The Royal Canal was originally built in 1790 for freight and passenger transportation from the River Liffey in Dublin to Co. Longford in the Midlands. The canal fell into despair in the late 20th Century but much of it has been beautifully restored thanks to various groups and organizations such as Ballymahon’s Royal Canal Group.

Formed in 1993, Ballymahon Royal Canal group then had approximately 30 members and an active working committee of seven. Originally the group was set up to assist with the restoration of the Royal Canal in the area. In conjunction
with the Office of Public Works, the group on a voluntary basis, cleared the Canal banks of trees, briar and scrub.
They cleaned the ivy from the bridges and set about landscaping areas on the Canal in anticipation of a restoration being complete.

With restoration complete, our objective was to promote the Royal Canal as an amenity for boating, fishing, canoeing, walking and cycling. The restoration of the Old Bell House Ticket Office is one of the major achievements of the group. This is now our meeting room and is used by other groups including the Community Employment Project, local residents, gun club, women’s group etc.


Royal Canal: Before


Royal Canal Restored

In association with the Community Employment Project we now have a beautiful landscaped walk from Brannigan Harbour to the Longford Bridge. This walk is extensively used by the people of Ballymahon on a daily basis. Major landscaping works and the provision of picnic areas at the Longford Bridge have been admired by many and noted
by Tidy Towns adjudicators.


Royal Canal: Before


Royal Canal Restored

The group has organised May Bank Holiday sponsored walks on the Canal for the past 10 years. The proceeds help
us to cover the cost of maintaining our Community Employment Project and our Family Day Boat Rally in June of
each year.

ROYAL CANAL BRIEF HISTORY

Building of the Royal Canal began in 1789 in Spencer Dock Dublin and was completed to Richmond Harbour in Clondra, Longford in 1817. The total cost of the canal was £1,421,954 pounds. The purpose of building the canal was the transportation of passengers and goods. From 1820 to 1830 over 40,000 passengers and 80,000 tons of cargo were carried annually on the canal. The coming of the railway saw a huge decline in passenger numbers and in 1880
tonnage had been reduced to 30,000. Transportation of goods continued until 1951 when the last by trader, James Leech of Killucan ceased to operate.

The canal was officially closed in 1961 and lay derelict until 1974 when the ‘Save The Royal Canal’ campaign began in Dublin, and the first branch of the Royal Canal Amenity Group was formed. Work on the restoration began in 1975 and was completed to the Shannon in 2010. objective was to promote the Royal Canal as an amenity for boating, fishing, canoeing, walking and cycling. The restoration of the Old Bell House Ticket Office is one of the major achievements of the group. This is now our meeting room and is used by other groups including the Community Employment Project, local residents, gun club, women’s group etc.

BALLYBRANNIGAN HARBOUR

Chaigneau Bridge known locally as Brannigan Bridge opens out into Ballybrannigan Harbour where there is a quay and store and the now restored Bell House and waiting room for passengers travelling on the canal boat system. The store was a focal point for Ballymahon as goods transported from Dublin were deposited waiting on collection by the traders of Ballymahon. The Bell House was named such as the quay master controlled boat traffic by means of ringing a bell. The ticket office and waiting room was the first stage of a voyage for many who emigrated to America or new world.
The now transformed and landscaped Brannigan Harbour is an idyllic location for picnics, fishing, canoeing, boating
and walking.

Ballymahon Royal Canal Committee 2014/2015

Chairperson:  Padraig Burke

Secretary: Ann Kilduff

Treasurer: Michael Greally

Assistant Treasurer: Pat McLoughlin

PRO: Liz Mcloughlin

Committee Members: Pat Kilduff, Michael Mcloughlin

Email: michaelgreally@yahoo.ie