The Grand Canal.

Irish Canals.

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The main line of the Grand canal is 82 miles (132 km) connecting Dublin to River Shannon it has 44 locks, along its length it connects with other canals, they are as follows.

  • The Naas Canal 2.5 miles (4 km) with 5 locks.
  • Barrow Line from Lowtown to River Barrow at Athy 28 miles (45 km) with 9 locks.
  • Barrow Navigation from Athy to St. Mullins 41 miles (66 km) with 23 locks.
  • Barrow, Nore and Suir tidal waters 55 miles (88 km)

Construction of the Grand Canal began in 1756 it links Dublin City the capital of Ireland, with the river Shannon, the canal begins its journey west at the Grand Canal Dock Dublin it passes through Ringsend and past Ballsbridge, Ranelagh, Rathmines, Harold's Cross and Crumlin. At Inchicore can be seen the original path of the branch which once led to the Guinness brewery and James Street Basin which was filled in the 1970's.

The canal then passes through the suburbs of Dublin, and into the country side of Kildare, at Sallins the Naas Corbally branch heads to the south. The canal continues west passing the towns of Prosperous and Robertstown, just east of the latter is the location of the Blackwater feeder used to join the canal. West of Robertstown is the busiest junction on the canal, the Old Barrow Line, Milltown Feeder and the entrance to the Athy and Barrow Navigation.The canal continues its journey passing the towns of Edenderry and Tullamore in County Offaly before reaching the Shannon.

During its history the canal carried both passengers and freight, before the introduction of coach and rail transport passengers business amounted for a considerable proportion of the canals income. Freight carried was mainly grain, agricultural produce and turf into Dublin, the barges returning with coal and miscellaneous consumer goods of the time.

The last barge to traverse the canal in 1960 was laden with kegs of Guinness. Up until 1950 the canal was owned by the Grand Canal Company, it was in that year the Transport Act transferred ownership to Córas Iompair Éireann. In 1986 the Canals Act gave control of it to the Office of Public Works.

As part of the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, a new all Ireland body called Waterways Ireland was formed, this cognition took control of all navigable inland waterways in Ireland.

Today the canal has found a new lease of life, the freight and passenger trade which slipped away with the advent of the railways, has been replaced with sleek canal cruisers fitted with every conceivable modern luxury. Hired by holiday makers not only from Ireland, but across the world anxious to explore not only the Grand Canal which is 130 Km long and has 36 locks but the entire Inland Waterway network of Ireland.

Excellent coarse fishing is to be had all along the canal, as is the case with the entire canal system, which wends its way through the rural heartland of Ireland, at times miles from the nearest town. There are many canal side bars and restaurants where you can refresh body and soul, listening to traditional music played by the locals.

Watch a video featuring The Grand Canal.

Waterways Ireland
20 Darling Street
Co Fermanagh
BT74 7EW
Tel +44 (0)28 6632 3004
Fax +44 (0)28 6634 6237
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Web Site

Lock no 23 at Spencer's Bridge, built in 1784 and paid for by the local landlord Lord Spencer, a distant relative of Lady Diana Spencer.

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