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The Ulster Architectural Heritage Society will bring the Heritage Angel Awards to Northern Ireland for the first time and IWAI Newry and Portadown have been shortlisted to receive a Heritage Angel Award in the category Best Rescue, Recording or Interpretation of a Historic Place. On learning of the group's success Peter Maxwell the Branch treasurer said: "It's a huge honour for us to have won through the nomination process and we are looking forward to the decision. It's a great opportunity for us to spread the word about the canal and what a fantastic asset it is to the community."

IWAI Newry and Portadown volunteers have created a video entitled ‘New Life for the Old Canal’ that celebrates the project to re-water the summit level of the Newry Canal, a four mile stretch of water from Poyntzpass to Scarva. New lock gates were built and installed by the volunteers to allow canoes and small boats to use the canal. Alongside this the group researched and published a guided walk app highlighting the history of the canal. They also manage a heritage centre on the towpath with displays to help visitors understand how a canal works and how its restoration could help boost the local economy.

The purpose of the Heritage Angel Awards is to recognise groups that inspire and increase activity to help conserve and protect built heritage, a purpose that according to Peter, IWAI Newry and Portadown volunteers support very strongly; "We certainly meet that aim as our volunteers contribute more than 2000 hours annually to canal projects. Without our input it's fair to say that the canal, dating from 1742 and the first of its kind in Ireland & the UK would again become a neglected, overgrown ditch as was the case when it was abandoned in 1949. Instead, our project on the summit has shown how the canal can be used by many different types of people for recreation and enjoyment."
Peter’s enthusiasm and that of his fellow volunteers clearly shows the potential impact that a project like this can have on society as a whole. Please show your support and cast your vote now to show that there most definitely is new life for the old canal. Logon to https://www.heritageangelawards-ni.org.uk/ Voting closes on Friday October 27th. The awards ceremony will take place in the Grand Opera House, Belfast on Tuesday November 7th. The Awards are funded by the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation and the Department for Communities.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland advises Masters and Owners of vessels berthed in public harbours, at jetties or moorings against visiting any vessels or boats during periods of extreme weather such as storm force winds and heavy rainfall.

Strong winds are a hazard to personal safety if walking on or near navigation infrastructure and also because of blown debris from trees or buildings in the vicinity. There is also the hazard of the unpredictable nature of rising water levels and their effect on built infrastructure.

Canal banks will be muddy and slippery. Access to vessels could be hazardous.

At present a number of mooring facilities and access ramps to same and the approach roads and paths to their associated car parks are underwater or are inaccessible across all navigations.

Fast flowing currents, eddies and turbulent water will be experienced in and around these structures for some time after the storms have passed.

Mooring lines and cleats on vessels at these facilities will be under strain as will the shore bollards that they are made fast to. Extreme care should be exercised when releasing lines in these circumstances to avoid them snapping back and causing injury. There is also the danger of deck cleats, which may have been weakened whilst under strain, pulling out and striking a person when engaged in this activity.

Waterways Ireland further advises that full personal protective equipment such as lifejacket and foul weather gear be worn if it is deemed necessary to visit a craft in a harbour that the visit is undertaken in company with a colleague and that someone has been advised of an expected return time. A fully charged mobile phone should be carried in the event of an emergency and the visit should be made during daylight hours.

Published in Inland Waterways

The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) Kildare will return again to Naas Harbour to celebrate the Naas Canal Festival which runs from Friday October 27th to Monday October 30th. This year’s Festival is a very special event as 2017 marks 30 years since the Naas Line of the Grand Canal was re-opened to boat traffic. In the early 1980s, a fledgling IWAI Kildare, supported by IWAI Dublin, highlighted the potential for tourism development of the Grand Canal in Naas. 30 years on and a large fleet of boats is expected to attend the Festival in Naas Harbour. On Friday 27th and Saturday 28th the travelling boats will be assisted through the locks by staff from Waterways Ireland, IWAI Kildare volunteers and members of the 23rd Kildare – Sallins – scouts, who are eager to put their lock operation training into practice. If you have never seen a lock being used or you have never seen a boat cruise the canal, this October weekend will not disappoint.

