INNOVATIVE plans have been launched to develop a corridor along the River Barrow into a tourism hub.
A number of exciting opportunities have been outlined in the study including a Christian Heritage Trail at Jerpoint Abbey.
The study also outlined for the provision of an all tide public berthing using a cill within the canal section and stated that there was also an opportunity to provide a service block but added that this might flood.
A number of possibilities were also highlighted in the study for Graignamanagh and Tinnahinch including to clear a number of visitor berths for Graignamanagh and Tinnahinch and to make it obvious where they are and to provide a water tap at the public berths. Plans were also outlined in the study for a 24-hour facility block at Graignamanagh and for an activity hub.
The study also pointed out the need for buoyage in the swimming area, the potential for an off-channel marina, a canoe access point below the weir – perhaps via the restored dry dock and barge trips to St Mullins or Borris.
Goresbridge is also included in the inter-agency study with the need for a service block to support boating overnights, canoeing and walking and an opportunity for a swimming area highlighted.
Plans for St Mullins include an all tide berthing feasibility study, a campsite within the Mill complex, an industrial heritage centre to highlight the former use of the canal and to improve surface of the walk to canal lock.
Environment Minister Phil Hogan launched the Barrow Corridor Recreational, Tourism and Commercial Product Identification Study, which was commissioned by Waterways Ireland together with Fáilte Ireland and the local authorities that border the Grand Canal Barrow Line, the Barrow Navigation and the estuary of the River Barrow.
It addresses the development of tourism, recreation and associated economic development opportunities along the banks and within a development corridor up to 15 miles from the river. The study was guided by a steering group lead by Éanna Rowe of Waterways Ireland, consisting of the commissioning agencies and the Rural Partnership Companies. The local integrated action groups were also involved in guiding the study. The study involved the development of a strong vision for the Barrow Valley and included a higher visibility within tourism in Ireland and a great awareness of the special qualities of the river. A detailed audit of provision of recreation and tourism services together with an assessment of the opportunities at each location took place as part of the study.
Launching the study, Minister Hogan warmly welcomed “ the co-operation between all the agencies. The study findings chart the future of the Barrow from a navigation, tourism and recreational perspective,” he said. It is proposed that the studies will be implemented jointly with the other relevant agencies and authorities as well as with the private sector.
Chief executive of Waterways Ireland John Martin said: “I welcome the inter-agency co-operation which has led to the development and launch today of the Barrow Study. The Barrow is an outstanding river with undeveloped potential. This study provides Waterways Ireland and our partners with the roadmap to sustainably maximise the benefits for both communities and business into the future.”