Five route options set for first phase of Ulster Canal


WATERWAYS IRELAND has published five route options for phase one of the reopening of the Ulster Canal.

Phase one is a section from Lough Erne in Co Fermanagh to Clones in Co Monaghan, a distance of about 11km.

Construction costs, estimated at €35 million, are to be funded entirely by the Irish Government, with annual operating costs shared between the Government and the Northern Ireland Executive. The link is due to be completed in 2013 and will make navigation possible between the Shannon at Limerick, and Clones. The original aim of the Ulster Canal was to provide for inland navigation between points as diverse as Limerick and Belfast.

Of the five routes shortlisted for phase one, route one follows the original line from just below Derrykerrib bridge and travels for a good portion of its way parallel to the Cavan town-Clones road.

Route two utilises the Finn river past Castle Saunderson estate, via Wattlebridge and Gortnacarrow bridge, before rejoining the original route.

Route three utilises the Finn river and Castle Saunderson estate before turning into Lough Sarah, across a new section of canal to Drumully lough and out via a new cut through Clogher to rejoin the old line at Gortnacarrow.

Route four follows the Finn river and passes the Castle Saunderson estate, Wattlebridge and Gortnacarrow bridge into Drumully lough before using a new section of canal from the lough to connect to the old line.

Route five is like route one but with an added section from the old line, along the Finn river to the Castle Saunderson estate.

Copies of the draft Ulster Canal Restoration Plan – Upper Lough Erne to Clones, and associated environmental reports will be on display at Clones library and Canal Stores in Clones, and in the community centre in Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh, and the Waterways Ireland head office in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, at various dates until the end of September.

The project is part of a wider, long-term scheme to reopen the entire canal, which once traversed Co Monaghan through counties Armagh and Tyrone to the Blackwater river and into Lough Neagh.