Waterways Ireland has confirmed that it will carry out a feasibility study in 2011 to assess the viability of connecting the Royal Canal at Killashee (Kenagh side) with Longford town.
"It's the missing link, as Noel McGeeney (Secretary of the Longford Branch of the Royal Canal Amenity Group (RCAG)) says," Deputy Peter Kelly remarked. "It has long been the wish of the RCAG and many others that the canal come to Longford. I and many others remember when the canal harbour was open. It originally came in where the old swimming pool and car park is now."
The Longford connection to the Royal Canal was closed in 1961 and the harbour was filled in.
"The plan is that the old swimming pool will be knocked and the harbour in Longford reopened," said Deputy Kelly. "I don't expect any other buildings to be affected, except the car park beside the swimming pool. Also when the study comes out we will have to talk to Iarnrod Eireann about the railway bridge (going down to Farneyhoogan)."
According to Deputy Kelly, a reopened harbour at Longford will add a much needed tourism feature to the town.
"It will be a big undertaking but we need it. We need a feature of this kind," he said.
Norman Good of the Royal Canal Amenity Group also welcomed the news.
"We are delighted with the Minister's announcement. On this particular section there are no lock gates so restoration should be fairly easy. We can't see that it would cost a hell of a lot of money," he said.
In October 2010, the Royal Canal was opened at Clondra bringing the waterway from Dublin through to the Shannon. It marked the end of many years of campaigning by members of the Royal Canal Amenity Group and was part of a 50 million euro project.