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Displaying items by tag: Shannon

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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