Grand Canal of Ireland
Overview
 
The Grand Canal is the southernmost of a pair of canal
Canal
Canals are man-made channels for water. There are two types of canal:#Waterways: navigable transportation canals used for carrying ships and boats shipping goods and conveying people, further subdivided into two kinds:...

s that connect Dublin, in the east of Ireland, with the River Shannon
River Shannon
The River Shannon is the longest river in Ireland at . It divides the west of Ireland from the east and south . County Clare, being west of the Shannon but part of the province of Munster, is the major exception...

 in the west,via Tullamore and a number of other villages and towns, the two canals nearly encircling Dublin's inner city
Inner city
The inner city is the central area of a major city or metropolis. In the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Ireland, the term is often applied to the lower-income residential districts in the city centre and nearby areas...

. Its sister canal on the Northside
Northside (Dublin)
The Northside is the area in County Dublin, Ireland bounded to the south by the River Liffey to the east by Dublin Bay, to the north and west by the boundaries of County Dublin.- Introduction :...

 of Dublin is the Royal Canal
Royal Canal of Ireland
The Royal Canal is a canal originally built for freight and passenger transportation from the River Liffey at Dublin to the River Shannon at Cloondara in County Longford in Ireland. It fell into disrepair, but since has been restored for navigation...

. The last working cargo barge passed through the Grand Canal in 1960.
There are a number of branches off the Grand Canal, some of which have been closed and of these, some subsequently restored and reopened.
  • The original main line to Grand Canal Harbour near St. James's Gate
    St. James's Gate
    St. James's Gate, located off the south quays of Dublin, on James Street, was the western entrance to the city during the Middle Ages. During this time it was the traditional starting point for the Dublin pilgrimage Camino to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Now central to a industrial area, St...

     in Dublin City (most of the route is now used by the red line Luas
    Luas
    Luas , also promoted in the development stage as the Dublin Light Rail System, is a tram or light rail system serving Dublin, the first such system in the decades since the closure of the last of the Dublin tramways. In 2007, the system carried 28.4 million passengers, a growth of 10% since...

    ).
Encyclopedia
The Grand Canal is the southernmost of a pair of canal
Canal
Canals are man-made channels for water. There are two types of canal:#Waterways: navigable transportation canals used for carrying ships and boats shipping goods and conveying people, further subdivided into two kinds:...

s that connect Dublin, in the east of Ireland, with the River Shannon
River Shannon
The River Shannon is the longest river in Ireland at . It divides the west of Ireland from the east and south . County Clare, being west of the Shannon but part of the province of Munster, is the major exception...

 in the west,via Tullamore and a number of other villages and towns, the two canals nearly encircling Dublin's inner city
Inner city
The inner city is the central area of a major city or metropolis. In the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Ireland, the term is often applied to the lower-income residential districts in the city centre and nearby areas...

. Its sister canal on the Northside
Northside (Dublin)
The Northside is the area in County Dublin, Ireland bounded to the south by the River Liffey to the east by Dublin Bay, to the north and west by the boundaries of County Dublin.- Introduction :...

 of Dublin is the Royal Canal
Royal Canal of Ireland
The Royal Canal is a canal originally built for freight and passenger transportation from the River Liffey at Dublin to the River Shannon at Cloondara in County Longford in Ireland. It fell into disrepair, but since has been restored for navigation...

. The last working cargo barge passed through the Grand Canal in 1960.

Branches

There are a number of branches off the Grand Canal, some of which have been closed and of these, some subsequently restored and reopened.
  • The original main line to Grand Canal Harbour near St. James's Gate
    St. James's Gate
    St. James's Gate, located off the south quays of Dublin, on James Street, was the western entrance to the city during the Middle Ages. During this time it was the traditional starting point for the Dublin pilgrimage Camino to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Now central to a industrial area, St...

     in Dublin City (most of the route is now used by the red line Luas
    Luas
    Luas , also promoted in the development stage as the Dublin Light Rail System, is a tram or light rail system serving Dublin, the first such system in the decades since the closure of the last of the Dublin tramways. In 2007, the system carried 28.4 million passengers, a growth of 10% since...

