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Irish Boating Updates on Inland Waterways, Rivers, Canals and Holidays

The Network of Inland Waterways of Europe (NIWE) has launched its new website to celebrate and promote the many and varied benefits of Europe’s canals, lakes and rivers.

The NIWE, of which Waterways Ireland is a member, has been involved in numerous transnational projects boosting waterways organisations, local communities and businesses, and users alike.

The network’s shared objectives are to:

  • Celebrate and promote the economic, social and environmental benefits of Europe’s inland waterways;
  • Monitor and disseminate information on EU policy development and programmes;
  • Support members’ participation in European initiatives and funding programmes;
  • Promote the exchange of experience and knowledge transfer across the NIWE and among other relevant organisations and potential members;
  • Create stronger engagement with the EU institutions to ensure the potential of European inland waterways is understood and reflected in EU policy and future programme development; and
  • Collaborate with national and international organisations to achieve these stated objectives.

The new website at WaterwaysNetwork.eu is being touted as key tool in realising these objectives, serving as the NIWE’s marketing, project knowledge transfer and promotional platform for the future.

It it hoped it will also assist the network in developing future collaborative opportunities both with both European partners and local, regional and national partners.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland has announced the launch of a walking programme along canal and river routes across Kildare, Carlow and Laois.

The aim of the Waterways For Health programme — in conjunction with Get Ireland Walking, and Local Sports Partnerships from Kildare, Carlow and Laois — is to immerse participants into natural waterway environments with guided support from county walking facilitators from Local Sports Partnerships.

“Waterways Ireland has seen a huge increase in the number of recreational and tourist users on and along all our waterways in recent years,” said Sharon Lavin of Waterways Ireland>

“With the provision of our Blueway and Greenway trails, we have now created even more opportunities for people to try new recreational activities. This also offers greater health and well-being and social opportunities for locals”.

For more information on the new Waterways For Health programme, its partners and their services, see GetIrelandWalking.ie and www.SportIreland.ie (to find your Local Sports Partnership).

Published in Inland Waterways

#InlandWaters - Seán Kyne, Minister of State at the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, has announced a €3.2 million investment by Waterways Ireland infrastructure on the Shannon Navigation at Meelick Weir.

The funds will be used for the restoration and replacement of the Meelick Weir walkway, the installation of tilting weir boards and remedial works to the weir structure.

The minister was joined on site yesterday (Friday 1 March) by Éanna Rowe, regional manager with Waterways Ireland and by Ministers of State Seán Canney Ciarán Cannon, along with Anne Rabbitte TD and local community representatives.

Meelick Weir was originally built in the 1790s as part of the Shannon Navigation. The weir, which is over 300 metres in length with a 12-sluice barrage, maintains and regulates the navigation level for that section of waterway between Athlone (Lough Ree) and Meelick (Lough Derg).

The weir and its walkway link the historic village of Meelick in Co Galway to Lusmagh in Offaly, and also link into the Hymany Way walking trail. The weir was damaged during storms in 2009 and the walkway was closed following further storms in 2015 and 2016.

Speaking yesterday, Minister Kyne said: “I am fully aware of the importance of this restoration to the counties of Galway and Offaly and in particular to the local communities of Lusmagh and Meelick who have been without the walkway for a number of years now.”

He added: “Meelick Weir is not just a walkway but a hidden gem on the River Shannon and its restoration shows the Government’s commitment to supporting all aspects of rural Ireland`s economic development.”

Éanna Rowe of Waterways Ireland said: “The development and re-instatement is critical to the management of the navigation and regulation of water levels.

“Reopening the connectivity between the communities of Lusmagh and Meelick and the re-instatement of the link to the Hymanny is a hugely positive and significant development for both communities.”

Waterways Ireland initiated design work on the project in 2012, completed the statutory environmental assessment and submitted planning for the project to Galway and Offaly county councils, which was given in 2017.

The works will involve the restoration of the weir, its walkway and the tilting weir boards along with the other critical infrastructure requirements (replacement of lock gates, jetty replacement, embankment works and bridge strengthening).

The new tilting weir system is being touted as a significant improvement in health and safety for employees managing water levels on site.

Following an open tendering procedure, a contractor will be shortly appointed and the project will be completed mid-2020.

