navigation guides when navigating on the Inland Waterways.

Information taken from Special Marine Notice No 1 of 2023