    ). While this section was in use, the canal from Crumlin to the Liffey in Ringsend, which forms part of the current main line, was considered to be a branch.
  • Naas
    Naas
    Naas is the county town of County Kildare in Ireland. With a population of just over twenty thousand, it is also the largest town in the county. Naas is a major commuter suburb, with many people residing there and working in Dublin...

    /Corbally (navigable to Naas
    Naas
    Naas is the county town of County Kildare in Ireland. With a population of just over twenty thousand, it is also the largest town in the county. Naas is a major commuter suburb, with many people residing there and working in Dublin...

    , but a low bridge prevents access to Corbally)
  • The Barrow branch, joining the River Barrow
    River Barrow
    The Barrow is a river in Ireland. It is one of The Three Sisters; the other two being the River Suir and the River Nore. The Barrow is the longest and most prominent of the three rivers...

     at Athy
    Athy
    The town developed from a 12th century Anglo-Norman settlement to an important British military outpost on the border of the Pale.The first town charter dates from the 16th century and the town hall was constructed in the early 18th century...

  • Milltown
    Milltown, County Kildare
    Milltown is a village in County Kildare, Ireland. It is 7 km from the town of Newbridge. It is on the R415 regional road between Allenwood and Crookstown.-Demographics:...

     feeder
  • The Mountmellick
    Mountmellick
    Other than that its a 15th-century settlement on the narrow Owenass river with an encampment on its banks at Irishtown. Overlooking this valley with its trees and wildlife was a small church called Kilmongan which was closed by the Penal Laws in 1640...

     Line, which left the Barrow Line at Monasterevin
    Monasterevin
    Situated 63 km from Dublin on the R445 road, Monasterevin has been relieved of much through traffic by the opening in 2004 of a new section of the M7 motorway bypassing the town on the N7 Dublin to Limerick route...

     and passed through Portarlington
    Portarlington
    Portarlington is the name of several places:*Portarlington, County Laois, Ireland**Portarlington railway station**Portarlington , a constituency until 1801 in Ireland**Portarlington RFC*Portarlington, Victoria, Australia...

     (abandoned)
  • Blackwood feeder (abandoned)
  • Lough Boora feeder (abandoned)
  • Edenderry
    Edenderry, County Offaly
    Edenderry is a town in the north of County Offaly, Ireland. It is near the borders with Counties Kildare, Meath and Westmeath. The Grand Canal passes immediately south of the town through the Bog of Allen and there is a short spur to the town centre....

  • Kilbeggan
    Kilbeggan
    -Geography:Kilbeggan is situated on the River Brosna, in the south of County Westmeath. It lies southeast of Lough Ennell, north of the boundary with County Offaly, about 9 kilometres north of Tullamore. Kilbeggan is surrounded by the gently rolling Esker Riada, the linear sand hills that stretch...

     (abandoned)
  • Ballinasloe (starting on the far side of the River Shannon
    River Shannon
    The River Shannon is the longest river in Ireland at . It divides the west of Ireland from the east and south . County Clare, being west of the Shannon but part of the province of Munster, is the major exception...

     from Shannon Harbour; abandoned and now used by Bord na Móna
    Bord na Móna
    Bord na Móna , abbreviated BNM, is a semi-state company in Ireland, created in 1946 by the Turf Development Act 1946. The company is responsible for the mechanised harvesting of peat, primarily in the Midlands of Ireland...

     industrial railway)

History

The idea of connecting Dublin to the Shannon was proposed as early as 1715, and in 1757 the Irish Parliament granted Thomas Omer £20,000 to start construction of a canal. By 1759 he reported that 3 km (1.9 mi) in the Bog of Allen and 13 km (8.1 mi) of canal from the River Liffey
River Liffey
The Liffey is a river in Ireland, which flows through the centre of Dublin. Its major tributaries include the River Dodder, the River Poddle and the River Camac. The river supplies much of Dublin's water, and a range of recreational opportunities.-Name:The river was previously named An Ruirthech,...

 near Sallins
Sallins
Sallins is a suburban town in County Kildare, Ireland, situated 3.5 km north of the town centre of Naas, from which it is separated by the M7 motorway. Sallins is the anglicised name of Na Solláin which means "The Willows"....

 towards Dublin were complete. By 1763 he had completed 3 locks and 6 bridges towards Dublin and was concentrating on establishing a water supply from the River Morrell near Sallins. At this point the Corporation of Dublin realised that the canal could be used to improve the water supply to the city, and put up the money to complete the canal into the city. But when the canal was filled, the banks gave way and the city didn't obtain its water. By 1768, £77,000 had been spent on the project and little more was forthcoming.

