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IWAI has made an application under the InterregIII programme for funding to begin restoration work on the Ulster Canal. A document explaining the proposals can be found HERE.


On Thursday 22 May 2003 The Friends of The Coalisland Canal formed a Branch of The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland

At a well attended meeting in the Coalisland Enterprise Centre presided over by Brian Cassells Vice President of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland a branch of IWAI was formed. Branch officers were elected and it was decided that the new branch would be known as The Coalisland Canal Branch.


Jim Canning was elected Branch Chairman, James Walshe Vice Chairman, Jack Corr Branch Treasurer and Johnny Cavanagh elected Branch Secretary with Tommy O'Neill elected Assistant Secretary.

Brian Cassells welcomed the new branch and its members to the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland and Victor Hamill chairman of the River Bann and Lough Neagh Association presented Jim Canning with an IWAI burgee on behalf of the RBLNA.


Following a collision at 12 noon on the 14.08.02 between the Sand Barges Norman and Tramp, the Tramp sank immediately at position 54°40.1'N, 0029.W approximately 1.25 nautical miles west of the Ballinderry River in five metres of water. After several salvage attempts the Tramp has now been raised and towed to Sandy Bay for possible refurbishment.

 photo of Tramp marked by two red buoys

Lough Neagh Rescue were quickly on the scene to assist and removed floating debris from the area. Pollution Control from the EHS Water Management Unit are monitoring the spillage of fuel oil and have reported that there is no major pollution problem as the South westerly gale on Wednesday night  dispersed the oil slick.  

The crew of the two vessels were uninjured and the Norman was beached near the Curran Quay. The Norman 165' was subsequently refloated  and returned to Derryadd Sand Quay for repairs. Marine Surveyors are inspecting the Tramp 190' to mount a possible salvage operation. Both vessels were capable of carrying in the region of 500 tons of sand. The Tramp which is the largest vessel on Lough Neagh came to Lough Neagh in the 1970's after trading on the continent. The Tramp was skippered by George McGarry an IWIA member until his retirement last year. The late Jim McGarry also skippered the Tramp from time to time. The Norman arrived on Lough Neagh in 2000 also after trading on the continent. Both vessels arrived by road as they are too large to navigate the Lower Bann.


  TRAMP       click on thumbnails to enlarge       NORMAN



Official Launch June 19th 2002

The Lough Neagh Management Strategy was Officially launched  by Dermot Nesbitt MLA, Minister for the Environment in the Long Gallery at Stormont.

IWAI was well represented at the launch by members of both Northern Ireland Branches.

The Strategy is very positive to the rewatering of the Canals of the Lough Neagh Hub and calls for the establishment of a Lough Neagh Navigation Authority.


     To view the Management Strategy click below (long download)

  Management Strategy Part One (file size 201kb)

Management Strategy Part Two (file size 225kb)

Management Strategy Part Three (file size 195kb)


Ulster Waterways Group



Theme: Coleraine to Clones: Linking Ireland's Waterways.

Date: Friday 27 September 2002. Venue: Town Hall, Coleraine. Includes progress reports from WI and DCAL,

Caroline Marshall on "A Sustainable Development Strategy for the Lower Bann",

Erskine Holmes on reopening the Ulster Canal,

Derek Cochrane of British Waterways on "Community Benefits of Waterway Restoration",

Mike Smith of Laganside Corporation on "Belfast Harbour/Lagan Canal Interface".

Coach tour of locks and river developments,

          More information from Ulster Waterways Group,                   88 Clifton Street, Belfast BT13 1AB.



British Waterways (BW) has put its boater's Toolkit online at The Toolkit, described as a detailed "highways code" for the waterways, can be downloaded from the website, or boaters can select individual topics to study. The Toolkit was compiled by British Waterways and the Environment Agency with help from the British Marine Federation and boating user groups.



