The newly formed Athlone Canal Restoration group are inviting the public to a meeting in the Prince of Wales on September 19 at 7.30pm.
“The main purpose of the meeting,” according to Cllr Aengus O’Rourke, chairman of the group “is to outline our vision for the canal and then to seek the opinions, views, and ideas of the general public to help us in this process. I would like to see our town canal restored to its former glory; currently it is disused, abused, and completely overgrown. With the help of the public and a range of interest groups, stake-holders etc we can turn this littered and dreary canal into a fabulous natural local amenity. It may be possible to make the canal navigable to small craft in time but this and other matters will have to be worked through as we develop a comprehensive plan for the canal.”
Cllr. O’Rourke continued, “The canal presents a great opportunity to develop a lovely walking route on both banks. With proper planting, bank side seating, lighting and maintenance this could become a fantastic family amenity incorporating a variety of potential canal-side recreational projects.
“All over Ireland local groups have and are coming together to restore stretches of old waterways. With all the agencies working together wonderful restorations have been achieved. We would love to achieve this in Athlone”
Gearoid O’Brien will present the history of the canal, outlining its significance and unique story; Tommy McLoughlin, IWAI Boyne Canal Restoration group will present his story of how they worked to restore their canal; Dave McCabe will outline the practical ways on how the Inland Waterway Association can help; and Eanna Ni Lamhna will talk about the biodiversity and the environmental importance, the tourism potential the amenity of a canal can bring to an area.
Following the presentations, smaller groups will be formed where people can discuss the project and make contributions and ask questions.
The group is made up of local residents, Athlone Tidy Towns, Athlone branch of Inland Waterways, Athlone Chamber, and is chaired by Cllr Aengus O’Rourke.