Drogheda on the Boyne tourism now reality
The dream to open up a boating route from the mouth of the river Boyne to Newgrange has moved even closer this week.
The Boyne canal lock at Staleen will reopen for the first time in 90 years within the next few weeks, with work ongoing on installing new gates.
'Within two weeks, people will be able to travel from the sea to within 1km of Newgrange,' Stephen Earley from the local Boyne Navigation group stated.
The gates were hoisted into position with a crane, each weighing five ton and some 20ft deep.
The whole area was cemented up and that had to be removed first of all.
But now the focus will centre on securing two pontoons on the river Boyne at Fiddlecase Pier, opposite the d Hotel and close to St Dominic's Park.
At present, boats can only move through the town at low water under the bridges. But with pontoons, they could depart from one end and moor close to the garda station and wait for the tide to bring them on to Newgrange before returning in the same manner.
'It needs Louth and Meath CC to get together and sort out the pontoons and really spark this river tourism,' Stephen remarks.
As well as private vessels, it would open up the opportunity for local boat trips right up the Boyne and into the canal system.
'This can bring a whole new life into the town and the river and we'll see yachts on the Boyne. But the pontoons are needed to make this work,' he added.
He said they can work on funding the pontoon project, but need the council to work on the infrastructure side of things.
The Boyne group have been working on the project for years, but now see the fruits of their labours taking firm shape.
Work is ongoing in Navan and the Rosnaree Forum Group has played its part on that part of the river, with the ultimate aim of taking boats all the way to Navan.
Since 2007, volunteers have ventured out every second Saturday to work on the canal.
'The more volunteers we can get, the quicker we can get the full canal restored,' Stephen remarked. The Boyne Navigation group have a website and anybody interested in helping out can contact through that.
Outgoing mayor of Drogheda, Frank Godfrey, who has been part of the canal programme for decades, said it was a proud moment to see the lock gates going in at Staleen and what this would mean to the area.
'These people have done incredible work. So many have been part of this, and I think of people like Robert Law and Tommy McLoughlin too.
'The pontoons are needed in the town to really make this work and the onus is now on local councillors and the council officials to make this work.
'This will be another huge tourism boost for Drogheda.'