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#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 series of consultative workshops on the feasibility of an iconic Pilgrim Way between the Shannon Navigation and Erne System took place earlier this month.

In late 2018, West Limerick Resources in partnership with Waterways Ireland and 13 local development companies (LDCs) and associated local authorities commissioned SLR Consulting and Alan Hill Tourism Development to investigate the feasibility of developing a 350km cross-border Pilgrim Way along the inland waterways.

The area under consideration is a 20km-wide corridor which uncovers a unique and vast pilgrim heritage on and along the inland waterways, from the Shannon estuary in Co Kerry northwards through the Shannon Navigation, Shannon-Erne Waterway, and Erne System in Co Fermanagh to Co Donegal.

The aim is to develop an iconic international ‘Pilgrim Way’ based on the rich early Christian and Viking heritage of the Early Medieval period in Ireland.

Well known ecclesiastical sites include Scattery Island, Iniscealtra (Holy Island, Clare), Clonmacnoise (Offaly), Quaker Island (Lough Ree), Boyle Abbey (Roscommon), Devenish Island (Lough Erne) and the iconic pilgrimage site at Lough Derg (St Patrick’s) in Donegal, among others.

Many more, lesser known sites are included in the overall analysis for a total of more than 100 sites in total. Waterways Ireland has more information about the project.

Published in Inland Waterways

#InlandWaters - Waterways Ireland advises that the electricity supply to power pedestals and the supply of water to taps on public moorings on the Shannon Navigation will soon be disconnected for the winter period.

The move is being made for environmental reasons and to reduce maintenance costs. Services will be restored prior to the commencement of the 2019 boating season.

Shore power supply at the Round ‘O’ and Carrybridge public moorings on the Erne System, as well was water supply to taps throughout that system, was already disconnected or winter as of Wednesday 7 November.

Published in Inland Waterways

The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) will appear today before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht which is examining the Heritage Bill 2016 Part 2 Canals. In a long running campaign, the IWAI will be calling for legislation that puts user requirements, tourism development and local communities at the centre of the regulations.

'How ironic it would be that a Heritage Bill rather than protecting the future of the Grand and Royal Canals and the Barrow Navigation enables legislation for Bye-laws that end up creating waterways with no boats on them' says John Dolan of the IWAI.

On Tuesday December 5th the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) will appear before the Joint Committee on Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht which is examining the Heritage Bill 2016 Part 2 Canals. The is renewing its call to elected representatives to support the IWAI campaign for further revision to the proposed legislation.

The main areas of concern relate to

  • • new complicated legal licensing, - rather than the need to legislate for a simple permitting system that is customer friendly, easy to use, and fit for purpose
    • Adequate provisions - so that boats of dimensions for which the canals were built to accommodate are protected and can continue to do so into the future
    • appropriate charging structures - that matches the provision of services available
    • fixed payment notices and fines with no independent appeal mechanism other than the courts, that will not encourage use of the canals and are not in place on the other Irish inland waterways
    • proposed provision and powers of Authorised Officers
    • legislation that will facilitate the introduction of a complete different set of rules, charges, regulations and fines that are not in place on the adjoining Waterways, and will make these canals less attractive to potential boating tourism

Ireland’s canals as beautiful linear waterways have the potential to attract both domestic and International boating visitors who will relish the tranquil opportunity of slow tourism cruising at walking pace as people move faster than the canal boats on the system, while experiencing the associated industrial heritage, peat lands, small villages and towns that have interdependence with the canals and our capital city.

To achieve this potential it is vital that the Heritage Bill 2016 preserves and enables the development of the canals for the current and future generations and communities. Over regulation and excessive charges are not the answer to developing these waterways, they deserve proper legislation that put user requirements, local communities and tourism at the centre of the regulations. 

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland is advising masters that the winter mooring period for public harbours on the above navigation will commence on 1st Nov 2017 and end on the 31st Mar 2018.

Masters are advised that the associated charges, €63.50, must be paid prior to 1st Nov 2017.

Masters are further reminded that Bye-law 17. Mooring and use of Harbours i.e. the "5 Day Rule" continues to apply during this period and that masters not wishing to avail of winter mooring should continue to observe the mooring time limits for public harbours.

Payment may be made by cheque, bank draft or postal order, made payable to Waterways Ireland, Scarriff Harbour, Ballyminoge, Scarrif, Co. Clare, Ireland. Credit/Debit card payments may be made by contacting Finance Section, Waterways Ireland, Enniskillen, Tel: 048 6632 3004 (from RoI)

Masters should also note that fresh water and electricity supply may not be available during this period at public moorings therefore any on-board services which may be depending on this electrical supply should have an alternative source of power.

