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A Start--But Only a Start

ESB Begins to Make Amends for Creating
River Erne Environmental Disaster

On March 7, 2000, some fifty years after creating one of the worst environmental disasters in Ireland, the Electricity Supply Board announced it is moving to lessen its impact on the famous salmon river, the Erne, at Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal.

Detailing plans to erect a footbridge linking both sides of the town to the west of the present road bridge, an ESB news release said it aimed to assist "local amenities and tourism in the Ballyshannon area."

As a first step being taken to restore access to the scenic beauty that was the pride of its inhabitants, and that annually drew tourists in large numbers , the Board is to be congratulated. And, having taken it, the Board is encouraged to follow it with full acceptance of the proposed restoration of the Falls of Assaroe. Restoration is technically feasible.

Missing from the press release, which is reproduced from the ESB's own web page on the Internet, is any mention of the salmon fishery that made the Erne at Ballyshannon one of the premier angling rivers in Ireland. Having to negotiate the Falls served to promote the health of the stock, cleansing the fish as they made their way upriver to spawn.

Such omission is regretted, but the fact that a start is being made, and only a start, to make amends for the lack of planning foresight of an earlier generation of engineers, English, Scots, German, Irish, is to be welcomed by all readers of "A Home Page with an Irish Flavour" who enthusiastically campaign for the restoration of the Falls of Assaroe. A special word of thanks is due to those in the schools of Ireland who have expressed support.

The ESB press release is as follows:


A programme aimed at assisting local amenities and tourism in the Ballyshannon area has been proposed by ESB.

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the commissioning of the first generator at Cathaleen’s Fall, ESB propose to carry out some enhancement projects at the tailrace area below Cathaleen’s Fall generating station in Ballyshannon, including the building of a footbridge to a high standard, and the provision of landscaped areas and seating for visitors.

As well as some landscaping along the tailrace, east of the existing Ballyshannon bridge, it is planned to refurbish part of the tailrace banks on both sides close to where the tailrace meets the estuary on the seaward side where there is an existing weir and flume structure.

The area adjacent to the flume will be developed into a public park with park furniture, shrub beds, pathways and access from the public roads. Part of the proposal involves the construction of a footbridge across the Erne in that location to link the two areas together.

Mr Pat Naughton, Station Manager, explained: “It is intended that the bridge itself will be to a high standard of visual design and, it is expected, it will enhance the view along the tailrace from the existing road bridge with the estuary in the background.”

He said that seating areas would be provided in the public parks in the areas at both sides of the river. It is expected that this development will provide a natural facility for circular walks linking, as envisaged, the Mall and swimming pool areas on the north side to the public road on the south side. It is hoped also to provide wheelchair access in the park area.

“The area particularly lends itself to such development. The proposed park will provide very pleasant views of Inis Saimer and the Mall Quay as well as providing access close to the river,” continued Mr Naughton.

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