As well as the flotilla of vessels old and new, there will be a number of public events in the lead up to and during the Festival. A Waterways Exhibition will run in Naas Library from Monday October 23rd to Friday 27th featuring material from IWAI, the Heritage Boat Association and Waterways Ireland. There will be a variety of activities taking place on Sunday afternoon, October 29th, from 1pm to 5pm, including music from The Water Gypsies, Waterways Information Talks, an Exhibition by Sean Curran Art, boat trips on the canal by bargetrip.ie, the launch of a new children’s book by author Emma-Jane Leeson who will host readings from her book on a Barge. Of course, the boats themselves will also be on display and the boat owners will be on hand waiting to answer your questions or even give you a tour; don’t be shy about approaching them.

In the spirit of the founders of the IWAI, who established the Association in 1954 to campaign against the installation of fixed-span bridges across the River Shannon, IWAI Kildare will use the Naas Canal Festival to continue to showcase the leisure potential and historical significance of the Grand Canal in this area. 

The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) is a voluntary body representing over two thousand enthusiasts, with 23 branches across the island of Ireland. 

The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) is an energetic, fun, voluntary organisation with members from all corners of the Island of Ireland, all sharing a keen and passionate enthusiasm for the waterways of Ireland.

The IWAI advocates the navigation, use, maintenance, protection, restoration and improvement of the inland waterways of Ireland. It was formed in 1954 to promote the development, use and maintenance of Ireland's navigable rivers and canals.

IWAI Kildare was established in 1984. In the early years IWAI Kildare was assisted by IWAI Dublin to restore and enable the re-opening to navigation of the Naas Line of the Grand Canal main line. Currently, IWAI Kildare aims to promote the use of the waterways of Co. Kildare by running rallies throughout the county.
IWAI Kildare is actively campaigning to re-open the Corbally Line of the Grand Canal from Naas Harbour to Corbally Harbour. This stretch of waterway is in good condition but passage for boats is blocked by a number of culverted crossings, including the road from Naas to Newhall which crosses the canal near Jigginstown.

Published in Inland Waterways

With its first hire this Saturday, River Shannon Boat hire firm Carrickcraft is launching the first of its new steel–built Linssen vessels just in time for the 2017 season.

As Afloat.ie reported earlier, Ireland's largest cruise hire charter company is expanding its 115–boat fleet with the addition of five Dutch built boats over the next few seasons.

The first of these new steel yachts was on trial this week as pictured above at Clonmacnoise in Co. Offfaly. 

Cruise-Ireland placed an order at Linssen Yachts for five new yachts, which involves a turnover of more than €1m. The aim of this long-term collaboration is to extend the Cruise-Ireland fleet with several new Linssen Yachts every one or two years. Cruise-Ireland is a combination of two of the oldest yacht charter companies in Ireland: Carrickcraft and Waveline Cruisers.

New boats will go into the Cruise-Ireland bases in Banagher, two in Carrick and one on the Shannon one-way route.

Published in Inland Waterways

Lough Erne Heritage will hold a free talk at 2:00pm, on Saturday 25 February by Claire Foley on ‘The Archaeology of the Erne Waterways’.

Claire Foley, an archaeologist of some 45 years’ experience, working first from Dublin when she excavated Parkes Castle in Co Leitrim then from Belfast since 1975 working with the Department of the Environment on survey and excavation which included Creggandevesky court tomb in Co Tyrone and the iron age burial in Kiltierney in Fermanagh.

Claire spent 1976 and 1977 recording field monuments in Co Fermanagh and pioneering the recording visits to the many crannogs in the county. The results of this survey, a collaboration with many scholars, were published in 2014.

Most of Claire’s recent professional life has been spent managing programmes to help landowners and communities interpret and manage the many ancient monuments on their land.

Published in Inland Waterways

#SaveHistoricDocks - A Dublin docklands business group and waterways enthusiasts have called on Minister for Heritage Heather Humphreys to save a key piece of the Grand Canal basin’s Georgian architecture.

As The Irish Times writes The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) and the Docklands Business Forum (see related story) have initiated a petition this week which asks Ms Humphreys to ensure the basin’s lock gates and graving docks for ships are “restored, preserved and reused” for community gain.

