Tuesday, 3 November 2015

The Barrow Line

We've recently got back from a week in Ireland - in a holiday cottage on the banks of the River Barrow. Our base was in the village of St. Mullins in County Carlow in the south-east of the country.
There isn't much to St. Mullins - a shop (which was just about to close for the winter),a cafe (ditto) a pub, a large church and a few cottages.

Our cottage was literally on the river bank, just a few hundred metres from the first lock  below which the river is tidal.  Locks on the Barrow are similar to English canal locks, the broad ones that is, being about 80' x 15' with conventional paddle gear.  One difference though is that gates and paddles are left open as they once were back home. The gates seem to leak just as much as ours do, but on a river navigation that hardly matters.

St. Mullins lock. The river below the lock is tidal and in this shot the tide is out!
We had no boat, but we did have bikes and so were able to follow the towpath for the first six or seven kilometres (unlike the UK the Republic has gone metric properly) upstream to the small town of Graiguenamanagh. There were four locks on the way, some of which had a substantial lock cottage

The navigation follows the course of the river almost due north as far as Athy where it joins the Grand Canal, giving access to Dublin. In fact, the Barrow is considered to be part of the Grand Canal system and is referred to locally as the "Barrow Line"

There is a proposal, by the Irish Waterways Authority to replace the current unsurfaced towpath with a wide gravel path catering for cyclists all the way to Dublin. Local people appear to be opposed to this and their campaign posters were much in evidence. As a cyclist as well as a would-be boater I happen to agree with them - but only because gravel is hopeless for cycling on and what we need is tarmac!

We made do with the grass/mud combination happily enough as far as Graiguenamanagh although I wouldn't have wanted to go much further on it and certainly not to Dublin, but we couldn't help noticing that in places underneath the grass the remains of a previous hard-surfaced route were not hard to find.

1 comment:

A Heron's View said...

The Grand Canal not only connects with Dublin but also the River Shannon as does The Royal Canal.
We hope that you enjoyed your visit and will make a return visit in the future.