Lurgan man Brian Cassells, one of the leading authorities on the canals and waterways of Ireland, is the author of a new book telling the history of the Ulster Canal, one of the three major disused canals in Northern Ireland.
The retired school principal is convinced that the Ulster Canal which once carried barges and lighters through Irish counties – Tyrone, Fermanagh, Armagh, Cavan and Monaghan – holds the key to the restoration of all the canals – Lagan, Newry-Portadown, and Ulster.
Brian’s compelling case for the restoration of the 46-mile Ulster Canal is contained in a new book of which he is the author.
The book, ‘The Ulster Canal’ was launched at a ceremony in Armagh city attended by many leading waterways officials from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Also among the large attendance were Lord and Lady David Trimble, who are canal enthusiasts and spend holidays each year sailing the canals of Britain.The good news announced at the book launch was that work has started on the first phase of the long forgotten Ulster Canal.
This portion funded by the Irish Government involves a three mile stretch from Lough Erne, and it is hoped that in the coming year it will be possible to sail to Castle Saunderson, ancestral home of the family whose most famous member was Colonel Edward Saunderson, whose statue stands in the centre of Portadown.
In a speech at the book launching, Mr Cassells said that if the disused canals in Northern Ireland were restored and made navigable for boats, would be hugely beneficial.
“It would create jobs in dredging the canals and restoring lock gates, allowing the re-watering of the waterways, it would create jobs and be a boost to the towns and villages along the banks of the canals.”
The book, published by Ballyhay Books, with many illustrations, photographs and maps, is excellent value at £14.99.