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Shannon Superhighway




Classification of European Inland Waterways was created by the European Conference of Transport Ministers. It is referred to as CEMT Classification 1-V11. The size of commercial boats, barges and other vessels is limited by the size of waterway locks.

Recreational vessels were subsequently added to the Classification and RA to RD refers to small craft. (see Classification Table below)

The Shannon Superhighway is designed to accommodate
EU Classification Va Boats, Barges and other Vessels
The economic benefits of
Commercial Navigation

Commercial Inland Waterways Navigation is an essential part of This Concept. In Mainland Europe, the European Commission is vigorously promoting the Development of Inland Waterways to encourage trade, employment, cost efficiency and environmental benefits. The Shannon Estuary has the advantage of being close to both Mainland Europe and America and, is capable of accommodating Panamax size ships travelling directly from China and the Far East through the New Panama Canal. Foynes Port is already designated a Core Network Port (TEN-T) by the EU. In a Post Brexit environment, developing trade links from the West of Ireland, is a desirable hedge against a, currently unknown, trading future with the UK.            

We believe that This Concept will greatly accelerate the rate of economic development in the Midlands Region and act as a sophisticated low cost transportation conduit for dry bulk, liquid bulk, break bulk, tanker and containerized goods, arriving  and departing Foynes Port and the proposed Cratloe Container Port. The dimension of barges also allows for transportation of oversize loads, such as wind turbines.

The Main-Danube Canal which opened in 1992, is a guide to the the type of navigation we envisage. This Canal has an estimated 20 million tonne capacity. Barges etc. operate at a maximum speed of 13 km per hour and take 16 minutes to clear each lock. It is estimated that the economic savings of barge transportation is circa 5 times greater than by road.


The Canals Section of our Project is 21 kilometres long. It is significantly smaller than the highly successful,171 kilometres long Main-Danube Canal. The Canals, which also act as flood relief canals, are 90 metres wide and up to 12 metres deep.The 8 locks at 115 metres long x 12 metres wide x 4 metres deep are designed to take EU Class Va vessels.

Estimated barge journey time from the Shannon Estuary to Athlone Port is 14 hours.

We envisage that LNG powered barges will operate from various docks, located between Lanesborough and Foynes Port. Goods will be trans-shipped directly on to ocean-going vessels. Imports will also be trans-shipped through Foynes Port and Cratloe Container Port.

The Shannon Foynes Port Company  SFPC  is Ireland's second largest port operator and has statutory jurisdiction over all marine activities on the 500 km2 area of the tidal Shannon Estuary. We propose that SFPC has jurisdiction over the entire Shannon Navigation.

List of illustrated Ports, Docks and Tourist Facilities
Cratloe Container Port
This deep water container port is strategically located on the north side of the Shannon Estuary. It is directly serviced by existing motorway and railway links. It is designed to take panamax size vessels sailing direct from the USA, China and the far east.
Clare Cruise Boat Terminal
This terminal is to facilitate foreign visitors arriving via Shannon Airport or the motorway network adjoining. It is ideally located to facilitate cruise tours of either the Shannon Estuary or the Shannon Lakes accessible via the Clare Canal.
Moyross port and light industrial zone
This small port is located at the junction of the Clare Canal with the Limerick/Clare railway line. The proposed line of a western by-pass to Limerick also adjoins the site. The port is ideally located for distribution and will offer valuable employment opportunities in the local area.
Ardnacrusha Marina
Ardnacrusha hydro power station holds an iconic place in the history of the State. As such, it is an ideal location for a visitor centre. The small marina is intended as a stop-off for cruise vessel visitors and for visitors arriving via the proposed Limerick by-pass which adjoins.
Killaloe tourist dock
Killaloe has an existing dock which could be adapted to take cruise vessel passengers arriving to visit the Brian Baru Heritage Centre
Portumna tourist dock
Portumna already has a canal and harbour on the upstream side of the swing bridge, designed by C.E. Stannier Engineer and completed in 1911 with a 40ft navigation channel. A dock for cruise boats and barges will be required.
Banagher tourist dock
Banagher's Shannonside Park is the historic site of Cromwell's Fort and the disused canal lock and canal house. It is the ideal location for a cruise vessel dock allowing visitors the opportunity of visiting Banagher and its historic attractions.
Clonfert tourist dock
Clonfert Cathedral dates back to around 1180 AD  and to 561 AD in the annals. It is a short walk from the proposed line of the Galway Canal which runs on the same line as the old Grand Canal at this point. A tourist dock with a visitor centre are illustrated. The visitor centre could inform on both the ecclesiastical and bog working heritage of the area. Bog railway trips could also be part of a visitor experience.
West Offaly Power Station Dock - Lough Ree Power Station Dock
The Navigation allows barges up to 3,000 tonnes to access the Shannon. The West Offaly and Lough Ree Power Stations converted in 2004/5 at a cost of €450 million, could readily be fueled by barges operating from  Foynes Port. Bord na Mona already has plans for a smokeless fuel and biomass facility at FoynesPort. Imported eco-friendly pellets could also be used on a short term basis to allow the power stations some economically useful life.
Clonmacnoise tourist dock
A cruise boat dock allowing tourist passengers access to the existing Visitor Centre is required. In order to retain  the existing sense of tranquility a short length of canal is proposed in plan form. Its purpose is to channel commercial barge traffic away from the iconic site and channel floodwater in a direct path.
Athlone tourist dock
Berths for small vessels already exist in Athlone. The removal of the weir and the deepening of the river channel upstream allows for the creation of larger berths for cruise vessels etc.
Athlone Port
Extending to 100 ha, the proposed location of the Port is on reclaimed floodplain lands, strategically located by a railway line and a motorway in the centre of Ireland. It has the potential to handle 6 million tonnes of goods per annum. This assumption is based on data from EU Inland Waterways ports in similar strategic locations i.e. Nurumberg etc.
Roscommon Port
Roscommom Port is conceptually designed to serve an extensive farming community and is located between Roscommon Town and
Longford Town. Agricultural exports and imports will be transported at low unit cost by eco-barges, for trans-shipment to and from the Shannon Estuary. Exports include farm machinery and produce. Imports include fertilizers, fuels, building materials, machinery etc.


Export Route Map
Cratloe Container Port
Multifunction Barrage.JPG
Shannon Estuary Barrage
Alternative Container Port - Dec 2020
Clare Cruise Boat Terminal
Moyross Port and Light Industrial Zone
Ardnacrusha Marina
Killaloe Cruise Boat Dock
Portumna Tourist Dock
Banagher Park Tourist Dock
Clonfert Tourist Dock
West Offaly Power Station Dock
Athlone Tourist Dock
Athlone Port and Coosan Marina Village
Athlone Port and Enterprise Zone alternative layout
Roscommon Port
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