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Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD and Minister Malcolm Noonan TD, Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, visited the Shannon region to mark the successes of the first year of the Shannon Tourism Masterplan. As part of their trip, they visited one of the six projects implemented in the first year and met with representatives of Waterways Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, and the cathoirligh and chief executives of Westmeath, Longford, Roscommon and Leitrim county councils.

Aimed at positioning the Shannon as a hub destination for international and domestic tourism, the Shannon Tourism Masterplan is the first dedicated plan undertaken on the entire Shannon Region. A collaborative project led by Waterways Ireland, with Fáilte Ireland and ten local authorities along the River Shannon and the Shannon-Erne Waterway, it sets out an integrated framework for sustainable tourism development along the Shannon across 2020 – 2030. The Masterplan identifies the measures needed to develop the necessary infrastructure, products, and experiences to reposition the Shannon Region as a key tourism destination within Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands.

An estimated €76.5million investment is required over the next 10 years to deliver on the Masterplan ambitions. This capital expenditure will deliver on the seven priority areas in the plan. These include interventions such as enhanced harbours and waterside public realms in Shannon towns; improved amenities for boat-users and infrastructure for activity-providers, clubs and communities to operate; a rejuvenated cruising experience along the Shannon; remote moorings and tranquillity zones along the Shannon, and new recreational infrastructure, including a substantial network of walking and cycling trails. It is intended that this will, in turn, support growth in the visitor economy by the creation of new enterprises and jobs through enhanced seasonality, increased vibrancy in local communities, and protection of the river’s special environmental qualities.

In year one of the plan, six projects have been delivered, with a further two in development. Delivered projects are as follows:

  • Leitrim: Two projects have been completed – The refurbishment of Dromod Harbour and the development of new floating moorings in Rooskey.
  • Roscommon: A canal walk has been developed, in Rooskey providing a waterside traffic-free, multi-activity loop to encourage visitors to spend longer in the town.
  • Longford: A new floating mooring at Redbridge has been completed on the eastern shore of Lough Ree.
  • Westmeath: Floating moorings have been added between the railway bridge and the town bridge in Athlone, with a new slipway installed south of the lock to facilitate increased access to the river.

These projects have been developed with €890,000 in Fáilte Ireland funding, along with funding of €219,000 from the Department of Rural and Community Development’s Town and Village Renewal Scheme.

Two further projects in County Galway are in development, to be completed in 2022. Connaught Harbour in Portumna is being redeveloped to increase mooring capacity and its recreational and amenity value, with €1.35million in Fáilte Ireland funding. Meanwhile, a Blueway linking Connaught Harbour to the Galway County Council-owned Town Recreational Park is also being developed. Running through ESB lands, this will create an off-road loop for multi-activity users.

Commenting, Minister O’Brien said: “The success of year one of the Shannon Tourism Masterplan is a great example of collaboration between Waterways Ireland, Fáilte Ireland and the 10 local authorities along the Shannon water system.

“I have noted the excellent progress already in the counties of Leitrim, Longford, Roscommon and Westmeath, with more yet to come. I fully support the aims of the Masterplan, which will deliver a series of projects impacting on the economy and jobs, whilst protecting and enhancing the valuable environmental, social, and cultural values of the Shannon. I look forward to working with my colleagues across Government to support its implementation.”

Minister Noonan said: “I commend Waterways Ireland, Fáilte Ireland and their local authority partners in Longford, Leitrim, Roscommon and Westmeath for their achievements in year one of the implementation of the Shannon Tourism Masterplan. By enhancing the environment and the economy of Ireland’s Hidden Heartland Region, they are creating a better place for our communities to thrive.”

Paul Kelly, Chief Executive of Fáilte Ireland, added: “The Shannon Tourism Masterplan provides a clear roadmap for future tourism investment within Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands that will transform the region to deliver a better spread of tourism and visitor activity within the midlands. Fáilte Ireland’s commitment to implementing this plan is underlined by an initial €2.1m capital investment and it is fantastic to see some of the transformative infrastructural changes and enhanced facilities included in the investment come to fruition, including the new and enhanced waterside amenities in Athlone, Red Bridge and Rooskey and the development of floating moorings at locations along the Shannon.”

