ROYAL CANAL: Ballymahon to Longford 8th April


Clear skies again with the promise of another hot day once the most had been burned off.  

Our last day on the walk and we had decided we would walk up the canal branch to Longford and try to get us and the dogs on the train back to the car at Maynooth. 

At the next lock the keeper told us that there were lots of leaks and it was a bit of a struggle keeping water in some sections. Sure enough later on we noticed that the level was down at least a foot between a couple of locks. 

There is currently a lot of work being done on the towpaths creating the walk/ cycle way and dredging and clearing the canal itself. We came upon one of the diggers with a massive arms for scrapping the opposite bank. 

After a longer than planned breakfast stop at Foigha bridge waiting for the shop to open it was out onto the Corlea bog where the visitor centre that displays the Neolithic timber trackway has been making a path out to the canal. 

It was a lovely peaceful stetch of wildness through the land that time forgot. We passed another little canal house slowly disappearing into the bog. 

It was sad to think of all the work and effort that had gone be into the 30 years of building the canal only really funcioning for another 30 before the railways signalled the end to the endeavour apart from a few years over WW2 when fuel shortages encouraged horsedrawn barge transport. 

The massive clearance task taken on by the voluntary Ammenity groups over decades was really brought home to us when we got to the Longford branch and saw it was blocked off and unrestored. 

Time for a rest with just 8kms to go. 

On the outskirts of Longford a roadbridge over the top of the canal shows what little regard the planners of the seventies and eighties had for the amazing structure we had followed across the country for 125kms. 

All of Ireland’s inland waterways are a beatiful way to explore what is still”real Ireland”. I hope that the creation of the new walk/cycle tracks and greenways encourage more people out there to enjoy the sadly under-utilised resource. 

Mission accomplished. 

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