The two groups believes Waterways Ireland wants to sell the graving docks site for further high rise development on the Liffey mouth.

The cross-Border agency is primarily responsible for the Grand Canal Basin and for the surrounding area where the three graving docks were constructed for vessel repair, while Nama also has a lease interest.

The graving docks and lock gates are as important to the heritage of the area as Battery Park is to New York, according to Docklands Business Forum’s chief executive Alan Robinson.

For more on this development click here.

Jehan Ashmore of Afloat adds that recently in an 'Aran Islands Snapshot' was featured the former ferry, Naomh Eanna which has been berthed in Grand Canal Dock for more than a quarter century.

The basin itself is considerably older having opened in 1796 for use of ships entering three docks to and from the River Liffey.

Only in recent years due to the threat of scrapping by Waterways Ireland that the historic Irish built ship was saved by campaigners. Among the reasons cited was due to possible sinking of the veteran vessel which led to the ship shifted from Charlotte Quay to a nearby disused graving dock dating to 1850's. 

There have been plans by maritime heritge enthusiasts to restore the 1958 Liffey Dockyard built Naomh Eanna that ran for CIE between Galway City and Aran Islands. The project involved relocating to her former homeport in the mid-west city as a floating museum amongst other functions. The proposed visitor attraction was welcomed by Galway Port with a dedicated berth.  

Grand Canal Basin was last used by commercial shipping until the 1960's. The three graving docks (the largest infilled) were used for repairs of small ships and canal barges.

Published in Dublin Port

On November 17th, the Association of Irish Local Government highlighted their serious concerns with the proposed legislation and its potential to deny the elected members of Local Authorities to input into proposed Canal Bye-laws that may affect the potential development of the Grand and Royal Canals and the Barrow Navigation say the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland.

The Association of Irish Local Government (AILG) highlighted that City & County Councils have a key interest in the management of Ireland's canal system arising from their responsibilities in the areas of tourism promotion, community and economic development, and the natural and built heritage. The 21 days proposed is too short for the local authority meeting cycle to afford councillors the opportunity to comment on draft byelaws and therefore the period should be extended to 90 days.

The Motion as tabled by Labour Councillor Dermot Lacey of Dublin City Council called on the Minister for Arts and Heritage to amend the Heritage Bill 2016 so as to increase from 21 days to 90 days the period for consultation in relation to bye-laws for canal management proposed to be made by Waterways Ireland, the statutory canal authority.

Dublin City Council, Fingal County Council & South Dublin County Council, have in the past month all unanimously passed emergency motions calling on Minister Humphreys to defer the introduction of the Heritage Bill given their concerns on it. The 90 days period proposed by the above Authorities is currently an approach used by Waterways Ireland already in relation to its corporate plan consultation process.

IWAI advise that while it would welcome and support proper regulations the proposed Heritage Bill does not put user requirements, local communities or tourism at the centre of the regulations. Rather it is a heavy handed approach that will result in a detrimental reduction of boat traffic on the canals.

IWAI believes that it is a negative and imbalanced approach to introduce legislation that penalises 99% of waterways communities to address the problematic area of 1% (due to unlicensed boats, harbour hogging). These matters can be legislated for without effectively penalising the other less populated areas.

Published in Inland Waterways

Inland Fisheries Ireland has launched its Sponsorship Fund for 2017 which will support angling events and initiatives across the country. The fund supported 44 events to the tune of €30,000 in 2016 with a particular focus on initiatives which help grow Ireland’s angling tourism product and support novice anglers. Angling in Ireland is currently worth €836 million to Ireland’s economy annually, supporting upwards of 11,000 jobs.

Inland Fisheries Ireland’s Sponsorship Fund aims to support large international competitions held in Ireland which showcase Ireland’s angling offering and contribute to local economies. The fund also contributes to novice angler events which increase participation in angling among those who have recently taken up fishing. Finally, it also helps initiatives which disseminate information which promote conservation and protection of the inland fisheries and sea angling resource and can include seminars, workshops and training. Support from the Sponsorship Fund can be either financial or resource support from Inland Fisheries Ireland staff members.