Waterways Ireland has invested more than €40million on and along the Shannon, creating the foundation for new tourism and recreation opportunities for communities and business. These foundations include infrastructure such as marinas; moorings; service facilities for boat-users and tourists; and the development of on- and off-water activities and experiences, such as Blueways and Greenways.

Chief Executive of Waterways Ireland, John McDonagh said: “This plan provides a strategic direction and a growth pathway for the coming years for tourism along the Shannon and Shannon-Erne Waterway. The plan is an exemplar of a collaborative approach, and one Waterways Ireland will use to produce developmental plans for our other navigations. I am in no doubt that when it is fully implemented, the tourism experience on the Shannon will be transformed.”

Published in Inland Waterways
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The Ilen Marine School's 56ft-restored trading ketch Ilen of 1926 vintage is already renowned for her good work when taking part in the Sailing Into Wellness programme. It's one of the ship's many interests that were vividly high-lighted at her home port at the weekend, when she and the city's waterfront at Steamboat Quay were floodlit in green to launch the current Mental Health Week which is now underway at the characterful Shannonside city.

The Mayor of Limerick. Daniel Butler, was among those on board to reinforce the ship's connections with the port and its people, and to emphasise that raising mental health awareness is a special challenge for his city and its citizens, as the stresses of modern life have been exacerbated by a higher-than-average incidence of COVID19 with its related fatalities.

Bringing the Light of Hope to the city – Ilen on the Shannon approaching Limerick to launch the currently-ongoing Limerick Mental Health Awareness Week.Bringing the Light of Hope to the city – Ilen on the Shannon approaching Limerick to launch the currently-ongoing Limerick Mental Health Awareness Week.

The vision of the shining Ilen against a part of the city which speaks of Limerick's future as much as its past was inspiring for all those who witnessed it. And the word is that far from resting at home on her achievements through the winter months, Ilen will be bringing her sense of well-being to other ports on Ireland's Atlantic coast.

In being able to do so, she is maintained by Ilen Marine School Director Gary Mac Mahon and his team to the highest standards, and her refit in September at Oldcourt above Baltimore in West Cork was made possible by widespread goodwill spearheaded by the support of the Heritage Council, which fully recognises the very special role played by Ireland's only surviving trading ketch.

Annual refit – Ilen on the slipway at Hegarty's Boatyard in Oldcourt in September. Photo: Gary MacMahonAnnual refit – Ilen on the slipway at Hegarty's Boatyard in Oldcourt in September. Photo: Gary MacMahon

The work is continuous – a collage showing some of the many and various maintenance tasks required to keep Ilen up to standard. Photos: Gary Mac MahonThe work is continuous – a collage showing some of the many and various maintenance tasks required to keep Ilen up to standard. Photos: Gary Mac Mahon

Published in Ilen
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The restored Meelick Weir and walkway on the River Shannon have been officially opened by Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD and Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD. 

The weir was damaged in severe storms in 2009 and again in 2015/2016, when the walkway was also damaged and was subsequently closed.

The infrastructure links the historic village of Meelick in east Galway to Lusmagh in west Offaly and forms part of the Hymany Way and the Beara-Breifne Way walking trails.  The weir was built in the 1840s as part of the Shannon Navigation. More than 300 metres in length, it has a 12-sluice barrage and maintains and regulates the navigation level for the section of the waterway between Athlone (Lough Ree) and Meelick (Lough Derg).

Construction work on the €3.2m Waterways Ireland project began in 2019 and included the restoration of the weir, its 300m walkway and new tilting weir gates, along with other weir refurbishments. The new tilting weir system will be mechanised, meaning that staff will no longer have to manually install and remove the sluice boards in response to changing water levels.

