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People enjoy the completion of phase two of the Ulster Canal restoration project at Clones Marina, Co Monaghan Alamy Stock Photo

Taoiseach marks completion of €20 million cross-border Ulster Canal restoration project

The landmark project sees the canal now restored between Clonfad and Clones.


TAOISEACH SIMON HARRIS has hailed the completion of the second phase of a project to restore the Ulster Canal as a symbol of “peace and reconciliation on our island”. 

The landmark €20 million project sees the canal now restored between Clonfad and Clones and open for navigation, along with an accompanying major canal basin marina and amenity area in Clones.

Harris was in Clones this afternoon to mark the completion of the second phase of the landmark cross-border restoration project in Clones, alongside Tánaiste Micheál Martin and Northern Ireland First Minister Michelle O’Neill.

Ministers Darragh O’Brien and Heather Humphreys, Minister of State Malcolm Noonan and Northern Ireland Minister for Infrastructure John O’Dowd were also in attendance. 

left-to-right-minister-for-rural-and-community-development-heather-humphreys-taoiseach-simon-harris-tanaiste-micheal-martin-and-the-green-partys-malcolm-noonan-speak-to-media-at-an-event-to-mark (left to right) Heather Humphreys, Simon Harris, Michel Martin and the Green Party's Malcolm Noonan speak to media at an event to mark the completion of phase two of the Ulster Canal restoration project at Clones Marina, Clones, Cou Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

The Ulster Canal, which runs through counties Armagh, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Cavan and Monaghan, was built in the 19th century but was abandoned in the early 1930s.

Phase one of the restoration involved the restoration of a 2.5 km stretch of the canal from Upper Lough Erne in Co Fermanagh to the International Scout Centre at Castle Saunderson near Belturbet in Co Cavan. This was completed in 2020.

The work on phase two of the restoration, which began in 2022, included securing a sustainable water source, a new slipway and marina infrastructure facilitating access to the canal for small craft and two new access bridges. 

Repairs to an existing masonry arch bridge were also made, along with the delivery of flood relief culverts and the provision of a new service block facility.

A 1km Greenway was also delivered for use by pedestrian and cyclists. This runs alongside the canal and forms parts of the proposed Ulster Canal Greenway.

A Visitor Experience Plan to animate and activate phase two is being developed with the aim of delivering a marina that is a unique place to engage with the water and the local heritage.

The €20 million project was funded by the Government, with support drawn from the Shared Island Fund, the Rural Regeneration Development Fund and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

The Government has said the restoration of the canal will provide communities across the rural border region with a new amenity to enjoy, as well as an important new tourism destination with opportunities for new businesses to open and existing businesses to expand.

Marking the project’s completion, the Taoiseach said it clearly embodies “the benefits of North South cooperation and investment for County Monaghan, and across the entire border region”. 

He added that the “restoration of the Ulster Canal demonstrates the huge focus that the Irish Government places on investing in large-scale, cross-border projects”.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin also welcomed the project, saying the restoration of the Ulster Canal “reconnects the region with its rich heritage” and will “greatly enhance the lives of communities and the economy along the border”. 

Minister Humphreys, who is from Monaghan, said the restoration marks “a historical day for the people of Clones and indeed the wider border region”.

“The Ulster Canal has been talked about for 30 years and indeed many people never thought today would come,” she will say, adding that the project will “breathe new life back into the area” by stimulating economic activity and opening up new tourism opportunities.

Phase three of the restoration, when complete, will link phases one and two, and fully reopen the waterway from Clones to Lough Erne. 

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