The point of this extended essay is to show that, irrespective of the cost, there is no point in restoring the Park Canal and the stretch of the Shannon between the canal and Plassey. Usage is likely to be low, the benefits to the users would be minimal and there would be no return on the investment.
That is not to say that the waterway should be ignored. Many people already use it as a walking and cycling route, but it needs to be maintained and even improved. If there is any money to spare, it should be spent on repairing and reopening the Black Bridge.
Far more people do and will benefit from a well-maintained walking and cycling route. But more could and should be done to attract people to use it. The route is, after all, the towing-path of the Limerick Navigation, once part of the premier route from the west of Ireland to Dublin, Liverpool and London.
At both ends, and along the way, there are many historic artefacts, but little is done to tell people about them or about their importance. Furthermore, there is nothing to tell people that the route to Plassey was part of the same navigation as the canal-side and river-side walks at O’Briensbridge: together with the canal at Killaloe, they form part of an extremely rich collection of waterways, transport and industrial heritage artefacts.
There is much tourism potential in that, but it does not require an expensive and pointless canal restoration.
Addendum 12 September 2013: there has been a new proposal.