January 23rd 2011
The OBriensbridge Community Group and the Lough Derg Branch of The Inland Waterways Association held a joint Boat Rally on Sat Feb 5th 2011 to highlight and reclaim the lost Errina Canal on the old Limerick To Killaloe Navigation. The withdrawal of navigational rights from the Errina Canal in the aftermath of the Shannon Scheme was at the time a very poor and ill-considered decision and could also be regarded as unjust and unfair.
The failure to provide a boat lock at Parteen Villa Weir at that time cut off and ended navigation rights to the upper Shannon for the villages of OBriensbridge Castleconnell and Clonlara and these villages became a backwater on the old Shannon System, as did the very famous and historic Errina Canal which became closed and neglected. This canal which at one time provided a gateway for the West of Ireland to the markets in England and which was also used during the famine years as an immigration route and has a wealth of heritage and is indeed one of the most historic canals in Ireland.
Our task now is to put the Errina Canal back on the agenda and fight a long-term campaign for its restoration in relation to tourism and recreational boating activities. Small villages like OBriensbridge and Clonlara are struggling for survival and sustainability and the reopening of the Errina would throw a lifeline to these communities. We will be asking bodies like Waterways Ireland, Shannon Development, Failte Ireland, ESB, University of Limerick and the Limerick and Clare County Councils to come on board and support our crusade.
We are also calling on Waterways Ireland to inter into dialogue with landowners and lease holders on the canal between Clonlara and the Lame Duck Pub with a view to opening up that section of walkway which would result in a walkway from Limerick City to OBriensbridge and what an amenity that would be.
The OBriensbridge Community Group recently hosted a group of canal enthusiasts IWPS from England who had successfully restored an old derelict canal system in the
Bugsworth Peak Area near Manchester and their chairman Sir Ian Edgar having walked with his Group from Plassy to OBriensbridge along the Errina Canal was impressed and captivated by the canal and the old boat locks that were in perfect condition and to use his words “ I’m gob smacked with this old canal system which I feel would be a doddle to restore as the locks are in perfect condition and water levels are adequate indeed I also feel it should be regarded as a National Treasure.
On Saturday Feb 5th 2011 members of both of the above Groups made their way to the Errina Canal where windfalls deadwood and other obstructions were removed in our first steps to open the canal to provide navigation for pleasure boats from the mouth of the canal to which is just upstream of Castleconnell Village to Errina Lock near Clonlara.
Mick Murtagh – – Chairman