Two young women are determined to have the canal at Athlone cleaned up and transformed into a new public amenity.

The Athlone canal which is 2.5km long and located on the western side of Athlone town dates from 1757. Designed by Dutch canal engineer Thomas Omer, it improved navigation for boats and cargo vessels on the river Shannon and was in use until the major Shannon navigation works in the 1840s. 

Its glory days are long gone, but two young women from Athlone's Canal Conservation Committee are determined that this neglected waterway will be restored and become a public amenity to be proud of. At present, it is unfortunately an eyesore and a danger to public health,  

There's sewers going in...there's rats, there's about everything you could name wrong with it.

Damage was caused to a section of the canal bank three years ago, during a cleanup. A section of the bank slipped, endangering four nearby houses, which resulted in Athlone District Council filling in part of the waterway.  

Litter began building up there, and it subsequently became an unofficial rubbish dump. Now a plan has been put forward by the Council to fill in this stretch of water altogether, and use it as an official tiphead.  

The two young conservationists who spoke to 'Newsbeat’ reporter George Devlin want this piece of Athlone’s heritage preserved, not for it to join the list of neglected and polluted waterways of Ireland, 

The aim of our project really is to get attention to it and clean up the small amount that we can.

Efforts to engage with Athlone Urban District Council on this matter have not gone as well as the girls had hoped. They will however continue with their conservation work, even though the Council is not supportive, especially when they raised the issue of an open sewer currently flowing into the canal,  

They told us there was some fancy name for it...when we got outside the door they laughed their heads off, but despite them we'll get it done.

This report for ‘Newsbeat’ was broadcast on 25 February 1971. The reporter is George Devlin.  

'Newsbeat' was a half-hour feature programme presented by Frank Hall and ran for seven years from September 1964 to June 1971. 'Newsbeat' went out from Monday to Friday on RTÉ television and reported on current affairs and issues of local interest from around Ireland. The final programme was broadcast on 11 June 1971.