Taoiseach Michéal Martin TD has laid the foundation stone for Phase 2 of the Ulster Canal project, marking the beginning of works which will see the section of the canal between Clones and Clonfad in Co. Monaghan restored. The Taoiseach was joined by Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan TD and Northern Ireland Minister for Infrastructure John O’Dowd MLA for the ceremony at Ulster Canal Stores in Clones. The €20m project has been co-funded through the Shared Island Fund, the Rural Regeneration Development Fund and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. The works will see the construction of a 42-berth marina at Clones, with access bridges and amenity area, as well as new walking and cycling trails along the Canal between Clones and Clonfad. Speaking at today’s event Taoiseach Michéal Martin TD said, “The Ulster Canal restoration is a cross-border project in its truest sense and will be transformative for this region. It is not just an infrastructure project, it is an investment in our communities and a tangible example of what can be achieved through partnership and all-island collaboration. “I am delighted that through support from the Shared Island Fund we have been able to prioritise the Ulster Canal restoration and bring it to this stage. Now that the momentum behind this long-standing project has been reignited, the Government intends to do more to progress the next phases of the canal restoration.” Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien commented, “The whole of Government approach to delivering this project demonstrates what can be achieved through commitment, determination and focus. Working with our colleagues in Northern Ireland, with the shared vision of benefitting all our communities, has driven this project to the point we are at today. We are ambitious in our aim to complete this phase the end of 2023.”
Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys TD added, “Phase 2 of the redevelopment of the Ulster Canal is an exciting step forward. While hugely significant in itself it is also the next phase in unlocking our waterways to Clones. Once finished people can get in their boat in Limerick, come up the Shannon-Erne system, come through Lough Erne in Fermanagh and then onto the stretch at Castle Sanderson to Clones. This is a game-changer for Clones and our border region.” Northern Ireland Minister for Infrastructure John O’Dowd MLA said, “I am delighted to be here to mark the commencement of work on Phase 2 of the Ulster Canal restoration, which when completed, will provide an additional inland navigable waterway from Lough Erne to Clones. The project will bring many benefits to the area by creating a new destination for visitors as well as enhancing the facilities available for local communities. This will create opportunities both for existing businesses to expand and for new businesses to develop. In the current economic climate, it is heartening to see a project like this being progressed; a project that has the potential to bring economic benefits that could be transformational for the region.”
Minister for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan TD concluded, “This project is a celebration of our water heritage. It is being approached in a respectful, sensitive and sustainable manner as is our responsibility in our stewardship of our navigations. It will inject a new vibrancy into our border communities and better opportunities for all of us to enjoy sustainable leisure and tourism activities while protecting our rich biodiversity.” -Ends- Note to Editor: The Ulster Canal restoration is a flagship North-South project, supported by the Shared Island Fund, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, and the Department of Rural and Community Development and is managed by Waterways Ireland. The work is being carried out in three 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.
Phase 2 of the Ulster Canal (Clones to Clonfad) will comprise:
Phase 2 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 42 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 This phase is being delivered through funding commitments of €6m from the Shared Island Fund, a further €6m from the Rural Regeneration Development Fund and €8m from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, bringing the total allocation for this phase of the project to €20m.
Phase 3 is the major blueway stage of the restoration project, connecting a 10km cross-border route between Castle Saunderson and Clonfad and linking the town of Clones by navigable waterway to the Erne System and onward to the wider waterway network of the Shannon-Erne Waterway, Shannon Navigation and the Royal and Grand Canals. The feasibility and pre-development work of this phase was enabled by an allocation of €1m from the Shared Island Fund in December 2020.
Three of the four sub-sections of this phase are now ready to be progressed.
- Phase 3.1 (2kms) Castle Saunderson to Gortnacarrow
- Phase 3.2 (0.5kms) Gortnacarrow to the Border
- Phase 3.4 (3.75kms) New canal navigation between the border at Derrynure and the border at Clonfad.
These works will bring the restored canal south of the border from Fermanagh and extend it further to the West from Clones. The sub-phases involve substantive infrastructure, including new road bridges and layouts, a marina and restored heritage architecture. The Shared Island Fund provided €1m for the engineering feasibility and pre-construction stages and a further allocation of €40m from the Shared Island was approved by Government in July 2022 to help deliver this next phase. More detail on the funding structure and roll out of Phase 3 works will be made available in the autumn.