How did the Monaghan project come about?
The idea of a Greenway along the Ulster Canal was first mooted by Cavan Monaghan Rural Development Society, which commissioned a feasibility study in 2001 and tried to pull together the various agencies which might take a role in making the project happen. While at the time, none of the organisations had the resources to proceed with the idea, it lodged in the back of our minds here in Monaghan County Council, and when the opportunity for funding presented itself via the National Cycle Network initiative, we seized our chance.
The logic of completing the Monaghan town section first was simple:
- It was a short route and could be done on the funding being offered by the Dept.
- It would also be of benefit in itself, to the people of Monaghan town, and could be considered to be a completed project in its own right.
- In completing this short section, we would learn a lot about the ground conditions of the tow path and could test our engineering and costing assumptions. This would help us to ensure we got it right when we were ready to proceed to Phase II – Monaghan to Clones, a much more ambitious undertaking!
The Dept of Transport issued a call for applications in early 2012. We submitted a bid, and were awarded €471,000. The following year, a further €69,000 was awarded to the project, when it became clear that the construction tenders were higher than anticipated. This brought the Dept funding to €540,000. It was funded at a 90% rate, meaning that Monaghan County Council had to find the other €54,000. This was willingly provided in the Council’s 2013 Budget.
The project could not have gone ahead in such a tight time frame had it not been for the foresight of Council officials who acquired much of the canal under the Derelict Sites Act in the 1970’s. As the land was under our control, we were able to get rolling very quickly.