Angling offers rural communities the opportunity to increase the number of visitors to the area and in turn, support local business and create jobs by providing a sustainable source of income for both catering and accommodation services. Inland Fisheries Ireland’s National Strategy for Angling Development aims to increase overseas angling visits from 163,000 in 2015 to 173,000 and increase domestic participation of 273,000 anglers annually by 0.5%. If this is realised, angling could bring in an additional €53 million annually and support 1,800 jobs.

Suzanne Campion, Head of Business Development at Inland Fisheries Ireland said: “We are delighted to launch our Sponsorship Fund for 2017 which will support angling clubs and groups nationwide in delivering programmes which ultimately drive angling participation rates. There is a huge network of angling communities nationwide and we want to support them in offering local events which engage domestic anglers, overseas anglers and those who are about to cast for the first time.

Ireland has some of the best wild fisheries in Europe and as a destination, we have a unique opportunity to grow our angling tourism product. This Sponsorship Fund is just one element of our National Strategy for Angling Development which aims to develop our angling tourism potential while also managing and conserving our fisheries resource.”

Inland Fisheries Ireland’s National Strategy for Angling Development is the first comprehensive national framework which will deliver a wide-ranging set of investments, innovations and promotions over the coming five years. It aims to make angling accessible and attractive through information, infrastructure and support, to develop tourism through the promotion of the angling resource and to position angling as a key leisure and recreation pursuit. The Strategy will deliver significant economic benefits in rural communities where much of angling takes place, while also ensuring that fish populations and habitats are protected and conserved.

Applications for funding from the Sponsorship Fund are now invited from angling clubs, associations or any local group organising an angling initiative. The scheme will remain open for applications until Friday, 9th of December 2016 and all applications can be made online at www.fisheriesireland.ie/funding. Awards will be subject to budget availability and adherence to the scheme requirements.

Published in Angling

The Inland Waterways of Ireland Association President says that the upcoming Seanad Eireann Committee Stage 3 on the Heritage Bill 2016 presents an ideal opportunity for new partnership politics to be demonstrated by the new Partnership Government.

In an IWAI statement John Dolan says 'This can be achieved by the provision of amendments when the bill is reintroduced to Seanad Éireann at 2pm Wednesday November 9th for Stage 3, including the withdrawal of the Canal Acts section from the bill to facilitate the introduction of a dedicated Canal Act with proper pre legislative consultation'

IWAI comment that if a Senator has an initial response of ‘No’ to any of the following short questions then they should be concerned regarding what is proposed in this Bill.

• Is it acceptable that persons other than An Garda Siochana or Customs Officers have the right to stop and search boaters, walkers & cyclists etc. on Waterways Ireland property such as the canal towpaths, Greenways or Blueways? (Heritage Bill 2016 Section 2 7B 1-12)

• Is it acceptable that a Body with no Corporate Governance Structure or Board will be empowered to bring in any byelaws they want with only 30 days Consultation. Local Authority elected representatives have already stated that this is insufficient time to allow them to consider any proposed byelaws? Section 2 7 (2) (a)-(e)

• Is it appropriate to legislate for the introduction of fines & regulations that are overly penal and will not encourage use of the canals and which are not in place on the other Irish inland waterways under the management of Waterways Ireland? Section 2 7 (4) & 7A (1)-(4)

• Is it acceptable to introduce legislation to apply other penalties with no independent appeal mechanism other than the courts? (Section 2 7 (4) & 7A (1)-(4)

• Is it ok to make canals less user friendly by discriminating against tourism development on our Canals by introducing a complete different set of rules, charges, regulations and fines that are not in place on the adjoining Waterways? How will this encourage tourism growth?

The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland acknowledged the support of all Senators and TD’S in the Dail and Seanad for their cross party support and pledges during the 2016 elections. Significant numbers supported the IWAI call for a dedicated Canal Bill with pre legislative consultation with canal users, local canal communities, elected Local Authority Representatives and Local Authority Management and the tourism sectors.

IWAI believes that it is a negative and imbalanced approach to introduce legislation that penalises 99% of waterways communities to address the problematic area of 1% (due to unlicensed boats, harbour hogging). These matters can be legislated for without effectively penalising the other less populated areas.

