Waterways Ireland continue to invest in Blueways and Recreational trails for the benefit of the local community and tourists alike.
During 2020 there are plans for substantial investment on the Shannon-Erne waterway, with funding under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme being match funded from Cavan and Leitrim County Councils, and Waterways Ireland.
The development of these trails provides a unique opportunity to deliver off-road walking and cycling as a means to attract new visitors to rural areas and also provide new recreational opportunities for local people.
As well as the provision of infrastructure, Blueways provide a model for partnership between the private, community and voluntary sectors and local and national state bodies. The Blueway model has worked successfully on the North Shannon, and Shannon-Erne, with all of these bodies working in partnership to provide rural regeneration in areas where the tourism potential was underdeveloped. The partners work together to enhance capacity building among the private sector and provide and promote tourism packages for the visitor. Experience has shown that such packages and marketing of a Blueway attracts new visitors resulting in real economic benefits and job creation through increased tourism and recreational spend. The Blueways also provide other benefits in terms of increased health and well-being among users. The community and social benefits should not be underestimated as local people derive an increased sense of pride in their area from the additional investment, regeneration and growth the Blueway brings.
Blueway and recreational trail development planned for the Shannon-Erne in 2020 include:
- Ballyconnell to Bellaheady Bridge Recreational trail - 5.5km recreational trail from Ballyconnell, Co. Cavan to Bellaheady Bridge, Co. Cavan primarily along the banks of the Shannon-Erne Waterway.
- Belturbet to Lock 1 Corraquill Recreational Trail - 6km recreational trail from Belturbet, Co. Cavan to Lock 1 Corraquill, Co. Cavan
- Leitrim Village to Kilclare Blueway - 3.9km Blueway trail from Lock 16 – Lock 14 & Lock 12 – Lock 9 in Co. Leitrim
- Aghoo Bridge to Lock 4 Aghoo Recreational Trail - 360m recreational trail and bridge underpass from Aghoo Bridge to Lock 4 Aghoo, Co. Leitrim
In addition to these developments, capital investment in 2020 will include upgrading of the current lock operating system for the 16 Locks in the counties of Fermanagh, Cavan & Leitrim, and enhancement of the mechanical fleet on the Shannon-Erne Waterway.