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Displaying items by tag: Ulster Canal

An Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD, has announced in conjunction with Heather Humphreys, Minister for Rural and Community Development, €6 million of funding for Waterways Ireland to enable the completion of phase two of the restoration of the Ulster Canal.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD said "I am delighted to see the momentum building on Phase 2 of the Ulster Canal project. It has been a long-standing Government priority, with an important North-South dimension, and today's funding announcement will ensure that the pace of progress can be accelerated. This investment has the potential to vastly enhance the lives of people and communities along the border by creating a new amenity to be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. It will also breathe new life back into the area, by stimulating economic activity and opening up new tourism opportunities in the region."

In 2007 following a meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council the Ulster Canal Restoration project was added to Waterways Ireland remit. The organisation is tasked with restoring the section from Lough Erne in Co Fermanagh to Clones in Co Monaghan. This is a stretch of approx. 13.5 kilometres. The restoration is being delivered in three phases due to planning and availability of capital.

Phase two of the Ulster Canal restoration focuses on the restoration of the canal between Clones and Clonfad in County Monaghan, including a canal basin marina and amenity area in Clones. In November 2020 Waterways Ireland submitted an application for the €12m funding for Phase 2 from the Rural Regeneration & Development Fund. In December 2020 the Shared Island team within the Department of the Taoiseach announced it would contribute €6m of the €12m.

Announcing the balance of the funding together with the Taoiseach, Minister Heather Humphreys T.D. said "I'm really pleased to join with An Taoiseach today for what is an historic announcement for communities North and South. My Department of Rural and Community Development is to provide over €5.57m in funding for Phase 2 of the Ulster Canal restoration. Already supported by the Shared Island Fund to the sum of 6 million euro, today's announcement will allow Waterways Ireland to proceed with Phase 2 of the Ulster Canal restoration from Clones to Clonfad.

"The Ulster Canal is a unique, flagship cross border project which will bring huge economic benefits to the region. But it will do so much more than that. The Ulster Canal, once re-opened, will represent a permanent symbol of peace and reconciliation on our island – demonstrating the benefits of bringing our communities together.

"Waterways Ireland, who will deliver this project, were one of six North/South bodies established under the Good Friday agreement.

"23 years on from the signing of that historic agreement, today's announcement demonstrates the absolute commitment of the Irish Government to strengthening and protecting the hard won peace on our island."

John McDonagh, Chief Executive of Waterways Ireland welcomed the Taoiseach's statement and that of Minister Humphreys saying "The Ulster Canal is a major link in our waterway network that will see restoration of the canal basin near the historic Canal Stores in Clones and provide a water-based recreational amenity area. This is a wonderful development for the border region and particularly the town of Clones. Securing all of the €12m means we have certainty and can now deliver this section of the project substantially by mid-2023."

Phase 1 was completed in 2019 and is open to the public. It included c.2.5 kilometres of new river navigation along the River Finn between Quivvy Lough and Castle Saunderson. The work programme involved the dredging of the River Finn, construction of a new lateral canal and navigation arch at Derrykerrib bridge and the installation of new floating jetty at Castle Saunderson. This element of the project cost €3m.
The Phase 2 work programme will include a sustainable water source, a new 40 berth marina, 2 new access bridges, repairs to an existing masonry arch bridge, c.1km of restored canal and towpath with a looped walk and an amenity area. The amenity area will have 40 car parking spaces, 8 bus/trailer spaces, a service block and picnic area and will be connected to the town and the existing playground.

Work on the Ulster Canal began 180 years ago (1841) and within the year it was open to commercial traffic. The navigation combining river and canal was circa 93km long, passing through Counties Fermanagh, Cavan, Monaghan, Tyrone and Armagh. The last trading boat using the canal was in 1929 and it officially closed in 1931.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland has welcomed the significant funding announcement today by Minister Daragh O'Brien TD and Minister of State Noonan TD from the #Shared Island Fund to support the implementation of Phase 2 of the work on the Ulster Canal.

Phase 2 of the Ulster Canal focuses on the restoration of the canal between Clones and Clonfad in County Monaghan, including a canal basin marina and amenity area in Clones.