IWAI believe that any proposed legislation should:

• promote the development of the tourism potential of the canals and supports tourism initiatives on the canals, such as the IWAI Green and Silver circle trip through Dublin via both canals
• equally provide for the regulators and the users requirements
• in the absence of alternative private marinas on the canals provide for boaters moving through these linear waterways in safe areas, not isolated known problematic areas and without having to risk €150 per day fines after five days
• allow for the introduction of bye-laws that put user requirements, tourism development and local communities at the centre of the regulations in a manner that allows adequate consultation
• ensure that the enforcement & penalties regime governed by these bye-laws include a suitable independent appeals mechanism
• protect and maintain navigation heritage and usage for future generations
IWAI advise that while it would welcome and support proper regulations the proposed Heritage Bill does not put user requirements, local communities or tourism at the centre of the regulations. Rather it is a heavy handed approach that will result in a detrimental reduction of boat traffic on the canals.

The proposed Heritage Bill (2016) gives Waterways Ireland, the authority to appoint “officers” to carry out stop and search and seizure activities on boats and personal property on the Grand Canal, Royal Canal and River Barrow.

In the Republic of Ireland, search and seizure acts are limited to a number of specially trained and professional groups such as the Gardaí, Health a Safety Inspectors and Customs Officers. The boats affected by this new act include residential barges, hire boats and barges, restaurant barges, motor cruisers and fishing boats.

Boats will opt to move to the other Irish Waterways, managed by the same regulator, Waterways Ireland, where the regulations and facilities are more user friendly and where there are no oppressive fines and penalties.

The powers proposed within the new Act will affect those on the waterways of Carlow, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Longford, Meath, Offaly and Westmeath.

Published in Inland Waterways

Minister Ring T.D. has awarded €500,000 to Waterways Ireland for the completion of the Shannon Blueway between Leitrim Village and Drumshanbo town. The project will include an iconic boardwalk around the southern side of Acres Lake. The attractive new walkway will be constructed partly on land and a significant section will be designed to float over the water. This work will complete a 14–km section of the Blueway, bringing it into the Blueway network which is now nearing 200km in length running across Leitrim, Roscommon, Longford and Cavan.

The Shannon Blueway is a new recreation and tourism concept that has been developed by Waterways Ireland and a number of key partners including Leitrim, Roscommon and Longford County Councils, the National Trails Office and Canoeing Ireland.

The Blueway is a series of quality multi-leisure activity trails both on and off water that offers a wider and deeper experience through associated activities and attractions. There are now 8 activity providers operating on the Blueway and accommodation & hospitality sector in the wider geographical area developing interesting and exciting packages for families and friends to experience. (www.bluewaysireland.org)

The first section of Blueway (funded by the Rural Recreation Grant Aid) opened in October 2014 and has achieved huge success and recognition to date. It comprises 3 looped walks and 16km of canoe trails connecting Carrick-on Shannon to Drumshanbo. It has already received two awards and has attracted over 100,000 visitors since opening.

The grant approved by Minister Ring T.D., will provide a critical connection in the walking and cycling element of the Blueway. The iconic boardwalk provides linkage for the existing 14km of looped walks to the facilities and services at Acres Lake and Drumshanbo town another key element of Blueway infrastructure.

Waterways Ireland and Leitrim County Council, manage and operate a fully serviced community and boating resource at Acres lake which includes a marina, car-parking, toilets and showers, outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, angling facilities and the Sliabh an Iairann Visitor Centre. By connecting these facilities to the existing looped walk and cycle path the area can be utilised as a trail head and will anchor and integrate the Blueway in the town of Drumshanbo and the wider Roscommon and Leitrim hinterland

The project will involve the construction of a path from the current terminus near Drumhauver Bridge to the edge of Acres Lake; the procurement and installation of the floating walkway, and the construction of a new path linking the walkway to the services at Acres Lake. It is anticipated geotechnical works and preliminary site works will commence by the end of November 2016. Waterways Ireland is in the process of procuring the floating walkway. The scheme is expected to be completed by May 2017 in time for the main boating and tourist season.

Published in Inland Waterways
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