'Proposal would maximise canal's true potential'
Michaela and John Edwards of Wild Water Adventures say several uncomplicated, low-cost initiatives could utilise the potential of the town's canal and 'bring many benefits to Tralee'.
The pair made a presentation at a Tralee Municipal District meeting last Monday (November 7), and speaking to The Kerryman, they explained how their ideas formed.
"In 2006, they opened the gates, the water was flushed out, and when the gates were closed the canal was full of fresh water," John said.
"I swam the length of the canal not long afterwards, and it was a fantastic experience. We had sporting events like the Rose Swim there in the years that followed, but the water quality deteriorated over time because the gates remained shut.
"The canal is a resource that's being underutilised. By opening the gates regularly, and getting certain statuses for the canal, we can make the most of the place," he added.
John says that recognising the canal an 'urban beach', for example, would require minimal investment and work, but could bring about huge benefits.
"It would simply serve to mark the canal as a designated swimming area," he explained.
"It would be a cost-effective way of making the most of the canal, far simpler than a costly venture like having a man-made beach. In line with this status, the canal would be kept in top shape, paving the way for Tralee to host a wide range of events and activities.
"Also, there's blue flags at Fenit, and it's the same water that's coming in and out, so you could have a blue flag urban beach in Tralee! That'd be amazing for the town."
John explained that the canal was once the backbone of the town, a source of employment and a hotspot for activities. He longs to revive those heady days, and wants to use the canal to reconnect with Tralee Bay.
"Tralee is on the Wild Atlantic Way, so why aren't we making the most of that? Tralee bay is stunning; it's flanked by some of the best seafood restaurants, has amazing biodiversity, lovely scenery and rich history," John said.
"Having a blue way from Tralee to Fenit would be a simple, cost-effective way of utilising this. You'd have signs at Fenit and Tralee saying 'blue way', and you wouldn't have to do much else," he said.
"We could link that with the proposed green way to create a loop tour of the area. Nowhere else in the country has that right now, and it would mark Tralee out as an adventure tourism destination"
Michaela said the plans have been warmly received Tralee District Manager Michael Scannell is confident that €20,000 can be found to repair the canal's gates, which Michaela and John say would pave the way to realising their plans.
"It's a fantastic resource that we need to use," Michaela said, adding 'it can help tourism in Tralee enormously.'