Acting Chief Executive John Mc Donagh said " Waterways Ireland is well advanced in our preparations to enable us to mobilise this project on the Ulster Canal. The Ulster Canal is a significant link in our waterway network and will be complemented by the Ulster Canal Greenway when it is completed."

In 2007 Waterways Ireland was tasked with exploring the potential restoration of a 13.5 kilometres section of the cross border canal between Upper Lough Erne and Clones. Studies were carried out and designs prepared for planning submissions to Monaghan County Council, Cavan County Council, Clones Town Council and the Department of Environment (NI) in 2011.

Planning permission was granted in 2013 and subsequently extended, where applicable. The restoration is being delivered in phases that are detailed below.

Phase 1 of the restoration work was completed in 2019. This included dredging works to the River Finn, construction of a new lateral canal and navigation arch at Derrykerrib Bridge and the installation of a new mooring facility at Castlesaunderson. Thereby creating c. 2.5km of new navigation to a new boating destination at the Cavan County Council owned Castle Saunderson estate where the International Scouting Centre has been developed.

Phase 2 of the restoration work is ongoing subject to securing required funding. Waterways Ireland was successful in 2019 in securing €325,000 of Category 2 funding under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund for additional engineering studies for a section of the restoration between Clones and Clonfad in County Monaghan. During 2020 Waterways Ireland has utilised this investment to carry out preliminary engineering studies and tourism recreation studies to progress the restoration of an 800m reach of canal between Clones and Clonfad in County Monaghan, including a canal basin and amenity area in Clones.

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Work on the second phase of restoring the Ulster Canal has picked up this year, with related projects now on track to be completed by 2023.

That was the message from Heritage Minister Darragh O’Brien in a recent written response to a Dáil question from Matt Carthy, Sinn Fein TD for Cavan-Monaghan.

Funding secured in late 2019, with 25% matched by his department, enabled Waterways Ireland to carry out preliminary engineering studies for the restoration of an 800m stretch of the inland waterway between Clones and Clonfad on Co Monaghan, the minister confirmed.

Restoration works will also include construction of a new canal basin and amenity area; two new access bridges and restoration of an existing masonry arch bridge; and towpaths along the banks creating a looped walkway along the canal.

The studies included a commission to investigate sourcing a sustainable water supply; site investigation work for design proposals and project estimates; an economic appraisal; and a tourism and recreation study to assess opportunities for watersports and leisure adjacent to the Ulster Canal Stores Visitor Centre in Clones.

The minister added that work relating to land requirements and purchase arrangements for this section has also commenced, and will facilitate the submission of a Category 1 application to the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund by Tuesday 1 December.

Subject to securing further investment, Waterways Ireland proposes delivering this phase of the restoration over the years 2021, 2022 and 2023.

Meanwhile, Minister O’Brien also confirmed that plans for the wider Ulster Canal Greenway are moving apace, with planning applications for its first phase to be submitted this month.

The Ulster Canal Greenway will create 22km of new cross-border greenway between Smithborough and Middletown. The project consists of two stages.

First is the cross-border section from Monaghan town to Middletown, with planning applications on both sides of the border due to be submitted by the end of this month.

Plans are in train for the second stage, from Smithborough to Monaghan town, with planning approval expected to be in place by mid-2021.

Tenders for construction will be developed in the latter part of 2021, with a view to awarding contracts the following year and seeing construction completed by mid-2023.

“Council staff will jointly develop and coordinate delivery of community engagement programmes in each council area to promote use of the developed greenway,” the minister added.

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Proposals in the Fianna Fail/Fine Gael joint framework for a potential ‘Grand Coalition’ government could be a boon for the Ulster Canal and other cross-border infrastructure.

Under the heading ‘A Shared Island’, the draft document describes the formation of a ‘Unit’ to work towards a consensus on a united island, which includes ensuring the implementation of the recent Northern Ireland deal, New Decade, New Approach.

“This will include investing in cross-border infrastructure, such as the A5, the Narrow Water Bridge, cross-border greenways, the Ulster Canal, as well as examining high-speed cross-border rail services,” the document states.

