Meeting of Wednesday 29th May 2019
Speaker: Mrs Libby Armstrong Topic: Waterways Ireland
“Waterways Ireland” is a North/South Body established under the British-Irish Agreement Act 1999. Based in Enniskillen it has imposing Headquarters on the shores of Lough Erne. Its remit is the management, maintenance, development and restoration of the inland navigable waterway systems throughout Ireland. 15% of its annual budget of €25m comes for Stormont and 85% from Dublin, the division reflecting the distribution of waterways in each jurisdiction. There are 7 major navigation systems in Ireland – Barrow River, Erne System, Grand Canal from Dublin to Limerick, Royal Canal from Dublin to the Shannon, the Shannon itself and the Shannon-Erne Waterway. In total Waterways Ireland manages 1000 km of navigable waterway, 429 km of towpath, 175 locks, 1200 heritage structures and 13,900 m of moorings. Developed in the 18th century for the transport of goods, the waterways are now used mainly for recreational purposes, something which generates millions of Euro for the tourist industry. The Cruise Hire Sector is worth some €65m per annum while events such as the European Wakeboard Championships on the Lower Bann added another €7.9m to the local economy. Angling, walking, cycling, canoeing, camping and glamping add to the attractions as do visits to the many historic places of interest along the way. Libby was thanked for a most interesting and informative talk by Probus President, Oliver Loughran.