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Inland Waterways Association

13th July 2009

The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland is a voluntary body formed in 1954 of inland waterways enthusiasts. For all the latest Inland Waterways news click here. We advocate the use, maintenance, protection, restoration and improvement of the inland waterways of Ireland. The association was founded in 1954 to campaign for the conservation and development of the waterways and in particular their preservation as working navigations. When the Shannon was almost totally undeveloped for pleasure boating, IWAI fought the building of low bridges, thus ensuring the development of the river as an asset for all to use and enjoy. In the 1960s IWAI successfully fought plans to close the Circular Line of the Grand Canal in Dublin. Later the association campaigned for the re-opening of the Ballinamore & Ballyconnell Canal (now the Shannon-Erne Waterway) and the Naas line of the Grand Canal.

IWAI is the voice of waterways users and enthusiasts. It represents the views of members to governments (Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland), to Waterways Ireland and other navigation authorities, to local authorities and the range of statutory and state-sponsored bodies whose activities impinge on the waterways in one way or another.

Membership and Organisation
IWAI has approximately 4,400 members mainly organised in branches associated with the major navigations across the island.
Our membership is drawn from all walks of life and from people with a wide range of interests-boating, angling, walking, heritage, environment. Many of our members own and use boats on our rivers, lakes and canals ranging from motor cruisers to jet-skis, from barges to sailing dinghies and RIBs to rowing boats.
The association is a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity (CHY no 10915). It is governed by a council  made up of representatives of each of the local branches and directly elected officers and members. Day to day affairs are managed by an executive committee.

Who’s Who in IWAI? You’ll find the list of current officers of IWAI here

IWAI is not responsible for the navigation, for registering boats, for harbours or similar facilities. The authority that is responsible for the Shannon, Suck, Erne, Barrow, Lower Bann, Grand Canal, Royal Canal and Shannon-Erne Waterway is ‘Waterways Ireland’

A complete chronology/history of the organisation and its activities can be seen here

A number of Committees are active within IWAI including the Heritage & Conservation Committee, Boating & Leisure Committee, etc.

Publications: The IWAI publishes ‘Inland Waterways News’, a quarterly magazine, sent out free to all members. The magazine covers a wide range of topics of interest to waterways enthusiasts at local, national and international level. IWAI also publishes a number of waterways related books and guides. Our web-site is one of the largest single reference sources for waterways related material in Ireland and a major source of referrals for waterways  related businesses which brings local events, activities and developments into national perspective. Some of the branches bring out local newsletters. Our web site at is packed with waterways-related information. Whether a boat enthusiast, historian, archaeologist, or fisherman, you will find something here of interest.

Branches: IWAI has twenty branches: five in Northern Ireland and fourteen in the Republic and one activity-based branch. Every member is affiliated to a local branch and each branch is represented on a national Council.  The branches are:
North: Lough Erne, River Bann and Lough Neagh, Coalisland, Lagan and Newry
South:  Athlone, Barrow, Belturbet, Boyle River, Boyne Navigation, Carrick-on-Shannon, Corrib, Dublin, Kildare, Lough Derg, North Barrow, Offaly, Shannon Harbour, and Slaney.

Improvements and Restoration: Work parties and funds are raised to improve navigations and to restore derelict ones.  Current projects include the Ulster Canal, Lagan Navigation, Coalisland Canal, Boyne Navigation and the Kilbeggan and Corbally lines of the Grand Canal. A synopsis of current activities is found here. The photo at right shows a work-party working on the Boyne navigation.
Boat rallies: IWAI organises rallies and other events including annual rallies on the Barrow (Easter), Dublin (May), the Erne (May), the Grand Canal (June), Shannon Harbour (June), the Corrib (July), the Shannon (July), Lough Derg (July). Competitions help to raise standards of boatmanship, seaworthiness and safety afloat.

Social events: Land-based events such as film shows, discussions and lectures are organised on a range of waterways topics including, safety, vessel maintenance, navigation, first-aid and waterways heritage

Member Services: The IWAI Shop IWAI provides a number of branded products and services for members. The association burgee and ensign are shown at right. We also sell waterways-related books and navigation charts.

Email Discussion Forum: We host a very active discussion forum. Here, you will meet folk who enjoy talking about life on our waterways. Generally, people are very free with advice on the list (whether wanted or not) and can point you in the right direction if you have problems finding  a 3/4 inch flux capacitor for your 1984 vintage submarine. The forum operates a parallel web-based and email service.

Navigation and related announcements: If you would like to keep up to speed with announcements, news, and press releases from the IWAI, you can subscribe to the association’s News Updates List.

Goals of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland
IWAI is set up as a limited company – from our memorandum of association, it has the following objectives:

(a) To promote the use, maintenance and development of the inland waterways of Ireland, and in particular, to advocate and promote the restoration to good order, and maintenance in good order of every navigable waterway and the fullest use of every navigable waterway by both commercial and pleasure traffic, provided such is not injurious to the environmental health of the waterways and surrounding areas.
(b) To support any proposal which may be calculated to maintain or improve Irish waterways and also to improve navigation, lay moorings and carry out other works of improvement on and adjacent to the waterways.
In furtherance exclusively of the above main objects the Company shall have the following ancillary objects:
(a) To oppose by appropriate action the abandonment or neglect of Irish canals or river navigations, the pollution of waterways, the obstructions of navigations by fixed bridges, aqueducts, overhead cables, or otherwise, the obstruction of towing paths, or any other action calculated to injure or destroy the navigation or amenities of the waterways of Ireland.
(b) To prepare, either alone or in collaboration with any other body, guide books, charts, maps and other literature suitable for use by persons using the Irish navigations for any purpose, and to foster public interest in and knowledge of the Irish waterways by disseminating information on the subject to members and to the general public.
(c) To organise visits to objects and places of interest on the waterways including water-borne journeys.
(d) To do all such acts as shall further the active and corporate life of the Association and to cooperate with any other body having similar or sympathetic aims.
(e) To represent the interests of boat owners in all matters pertaining to the above objects.
(f) To organise, engage in, and sponsor boat rallies, exhibitions, displays, festivals, carnivals, sports, hobbies and entertainments.

IWAI Policies
Details of IWAI Policies can be found here.

Inland Waterways Association (IWA), 110 Booterstown Avenue, Blackrock, Co. Dublin. Tel: 1890 924991, Email: [email protected]


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