The Ballinamore-Ballyconnell canal was built in order to link the Shannon river which is Irelands largest river, to the River Erne, which is Irelands second river and which flows through Belturbet Co Cavan.
Because of this linkage boaters can now tour virtually the entire length of Ireland by water, stopping off in several towns such as the quiet, historical town of Belturbet.
Work on the canal initially began back in 1846 after four years of surveying and planning. At one point there were over 700 people employed for its construction. The canal was completed after a long sixteen years and it was officially opened in 1860.
The canal was an ambitious project from its beginnings and was built to capitalise on the fact that in the 1800’s most commerce was conducted via water. The massive failing of the canal was that while it was being constructed, another massive innovation in the form of Railways was also developing. By the time the canal was completed, Railways had become the accepted form of conducting commerce. In essence the canal was doomed to failure before it even opened.
The canal ceased operations just nine years after it opened, and in its final year it saw only eight boats.
More recently, the canal was reopened for another form of travel which was for recreational boating and tourism. The canal officially reopened in 1994 and was renamed the Shannon-Erne Waterway. The canal is a fantastic spot for tourists and for fishing and common sights include fantastic barges and cruisers exploring the region in an idyllic peaceful setting.
For years Belturbet would have been the last point of navigation for cruisers and boats, and today Belturbet is still a very welcome harbour, but boaters have the option of extending their tours via the Ballyconnell Canal.
Anybody who has not experienced Ireland by boat has not truly experienced Ireland. The River Erne as it runs from Belturbet to the Woodford (Ballyconnell Canal), features remarkable beauty, untold wildlife, fantastic angling opportunities, and a chance to stop into Crom castle Estate which features a museum and acres of well maintained gardens. This is simply a fantastic stretch of waterway and can be done in a matter of a few hours, but we recommend taking the full day and a picnic to truly appreciate the beauty of the region.
For more information contact Belturbet Railway Station information office or make an enquiry on the website