Speaking at the official opening, Minister for Housing, Local Government, and Heritage, Minister Darragh O’Brien said: “I am delighted to be here today to officially open Meelick Weir and walkway after the completion of a hugely significant programme of work by Waterways Ireland on this state-of-the-art project. Recognising the importance of the weir and the walkway, I was pleased to support the project and to ensure funding was made available from my Department in the amount of €3.2m. It is great to see it brought to completion and ready for its official opening today.

“Meelick Weir has a dual purpose, not only is it a critical piece of infrastructure in maintaining the navigation level between Lough Ree and Lough Derg, it also serves to unite the communities of Meelick and Lusmagh and offers a fantastic amenity in the area. I know this is very popular with local people and also provides a wonderful tourism opportunity for Galway, Offaly and Tipperary – the three counties that it borders. The restoration of the weir and walkway opens the potential for these historic structures to play an important role in tourism in the future.”

The area surrounding Meelick Weir is also of huge historical significance, with Victoria Lock and its lock-keeper’s house, and Meelick Martello, located on Moran Island, all included on the Record of Protected Structures. Meelick Martello is a recorded monument in the care of Waterways Ireland. Nearby Meelick Church, meanwhile, dates back to the 1400s.

Minister for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan commented: “This whole area is hugely significant from a heritage perspective.  This project opens the walkway and allows people to travel its route to visit Victoria Lock, which was built in the 1840s also as part of the navigation system, and the famous landmark ‘the three counties Shannon view,’ where the counties of Galway, Offaly and Tipperary meet. In terms of wildlife, it is within both the River Shannon Callows Special Area of Conservation and the Middle Shannon Callows Special Protection Area.”

He added: “I am delighted to see the restoration of the connectivity between the communities of Lusmagh and Meelick and the reinstatement of the Hymany Way. This project will have a significant impact on the communities and the broader tourism opportunities in the area.” 

Waterways Ireland chief executive, John McDonagh said: “Meelick Weir is an iconic structure and I’m delighted that this restoration project is now complete. The weir is an extremely important piece of navigation infrastructure, enabling the management of water levels on the River Shannon for navigation, and also linking the counties of Offaly and Galway, and the provinces of Leinster and Connaught via the walkway. The systems built into the weir also ensure a safer working environment for our staff.

“This is the largest project Waterways Ireland has undertaken since we restored the mainline of the Royal Canal and I would like to commend my colleagues, who have worked diligently to deliver this ambitious project on budget in very challenging times.”

Published in Inland Waterways
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Leitrim County Council has recently improved shoreside access to its Carrick on Shannon public marina, replacing its existing fixed boardwalk with a new 340m long by 2.4m wide floating walkway.

Working with Deane Public Works, Inland and Coastal Marina Systems (ICMS), designed and manufactured the new installation which includes a 3m wide fuel berth and eight access gangways with lifebuoy housings and safety ladders, all anchored in place by a new piled mooring system.

The heavy-duty pontoon system, topped with ICMS’ unique glass-reinforced concrete (GRC) decking, provides safe and non-slip, all-year-round access to the marina’s on-site facilities for the public and all leisure boat users, which includes local boat hire companies.

“Being a very popular cruising area, it was important that we completed the installation with as minimal disruption as possible to the local access,” says Ger Buckley, project engineer at ICMS. “We achieved this by taking a phased approach, closely liaising with all contractors and programming the activities in.”

Wrapping around the entire length of the marina site, the public boardwalk now connects the quayside to the access road and car park, allowing users to enter the marina via a new gangway on the eastern side, and exit on the northern side.

“We’re delighted with the quality of the new boardwalk, an attractive upgrade to the waterfront providing a strong, stable walkway for visitors,” says Shay O’Connor, senior engineer with Leitrim County Council. “Even though conditions were challenging at times with access routes being periodically submerged, the team at Inland and Coastal completed the installation efficiently and without disrupting the activities of the regular commercial users of the marina.

