RALLIES are associated with squealing tyres but a more sedate version has taken place on the Limerick Navigation canals.
The O’Brien’s Bridge Community Group and the Lough Derg Branch of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland held the boat rally last weekend to highlight and reclaim the Plassey–Errina Canal on the old Limerick to Killaloe Navigation.
Mick Murtagh, chairman of the community group, said everyone braved the driving rain to collect windfalls, dead wood and remove other obstructions.
“The aim is to make it easier for boats to travel from the mouth of the canal to Errina Lock near Clonlara. This is the first step in a campaign to draw attention to the old Limerick Navigation and to get more people to visit it. Small boats from Castleconnell and O’Brien’s Bridge will be able to reach Errina Lock,” said Mr Murtagh, who praised the IWAI.
“They had a pontoon type platform boat which made work safe and easy and excellent progress was made. We hope by the end of February to have the upper section of the Errina Canal open to boat navigation where boats will be able to travel from the mouth of the Errina which is located about halfway between O’Brien’s Bridge and Castleconnell to Errina Lough near Clonlara,” said Mr Murtagh, who adds that it will be an excellent amenity for both communities
You don’t even have to own a boat to enjoy the route says Mr Murtagh.
“We want more people to use the walking routes along the old towing-paths. They are open at two ends - from the canal harbour in Limerick via Plassey to Gillogue - although the Black Bridge is still closed, walkers can cross by the university’s road bridge from Clonlara to O’Brien’s Bridge and up to Parteen Villa Weir using the looped walks.”
He called on Waterways Ireland to make the section in between, from Gillogue to Clonlara, open to all walkers.
“A walking route from Limerick City to O’Brien’s Bridge would be a wonderful amenity. There is huge tourism potential. We need to use the assets we have,” he said. A recent group of English canal enthusiasts visited and said ‘it should be regarded as a national treasure’.