The Beginnings of the Royal Canal

I was slightly apprehensive about this section of the walk… aware that the first portion of the canal passes through the inner city… an area that may be reputed to offer trouble for strangers. Also, there’s a whole section that passes through restricted railway territory… it’s good to do a little planning to ensure that a walker stays as close to the canal as possible. Another potential damper was the threat of rain.

I took the train as far as Pearse Station and walked down to the Liffey. The sun shone brightly, when the clouds allowed. I was soon distracted by all the sights of interest… starting with the statue of The Linesman (sculptor, Dony Mac Manus) on City Quay. As can be expected… the area is rich in history, so… why not give a glimpse of what one can see before entering the Royal Canal and heading away from the Liffey.

After crossing the footbridge and pausing to reflect at the Famine memorial I continue, mistakenly, along the walkway to what I presume to be Spencer Dock. Something that did confuse me ever so slightly was that the sea lock seemed permanently shut… and the additional fact that I could see no canal stretching away…

OK, you’re all chuckling now… well, at least those in the know are. This, of course is not the RC sea lock or Spencer Dock… this is the remnants of George’s Quay and dock. It is all well regenerated in the area but I’m afraid one will have some job getting a boat from the Liffey into the dock!

I now have worked out the error of my navigation and set off to find the real sea lock. The new Samuel Beckett ’harp’ bridge linking the south and north banks very near to the RC sea lock is a fine bit of work… a swing bridge designed by the world-renowned Santiago Calatrava. The whole area is in a state of regeneration… the glass fronted Convention Centre proudly casting the sun’s reflections in every direction. Work on the surrounds of the canal banks seem almost complete… lawns and landscaping now being completed.

Back to the lifting bridges and the sea lock for a moment… apparently the bridges can still work but because of the inconvenience to traffic they do not operate… so, if a boat wants to enter the RC it is at the mercy of the tides… would it not be great if the bridges could be restored to full working order and maybe be allowed to work on the weekends when the traffic is less ferocious… or late on the long summer’s evenings… I’m sure the city can make a buck or two from a venture like that… tourists would pay to see the bridges in proper operation.

On to the new Spencer Bridge with it’s viewing platforms on each foot path. These are being well used as diving platforms by some local lads. They obviously enjoy the use as their swimming pool… they’re all kitted out in wetsuits… me, I wouldn’t even think of getting into that cold water… wetsuit or no wetsuit!

OK… enough… I follow the new sidewalk up to the old Sherriff Street Draw Bridge. This structure seems unique to me… I think it could also do with a make over… even though it’s current state has a particular charm attached. More like rust and neglect though…

There are groups of youths here as well… and a few Guards… are the lads up to mischief or are the Guards just having an informal chat? Well, at least it’s reassuring to know a police presence is about, seeing as I’m about to walk through the supposedly less that pleasant inner city residential area. This is where the canal cannot be followed along the towpath… Irish Rail land… pity, it would be great to say I’ve actually walked the whole route.

I see interesting sights along the streets of the inner city… the most memorable being the young lad trying to catch pigeons with a rope snare… the pigeons sit close by… looking longingly at the scattering of bread… but they seem to sense trouble is close at hand. I feel sorry for the youngster… the sun is out, the holidays are in full swing, yet his only play place is the city sidewalk. Yes, we have much to be thankful for, so… maybe it’s good to be reminded once in a while that there are others who live in worse conditions than what we do.

I follow the road and soon round the corner at North Strand Road… not many meters further one gets the first glimpse of the lifting bridge in the grounds of Irish Rail… much has been said about this bridge and it’s hindrance to RC navigation… have a look at accounts of MF and others on the IWAI forum… also, while we’re on the topic of IWAI… I again have to thank then for the use of their e-maps as my guide, for this walk it was maps 1A and 1b

Cross the road and the 1st Lock is immediately evident… there’s a pleasant cottage on the opposite bank… must have been a prime spot in days gone by… now the heavy railings and razor wire speak of the decay of inner cities. The towpath is well constructed if ever so slightly littered. I spot 3 gents about the Saturday afternoon fun… many a can has been consumed… the empties promptly dispersed of in the already dirty canal. One of the lads reminds me of a modern-day Rambo… his tins stuck into the belt like ammo soon to be extracted and used. Rough and ready. 😛

Croke Park is approaching. Here’s another idea in the making… to arrive at the venue for a game or a show… moor the boat at the neat jetty, watch the proceedings and depart… no traffic… no hassles! 😉

There’s quite a lot of movement… this time of the year there are games scheduled aplenty… many folk in Dublin attire are joined by folk from up North… other folk are out fishing along the path, some walk dogs… the odd mother pushes a stroller… it’s Saturday… and the sun is shining! The 2nd Lock is reached not long after leaving Croke park behind…

I stop to chat with a few lads sharing the bench with Brendan Behan at the 2nd Lock… they’re happy to enjoy a can in the sunshine with the fellow. As I move off some young ladies dressed in Dublin tops (and denims) arrive… they choose a sunny spot on the lawn for a relaxing chat… I have a feeling they’re cheer leaders who have slipped away from the stadium for a bit of R&R in the sun. 😀

The locks and bridges come thick and fast… I meander on… taking it all in… past ‘The Joy’ and up the next set of locks… I see swans… and fish… surprised by the amount of life to be found in the canal… gems amongst the garbage. It’s not too long before the 5th Lock is reached… there’s a massive old building on the south bank. It must have been some imposing warehouse or wharf office for a shipping company in years gone by. The area looks quite well maintained… upmarket inner city. Signs of renovation are evident on both sides of the canal.

On to the 6th Lock… I realise this is about the last place to catch a glimpse down on the city… now the route west leaves Dublin behind and heads for the outer suburbs and newer developments… it’s a natural place for me to temporarily interrupt the documenting of the walk between the Liffey and the 12th Lock. Give me a few days to complete the next section… rather wet it was… the threatening rain eventually caught up with me… in a big way! 😉

Note: Click on the first photo to enlarge and then use the scroll arrows beneath the photos to navigate through the gallery. For a change, we had a lot of blue sky and sunshine on the day… so the photos are somewhat brighter 😉

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About aj vosse

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This entry was posted in #Royal Canal, Art, Dublin & Leinster Architecture & Other Interesting Sights, Walking and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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