“The boardwalk will provide a new walking route along the waterfront for both locals and visitors and new access for users of leisure vessels which cruise along this section of the River Shannon, boosting the tourist industry which plays a major role here in Carrick on Shannon’s economy.”

To find out more about Inland and Coastal’s pontoon ranges and unique decking options visit here

Published in Irish Marinas

Waterways is advising masters and users of the Shannon Navigation of the following information regarding the reopening of the Locks from 8th June 2020:

Lock Operating Hours (Phase 2)

8th to 29th June 9am – 5pm daily

Lock Passage fee

Lock passage will be free from 8th June until further notice.

Low Water Levels

Master of vessels are reminded that all sections of the Shannon Navigation are near or below Ordinary Summer Levels. Deep draft vessels should stay in the navigation at all times and proceed with additional caution.

Shannon Lock-Keepers

Shannon Navigation lock-keepers are available at the following numbers:-

Lough Allen Canal – 071 964 1552

Clarendon Lock - 071 966 7011

Albert Lock - 071 963 7715

Rooskey lock - 071 963 8018

Tarmonbarry Lock - 043 332 6117

Athlone Lock - 090 649 2026

Poolboy Lock - 090 964 4938

Victoria lock - 057 915 1359

Portumna Bridge - 090 974 1011

Ardnacrusha - 061 344 515

Sarsfield Lock - 087 797 2998

Published in Inland Waterways
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Waterways Ireland has advised masters and owners of vessels that low water levels exist in all areas of the Shannon Navigation.

Water levels are currently at or below “Ordinary Summer levels”.

Masters of vessels, particularly those with deep drafts, are advised to navigate with additional caution and to remain within the navigation at all times.

Published in Inland Waterways
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Waterways Ireland has advised masters and owners of vessels that low water levels exist on Lough Key, on the river section between Clarendon Lock to Tarmonbarry and on the river section in the vicinity of Meelick and Victoria Lock.

Water levels are currently below Summer levels in these areas.

Masters of vessels, particularly those with deep drafts, are advised to navigate with additional caution and to remain within the navigation at all times.

Published in Inland Waterways
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Waterways Ireland is continuing its public consultation on its Shannon tourism masterplan but has urged members of the public to respond online.

The cross-border authority has published its draft masterplan and associated environmental report as part of an 18-month strategy to develop tourism along the Shannon corridor over the next decade to 2030.

It is asking members of the public to review documents online and make any submissions through an online survey on link here

The documents online include the executive summary, the draft masterplan, the environmental report, baseline study, appropriate assessment screening and Natura impact reports.

It says that people who wish to review documents in local authority offices should be aware that arrangements may change locally due to the Covid-10 response, and that vigilance is required in relation to physical distancing.

The plan led by Waterways Ireland, with Fáilte Ireland, aims to “reposition the combined Shannon Navigation and Shannon-Erne waterway as a key tourism destination within Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, identifying world-class visitor experiences based on the region’s natural and cultural assets”.

It involves a steering group and working groups from Cavan, Leitrim, Roscommon, Longford, Offaly, Galway, Tipperary, Clare and Limerick county councils.

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) appealed earlier this month for Waterways Ireland to remember the farming community and the impact of flooding along the river.

The IFA has long appealed for a single management authority for the waterway, stating it would be a "win, win situation" if planning extended beyond tourism.

The public consultation on the Shannon tourism draft masterplan closes on April 22nd at 4 pm.

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As Storm Jorge swept in from the Atlantic, there have been renewed calls a single river management agency for the Shannon.

Farmers and residents along the river can no longer cope with “despair” and constant fear of flooding, Mid-Shannon flood relief group chairman Michael Silke told The Sunday Times.

 Some farmers have experienced up to six serious flooding instances in 25 years, he pointed out.

“These are people who were told during floods in 2009 that this was a one in a hundred-year event – clearly not true when we had a recurrence in 2016 and now,” Mr Silke said

If one Shannon management agency was established, bogland could be used as a natural “sponge” to relieve pressure along critical stretches, Mr Silke told The Sunday Times.