Published in Inland Waterways

A floating food market is one of a number of ideas being mooted for in Grand Canal Dock by Waterways Ireland, the Dublin InQuirer reports.

Such a scheme would include a waterfront dining area and a co-working space along with the “curated, carefully selected floating village market on canal barges”, as suggested in a feasibility study conducted late last year.

Local councillors also recently heard of plans to develop the triangle of land Waterways Ireland owns at South Dock Road and Grand Canal Street Upper, where the canal basin and the River Dodder meet the Liffey.

The lands currently house two Georgian era graving docks, one of which is where the former Aran Islands ferry Naomh Éanna is being restored as a luxury hotel.

However, concerns remain that Waterways Ireland’s plans could be detached from the wants and needs from the local community in Ringsend.

The Dublin InQuirer has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland intends to dispose, by public tender, of a number of vessels removed from the Grand Canal at Shannon Harbour, Tullamore, Barrow Navigation, Killaloe Canal and Shannon Bridge.

Twelve vessels are presently stored on the South Bank of the Grand Canal adjacent to the Transit Shed in Shannon Harbour. One vessel is stored in Fenniscourt on the Barrow Navigation and other vessels are stored in Ballyleague and Munster Harbour, Portumna.

All vessels may be inspected (externally only) by local arrangement. Tender and relevant documentation is available from the Assistant Inspector of Navigation at +353 87 286 5726 or [email protected] Alternatively you can download the tender documentation from the Waterways Ireland website.

Sealed tenders should reach the Assistant Inspector of Navigation at the above address not later than noon on Monday 18 March.

A condition of sale is that vessels be removed from the canal property once purchased. Removal details will be notified to successful purchasers once transactions are finalised.

Published in Inland Waterways

#RoyalCanal - Waterways Ireland is advising masters and users of the Royal Canal that due to unprecedented dry weather conditions and low rainfall levels and subsequent low levels in Lough Owel, navigation water levels cannot be guaranteed on certain sections of the canal, particularly the summit level and adjacent levels.

Masters should contact the local water patroller prior to any planned journey along this inland waterway.

Published in Inland Waterways

A new community heritage project in Co Fermanagh focuses on raising awareness and preserving the heritage of traditional boat building and the cultural heritage of the people who lived on and around the shores of Lough Erne.

The ERNE Programme, which runs until June 2020, has been made possible by a UK National Lottery Heritage Fund award of £56,400 thanks to the money raised by lottery players.

This funding will help the programme establish a network of groups around Lough Erne, offer training opportunities for local volunteers to learn new skills, and develop a website with a ‘virtual museum’,

Other initiatives include interactive educational materials for schools, hosting Heritage in Action rowing regattas and an exhibition in June 2020 to showcase the heritage from around the inland waterway.

Welcoming the funding award, Gabriel Fitzpatrick, Lough Erne Heritage chair, said: “This project will enable local people to explore and share local history. We are pleased to have the opportunity to bring people together and tell the story.”

Jim McGreevy, of The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s NI committee, added: “We feel this project focusing on the strong boat building, rowing and associated heritage will complement our significant investment into the Lough Erne Landscape Partnership project.

“We’ve just launched our new five-year funding framework which outlines how we will continue to inspire, lead and resource the heritage sector.

“This new project is a great example of the projects we want to fund, it plans to explore important local heritage, involve a wider range of people in the project and to share everything that they uncover. We wish the project team well as they embark on their project.”

Formed in 2015, Lough Erne Heritage encourages research about Lough Erne, its traditional boats and the people who built and used them. In 2016, together with Cavan Town Men’s Shed, Lough Erne Heritage built two traditional Lough Erne Cots in order to demonstrate how they would have been used.

Published in Historic Boats

#InlandWaters - Funding for Waterways Ireland is on the rise, and particularly for projects in the Dublin region, according to Heritage Minister Josepha Madigan.

Responding last week to a Dáil question from Cavan-Monaghan TD Brendan Smith, Minister Madigan outlined that estimates for 2019 provide for an allocation of €25,117,000 for Waterways Ireland, representing an overall increase of €1 million on last year’s original allocation.

Within this figure, capital funding for Waterways Ireland has been increased by €800,000 from €3,580,00 to €4,380,000 in 2019.