Work has been slow since Phase 2 of the Ulster Canal Greenway project was launched more than two-and-a-half years ago, with the most recent focus on restoration of the inland waterway between Lough Erne and the terminal at Clones in Co Monaghan.

New public moorings at Castlesaunderson, near Belturbet in Co Cavan, were set for completion last autumn, as The Anglo-Celt reports.

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#InlandWaters - A series of three ‘community information events’ on the next phase of the Ulster Canal Greenway begins this week, with a meeting at Tyholland Community Centre in Co Monaghan from 4pm to 8pm tomorrow (Tuesday 2 October).

This will be followed by events at Middletown Community Parish Hall, Co Armagh on Wednesday 10 October, and Smithborough Community Hall, Co Monaghan on Thursday 18 October, both also from 4pm to 8pm.

Waterways Ireland; Monaghan County Council; Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council; and East Border Region Ltd are working in partnership to deliver Phase 2 of the Ulster Canal Greenway.

Landowners, local communities and the general public are invited to these information events to find out more about the project.​

Published in Inland Waterways

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD and the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, have today launched the EU-funded €4.95m Ulster Canal Greenway Project which will see the development of an off-road sustainable travel route between Smithborough, Co Monaghan and Middletown, Co Armagh.

The project is supported by the European Union's INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). The project is also supported by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport in Ireland and the Department for Infrastructure in Northern Ireland. The project partners, led by Waterways Ireland, are Monaghan County Council, Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council and East Border Region Ltd.

Minister Ross stated “This is a wonderful initiative. Greenways connect communities, promote healthier lifestyles and encourage engagement with the outdoors. They also offer active travel opportunities for both pedestrians and cyclists and have proven to be a major attraction for visitors.

I’m very pleased to be launching Phase 2 of the Ulster Canal Greenway here today. Creating a new Greenway involves years of planning, construction and goodwill from those in surrounding lands. But it’s a commitment that delivers back to the community in spades. This Greenway promises to be a major asset to surrounding areas, as it brings the old towpaths of the disused Ulster Canal back into use and extends the Monaghan Town Greenway by 22km in a very welcome cross-border project. By 2020, the Greenway will link Smithborough, Co Monaghan to Middleton, Co Armagh.

I very much look forward to making use of it in the future and I encourage you all to do likewise.”

The Ulster Canal Greenway (UCG) Phase 2 project is a pioneering move to develop the first sustainable transport alternative for cross-border commuters between Smithborough, Co. Monaghan and Middletown, Co. Armagh. Monaghan to Northern Ireland is the second highest of all South-North commuter flows, and Armagh to Ireland is the third highest of all North-South flows. The project valued at €4.95m aims to construct 22km of new cross-border Greenway by 2020 and actively to promote commuter behavioural change through a targeted community engagement programme. It will result in a 4.5% increase in the number of cross-border journeys via walking / cycling by 2023. The project is designed to connect with the completed Phase I section, which utilises the disused Ulster Canal to provide a highly strategic route linking the east/ west sides of Monaghan.

Minister Heather Humphreys in whose constituency the Greenway will run, said at the launch

“I am delighted that Waterways Ireland, an agency under the remit of my own Department, have agreed to act as the lead partner for this flagship cross-border project. The first phase of the Greenway, here in Monaghan, already attracts over 100,000 users per year and has been a fantastic success since it opened in 2014. The further expansion of the Greenway will strengthen cross border relations by directly linking communities North and South of the border. The provision of this landmark recreational amenity will also provide a huge tourism boost for County Monaghan and the wider border region. “

Speaking at the event Gina McIntyre, Chief Executive Officer with the Special EU Programmes Body, said: “When completed this cross border project will help to meet some important targets under the sustainable transport objective of the EU’s INTERREG VA Programme. It will encourage more people to get out of their cars and increase the number of cross-border journeys made by walking and cycling, thereby helping to reduce our collective carbon footprint.

“Not only will this produce many benefits for the region, but the project is also making a contribution towards the EU’s ‘Europe 2020’ strategy which has been specifically designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help safeguard the environment,” she continued.