Mr Silke said that half of his own beef and sheep farm has been covered in water since last week, but emphasised that many of his neighbours in the Shannon area were in a far worse situation, with flooding in homes, yards and across swathes of land.

“Leaving the Shannon to the ESB, Waterways Ireland and Office of Public Works (OPW) to manage it is not working,” he said.

However, the OPW approach and its  Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) work was defended yesterday by outgoing Minister of State for the OPW Kevin “Boxer” Moran on RTÉ Radio.

In Galway, harbourmaster Capt Brian Sheridan said that “joined-up thinking” was also required for management of severe weather events on the Atlantic seaboard.

“Galway city has dodged a bullet again this weekend, only because the peak of the storm coincides with low tide,” Capt Sheridan said.

“Met Éireann provides a great service, but we need more geographically specific real-time information,” he said. For more, read The Sunday Times report here

Published in Inland Waterways
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Rowing clubs along the Shannon have been badly affected by high water levels. Carrick on Shannon and Athlone have both been hit, while Castleconnell is flooded. This came despite pumping. The gym equipment had been moved out and the boats are stored higher up the bank.

This ESB at Ardnacrusha stated: “Due to heavy rainfall in the catchment we will be increasing discharge from Parteen Weir. You are being notified that water is about to be discharged above 325 m3/sec. This will result in flooding of roads, land and may affect property. You are advised to be aware of increased flows in the river as a result of this water discharge. Further increases in discharge may be required. Approx. 400 m3/sec will be discharged.”

Published in Rowing
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About Dublin Port 

Dublin Port is Ireland’s largest and busiest port with approximately 17,000 vessel movements per year. As well as being the country’s largest port, Dublin Port has the highest rate of growth and, in the seven years to 2019, total cargo volumes grew by 36.1%.

The vision of Dublin Port Company is to have the required capacity to service the needs of its customers and the wider economy safely, efficiently and sustainably. Dublin Port will integrate with the City by enhancing the natural and built environments. The Port is being developed in line with Masterplan 2040.

Dublin Port Company is currently investing about €277 million on its Alexandra Basin Redevelopment (ABR), which is due to be complete by 2021. The redevelopment will improve the port's capacity for large ships by deepening and lengthening 3km of its 7km of berths. The ABR is part of a €1bn capital programme up to 2028, which will also include initial work on the Dublin Port’s MP2 Project - a major capital development project proposal for works within the existing port lands in the northeastern part of the port.

Dublin Port has also recently secured planning approval for the development of the next phase of its inland port near Dublin Airport. The latest stage of the inland port will include a site with the capacity to store more than 2,000 shipping containers and infrastructures such as an ESB substation, an office building and gantry crane.

Dublin Port Company recently submitted a planning application for a €320 million project that aims to provide significant additional capacity at the facility within the port in order to cope with increases in trade up to 2040. The scheme will see a new roll-on/roll-off jetty built to handle ferries of up to 240 metres in length, as well as the redevelopment of an oil berth into a deep-water container berth.

Dublin Port FAQ

Dublin was little more than a monastic settlement until the Norse invasion in the 8th and 9th centuries when they selected the Liffey Estuary as their point of entry to the country as it provided relatively easy access to the central plains of Ireland. Trading with England and Europe followed which required port facilities, so the development of Dublin Port is inextricably linked to the development of Dublin City, so it is fair to say the origins of the Port go back over one thousand years. As a result, the modern organisation Dublin Port has a long and remarkable history, dating back over 300 years from 1707.

The original Port of Dublin was situated upriver, a few miles from its current location near the modern Civic Offices at Wood Quay and close to Christchurch Cathedral. The Port remained close to that area until the new Custom House opened in the 1790s. In medieval times Dublin shipped cattle hides to Britain and the continent, and the returning ships carried wine, pottery and other goods.