In response to Dublin West TD Joan Burton, through whose constituency the Royal Canal flows, Minister Madigan provided a breakdown of Waterways Ireland’s Exchequer (current and capital) funding allocation from 2016 to present.

The level of funding provided for maintenance and upgrade of waterways, canals and rivers in Co Dublin specifically as been forecast at €3,153,665 for 2019 — compared to €1,158,136 in 2018.

Responding to a follow-up question from Deputy Smith regarding specific capital funding for maintenance and improvement works on the Shannon-Erne Waterway, Minister Madigan outlined that Waterways Ireland plans to complete 10.4km of Greenway enhancement towpath as well as advance plans for a full-scale Greenway along the 64km route.

Capital funding allocated for Shannon-Erne works is €125,000 for 2019, and Waterways Ireland is partnered with local authorities for three projects to the tuned of €311,500:

  • Development of a Blueway trail between Leitrim Village and Kilclare with Leitrim County Council (€162,000 WI contribution).
  • Development of a Blueway trail between Ballyconnell and Bellaheady Bridge with Cavan County Council (€124,500).
  • Development of forward planning for a trail extension from Aghalane to Lock 1 at Corraquill with Cavan County Council (€25,000).

The minister underlined that any requests for additional funding from Waterways Ireland in 2019 “can only be considered on their merits, taking into account the organisation’s strategic business objectives for the waterways network and the estimates and annual budgetary processes.”

Previously, Kildare South TD Fiona O’Loughlin asked the minister the extent to which she expects an amicable resolution to issues between Waterways Ireland and traditional dwellers and recreational users of the Grand Canal in Co Kildare.

Minister Madigan replied that Waterways Ireland “continues to concentrate on boats which consistently remain in breach of the bye-laws”, and that the cross-border body “will consult with its stakeholders in the drafting of additional bye-laws to ensure proper regulation of craft on the waterways” following the signing into law last summer of the Heritage Act 2018.

Published in Inland Waterways

The Dublin branch of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland is working on plans for a rally this summer inspired by the Green & Silver route.

2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the publication of Green & Silver by LTC Rolt, a book which recounted an influential voyage in 1946 from the Shannon to Dublin along the Grand Canal, then back to the Shannon via the Royal Canal, including a turn north to Lough Key and south again to Lough Derg.

The 356km inland waterways route has since become known as the ‘Green & Silver Challenge’ and has been championed by IWAI Dublin since the full navigation of the Royal Canal was reopened in 2010.

Now the Dublin branch is looking to encourage as many boats as possible to join the rally from this May “to show the canals are being used and not just a pretty water feature”.

A provisional date for boats heading to Dublin on the Royal Canal to meet at the 12th Lock in Castleknock has been set for Friday 3 May, with boats on the reverse route along the Grand Canal to meet at Lucan’s 12th lock on Friday 10 May.

Boats would converge on the River Liffey for a two-day rally on the weekend of 18-19 May, with boats heading out on the Grand Canal the following weekend (25-26 May) and on the Royal Canal the week after that (1-2 June).

Prizes are being commissioned for boats that have completed the trip several times, with more on this and confirmed dates for the rally to come from IWAI Dublin in the coming weeks.

Published in Inland Waterways

Planning an inland waterways cruise this spring or summer? Or simply curious to explore the wonders of Ireland’s longest river from anywhere in the world?

Now you can visit the River Shannon virtually thanks to the new boaters-eye view on Google Maps.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, ‘river view’ images from this past summer’s Google Trekker survey of the River Shannon went live on Google Maps in December.

In conjunction with Waterways Ireland, the Google Trekker Loan Programme toured from Lough Allen to Loop Head gathering data for what amounts to “the first such water-based collection of imagery on the island of Ireland”.

Waterways Ireland pitches the project as “an invaluable tool in terms of promoting the Shannon Navigation as a destination for recreation, tourism, mindfulness, education and heritage appreciation, encouraging visitors to the area”.

But it will also be of use to communities along the waterway “to highlight this heritage asset and foster as sense of place”.

The Google Trekker footage of the Shannon River is now live on Google Maps and can be viewed via the ‘Street View’ function.

Published in Inland Waterways
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