Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht officially opened the Lough Key Waterside Development on Thursday 6th September 2012. This new mooring and services facility at Lough Key Forest Park enhances the North Shannon as a major boating and tourism destination and maximises the full tourism and recreational potential of the park and the waterway.
The new development of floating jetties and marina accommodates 50 boats with low level access ramps provided for canoes and small boats. The service block of toilets and showers, pumpout and electricity bollards, meets international standards and is superb facility to be able to offer to the public. There is an 80 metre floating breakwater provided to protect the marina which can be expanded to 100m in winter.
Minister Deenihan said “This new waterside development at Lough Key Forest will certainly ensure that the long tradition of visitors to the lake and parklands will continue well into the future. Lough Key has for many centuries drawn people to its spectacular views, abundant wildlife, historic buildings and evocative islands. This beautiful landscape is steeped in a rich history.
I am also particularly pleased that all the various state agencies responsible for tourism and product development have come together to develop and market the waterways as a single entity. It allows greater and wider access for the waterways and their products to the various tourism markets. And as we know, tourism is a key element to the economic recovery of our country.”
The Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure in the north, Carál Ní Chuilín said:
“This is a superb facility which will give a great boost to this region as a boating and tourist destination, and which exemplifies the benefits of all-Ireland development. Infrastructural expansion on an all-Ireland basis is good for the whole island, particularly in building sustainable economic opportunities. DCAL, on behalf of the north’s Executive, will continue to promote positive all-Ireland development and support the important work of agencies like Waterways Ireland.”
In combination with other mooring facilities provided by Waterways Ireland throughout Lough Key, particularly at Boyle Harbour and 21 other areas throughout the lake this new facility will more than double the facilities and create the potential to attract large boat shows, festival events and water based activities to the area: Lough Key will become a truly international hub for tourism, recreation and business as seen by the recent Camp 101 with 10,000 Girl Guides from all over the world based here in July for over a week of activity.
Mr John Martin, Chief Executive, Waterways Ireland “Waterways Ireland is delighted to be able to provide this hugely expanded base for locals and tourists to engage in a range of soft adventure and leisure pursuits, including angling, boating/cruising, walking, and cycling. This will suit the 6500+ boats which visit Lough Key each year through Clarendon Lock and this number is expected to rise now that the facility is fully online”
Waterways Ireland designed and managed the project in partnership with
Roscommon County Council, and Moylurg Rockingham Ltd with funding from
Fáilte Ireland, Waterways Ireland and Roscommon Co Co. totalling €875,000.
Gordon Gaffney, Investment Manager at Fáilte Ireland said:
“While value for money and a high quality customer experience are an important part of selling Ireland as a destination both at home and abroad, ensuring our regions are fully equipped to cater for visitors is equally a crucial aspect to developing tourism in Ireland. Through our capital investment programme, we have provided over half a million Euro towards this project and the development is a welcome new addition to the facilities at Lough Key.”
One of the challenges for Waterways Ireland is to unlock and build on the recreational, social and economic benefits which reintegration of the inland navigable waterways in Ireland holds. This project is an example of how partnership, building on existing infrastructure and taking advantage of the beauty of the natural environment can provide the necessary platform to expand
the tourism potential of the area.
The development at Lough Key is yet another demonstration of the partnership approach of the Lakelands and Inland Waterways Initiative between Fáilte Ireland, Waterways Ireland and other agencies. The Initiative has over the past four years placed Ireland’s Inland Waterways at the centre of the tourism offering both at home and abroad. The Initiative has 3 pillars, i.e., Destination Development, Product Development and a Marketing Programme. The Lakeland and Inland Waterways Initiative brings many benefits to Waterways Ireland and the waterways. Economies of scale through the pooling of resources and the elimination of duplication of initiatives are also of major benefit.