Ulster Canal Greenway

A proposal to develop a long-distance Greenway in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, linking Castle Saunderson in Co. Cavan to Charlemont in Co. Armagh

Waterways Ireland, and our project partners  Armagh City Banbridge Craigavon Borough Council, Cavan County Council, East Border Region Ltd, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Mid-Ulster District Council and Monaghan County Council propose to develop a long-distance Greenway in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, linking Castle Saunderson in Co. Cavan to Charlemont in Co. Armagh mainly along the route of the disused Ulster Canal and using sections of disused railway infrastructure.​

​The Ulster Canal Greenway Strategy will encourage sustainable travel and visitor trips to the region; will help preserve the heritage elements (built, natural and cultural) of the Ulster Canal; will provide recreational facilities; will help meet national and transboundary objectives of developing sustainable transport in this area and will provide greater cross-border connectivity. 

Ulster Canal Phase 1:

Waterways Ireland has progressed on delivering on the 2015 Government approval to create a 2.5km stretch of the Ulster Canal from the Erne Navigation to the International Scout Centre at Castle Saunderson, Co. Cavan. The project has been fully funded by DCHG to Waterways Ireland for capital works. The navigation channel on the River Finn up to Castle Saunderson is now open to waterway users, the channel having been dredged where required. Approximately 1 km downstream of Castle Saunderson a new navigation bridge has been constructed beside Derrykerrib Bridge, together with a new short lateral canal. Waterways Ireland has worked with Cavan County Council in relation to recreational amenities at the Council site at Castle Saunderson, including a public jetty.  Construction of this new floating jetty was substantially completed in October 2019. The jetty will be operational for the 2020 boating season. This capital investment in navigational infrastructure will create a welcome  new destination for waterway users of both the Erne System and the Shannon – Erne Waterway. It is expected to bring a new awareness, interest and additional visitors to the river and to the border area around Castle Saunderson. 

Ulster Canal Phase 2:

Restoration of Ulster Canal Lough Erne to Clones – A project focusing on the Ulster Canal in Clones  - 75% funding from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund and, 25% match-funded by DCHG to Waterways Ireland).  Currently Waterways Ireland is in preparation for planning, if required, with a consultant appointed to undertake a feasibility study relating to a sustainable water supply. In addition Waterways Ireland, supported by Monaghan County Council, is preparing a tender for an evaluation of options and determination of a vision for optimal use of the Ulster Canal at Clones project. 

Ulster Canal Greenway:

Waterways Ireland continues to work with its partners Monaghan County Council, Armagh City Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, and East Border Region Ltd. to develop 22km of greenway mainly along the Ulster Canal from Smithborough, Co. Monaghan and Middletown, Co. Armagh, funded by the Interreg VA sustainable transport measure.  An Integrated Consultant Team was appointed in June 2019 and work is progressing on preparation for planning. Public consultation events were held in three locations in August and September 2019 to gather views on routing options and constraints.

Ulster Canal Greenway Strategy:

Waterways Ireland and partners have also produced an Ulster Canal Greenway Strategy which sets out how the greenway could become the spine of a robust network of off-road greenways across this rural border region. In delivering on its remit in relation to the Ulster Canal, Waterways Ireland will continue  to explore how capital funding may be accessed, having regard to the scope and nature of the project and the appropriateness of the funding programme. 

Previous Updates:

Strategic Environmental Assessment - Scoping

As the competent authority Waterways Ireland are notifying statutory and non-statutory consultees of the scoping of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the Ulster Canal Greenway Development Strategy. Waterways Ireland, and their project partners Monaghan County Council, Cavan County Council, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, East Border Region Ltd and the Blackwater Regional Partnership, propose to develop a long-distance Greenway in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, linking Castle Saunderson in County Cavan to Charlemont in County Armagh mainly along the route of the disused Ulster Canal and using sections of disused railway infrastructure.

Submissions or observations in relation to this scoping report, or in relation to the scope and level of detail of the information to be included in the Environmental Report, may be made to us by 26th August 2016. At the following address:​ 

Cormac McCarthy: Waterways Ireland, Dock Road, Drewsborough, Scarriff, County Clare, Ireland.


Digital copy of the SEA Scoping Report.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any queries or would like to discuss this further.​​

Strategic Environmental Assessment - Screening

Waterways Ireland and their project partners wish to plan the development of the Ulster Canal Greenway transport corridor in a sustainable and transparent manner. Waterways Ireland wish to ensure that the strategic planning process includes full and proper consideration of the potential effects of this Greenway network development upon the environment and upon communities across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Waterways Ireland believes that it is best environmental practice for them to undertake a SEA of the Ulster Canal Greenway Development Strategy.

Waterways Ireland have consulted with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and Environmental Protection Agency in a SEA Screening exercise on 25/03/16. The response from the NIEA is available here​, which welcomes the decision to undertake a SEA as best environmental practice to benefit the Ulster Canal Development Strategy. The response from the EPA is available here.

Waterways Ireland and their project partners will develop the Ulster Canal Development Strategy and SEA of the Strategy throughout 2016  and further information on the progress of the Strategy and the SEA of the Strategy will be made available on this site.

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