The idea of re-opening the canal as a tourism project has been promoted for many years. When Waterways Ireland was set up as one of the cross-border bodies established under the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, it was charged with investigating the feasibility of re-opening the Ulster Canal. Following various feasibility reports and socio-economic benefit surveys, Waterways Ireland proposed to develop the section from Quivvy Lough (on Erne system) to Clones as a first phase.
A design was prepared and planning permission was granted in 2012 for re-opening of the Quivvy Lough – Clones section, however funding to proceed with land acquisition and construction has yet to be secured. In 2018 Ministers Heather Humphreys and Josepha Madigan announced proposals for a marina development in Clones, which is hoped will be a pre-cursor to the re-opening of the Canal to Clones.
You can find the various studies, plus an update on where the proposal to re-water the canal stands, on the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland website.