Every year, the World Canals Conference brings together hundreds of canal and waterway enthusiasts, professionals and academics from around the world. During the conference delegates exchange ideas about canal management and development including: the protection of historic features; technical developments; revitalisation of canal systems and harbours; recreational opportunities; and the promotion and presentation of canal history. Ways of promoting tourism and invigorating rural economic development and urban renewal are explored.
Themed ; Restore Regenerate Reimagine, the conference showcased Ireland’s many restoration and re-imagining projects in a three day event where delegates updated their knowledge of innovative waterways management experiences and techniques from all over the world.
Since its inception in 1988 the World Canals Conference has grown significantly and now welcomes waterway management agencies and professionals, users and enthusiasts from Asia, Africa, Europe and North America.
On 10th-12th September 2018, the World Canals Conference (WCC) took place in Athlone.
The Conference was hosted by Waterways Ireland and The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland
It was sponsored by Department for Infrastructure and The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
A post-conference tour took WCC delegates on a tour of working, restored and unrestored waterways including the Royal Canal in Dublin, the unrestored Union Locks on the Lagan Navigation and the Titanic experience including the Titanic tender, the Nomadic.
On Saturday the 15th of September 2018 the post-conference tour took delegates to the Rams Island Heritage Project on Lough Neagh, the largest lake in Great Britain and Ireland. Restored entirely by volunteers, it is testimony to what voluntary effort can achieve. Delegates were given a warm welcome and a guided tour of Rams Island by volunteers from the River Bann and Lough Neagh Association. Delegates came all over the world including Australia, Malaysia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Sand extraction is a major employer on Lough Neagh and sand barges operate near Rams Island. Delegates were thrilled seeing them in operation in Sandy Bay.
The Rams Island Heritage Project is an undertaking of the River Bann and Lough Neagh Association Company a member Branch of The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland. The Project has been supported by Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council since the Projects inception in 2005.