Cllr John Paul Feeley (FF).

Shannon extension to Dowra re-examined

CALL Project would be major boost – Feeley

Waterways Ireland has established a team of experts to begin re-examining the possibility of extending the navigation towards Dowra.

The proposal is in line with the water body’s Strategic Initiatives, as outlined in its Shannon Tourism Masterplan, which is actively looking at measures to further enhance Lough Allen and the surrounding communities.

“A tender package is being prepared to engage an ecological consultant to complete an EIAR assessment on the overall the project. These studies along with potential engineering design will be progressed for assessment throughout 2024,” a spokesperson for Waterways Ireland confirmed to The Anglo-Celt last week.

It follows a motion tabled at the December monthly meeting of Cavan County Council when Fianna Fáil’s John Paul Feeley asked the local authority to write to WI’s executive to asked the body to refloat plans, once scuppered on appeal to An Bord Plenala (ABP).

Cllr Feeley believes that, if progressed, the potential investment would generate a significant tourism boost for the area, particularly with other major investments in the pipeline including the €6.4 million Shannon Pot Discovery Centre and plans to extend facilities at the popular Burren Park.

Those plans include a visitor centre at Derrylahan and a proposed high-level timber walkway built and opened to the public by 2025. The entire project will fit in with the wider Cuilcagh Lakelands UNESCO Global Geopark and Cllr Feeley foresees a huge opportunity to fully capitalise on what is being presented.

Cllr Feeley pointed out there are three moorings within close proximity to Dowra, but none connected directly to the village. They are at Spenser Harbour outside Drumkeerin, another in Ballinaglara and a third North of Lough Allen.

He highlighted how, over a decade ago, planning to extend the navigation on the river Shannon between Lough Allen and Annagh Upper near Dowra and also build a 16-berth marina was granted previously by Leitrim County Council but overturned on appeal to ABP.

Cllr Feeley is hopeful these plans can be revived in a modern context, pointing to Drumshanbo as an example of a village that had benefited greatly from investment.

He said that, at the time, there were concerns about “road access”, but felt that these had been addressed in the intervening years.

“This would be a welcome project,” he said of the navigation, while welcoming that studies, along with potential engineering design, will be progressed for assessment during 2024.

“As a local authority, it is important that we add our support for it,” Cllr Feeley added, receiving support for his motion from party colleague Áine Smith, Fine Gael’s Peter McVitty, and Independent Brendan Fay.

Restored and re-opened in 1994, the navigation to Lough Allen through the Lough Allen Canal is maintained by Waterways Ireland at a number of locations including significant marina developments at Cleighran More and Drumshanbo along with harbour facilities at Spenser Harbour.

Waterways Ireland most recently obtained planning permission for the development of a boat slipway at Spenser Harbour. “This project is due to commence in 2024 and will complement and augment the harbour as a boating amenity and will provide much needed access to Lough Allen,” said the WI spokesperson.