510 acres. The modern Dublin Port is located either side of the River Liffey, out to its mouth. On the north side of the river, the central part (205 hectares or 510 acres) of the Port lies at the end of East Wall and North Wall, from Alexandra Quay.

Dublin Port Company is a State-owned commercial company responsible for operating and developing Dublin Port.

Dublin Port Company is a self-financing, and profitable private limited company wholly-owned by the State, whose business is to manage Dublin Port, Ireland's premier Port. Established as a corporate entity in 1997, Dublin Port Company is responsible for the management, control, operation and development of the Port.

Captain William Bligh (of Mutiny of the Bounty fame) was a visitor to Dublin in 1800, and his visit to the capital had a lasting effect on the Port. Bligh's study of the currents in Dublin Bay provided the basis for the construction of the North Wall. This undertaking led to the growth of Bull Island to its present size.

Yes. Dublin Port is the largest freight and passenger port in Ireland. It handles almost 50% of all trade in the Republic of Ireland.

All cargo handling activities being carried out by private sector companies operating in intensely competitive markets within the Port. Dublin Port Company provides world-class facilities, services, accommodation and lands in the harbour for ships, goods and passengers.

Eamonn O'Reilly is the Dublin Port Chief Executive.

Capt. Michael McKenna is the Dublin Port Harbour Master

In 2019, 1,949,229 people came through the Port.

In 2019, there were 158 cruise liner visits.

In 2019, 9.4 million gross tonnes of exports were handled by Dublin Port.

In 2019, there were 7,898 ship arrivals.

In 2019, there was a gross tonnage of 38.1 million.

In 2019, there were 559,506 tourist vehicles.

There were 98,897 lorries in 2019

Boats can navigate the River Liffey into Dublin by using the navigational guidelines. Find the guidelines on this page here.

VHF channel 12. Commercial vessels using Dublin Port or Dun Laoghaire Port typically have a qualified pilot or certified master with proven local knowledge on board. They "listen out" on VHF channel 12 when in Dublin Port's jurisdiction.

A Dublin Bay webcam showing the south of the Bay at Dun Laoghaire and a distant view of Dublin Port Shipping is here
Dublin Port is creating a distributed museum on its lands in Dublin City.
 A Liffey Tolka Project cycle and pedestrian way is the key to link the elements of this distributed museum together.  The distributed museum starts at the Diving Bell and, over the course of 6.3km, will give Dubliners a real sense of the City, the Port and the Bay.  For visitors, it will be a unique eye-opening stroll and vista through and alongside one of Europe’s busiest ports:  Diving Bell along Sir John Rogerson’s Quay over the Samuel Beckett Bridge, past the Scherzer Bridge and down the North Wall Quay campshire to Berth 18 - 1.2 km.   Liffey Tolka Project - Tree-lined pedestrian and cycle route between the River Liffey and the Tolka Estuary - 1.4 km with a 300-metre spur along Alexandra Road to The Pumphouse (to be completed by Q1 2021) and another 200 metres to The Flour Mill.   Tolka Estuary Greenway - Construction of Phase 1 (1.9 km) starts in December 2020 and will be completed by Spring 2022.  Phase 2 (1.3 km) will be delivered within the following five years.  The Pumphouse is a heritage zone being created as part of the Alexandra Basin Redevelopment Project.  The first phase of 1.6 acres will be completed in early 2021 and will include historical port equipment and buildings and a large open space for exhibitions and performances.  It will be expanded in a subsequent phase to incorporate the Victorian Graving Dock No. 1 which will be excavated and revealed. 
 The largest component of the distributed museum will be The Flour Mill.  This involves the redevelopment of the former Odlums Flour Mill on Alexandra Road based on a masterplan completed by Grafton Architects to provide a mix of port operational uses, a National Maritime Archive, two 300 seat performance venues, working and studio spaces for artists and exhibition spaces.   The Flour Mill will be developed in stages over the remaining twenty years of Masterplan 2040 alongside major port infrastructure projects.

Source: Dublin Port Company ©Afloat 2020. 

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