Grand Canal, Dublin

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Water cascading over locks on Grand Canal, Dublin Water cascading over locks on Grand Canal, Dublin ©Panoramic Ireland 2013

The Grand Canal

Ireland's Grand Canal runs from the Grand Canal Dock in Dublin all the way to Shannon Harbour in the west of Ireland, a distance of 131km. Begun in 1756 to carry cargo to and from Dublin it is now exclusively used for tourism purposes with plenty of barges making the scenic journey through the heart of Ireland every year.


Today the original line past St. James's Gate is not in use and the previous branch line from Crumlin to Ringsend forms the entry point from the River Liffey. This section holds some of the most scenic walks in Dublin with the narrow strip of water flanked by large mature trees and visited by swans, ducks, moorhens and other wildlife, making for an enjoyable location for photography. A linear urban park that makes getting across the southern part of Dublin a joy.

During its construction there were many difficulties, most notably traversing the Bog of Allen in the Irish midlands and it finally opened in 1804. As a result of these difficulties a rival canal was started in the 1790s almost mirroring the route of the Grand Canal but situated on the north side of the River Liffey. This was the Royal Canal, more to come on the Royal Canal in a later post.

A long distance path now follows the canal towpath to the Shannon, a journey that would be worth making in fine weather.

Darren McLoughlin

International travel photographer and Irishman in search of the best bits of Ireland. Leading photography tours and experiences in Ireland.

Contributor to New York Times / Sunday Times / Irish Times

Cancer survivor.

Ask me about Ireland or about photography in Ireland.

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