Lough Derg a key focus in 10-year masterplan to develop Shannon region

Ambitious plans for Castlelough Bay at Lough Derg in north Tipperary form part of a 10 year plan for the development of the Shannon region.

The ‘Shannon Tourism Masterplan’ is a project led by Waterways Ireland with Fáilte Ireland and 10 local authorities including Tipperary County Council.

The 144 page masterplan released this morning outlines proposals, which would require an estimated €76.5m investment between now and 2030.

In a local context, one of the most significant proposals relates to Castleough Bay and Woods near Portroe on the shores of Lough Derg.

Plans are outlined to: “Enhance the amenity zone at Castlelough Bay & Woods with safe swimming/ boating/ canoeing access; linking to iconic Portroe Lookout; facilities to enhance visitor experience”, and to develop “enhanced links from Castlelough Woods onwards to Ballina/Killaloe (south) and Garrykennedy/Dromineer (north) along Lough Derg Way and/or by boat along the lake.”

The estimated funding required is put at €6.4m.

Elsewhere in the masterplan, the development of Dromineer Sailing Training Hub is outlined as a “centre of excellence for sail training and national and international events”.

An analysis of transport services recommends consideration of a new Shannon Local Link service from Portumna to Ballina, taking in Terryglass, Nenagh, Dromineer and Garrykennedy.

The masterplan states: “Based on a gap analysis of public transport services within the Shannon Region, it is recommended that consideration is given to developing three new Shannon Local Link services, connecting the Shannon Gateways, Hubs, and Towns and Villages to the Shannon harbours, as follows: Portumna – Terryglass – Nenagh – Dromineer – Garrykennedy – Killaloe and Ballina: North South link that connects a Gateway, two Hubs and three Destination Villages. This proposed service could potentially be made more efficient through the addition of ‘Demand Responsive Transport’ element, where a scheduled service would follow the most direct route between Portumna, Nenagh and Killaloe/ Ballina.”

12 priority Shannon Trails are also highlighted for potential development.

These include enhanced walk and cycleway access between Portumna, Lorrha and Terryglass, between Terryglass and Dromineer, and between Dromineer and Ballina.

“Portumna- Lorrha – Terryglass: The provision of safe, direct and scenic routes for walking and cycling between these destinations, linking Hymany Way and Ormond Way, could create significant opportunities for ‘multi-modal’ travel where walking and/or cycling is combined with on-water travel (e.g. using a different mode for the return portion of a journey). Portumna and Carrigahorig are currently linked by a national secondary road (the N65) which does not have hard shoulders. It is recommended that safe cycling and walking facilities should be provided along this short 7km link in order to provide connectivity in the direction of Terryglass and other destinations on the eastern shore of Lough Derg. Further links could be developed eastwards to Birr, along the defunct Birr-Portumna railway in time.”

“Terryglass to Dromineer: This section forms the first part of a longer route on the eastern shore of Lough Derg connecting the hubs of Killaloe and Ballina and Portumna and several Destination Villages in between. It was not possible to establish any detail regarding existing proposals within this area, although a looped route is included within information received in GIS format from Tipperary County Council.”

“Dromineer to Killaloe and Ballina with spur to Nenagh: An upgrading of the Lough Derg Way to strengthen links from the Killaloe – Ballina hub through Castlelough Forest Park, Garrykennedy and Dromineer and that a link to Nenagh should also be provided in order to enhance connectivity with public transport. No specific existing proposals for this section have been outlined in information received to date.”

Other areas of local interest include the “development of potential cross-Shannon visitor boating links from other villages around Lough Derg to Iniscealtra Visitor Centre and island experience”, as well as the development of a “‘Shannon wide’ Festivals & Events Calendar”.

This would include a review of the festival programme with “Shannon 100 and Community networks to develop an ambitious, integrated ‘Shannon-wide’ programme, centred on water, culture, arts, foods, myths, music and activities that allow visitors to appreciate Shannon’s unique culture and heritage.”

The full masterplan can be viewed here.