In 1772 the Grand Canal Company was established by a group of noblemen and merchants, including public subscription, to ensure the future of the canal and to tackle the biggest barrier to the canal, the Bog of Allen
Bog of Allen
The Bog of Allen is a large raised bog in the centre of Ireland between the rivers Liffey and Shannon.The bog's 958 square kilometers stretch into County Offaly, County Meath, County Kildare, County Laois, and County Westmeath. Peat is mechanically harvested on a large scale by Bórd na Móna,...

. This was a new venture for canals. The company invited John Smeaton
John Smeaton
John Smeaton, FRS, was an English civil engineer responsible for the design of bridges, canals, harbours and lighthouses. He was also a capable mechanical engineer and an eminent physicist...

 and his assistant William Jessop
William Jessop
William Jessop was an English civil engineer, best known for his work on canals, harbours and early railways in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.-Early life:...

 to Ireland for two weeks to advise them. Smeaton made a recommendation to skirt round the bog but to build the canal at the full height, in contrast to Omer's efforts which attempted to drain parts of the bog and build at a lower level. This was to prove an expensive mistake, although he also advised reducing the generous locks that Omer had built (42m by 6 m / 137 ft by 20 ft) to 18m by 4m (60 ft by 14 ft), which would bring about considerable savings in the total cost of the canal.

The canal from Sallins was finally opened to traffic in 1779 and a twice-weekly passenger service from Sallins to Dublin started in 1780. The canal was extended to Robertstown
Robertstown
Robertstown is a small village situated on the banks of the Grand Canal in County Kildare, Ireland. It grew in importance on the arrival of the canal, at the highest level, 85m above sea level, of which it lies, in 1784.-Grand Canal Hotel:...

 in 1784, including the Leinster Aqueduct across the Liffey, constructed by Richard Evans
Richard Evans
-Literary figures:*Richard J. Evans , English historian on the subject of Germany before and during World War II*Richard Paul Evans , American author of books with Christian themes; best known for 1995's The Christmas Box...

, and to a junction with the River Barrow at Athy by 1791. The circular line through Dublin from Portobello
Portobello, Dublin
In Dublin, Portobello is an area stretching westwards from South Richmond Street as far as Upper Clanbrassil Street bordered on the north by the South Circular Road and on the south by the Grand Canal....

 to Ringsend
Ringsend
Ringsend is a southside inner suburb of Dublin, the capital of Ireland. It is located on the south bank of the River Liffey, about two kilometres east of the city centre, and is the southern terminus of the East Link Toll Bridge....

, where large docks adjacent to the Liffey were constructed, was started in 1790 and opened in 1796. The company had by then turned its attention to completing the link with the Shannon. Getting across the Bog of Allen took more than five years of struggle under the guidance of Jessop, who attempted to use walls of clay to support the walls of the canal. Though the canal was opened to Daingean
Daingean
Daingean , formerly Philipstown, is a small town in east County Offaly, Ireland. It is situated midway between the towns of Tullamore and Edenderry on the R402 regional road. The town or townland of Daingean has a population of 777 while the District Electoral Division has a total population of...

 (then Philipstown) in 1797, serious breaches occurred and Jessop was forced to abandon this method. The continuation to the Shannon then continued under the leadership of John Killaly
John Killaly
John Killaly was the most significant Irish canal engineer working originally for the Grand Canal company and later, as an engineer, under the Directors-General of Inland Navigation.-Career:...

, who succeeded in crossing another bog by carrying out drainage works for several years before construction. The work was substantially completed in 1803, but because of leakages and a dry summer the official opening had to be delayed until April 1804.

