Waterways Ireland has today (23.09.22) marked the commencement of works of 2 significant tourism and navigation projects in Portumna. At Connaught Harbour Minister of State for Disability, Anne Rabbitte TD and fellow local TDs Ciarán Cannon and Seán Canney, along with Fiona Monaghan & Paddy Mathews from Fáilte Ireland, Alan Farrell from Galway County Council and Éanna Rowe and Phil Cargill from Waterways Ireland turned the sod on the re-development of Connaught Harbour while at Portumna Bridge the commencement of construction of a Blueway cycle and pedestrian trail linking Castle and Connaught Harbour was also marked.
The Connaught Harbour re-development project, which is part funded by Fáilte Ireland and stems from the Shannon Tourism Masterplan and Lough Derg VEDP. The development consists of a new eight-berth marina at Connaught Harbour, incorporating a boat pump-out, with new car parking area and ancillary services, while quay wall berthing for 22 boats along with car parking and a civic area will be developed at the bridge yard end of Connaught Harbour also. This will be facilitated by the removal of three buildings on the site. Footpaths will be repaired, where required, and a new road crossing will be developed connecting to the new Blueway. Work on the development has begun. The project is expected to be open to the public in mid-2023.
Commenting, Minister Anne Rabbitte TD said: "I am delighted to be in Portumna today to turn the sod on this exciting development for the area. This investment will transform the area as both a domestic and an international tourist attraction, and for the local people who live in the vicinity."
Aimed at positioning the Shannon as a hub destination for international and domestic tourism, the Shannon Tourism Masterplan is the first dedicated plan undertaken on the entire Shannon Region. A collaborative project led by Waterways Ireland, with Fáilte Ireland and ten local authorities along the River Shannon and the Shannon-Erne Waterway, it sets out an integrated framework for sustainable tourism development along the Shannon across to 2030. The Masterplan identifies the measures needed to develop the necessary infrastructure, products, and experiences to reposition the Shannon Region as a key tourism destination within Ireland's Hidden Heartlands.
These Portumna projects are funded by Waterways Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, and the Department of Rural and Community Development through the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme. Fiona Monaghan, Head of Activities Product Development at Fáilte Ireland added: "The River Shannon is a signature visitor experience within the Ireland's Hidden Heartlands regional brand and offers huge tourism potential for both domestic and international visitors. This investment in Connaught Harbour and the wider Portumna area will help to stimulate greater tourism and visitor activity in this area. These exciting developments will significantly enhance the outdoor recreation infrastructure portfolio in the destination and have the potential to have a transformative impact on Portumna and Lough Derg as a key visitor destination on the Shannon."
Jim Cullen, Chief Executive, Galway County Council said: "This redevelopment project will totally revitalise this area – and will add another attractive amenity to the county – for the people who live here and for those who visit."
Waterways Ireland Regional Manager, Éanna Rowe added: "These projects have significant economic and social benefit and will really increase the recreational and amenity value of this area. I look forward to continuing to work with the Department of Rural and Community Development, Fáilte Ireland and with Galway County Council to bring them to fruition for the people of Galway and beyond."