Newry Canal to feature in next episode of Joe Mahon’s Ulster Giants

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info@newrytimes.com
Tuesday, July 31st, 2018
Community, What's On

The new series celebrating the achievements in Northern Ireland of the Institution of Civil Engineers on the occasion of their 200th anniversary continues on Monday 6th August at 8pm on UTV.

In this episode Joe Mahon discovers the engineering know-how that went into building that essential element of 18th century infrastructure – canals – and how derelict and unused canals can be utilised in the modern world.

 

 

Joe finds himself on the banks of the Newry Canal, the first ever summit-level canal in the British Isles, which was completed in 1742 in order to carry much-needed coal from East Tyrone over a height of 76 feet above sea-level, down to Carlingford and on then to a fuel-hungry Dublin.

Like most canals, it fell into disuse after the advent of the railway, but it is currently in the process of being lovingly restored to something of its former glory by the Newry and Portadown branch of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland.

At Poyntzpass IWAI representative Peter Maxwell chats to Joe about the particular challenges of maintaining the water-level in a summit-level canal, and assesses how successful the builders were at creating the first canal at this height in the British Isles in the days before steam and mechanisation.

 

 

He also talks about the IWAI’s vision for the future of the canal, and the work that his committed group of volunteers have put into cleaning the canal and making it functional again – including making their own lock gates.

Peter’s partner, Geraldine Foley, chats to Joe about the history of the canal, and how, whilst the Coalisland coal soon ceased to be in demand, the Newry canal became more useful for the transport of various other goods. She discusses the impact the canal had on the area, and how it directly led to the development of Poyntzpass.

Joe then travels to Scarva, where he meets with the Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Alderman Gareth Wilson, who chats to Joe about how the towpath alongside the Newry Canal is being put to good (and healthy!) use by local people, including himself, a keen cyclist.

 

 

He also talks about how difficult it was to effectively manage the canal when it was under the jurisdiction of several different councils, and how much easier it is to make improvements under the new merged council.

Staying on the theme of revitalising disused waterways, Joe travels to Belfast – in particular to Stranmillis Weir – where he chats to civil engineer Azaria Bleakley about Belfast City Council’s plans to open up the Lagan Navigation to the rest of Northern Ireland, by connecting it to Lough Neagh.

The new project, known as the Lagan Gateway, involves a new lock for boats, and a foot and cycle bridge for landlubbers.

 

 

Azaria explains their plans to install traditional wooden lock gates, as well as their dream of eventually linking up all the waterways in Ireland.

You can watch this episode on Monday 6th August at 8pm on UTV and on catch up on www.itv.com/utvprogrammes

 

 


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