The whole work had cost in the region of £877,000 and it was some years before it began to make a profit, although regular dividends had been paid to shareholders. Trade increased from 100,000 tons in 1800 to double that in 1810. Revenues from passenger boats also increased to £90,000 by that date. But the long saga had prompted a rival venture, the Royal Canal, which started construction in 1790 and was finally opened in 1817 after the government had stepped in to resolve disputes between the two companies.

Route

The Grand Canal nowadays begins at the River Liffey in Grand Canal Dock
Grand Canal Dock
Grand Canal Dock is an area in Ringsend near Dublin city centre, surrounding the Grand Canal Docks, an enclosed harbour or docking area between the River Liffey and the Grand Canal...

 and continues through to the River Shannon
River Shannon
The River Shannon is the longest river in Ireland at . It divides the west of Ireland from the east and south . County Clare, being west of the Shannon but part of the province of Munster, is the major exception...

 with various branches, including a link to the River Barrow waterway at Athy.

From Grand Canal Dock it passes through Ringsend
Ringsend
Ringsend is a southside inner suburb of Dublin, the capital of Ireland. It is located on the south bank of the River Liffey, about two kilometres east of the city centre, and is the southern terminus of the East Link Toll Bridge....

 and then traverses the southside
Southside (Dublin)
The Southside is not an official administrative area but a colloquial term referring to the area of County Dublin bounded to the north by the River Liffey to the east by Dublin Bay, to the south and west by the boundaries of County Dublin...

, delineating the northern extremities of Ballsbridge
Ballsbridge
Ballsbridge is a suburb of Dublin, Ireland, named for the bridge spanning the River Dodder on the south side of the city. The sign on the bridge still proclaims it as "Ball's Bridge" in recognition of the fact that the original bridge in this location was built and owned by a Mr...

, Ranelagh
Ranelagh
Ranelagh is a residential area and urban village on the south side of Dublin, Ireland. It is in the postal district of Dublin 6. It is in the local government electoral area of Rathmines and the Dáil Constituency of Dublin South-East.-History:...

, Rathmines
Rathmines
Rathmines is a suburb on the southside of Dublin, about 3 kilometres south of the city centre. It effectively begins at the south side of the Grand Canal and stretches along the Rathmines Road as far as Rathgar to the south, Ranelagh to the east and Harold's Cross to the west.Rathmines has...

, Harolds Cross
Harolds Cross
Harold's Cross is an urban village and inner suburb on the south side of Dublin, Ireland.- Location :Harold's Cross is situated north of Terenure and Rathgar, west of Rathmines, east of Crumlin and Kimmage, and directly south from the Grand Canal at Clanbrassil Street...

 and Crumlin
Crumlin, Dublin
Crumlin is suburb in Southside Dublin, Ireland. It is the site of Ireland's largest hospital for children.-Location:Crumlin covers the area from the River Poddle near the KCR to the Drimnagh Road, to Bunting Road, and is situated not far from the city centre, on the Southside of Dublin city....

. This section is the Circular Line and has seven locks. At Inchicore
Inchicore
-Location and access:Located five kilometres due west of the city centre, Inchicore lies south of the River Liffey, west of Kilmainham, north of Drimnagh and east of Ballyfermot. The majority of Inchicore is in the Dublin 8 postal district...

 can be seen the path of the original main line to the Grand Canal Harbour, the City Basin (reservoir) and Guinness brewery
St. James's Gate Brewery
St. James's Gate Brewery is a brewery founded in 1759 in Dublin, Ireland by Arthur Guinness. The company is now a part of Diageo, a company formed via the merger of Guinness and Grand Metropolitan in 1997. The main product produced at the brewery is Guinness Draft.Leased for 9,000 years in 1759 by...

. Most of the route of this line now runs along side the Red Luas
Luas
Luas , also promoted in the development stage as the Dublin Light Rail System, is a tram or light rail system serving Dublin, the first such system in the decades since the closure of the last of the Dublin tramways. In 2007, the system carried 28.4 million passengers, a growth of 10% since...

 Line.

From Suir Road Bridge, the lock numbering starts again at 1 as the canal heads west through the suburbs of Dublin West and into Kildare
County Kildare
County Kildare is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Mid-East Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Kildare. Kildare County Council is the local authority for the county...

