The article below is the latest submitted to the local quarterly. It is also the first bit of work I earned something for!! A very handy Christmas hamper… now, should I say I’ve arrived as a writer?? Have a look-see… and enjoy!!
In the previous issue I told you a bit about strolling the Royal Canal’s horse-walk from Lock 16 at the harbour in Kilcock to the great Meath metropolis of Enfield. A bit of a stroll that can keep you going for quite a few hours. Now, as the winter’s days are really drawing in you may want a shorter choice.
So, why don’t you look in the other direction? Why not take on the shortish section of the canal from Kilcock to Maynooth? It’s only about 6 kilometers and not really taxing so if you’re in the mood, why not grab a bunch of grapes, a bottle of water… the camera… the dog, a few slices of stale bread to feed the ducks and maybe even an accomplice or two and set off? Mind you, the Kilcock ducks seem to pull their snoots up at stale bread.
OK… enough chit-chat. I last walked the section in mid November so to be fair I’ll have to be honest and say I did the walk from Maynooth back to Kilcock. I’ll share a bit of the experience and also show you a few of the landmarks.
Maynooth harbour is a large expanse of water with an island in the middle. The bit of land is much in demand by the water birds in the area. Swans, ducks… herons, moorhens… even to odd gull or cormorant frequents the place. The rail station is right next to the harbour so if you’re in the mood for the walk catch a train from Kilcock and hop off at Maynooth.
Another landmark clearly visible is the church steeple of St Patrick’s’ Collage. The steeple is even visible from Kilcock… if you look carefully. Ok… lets get into the action. Leave the station and harbour behind and head west, soon passing under the rebuilt Bond Bridge and all along the perimeter wall of the college. Massive old trees add statue and shape to the landscape. The canal follows the wall around a lazy right bend.
I must add, there are a few rather unsightly bits of wall art splattered on the wall… I hope the so-called artist gets a cramp in his or her drawing hand. That may teach them to keep their art to themselves. Onward, rounding the bend and leaving the wall behind. Toward Jackson’s Bridge. This particular bridge is rather unique on the Royal Canal. It is 5 arched and even has an arch to accommodate the horse-walk. It’s a special feeling to walk through a bit of 200-year-old history.
Lock 14 was in the news last year when 4E, the barge belonging to a certain Mr Joe T actually managed to get stuck in the lock. Wedged between the gates!
It took effort and a tractor the pull the barge through the next day and then the lads from Waterways Ireland did a sterling job on the repairs.
A last look around the bridge reveals some of the old stonework. The remains of steps can be made out. Something else of note about this lock. When boats are moving through they must not remain in the full chamber too long… the water seems to leak out on the cottage side… not a great idea when you take into consideration how low the house is in comparison with the canal’s level when the lock is full.
The next stage of the walk towards the 15th Lock take one past a farmer’s accommodation bridge and then on to the North Kildare Club, home of the rugby, cricket, tennis hockey and American Football codes in the area. I’ve had the pleasure of spending many a summer’s afternoon baking in the sunshine while watching a good game of cricket. But, as it’s now well into the rugby and hockey season the cricket bats are taking their well deserved winter rest.
A few hundred meters past the club one reaches the 15th Lock and Chamber’s Bridge. This is the home of an old local stalwart… Blackthorn and her family live here most of the time… when they’re not out having fun with the great old lady.
It is not a long way from the 15th Lock back to Kilcock. A brisk walk to keep the blood flowing and one is soon at the point where the road rejoins the canal. From here into the village is only about a further ten minutes walk.
One is then faced with a few different options… a long slow glass of good red wine in one of the eateries or a tall chilled pint of the equally great black stuff in a pub of one’s choice. As I’m a total novice when it comes to such matters I will just keep right on walking… straight home and out of mischief!
As it’s the festive season again I’ll bid you all God’s speed! My you have a great time and prosper in the New Year… good luck.