The Grand Canal Way
The Grand Canal was first conceived in 1751 when a group of private investors and public officials established a working group called “The Commissioners of Inland Navigation”. The group considered the commercial viability of a canal that traders would pay to use to transport goods. The Grand Canal was designed to connect Dublin, Ireland’s capital city, westwards through the midlands with the River Shannon. Typical cargoes would be barrels of Guinness leaving Dublin for rural towns and cargoes of turf coming to Dublin to be burnt in urban fireplaces. Work on constructing the Grand Canal started in 1756. The first trade boat passed from Dublin through to the Shannon in 1804. The last working cargo barge passed through the Grand Canal in 1960.
The Grand Canal Way (Irish: Bealach na Canálach Móire) is a 117-kilometre (73 mi) long-distance trail that follows the towpath of the canal from Lucan Bridge, near Adamstown, to Shannon Harbour. It is typically completed in five days. It is designated as a National Waymarked Trail by the National Trails Office of the Irish Sports Council and is managed by Waterways Ireland.
The towns and villages along the way provide walkers with accommodation possibilities along the route, and as public transport options are good, these places can act as starting and finishing points for those who want to sample only sections of the route.
In South Dublin County you can enjoy an 8.5-kilometre (5.3 mi) long greenway between the 3rd Lock at Inchicore in Dublin and the 12th Lock at Lucan, South Dublin, which opened in June 2010. This is accessible at two main points in South Dublin — from Clondalkin Village at the 9th Lock Road or alternatively you can explore more of the county by taking the Red Bridge over the Canal at Grange Castle which can take you off-road through the Griffeen Greenway into Lucan Village and towards the valley of the River Liffey.
The route is an off-road alternative for commuters and leisure users incorporating features including state of the art lighting, comprehensive CCTV with 24-hour monitoring, leisure facilities i.e. fishing points, boating and berthing areas and seating. Wildlife habitats have been maintained and developed, and there is signage along the route detailing the history of the area as well as information on the flora and fauna.
Find out more about the history of the Grand Canal.