Canal County, South Kildare
Monuments to 18th century confidence in Irish trade , the Royal and Grand canals flow from Dublin through County Kildare and on into the Irish heartland. You may come across them on tour of Ireland. They are must see attractions.
While Ireland had experienced a minor industrial revolution in the mid to late 18th century , when mines , mills workshops , and canals were created , the Act of Union precluded further development.
By walking along the towpaths , or cruising on the Grand Canal , on Ireland tours , you can see how industrialization affected - and failed to affect - the landscape.
The Grand Canal was a monumentally ambitious project , running from Dublin to Robertstown , where it forks. The southern branch heads down for 29 miles through Rathangan and the attractive Georgian town of Monasterevin before joining the River Barrow at Athy , effectively extending the waterway as far south as Waterford ; the western branch runs up to Shannon at Shannon Harbour , a total of 71 miles from Dublin.
As late as 1837 the Grand Canal was carrying over 100,000 passengers a year ; it continued to be used for freight right up until 1960.
Robertstown , 10 miles north of Kildare is a village that boasts pleasant walks along towpath and a canal stop complete with The Grand Canal Hotel which contains a small exhibition on the history of the canal and the hotel , and can arrange barge tours.
If you want to navigate the Grand Canal through County Kildare yourself it is possible to rent a barge and travel the Canal at your control. A great option for tours of Ireland and a good way to discover hidden gems.
The Royal Canal brushes the northern part of County Kildare near Maynooth before heading up to Mullingar and joining the Shannon , 90 miles and many tortuous meanderings later , at Cloondara , north of Lough Rea , for access to the northwest.
With the recent reopening of the Shannon-Erne Waterway, these southern waterways are linked once more with the Fermanagh Lakes in the North , as they were in the 19th century. The canals are flanked by a series of pleasantly undeveloped - and easy to follow trails , the Royal Canal Way , the Grand Canal Way and the Barrow Way. All worth seeing on Ireland tours.