01 March 2006

Plans announced to reopen Ulster canal

Belfast Telegraph

By Michael McHugh
01 March 2006

The first steps to reopen the Ulster Canal are to be announced by the Government in the coming weeks.

Boaters will be able to travel from Lough Neagh to Blackwatertown in Co Armagh and from Lough Erne to Clones.

The news follows 20 years of campaigning by members of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland and has been welcomed by public representatives.

The canal has been unusable since 1929 after being used to transport materials from 1841.

A total of 10 miles are likely to be navigable once work is complete with much of the money expected to come from European sources.

President of the association, Brian Cassels said he was delighted to see progress.

"This is brilliant news, not only for waterway users but also for people who like to walk along waterways and enjoy the scenery.

"Maghery on Lough Neagh will become a tourist attraction and it will experience much-needed regeneration in terms of people coming into the area.

"This is good news for everybody, it will bring people to these areas, like Blackwatertown, which have been overlooked for investment. In fact there has been little investment in towns like that since the canal was closed."

A £470,000 project to reopen the section from Maghery to the motorway's junction with the Coalisland road will begin next month.

The canal is 46 miles long and the latest work would leave approximately 30 miles to be restored between Blackwatertown and Clones.

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