I spotted a lovely blog recently by Andy and Sally http://nbthepuzzler.blogspot.ie. The account of their travels along the Shannon-Erne Waterway reminded me how interesting I found the story of the construction of this canal.
The waterway was originally called the Ballinamore-Ballyconnell canal and work started on it in 1846. The construction of the canal employed around 7,000 people during the great famine. With picks and shovels these 7,000 souls cut through the soggy Leitrim soil and bog, and toiled for 14 years to build a canal that was of poor quality and that became redundant after a very short period. During the 14 years of construction the railway had come to Leitrim, making the canal system redundant, so that during the 8 years when the canal was in operation, only 9 boats travelled along it. By 1869 the Ballinamore-Ballyconnell canal was no longer in use and fell into dereliction.
The Ballinamore-Ballyconnell canal was renamed the Shannon-Erne Waterway in 1994 when it was reopened as part of a cross-border flagship scheme. The £30 million sterling project involved the governments of Ireland and Britain, The OPW, Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture, the International Fund for Ireland and the ESB. The Shannon-Erne waterway stretches over 36 miles of remote countryside in Counties Fermanagh, Cavan and Leitrim. The waterway makes it possible to travel over 400 kilometres from Limerick to Belleek in Co. Fermanagh, making it the longest leisure navigation in Europe.