Royal Canal flotilla docks at Maynooth

HISTORY is being made at the Royal Canal harbour at Maynooth this week with the arrival of the Heritage Boat Association flotilla, writes Henry Bauress.

HISTORY is being made at the Royal Canal harbour at Maynooth this week with the arrival of the Heritage Boat Association flotilla, writes Henry Bauress.

Twelve heritage barges and six support boats are making a journey up the canal to Dublin to celebrate the re-opening of Royal Canal.

It is travelling the newly re-opened Royal Canal from Richmond Harbour at the River Shannon to the River Liffey in Dublin and returning to the Shannon via the Grand Canal.

HBA spokesperson, Paul Martin, said of the celebration: “These “canal boats” are the same commercial barges that once carried cargos all across the inland waterways of Ireland. They were indeed the juggernauts of their day and the canals were the highways on which the commerce of the 
nation depended.”

He said that ollowing decades of dedicated work by volunteer groups (particularly the Royal Canal Amenity Group) as well as local authorities and Waterways Ireland, the canal navigation has recently been re-opened.

Mr. Martin said the gathering of the canal boats will be the largest ever in the history of the canal as even when they were carrying cargo they would have moved alone or in small groups. He also said the the skippers and crews are particularly interested in meeting with families who would have had friends and relations who worked on the navigation when it was a commercial waterway.

The HBA flotilla started their journey in Richmond Harbour on Saturday, 16 March.It moved on Moyvalley on Sunday 7 April and stayed overnight last Saturday, 13 April in Kilcock.

On Sunday, the flotilla sailed on to Maynooth, where it remains this week. This Saturday, 20 April, it will leave for Castleknock.

Maynooth will be a stopover again this July 2013 when a large number of small craft will arrive from the UK via ship before taking to the Irish inland waterways.

Full details of the calendar and ports of call are available from the website www.heritageboatassociation.ie

- Henry Bauress