Published in Inland Waterways

#PortumnaHarbour - Motorhome bye-laws for the newly refurbished Portumna Harbour are being redrafted over a legal issue.

And it could be two months before the new regulations are in place, according to Galway Bay FM.

The redeveloped harbour on Waterways Ireland’s Shannon Navigation was only opened to the public last month, with upgraded marina berths and improved parking facilities to accommodate camper vans, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Inland Waterways

The Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief, Mr. Seán Canney, T.D., today opened the refurbished Harbour and Amenity Park on the Shannon Navigation in Portumna. Developed by Waterways Ireland, Galway County Council and the Office of Public Works and jointly funded by Fáilte Ireland under the Lough Derg Stimulus Fund the €750k project involved harbour and onshore works.

The harbour works included the doubling of the moorings space capacity at this ever popular location, upgrade of berths, re-paving of the quay area, installation of cut stone walls and installation of a hoist for disabled boaters. The onshore works included the upgrade of the service block (with toilets and showers), car parking and access road. A further development of integrated services for camper vans has also been completed which will see for the first time the provision of facilities and services for the growing numbers of visiting camper vans to Ireland.

Commenting at the redevelopment, Minister Canney said “The improvement works undertaken here at Portumna Harbour have been extensive and will prove important in increasing visitor numbers to this scenic area of County Galway. The project, funded jointly by Fáilte Ireland and developed by the Office of Public Works, Galway County Council and Waterways Ireland, will make an excellent facility for boaters, tourists and those who enjoy waterway activities. I have no doubt that this facility will develop and promote activity tourism and will add to this region’s reputation as one of Ireland’s most attractive and enjoyable destinations for visitors from both at home and abroad which is one of the key elements of the Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development.”

This project has been funded by Fáilte Ireland and administered through the Lough Derg Marketing Group. A key element of the Lough Derg Marketing Group is product development and all the agencies engaged in the Group including Waterways Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, the Local Authorities, Inland Fisheries Ireland and private sector representatives have worked collaboratively to deliver the Lough Derg Roadmap, the strategic tourism development plan for the region.

Dawn Livingstone, Chief Executive of Waterways Ireland stated “Portumna is a key destination and gateway on the Shannon Navigation area for domestic and international visitors. The development here in Portumna is part of our strategy in Waterways Ireland and is key in encouraging further economic activity in the town and indeed wider Lough Derg."

Waterways Ireland will continue to work in partnership to develop new projects which benefit the people living along the Shannon as well as visitors and tourists.

Published in Inland Waterways

#InlandWaters - With the end of the winter mooring period yesterday (Friday 31 March), Waterways Ireland reminds boaters on the Shannon Navigation, including the Shannon-Erne Waterway, that the five-day rule now applies at all public moorings.

Boats users may remain in one location for up to five days and then must leave that public mooring to allow for other boat users to arrive and enjoy the amenities throughout the River Shannon.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland has advised all users of the Shannon Navigation that remedial work to effect repairs to the infrastructure between Limerick City to Parteen Weir has been delayed and the navigation will not open this week as anticipated.

As Afloat.ie reported in May, the stretch of navigation was closed due to continuing high flow rates and infrastructural deficiencies as a result of the winter storms and subsequent flooding.

Published in Inland Waterways

#InlandWaters - Waterways Ireland advises that remedial works have commenced on the stretch of the Shannon Navigation between Limerick City and Parteen Weir after significant storm and flooding damage over the winter.

The closure had caused some consternation within the boating community as it effectively excluded Lough Derg sailors from this summer's WIORA races, and threatened to hit maritime revenues in Limerick.

But it was announced recently that design options had been advanced to provide for works to be completed this month.

It's believed that works on the affected infrastructure will be completed by the week beginning Monday 25 July. Prior tooth time, a schedule of opening times will be published for Sarsfield's Lock.

In other inland waterways news, the Barrow Line of the Grand Canal has been closed since Monday 11 July until forth notice due to a culvert collapse between Locks 22 (Glenaree Bridge) and 23 (Spencer Bridge). Further notice will be issued once the damage has been assessed.

Meanwhile, on the River Bann, Carnroe Lock has been closed for emergency repair works, which are expected to be completed within the next two weeks.

There's better news on Upper Lough Erne, however, as the public mooring jetty and slipway at Carrybridge is now open, with the exception of the pump-out facility.

Published in Inland Waterways
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