Phase 2 of Ulster Canal opened following €28.4m restoration investment

Thursday, June 20, 2024. 10:52am
Phase 2 of Ulster Canal officially opened following €28.4 million restoration investment

Phase 2 of Ulster Canal officially opened following €28.4 million restoration investment

  • 80 construction jobs supported throughout phase two redevelopment
  • Ulster Canal restoration is largest engineering feat ever undertaken in Ireland
  • The launch of phase two sees the creation of new marina at Clones, looped walk and amenity area

Taoiseach Simon Harris and Tánaiste Micheál Martin, alongside Waterways Ireland, today officially open Phase 2 of the Ulster Canal redevelopment project following a €28.4 million investment.

The redevelopment project was carried out by Waterways Ireland, the navigational authority for the inland navigable waterways, from August 2022 to June of this year, completing the restoration of 1.5km of the Ulster Canal from Clones in Co. Monaghan to Clonfad in Co. Monaghan.

Phase Two of the project includes a new Marina in Clones and 1km of restored canal and towpath with a looped walk and an amenity area including parking, a service block, picnic area, performance space and bus/trailer spaces, on the route of the 180yr old Ulster Canal. The vision for Clones Marina, agreed following public consultation, is a Marina that safely links the wider waterway and greenway network into the heart of Clones Town, providing a memorable and unique gateway to County Monaghan and the border region: a place to engage with the water, landscape, ecology and the celebrated heritage of Clones.

Phase 2 of Ulster Canal officially opened following €28.4 million restoration investment

The investment saw the creation of 80 new construction jobs throughout this second phase of development, with the newly launched amenities supporting an enhanced number of tourist and hospitality opportunities, demonstrating Waterways Ireland’s commitment to supporting the local economy.

Commenting on the opening of Phase 2 of the restoration of the Ulster Canal, Waterways Ireland CEO John McDonagh states: “Waterways Ireland’s purpose is to be the custodian of the inland navigations and collaborate to reimagine, maintain, develop, and promote them to sustain communities, environment, and heritage.

“Through the Ulster Canal restoration, we aim to build a brighter future where the waterway plays an inspirational role in the lives of the local community and offers exciting opportunities for local businesses.

“I would like to pay tribute to everyone who has helped us reach this happy juncture – in particular I would like to thank the Waterways Ireland project team and contractor Jons Engineering for their commitment, energy, and support in delivering this impressive project in 22 months.

“We will continue to collaborate with all stakeholders to ensure that the next phase of the restoration of the Ulster Canal, between Clonfad and Castle Saunderson, is completed to enable accessibility from Clones to the Erne system and onwards to the wider waterways network across Ireland.”

Prior to the completion of phase two, works relating to phase one were completed in 2019 at a cost of €4.2million which saw 2.5km of new navigation from Upper Lough Erne along the River Finn to a new boating destination in Co. Cavan. Dredging of the River Finn was completed in 2016 and a short new lateral canal together with a new navigation arch were completed in Autumn 2018, while a new floating jetty was installed at Castle Saunderson in October 2019.

Phase 2 of Ulster Canal officially opened following €28.4 million restoration investment

Looking ahead, Phase 3 of the restoration of the Ulster Canal is expected to be completed by 2029 at a cost of €80 million, subject to funding. In the interim, Waterways Ireland intends to use the on-water and off-water infrastructure at Clones to offer amenity and recreational activities for the public good. In particular, a Visitor Experience Plan is underway to create attractive visitor experiences at Clones Marina as part of the redevelopment of the Ulster Canal.

Once completed, Phase 3 which will connect the 10km between Clonfad and Castle Saunderson, linking the town of Clones by navigable waterway to the Erne system and onward to the wider waterway network.

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