THE River Robe and Lough Mask and Lough Carra have long been central players in the economic life of the Ballinrobe region down through the decades. Now, local man Chris Harness is hoping the town will be able to ride the crest of a new wave if his idea comes to fruition.
He hopes to secure backing to proceed with a ‘small moulding’ of the river bed near the bridge in the town so that it will generate the necessary waves to enable surfers do the inland jive.
Strange as it may seem but Chris has had this dream since back in 2009. He has been motivated by the success of similar ventures, especially in Norway, where river surfing has become a steady attraction.
When he addressed the recent Claremorris Municipal meeting, he had some years of research and enthusiasm on his side. The River Robe presents the real deal for creating suitable waves with some relatively simple adjustments to the river bed.
Chris said the project had the potential to be a major addition to the economic life of the town. The venture could be completed in a few days with the right group of lads on board to do the work. Ballinrobe Surf Waves Project could be put in place for a sum in the region of €200,000.
Mr Harness said research indicated that surfing enthusiasts were more than eager to support such a venture and that Ballinrobe had the chance to become a major pioneer in this water sport.
The stated feedback to the concept has been overwhelmingly positive and he expressed the belief that it would be a major attraction, especially in the months from November to February, when the flow of water is normally at its height.
Chris told the meeting he was not looking for financial support from the Council, just an endorsement for the project so that he could proceed with the raising of in the region of €10,000 to fund a major feasibility study. This would greatly assist with the creation of a valuable public infrastructure for the people of the general Ballinrobe region.
Cllr Gerry Murray explained that up to 90 percent funding can be available for certain feasibility studies in relation to projects with potential to deliver economic growth to areas.
In response to a query from Padraig Flanagan, Head of the Claremorris Municipal District, Chris Harness confirmed that there was no intention whatsoever to put any kind of dam in place on the river.
Cllr Richard Finn said he was always for positive infrastructure and development and was on board for this project as long as there was no downside in relation to matters relating to fish in the River Robe or flood related matters.
Local councillor, Patsy O’Brien, said he was very supportive of the proposal by Chris Harness and said he (Chris) had put a huge amount of effort and energy behind this novel project which could be very beneficial to Ballinrobe and the hinterland attracting surfers and kayakers.
Unanimous support for the proposal by Chris Harness for the Ballinrobe Surf Wave Project was given by the five councillors in attendance.