Also attending the launch on the day were children from St John’s Primary School, Middletown, Co Armagh and Gaelscoil Ultain, St Marys Boys School and St Louis Girls School The extended Ulster Canal Greenway route will create the first cross-border greenway that will enable cyclists and walkers commute to work and study in future years.

The Cathaoirleach of Monaghan County Council Cllr Cathy Bennett stated ‘The 4km Monaghan Town Greenway has been a huge success and it attracts over 100,000 users annually. I am delighted that the INTERREG VA programme is supporting the next 22km section of the Ulster Canal Greenway. This new phase of the greenway will join communities north and south of the border, bringing huge benefits to our area and encouraging even more people to get out walking and cycling on a daily basis.’

Alderman Elizabeth Ingram, Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council stated "A key facet of our vision is to engage and support initiatives that protect and safeguard our environment for future generations to come that is why we are delighted to partner up on the EU funded Ulster Canal Greenway project. Bringing about substantial environmental benefits whilst enhancing the quality of life in the area, this pioneering project will deliver an alternative and sustainable pathway for cyclists and walkers to commute between both sides of the border. The collaborative project highlights our commitment to growing a connected, welcoming and healthy community.”

The project will also contribute to a deepened level of partnership between key stakeholders and to the development of expertise and dissemination of best practice in delivering cross-border projects.

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Waterways Ireland, and their project partners Monaghan County Council, Cavan County Council, Fermanagh & Omagh District Council and Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council, propose to develop a long-distance Greenway in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, linking Castle Saunderson in County Cavan to Charlemont in County Armagh mainly along the route of the disused Ulster Canal and using sections of disused railway infrastructure. The proposals for development of these greenway sections are provided within the Ulster Canal Greenway Development Strategy which is now open for public view and feedback.

The draft Ulster Canal Greenway Development Strategy and associated environmental reports will be available for public consultation from the 28th April 2017 until the 21st July 2017. As part of this public consultation there will be four public information events held, which will demonstrate the proposed greenway routes, with cross sections, related imagery, and interactive mapping available. The public information events are as follows:

Monday 8th May, 3pm - 8pm - Courtyard Room, Newtownbutler Community Hall, Co Fermanagh.

Tuesday 9th May, 3pm - 8pm - Market House in Monaghan Town, Co Monaghan

Wednesday 10th May, 3-8pm - Seven Horseshoes, Belturbet, Co Cavan

Comments and feedback on the draft Ulster Canal Greenway Development Strategy and associated environmental reports are welcome on or before July 21, 2017. Draft documents are available for inspection at the project partner offices and websites including www.waterwaysireland.org. Feedback on the proposals and reports should be sent either by email to [email protected]; or by post to Ulster Canal Greenway Development Strategy, Cormac McCarthy, Environment & Heritage Section, Waterways Ireland, Dock Road, Drewsborough, Scarriff, Co. Clare, Ireland.

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The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD, visited the construction site on the Ulster Canal at Derrykerrib Bridge, Co Fermanagh in the company of Waterways Ireland Chief Executive, Dawn Livingstone on Friday the 31st March 2017.

The construction works in this flagship cross-border project consists of a new bridge and canal cut which will allow navigation up the Finn River from Upper Lough Erne to Castle Saunderson, County Cavan. The construction will allow navigation to bypass the low span on the existing Derrykerrib Bridge. Based on Derrykerrib Island, the project, is a considerable technical challenge due to the poor ground conditions, frequency of flooding and the need to maintain access for residents at all times.

The project has been designed by Waterways Ireland Technical Services staff taking into account the technical difficulties. The new bridge is to be north of the existing Derrykerrib bridge and will have an arch profile like an old canal bridge. In line with planning conditions, the bridge will have a modern finish. The canal cut will be 250 metres long and will run parallel to the existing river.

The contract has been awarded to the Carrickmore based contractor Fox Contracts Ltd at a tender value of €1.8m approx including VAT and is to be completed by April 2018.

