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Posted: 25/07/2022

Waterways Ireland signs contract for Phase 2 of Ulster Canal redevelopment

Phase 2 works funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, and the Rural Regeneration and Shared Island Funds


Phase 2 of the Ulster Canal Restoration has been officially initiated with a contract signing in Clones, Co Monaghan this morning (25.07.22). The contract was signed by Chief Executive of Waterways Ireland, John McDonagh and Managing Director of Jons Civil Engineering Company Ltd, John Pentony, in the presence of Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD and Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD.


The project, which is due to go on site in August 2022 will involve the development of a new marina, two new access bridges, repairs to an existing masonry arch bridge, and a sustainable water supply. It will also include approximately 1km of restored canal and towpath, with a looped walk and an amenity area on the route of the 180-year-old Ulster Canal in Clones. The amenity area will include car parking, bus / trailer spaces, a service block and picnic area and will be connected to the town and the existing playground. This phase of the project is expected to be completed in 2023. 


The Ulster Canal Redevelopment Phase 2 is a substantial investment of €20million in funding under the Programme for Government. It is supported by €8m in funding from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, €6m in funding from the Shared Island Fund, and €6m in funding from the Department of Rural and Community Development. The project will be managed by Waterways Ireland and implemented by Doran Consulting.  The work will be undertaken by Jons Civil Engineering Company Ltd.


Commenting, Minister Darragh O’Brien said: “I am absolutely delighted to be in Clones today for the signing of the contract for Phase 2 of the Ulster Canal redevelopment. This new amenity - between Clones and Clonfad – will further showcase our waterways heritage and its value to the island. The redeveloped canal is sure to be a welcome draw for locals and visitors alike, enhancing the local area and providing economic opportunity.”


Minister Heather Humphreys said: “As somebody who lives only a few miles out the road, I am absolutely delighted that the contracts have been signed today on the long-awaited restoration of the Ulster Canal in Clones. The Ulster Canal is a flagship cross-border project and I am delighted to support the development of this unique amenity with almost €6million in funding from my Department. The Ulster Canal will bring huge tourism and economic benefits not just to Clones and County Monaghan but to the entire Border region. I want to wish Waterways Ireland and the contractors the very best of luck with the project and I look forward to being back in Clones in the very near future to mark the commencement of construction work on this hugely exciting project.”


Chief Executive of Waterways Ireland, John McDonagh also welcomed the development. He said: “The Ulster Canal is a major link in our waterway network.  Phase 2 will see substantial restoration of the canal basin near the historic Canal Stores in Clones and will provide a water-based recreational amenity area there. The Ulster Canal Greenway is also in development and will, in time, complement the Canal Restoration project.”


Work on the Ulster Canal began in 1841 and within the year it was open to commercial traffic. The navigation combining river and canal was circa 93km long, passing through counties Fermanagh, Cavan, Monaghan, Tyrone, and Armagh. The last trading boat using the canal was in 1929 and it officially closed in 1931.


Phase 1 of the project was completed in 2020. It includes approximately 2.5km of new river navigation along the River Finn, between Quivvy Lough and Castle Saunderson. The work programme involved the dredging of the River Finn, construction of a new lateral canal and navigation arch at Derrykerrib bridge and the installation of a new floating jetty at Castle Saunderson.

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