Tullamore’s Grand Canal Corridor rejuvenated with EU support
A project to improve the surroundings of a stretch of Ireland’s Grand Canal flowing through the town of Tullamore in County Offaly – part of the country’s Border, Midland and Western Region – has been completed with help from EU funding. The Tullamore Canal Corridor project includes laying of the foundations and construction of the superstructures of three accessible pedestrian bridges and a boardwalk alongside the canal
" The rejuvenation of the Grand Canal Corridor including the creation of a new civic plaza and amenity area visible from the busiest point of entry to the town at Kilbeggan Bridge is of vital importance for the promotion of the town for both visitors and residents alike. This project enhanced Tullamore’s attractiveness as a place in which to work, live and visit as well as realising the true potential of the Grand Canal, enabling its continued use by the people of Tullamore. "
With a population of close to 15 000, Tullamore is County Offaly’s county town and main urban centre. The pedestrian bridges provide easier and safer access to the town centre and encourage people to leave cars at home. Previously, many pedestrians had to use the Kilbeggan and Bury bridges, both of which have high volumes of traffic. The new bridge adjacent to Kilbeggan Bridge was shortlisted for the Irish Concrete Society’s main award for 2014.
Work under the project entailed removal of the existing steel pedestrian bridge between Convent Road and Convent View – which dated back to 1934 and had become unsafe – and its replacement with a new bridge. Further accessible footbridges were built between Bury Quay and Clontarf Road, adjacent to the Kilbeggan Bridge, and at the Bury Bridge.
The boardwalk is around 70 m long and 3 m wide and is situated on the south bank of the canal, in front of the Tullamore D.E.W. Old Bonded Warehouse, which celebrates the area’s famous whiskey. Its construction forms part of efforts to reinvigorate the Warehouse.
The Warehouse is located in a four-storey former distillery warehouse built in 1897 and receives around 40 000 visitors a year. Prior to the project, it was disadvantaged by its location on the narrow and heavily trafficked Bury Quay. By pedestrianising the area and installing the boardwalk, the project improves safety and makes the Warehouse more inviting to visitors.
Environmentally friendly street lighting
New street lighting was installed to highlight the area’s architectural value. The lighting system minimises impact on flora and fauna around the canal, particularly bat life, which is a noted feature of the area. In this way it ensures compliance with relevant wildlife legislation.
The Bury Quay Crane, a free-standing cast-iron rotation crane dating back to around 1830, was restored, treated and repainted. The crane is a protected structure located outside the Tullamore D.E.W. Old Bonded Warehouse. As an essential element in canal operations, together with the bridges and the industrial complex immediately to the south, it is an important part of Tullamore’s industrial past.
To facilitate the works, a dam was constructed in the canal so as to allow removal of water between the Kilbeggan Bridge and the 27th lock. That section was subsequently refilled. Further work included installation of water and drainage infrastructure, pedestrian crossings and street furniture, as well as landscaping.
Total investment and EU funding
Total investment for the project “Tullamore Canal Corridor” is EUR 2 000 000, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 1 200 000 through the “Border, Midland and Western” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period. The investment falls under the priority “Urban Development and Secondary Transport Networks”.