Minister Humphreys said:
“I am pleased that the contract has been signed by Waterways Ireland to allow for this important work to get underway at Derrykerrib Bridge. This is the next phase in the restoration of the old Ulster Canal and follows on from works completed in 2016 to dredge the channel from Lough Erne to Castle Saunderson, making it ready for navigation. It is my hope that the works can progress without delay so this section of canal can be restored for the benefit of people in surrounding areas and indeed visitors from further afield.”

The Ulster Canal closed in 1931 after 90 years of operation. Linking Charlemont on the River Blackwater with Wattlebridge on the River Finn, the canal made it possible to travel from Lough Neagh to Lough Erne, through Blackwatertown, Benburb, Caledon, Middletown, Monaghan, Smithborough and Clones.

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#UlsterCanal - Minister for Arts and Heritage Heather Humphreys joined Northern Ireland Minister for Infrastructure Chris Hazzard yesterday (Monday 15 August) to announce the establishment of a new Ulster Canal Advisory Forum.

The purpose of the forum is to consider options for advancing the long-delayed inland waterways project, which finally saw works begin last year, and to examine possible funding mechanisms both already existing and from other sources.

The forum will also have regard to the review of the Ulster Canal being taken forward by the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish Government as set out in A Fresh Start – The Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan.

Membership of the forum will consist of two elected members and one official respectively from Monaghan County Council, Cavan County Council, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council as well as senior officials from the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, the NI Department for Infrastructure, and Waterways Ireland.

Interested stakeholders from other organisations will be invited to attend meetings of the forum as appropriate.

Announcing the forum, Minister Humphreys said: “Having obtained Government approval for the commencement of Phase 1 of the Ulster Canal restoration project from Upper Lough Erne to Castle Saunderson, I am anxious to build on this momentum and to plan for the further development of this important resource which is so critical for the border region.

"This forum, which will include key stakeholders along the Ulster Canal route, will be a positive dynamic in advancing the project.”

Minister Hazzard added: “I am keen that development of the Ulster Canal is undertaken in partnership with local councils and communities. By working together we can help unlock the tourism potential of the entire region and maximise all available funding opportunities.

"The commitment made in the Fresh Start agreement clearly signals our shared interest in moving this project forward.”

Published in Inland Waterways

#ulstercanal – Minister Humphreys joined Waterways Ireland on site this morning at the start of project works on the Ulster Canal at Derrykerrib Bridge.

After many years of planning and consideration, the Ulster Canal project has reached the stage of equipment on-site in the first phase of works required to extend the Erne navigation from its existing limit at Quivvy Lough to Castle Saunderson Estate. Minister Humphreys secured the approval from Government to proceed with the project in February 2015 and Waterways Ireland have moved quickly to ensure progress is made. This project has the potential to act as a catalyst for the regeneration of this border area. It will provide a wonderful recreational facility for local communities and should act as a significant draw for tourists.

The 3km channel will involve the construction of a new canal cutting and associated bridge with improved 'air draft' as the current Derrykerrib Bridge lacks sufficient space for boats to pass underneath. It is also planned to dredge the River Finn to increase depth for navigation.

On site the Minister saw ground investigation work being undertaken in advance of the main contract. The site investigation information will be used to inform the detailed design stage of the project. The site investigation works will consist of boreholes, trial pits, river bed sampling and contaminant analysis.

Minister Heather Humphreys said "After so many years of talking, it is great to finally see works underway on the restoration of the Ulster Canal between Upper Lough Erne and Castle Saunderson. After securing approval from the Government for this project earlier this year, I have been very keen to see works getting underway as soon as possible.
I have no doubt that this project will act as a catalyst for the regeneration of this border area. It will provide a wonderful recreational facility for local communities and will help to attract tourists into the region.
I am also very pleased that Waterways Ireland is working with Monaghan County Council on the possible development of off-road cycling and walking facilities along the route. This would help to further maximise the benefits of the restoration of the Canal for the wider community."

Dawn Livingstone, Chief Executive, Waterways Ireland confirmed "Waterways Ireland is proceeding with the work on the Ulster Canal as Minister Humphreys has secured the approval needed. Preliminary works will be completed shortly enabling Waterways Ireland to begin dredging in summer 2015 and to have the works completed to Castle Saunderson in 2016. "

Published in Inland Waterways
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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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