I mentioned some time ago that, according to its Business Plan 2015, Waterways Ireland was considering automating Pollboy Lock, on the River Suck to Ballinasloe, in order to save costs. Like other offshoots from the main Shannon Navigation [Killaloe to Lough Key], the Suck is relatively little used.
According to the Connacht Tribune, the automation is to proceed and the lockkeeper is to be reassigned. It seems that some local councillors and “business interests” — who do not, as far as I know, contribute to Waterways Ireland’s income — regret the loss of an ambassador for the town. The keeper, Mr Coyne, was indeed extremely helpful to visiting boaters.
However, he could help only those who arrived at his lock: he could do nothing to attract more boating visitors to the town. That is not in the least a criticism of him, but rather a suggestion that councillors and business interests might perhaps have done, or yet do, more to attract visitors and increase the usage of the splendid harbour in Ballinasloe. Perhaps they might even appoint and pay a town ambassador?
A Sinn Féin councillor quoted in the article seems not to be entirely familliar with the duties of lockkeepers. Furthermore, he does not take account of the fact that the Shannon–Erne Waterway succeeds without lockkeepers — or that it was proposed that the Clones Sheugh [not-the-Ulster-Canal] operate in the same way. Surely a Sinn Féin councillor is not suggesting that, without keepers, the Sheugh might not be the enormous success that his party purports to believe it would be?
PS: the Tribune also has a piece about rubbish at Castle Harbour, Portumna.
Sad to think that Coreen and Reilly’s ford – riffle areas of very high biodiversity value on the Suck – had to be dredged to facilitate making the Suck navigable and now this waterway is little used.
So sorry to hear the plans of WI. Best part of the trip is chatting to the lock keeper, sharing a cuppa and giving his dog a treat. Same goes for the Grand Canal. If they reduce the number of lock keepers as planned it will be a nightmare to travel on my own. At present I think my journeys take me twice as long as they should because of the banter with the lads, they have gone beyond the line of duty to help me. Ah well canals were designed for cycle tracks
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