In a recent parliamentary session, Mr McGovern raised concerns about the significant expense incurred in the construction of the waterway connecting Balhrcoraicll and Balhoomore. This ambitious project aimed to establish direct water communication between the bustling city of Limerick and the vibrant hub of Belfast, thereby enhancing regional connectivity. With an investment of over £220,000, expectations were high for the development’s success.
However, Mr McGovern’s critique centred on the existing obstacles that rendered this substantial investment futile. He pointed out that the Board of Works had previously erected a dam at Ballyconnell, a move that not only closed the lock but also obstructed the canal’s navigation, inundated the surrounding land, and effectively nullified the £220,000 expenditure.
In response to Mr McGovern’s concerns, Mr Wyndham, a prominent figure in the discussion, provided some crucial insights. He explained that communication between Lough Erne and Belfast was primarily facilitated through a canal completed back in 1842. Importantly, Mr Wyndham clarified that the height of the floods, weirs, and sluices at Ballyconnell on the Woodford River had always been an integral part of the original navigation infrastructure. As such, these elements remained unaffected by the subsequent dam placement at the canal lock.
Despite these explanations, Mr Wyndham acknowledged the considerable financial burden that would be imposed to restore the canal for navigation purposes. He expressed scepticism regarding the potential traffic volume that could justify such an expenditure, raising doubts about the feasibility of a full-scale restoration project.
The debate surrounding the Belfast-Limerick waterway underscores the complexities of balancing past investments with present needs and future prospects. While Mr McGovern’s concerns draw attention to the substantial financial commitment already made, Mr Wyndham’s reservations highlight the challenges of justifying further investment in the canal’s restoration. The fate of this historical waterway remains uncertain, leaving its potential revival hanging in the balance.
Belfast News-Letter – Tuesday 07 May 1901