. At Sallins
Sallins
Sallins is a suburban town in County Kildare, Ireland, situated 3.5 km north of the town centre of Naas, from which it is separated by the M7 motorway. Sallins is the anglicised name of Na Solláin which means "The Willows"....

 the Naas
Naas
Naas is the county town of County Kildare in Ireland. With a population of just over twenty thousand, it is also the largest town in the county. Naas is a major commuter suburb, with many people residing there and working in Dublin...

/Corbally branch diverts southwards while the Grand Canal continues west passing Caragh
Caragh
Caragh or Carragh is a village in County Kildare, Ireland. It is located on the R409 regional road between the River Liffey and the Grand Canal approximately 4 km north-west of Naas...

, Prosperous
Prosperous, County Kildare
Prosperous is a village in north County Kildare, Ireland. It is within the townland of Curryhills, at the junction of the R403 and R408 regional roads, about from Dublin. Its population of 1,939 makes it the 14th largest town in County Kildare....

 and Robertstown
Robertstown
Robertstown is a small village situated on the banks of the Grand Canal in County Kildare, Ireland. It grew in importance on the arrival of the canal, at the highest level, 85m above sea level, of which it lies, in 1784.-Grand Canal Hotel:...

, its highest point. Just outside Sallins
Sallins
Sallins is a suburban town in County Kildare, Ireland, situated 3.5 km north of the town centre of Naas, from which it is separated by the M7 motorway. Sallins is the anglicised name of Na Solláin which means "The Willows"....

, the Grand Canal passes over the River Liffey at the Leinster Aqueduct. Just east of Robertstown is the location where the Blackwood Feeder used to join the canal, whilst just to the west can be found the busiest junction on the canal where the Old Barrow Line, Milltown Feeder and the entrances to the Athy & Barrow Navigation. Further west, the canal passes Edenderry, Tullamore
Tullamore
Tullamore is a town in County Offaly, in the midlands of Ireland. It is Offaly's county town and the centre of the district.Tullamore is an important commercial and industrial centre in the region. Major international employers in the town include 'Tyco Healthcare' and 'Boston Scientific'. In...

 and Rahan
Rahan, County Offaly
Rahan is a parish/village, associated with Mochuda , which is located on the banks of the river Clodagh approximately 5 miles from Tullamore, in County Offaly, Ireland.St...

 before it reaches the Shannon at Shannon Harbour
Shannon Harbour
Shannon Harbour older name Cluain Uaine Bheag)is a small village on the banks of the Grand Canal of Ireland. There are facilities for boats to park up on the edge of the canal. There are two pubs in the village, McIntyre's and the Canal Bar....

 in County Offaly
County Offaly
County Offaly is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Midlands Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the ancient Kingdom of Uí Failghe and was formerly known as King's County until the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922. Offaly County Council is...

. In total the main line of the canal is 131 kilometres (81.4 mi) with 43 locks, five of which are double locks.

Disasters

In December 1792, there was a major accident on the Grand Canal. A passage boat left Dublin bound for Athy. It seems that one hundred and fifty people, many of them drunk, forced their way onto a barge
Barge
A barge is a flat-bottomed boat, built mainly for river and canal transport of heavy goods. Some barges are not self-propelled and need to be towed by tugboats or pushed by towboats...

, in spite of the captain warning them that the boat would capsize if they did not leave. Near the eighth lock, five men, four women and two children drowned when the boat capsized. The rest of the passengers escaped.

On the evening of Saturday, 6 April 1861 in Portobello Harbour, a horse-drawn bus, driven by Patrick Hardy, had just dropped a passenger on the canal when one of the horses started to rear. The horses backed the bus through the wooden rails of the bridge. The bus, horses and six passengers inside the bus, plunged into the cold waters and were drowned. The conductor was able to jump clear and the driver was pulled from the water by a passing policeman.

Ownership

Until 1950 the Grand Canal Company had ownership of the canal, when the Transport Act, 1950 transferred the canal to Córas Iompair Éireann
Córas Iompair Éireann
Córas Iompair Éireann , or CIÉ, is a statutory corporation of the Irish state, answerable to the Irish Government and responsible for most public transport in the Republic of Ireland and, jointly with its Northern Ireland counterpart, the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company, between the...

