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Taoiseach & Minister Humphreys announce €12m for Ulster Canal

  • Historic announcement will see work begin on Phase 2 of landmark project between Clones and Clonfad
  • Investment supported jointly by Shared Island Fund and Rural Regeneration Development Fund
  • Project hailed as symbol of peace and reconciliation
  • Further €1m allocated to allow engineering works on Phase 3 get underway

An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin TD, and Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, have today (Wednesday April 28th) announced €12m in funding for Phase 2 of the Ulster Canal.

The historic announcement will see the restoration of the Ulster Canal between Clones and Clonfad.

Some €5.57 million has been approved under the Rural Regeneration Development fund, following on from the announcement of €6 million from the Government’s Shared Island Fund.

The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage has also contributed to the cost of the project, which involves the construction of a new marina at Clones, alongside access bridges, an amenity area with parking and new towpaths and walking trails along the canal between Clones and Clonfad.

The Shared Island Fund has provided a further €1 million for Phase 3 of the project – Clonfad to Castle Saunderson – to undertake the feasibility and pre-construction work, which has now begun. This brings the total Government investment to over €13m. Announcing the funding today, Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD commented: “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. “This is an exciting and much anticipated project, and today’s announcement is the next step in the process to realise the full potential of the Ulster Canal waterway.” Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, 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.”

Welcoming the announcement, Northern Ireland Minister for Infrastructure Nichola Mallon MLA said: “This is another step forward for this hugely exciting all island project which will not only benefit the local community but will also enhance opportunities for our economy right across our island. “Over the last year we have really had our eyes opened to the potential on our doorsteps from our rich, natural and beautiful environment.  I am delighted that this next phase in the Ulster Canal project is moving forward.”

The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD and the Minister of State for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan TD, have also welcomed today’s announcement.

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien TD stated: “This is a significant investment in the Ulster Canal restoration project and further demonstrates the Government’s commitment to Rural Development and North South cooperation.

“Given that the Central Border area will be most directly affected by Brexit, this project will be important in mitigating its impacts in the region.

“Reconstruction and development of the canal will not only offer direct employment opportunities, but the increased economic activity along the route will result in new or expanding business which will also deliver jobs to the local areas in recreation, tourist and heritage sectors”.

Malcom Noonan TD, Minister of State for Heritage added: “This announcement of funding of €12 million towards the completion of Phase 2 of the Ulster Canal Restoration project from Clones to Clonfad is a key component of Project Ireland 2040 and is part of the Government’s commitment to this region.  “It is hoped that all aspects of the detailed design and construction phase will be substantially complete by late 2023 or early 2024. The Department and Waterways Ireland will continue to forge ahead with the full realisation of the amenity of the Ulster Canal.”

ENDS Note to Editor:

Today’s announcement is supported by funding from the Shared Island Fund and the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, which is a key part of Our Rural Future – the Government’s ambitious five-year strategy for rural Ireland. 

Ulster Canal Restoration Phases Phase 1 of the Ulster Canal restoration project is complete. This involved the restoration of a 2.5 km stretch of the Ulster Canal from Upper Lough Erne in County Fermanagh to the International Scout Centre at Castle Saunderson near Belturbet in Co. Cavan. The navigation channel on the River Finn up to Castle Saunderson is now open to waterway users, the channel having been dredged where required. Approximately 1 km downstream of Castle Saunderson a new navigation bridge has been constructed beside Derrykerrib Bridge, together with a new short lateral canal. Recreational amenities including a new public jetty and moorings at Castle Saunderson have also been completed and will be operational for the 2021 boating season. 

Phase 2 of the Ulster Canal (Clones to Clonfad) will comprise: 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 incorporating:

  • New 40 berth marina (water recreation park) at Clones
  • 2 new access bridges
  • Circa 1km of new canal with towpaths
  • 1.5km looped walking and cycling route along banks of canal
  • Slipway
  • Refurbishment of masonry arch bridge
  • Service block with toilets and showers
  • Tourism and Recreation facilities
  • Reimagined public realm & amenity area with parking


Phase 3 of the Ulster Canal (Clonfad to Castle Saunderson) is a 10km stretch of the canal which will link Phases 1 and 2 together. This will complete access from Clones to the River Shannon via Lough Erne and the Shannon-Erne Waterway system thus attracting visiting boats/cruisers and their occupants to Clones from the entire Shannon and Erne network from destinations as far as Limerick.  The engineering feasibility and pre-construction stages for Phase 3 is underway, supported with €1million in funding from the Shared Island Fund.