On Tuesday 12 March the Inland Waterways Association in conjunction with the Ulster Waterways Group organised a public forum in the Hillgrove Hotel in Monaghan. Ruth Delany, the noted author and expert on Irish waterways, chaired the conference. The aim of the meeting was to raise public awareness of the proposal to re-open the Ulster Canal. Invitations had been sent out to politicians, civil servants, local councilors, community groups, landowners and to anyone who was interested in this project. Some 160 invitations were issued, 80 South of the Border and 80 to representatives in Northern Ireland. The organisers expected 80 to 100 people to attend and were astounded when over 200 arrived.


Colin Becker, the President of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland, set the scene with a presentation showing the proposed line of the canal and illustrated the present condition of the waterway. He also referred to the facilities that people want along waterways and the opportunities these present. Erskine Holmes, the co-chairman of the Ulster Waterways Group outlined recommendations contained in the feasibility report submitted for consideration of the two Governments and the concluding speaker was the well known broadcaster and naturalist, Dick Warner, who illustrated the economic benefits of the restored waterway. After the presentations there was a lively discussion session and all in attendance were quick to recognise the benefits such inward investment would generate. Landowners and farmers alike realised the enhanced property and land values that would ensue, and the potential for farm diversification and small business creation. The potential for rural tourism initiatives was particularly exciting as were the job opportunities, full-time and part-time, that would result. Environmental issues were addressed and all present were assured of sensitive treatment for wildlife and fauna.

 Comparisons were made to the Shannon/Erne link and to the dramatic revitalisation of communities along the waterway route. Examples of inward investment and the resulting prosperity of Leitrim village, Ballinamore and Ballyconnell were highlighted. One other notable factor was the civic pride taken by such communities and their endeavors to welcome the traveler to their area. Many had organised local festivals, competitions etc. and were anxious to show off notable features in their locality. Dr. Ian Bath, the writer and waterway enthusiast pointed out that regarding the restoration of the Royal Canal, all the negotiations with local landowners and communities had been settled amiably and to the benefit of all concerned.

All who attended were supportative and enthusiastic about the project and questioned the speakers as to how they might further the venture. I think it is fair to conclude that those present felt this project had been discussed for long enough and that now was the time for action. All were urged to seek the support of politicians, both at local and National level, to lobby by every available means and at every opportunity, and hopeful all could return in one year’s time to discuss progress.


Brian Cassells.


La Vague a vessel in need of T.L.C.


       Work Has Commenced on Toome Bypass


           click on bridge for further details

   Air draft at new bridge to be higher than existing Bridges by .5m

                  Disruption to navigation to be minimal



Latest edition of IWAI news has been sent to all members
a few copies are still available contact Michael Savage for a copy
telephone 07715368050, to e-mail Michael  click here


Footbridge over River Blackwater at Maghery open Saturday 22.12.01 Airdraft at bridge 3.6 metres at centre of span (just within desired parameters for Ulster Canal).
This is part of the Lough Neagh Cycleroute


                           click on these thumbnails to enlarge

Lough Neagh Cycle Way
The 120 mile Loughshores Trail, now the official name of the Lough Neagh Cycle Way, will be opened for next summer. The circular route around the largest fresh water lake in Britain and Ireland can be followed in either direction and consists mainly of quiet, virtually traffic-free, minor roads and lanes with stretches of forest track. Touching the Lough shore on many occasions, cyclists pass small beaches overlooking the vastness of the water. One of the highlights is a new £250k foot and cycle bridge constructed especially for the route, which crosses the River Blackwater at Maghery. Roads Service are also building a cycle track between Antrim and Randalstown.

Upper Bann closed to Navigation due to bridge
strengthening at Motorway due to reopen April 2002

Roads Service has confirmed Navigation Reopened as of 27/06/02

       Airdraft remains as before at 3.05metres assuming       

Lough Neagh level of 12.5M O.D. 

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This page was last updatedSunday February 12, 2012