. This situation continued until the Canals Act, 1986 gave it to the Office of Public Works
Office of Public Works
The Office of Public Works is a State Agency of the Department of Finance in the Republic of Ireland...

. Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, a new all-Ireland body called Waterways Ireland
Waterways Ireland
Waterways Ireland is one of the six all-Ireland North/South implementation bodies established under the Belfast Agreement in 1999. It is responsible for the management, maintenance, development, and restoration of inland navigable waterways primarily for recreational purposes...

 was established in 1999 and assumed responsibility for most inland navigable waterways including the Grand Canal.

Grand Canal Way

The Grand Canal Way is a 117 kilometres (72.7 mi) long-distance trail
Long-distance trail
Long-distance trails are the longer recreational trails mainly through rural areas, used for non-motorised recreational travelling ....

 that follows the towpath of the canal from Lucan Bridge, near Adamstown
Adamstown, Dublin
Adamstown is the first new town planned in Ireland since Shannon Town in 1982. The new settlement is being developed 16 km from Dublin city centre, on a 220 hectare site just south of Lucan, west of the Griffeen River and north of the Grand Canal. No date has been set for the official...

, to Shannon Harbour. It is typically completed in five days. It is designated as a National Waymarked Trail
Long-distance trails in the Republic of Ireland
There are 43 long-distance trails in the Republic of Ireland designated as National Waymarked Trails by the National Trails Office of the Irish Sports Council. These trails are inspected annually by the National Trails Office and are maintained by local management committees, Local Authorities,...

 by the National Trails Office of the Irish Sports Council
Irish Sports Council
The Irish Sports Council or ISC is the organisation which directs the development of sport within the Ireland.The ISC is a statutory authority and was established in July 1999 under powers provided by the Irish Sports Council Act...

 and is managed by Waterways Ireland. At Robertstown, the Grand Canal Way intersects with the Barrow Way
Barrow Way
The Barrow Way is a long-distance trail in Ireland. It is long and begins in Robertstown, County Kildare and ends in St Mullin's, County Carlow, following the course of the River Barrow and the Barrow Line of the Grand Canal through counties Kildare, Carlow, Kilkenny and Laois. It is typically...

, which follows the Barrow Line extension to the canal to Athy
Athy
The town developed from a 12th century Anglo-Norman settlement to an important British military outpost on the border of the Pale.The first town charter dates from the 16th century and the town hall was constructed in the early 18th century...

 for part of its route. There is also an 8.5 kilometres (5.3 mi) long greenway
Greenway (landscape)
A greenway is a long, narrow piece of land, often used for recreation and pedestrian and bicycle user traffic, and sometimes for streetcar, light rail or retail uses.- Terminology :...

 between the 3rd Lock at Inchicore and the 12th Lock at Lucan
Lucan, Dublin
In the Irish language, 'Leamhcáin' is translated to 'Lucan', meaning 'Place of the Elm Trees'. The name probably comes from a people that travelled by river, as Lucan is the first place that Elm trees are encountered if travelling inland from the Liffey....

, which opened in June 2010.

See also

  • List of bridges over the Grand Canal in Greater Dublin
  • Canals of Ireland
    Canals of Ireland
    *Boyne Navigation*Broharris Canal*Coalisland Canal *Dukart's Canal*Grand Canal*Lacy's Canal*Lagan Canal*Lecarrow Canal*Newry Canal*Royal Canal*Shannon-Erne Waterway*Strabane Canal*Ulster Canal...

  • Rivers of Ireland
    Rivers of Ireland
    The longest river in Ireland is the The longest river in [[Ireland]] is the The longest river in [[Ireland]] is the [[River Shannon, 386 km . The river develops into three lakes along its course, [[Lough Allen]], [[Lough Ree]] and [[Lough Derg |Lough Derg]]. Of these, Lough Derg is the...

  • Transport in Ireland
    Transport in Ireland
    Most of the transport system in Ireland is in public hands, either side of the Irish border. The Irish road network has evolved separately in the two jurisdictions Ireland is divided up into, while the Irish rail network was mostly created prior to the partition of Ireland.In the Republic of...


External links

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