Waterways Ireland | Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If you have looked through the website but can't find the information that you are after, please take a look at our FAQs below​

1.     How do I register my boat on Lough Erne, the Shannon-Erne Waterway and the River Shannon?

You can register your boat by completing the online application HERE

2.    What type of permit do I need for the Royal Canal, Grand Canal or  Barrow Navigation?

Boats on the Barrow Navigation, Grand Canal and Royal Canal must display a valid permit. All permits are annual and are valid from 1st November to the 31st of October. You can apply for a permit HERE 

There are four types of permits available:

Combined Mooring and Passage Permit (CMP) permits the holder to pass through locks and to moor at the same Public Mooring for up to five days in any calendar month. A CMP costs €126.

Non-Residential Extended Mooring Permit (NR-EMP) permits the holder to moor in an allocated location for up to one year. A NR-EMP is non-residential and therefore cannot be used a primary residence, however the holder is permitted to stay overnight for up to 90 days in any one year. A NR-EMP costs €278 which includes the cost of a CMP.

Residential Extended Mooring Permit (R-EMP) allows the holder to moor in one location for up to one year. Holders of a R-EMP have no limitation on the number of nights they may stay on board and are permitted to use their vessel as their primary residence. Waterways Ireland has 20 houseboat serviced mooring locations in Grand Canal Dock, Dublin and eight houseboat services mooring locations in Shannon Harbour, Co Offaly which are all fully occupied. If you are interested in acquiring a R-EMP, please email Inspectorate.Athlone@waterwaysireland.org providing your name, address and contact number and your details will be added to a waiting list.

Visitor Permit is free and allows boats to enter the canal system and stay for up to 31 days. The permit can only be used once every calendar year. If you wish to apply for a visitor permit please complete the CMP application and include a note indicating the date of entry to the canal. The visitor permit will be valid for one month from this date.

3.    How do I apply for a winter mooring?

You can apply for a winter mooring by completing the online application HERE


4.    Where do I display my registration sticker?

Place your registration sticker on your boat where the Inspectorate of Navigation can visibly identify it. We recommend placing it on your windscreen where it can best be seen and will not be covered by a canopy etc.

5.    Where can I live on my boat?

Waterways Ireland has 20 houseboat serviced mooring locations in Grand Canal Dock, Dublin and eight houseboat serviced mooring locations in Shannon Harbour, Co Offaly which are all fully occupied.  

All residential moorings in Grand Canal Dock were allocated on a first come first served basis and it is unlikely that one of these licenses will become available in the near future; there is also a substantial list of "interested" parties seeking to avail of these moorings in Grand Canal Dock. This list is now extensive and unlikely to move in the short or long term, so it is now closed to new applicants.

If you have any further queries you may contact the Inspectorate Office at inspectorate.athlone@waterwaysireland.org providing your name and contact details.

6.    How long can I stay at a jetty?

On the Lough Erne System, mooring is subject to a time limit of 48 hours (with a four hour absence before return). On the Shannon Navigation and Shannon-Erne Waterway the mooring limit is five consecutive days or a total of seven days in any one month. This  rule applies all year round unless a vessel avails of Winter Mooring from November 1st to March 31st. 

7.    Do I need permission to canoe on the waterways?

If you are simply looking to go paddling as an individual, no license or express permission is required. In general canoes are not permitted to transit through locks and must be carried around locks or 'portaged' as there is too much turbulence in lock chambers when locks are being operated. For further information on canoeing our waterways click HERE

8.    Can I camp beside the waterways?

Waterways Ireland does not have an official camping policy. Please seek permission from the landowner, cause no obstruction and follow the Leave No Trace principles https://www.leavenotraceireland.org/

9.    How do I arrange passage through Newcommen Lifting Bridge?

Newcommen Lift Bridge which is owned and operated by Irish Rail, is only lifted for boats at limited pre-arranged dates during the navigation season. If intending to travel in and out of Dublin, a minimum of two weeks' notice prior to published lift dates (Marine Notice) must be given to the Eastern Regional Office by telephone on

+353 (0)1 868 0148 who will then arrange and confirm passage.

10.  Where can I get lock keys?

Lock keys cost €25 and can be purchased from the following locations.

Eastern Region Office: +353 (0)1 868 0148

Grand Canal Depot, Tullamore: +353 (0)57 935 2300

Lock-keeper at Lowtown: +353 (0)87 245 6531

Lock-keeper at Shannon Harbour: +353 (0)87 245 6587

Lock-keeper at Monasterevin: +353 (0)87 247 3093

Lock-keeper at Fenniscourt: +353 (0)87 951 6333

Locks 17-40: +353 (0)87 618 2104

Locks 41-46 +353 (0)87 915 1400


11.  What is the update on the Royal Canal Greenway?

Works are ongoing to develop the longest off road Greenway in Ireland, along the Royal Canal. Greenways are recreational, off-road routes for walkers, cyclists and other non-motorised transport. During the current development phase, you may experience some disruption to your walking or cycling journey.  Click HERE for Royal Canal Status. 

'Discover the Royal Canal Greenway' guides are available for download HERE

12. Where can I find information on walking along the route of the Grand Canal?

The Grand Canal Way is a National Waymarked Way suitable to cater for walkers of all ages. The route follows pleasant grassy towpaths, gravel and sometimes tarmac canal-side roads from Dublin to Shannon Harbour. For further information on this trail and the Offaly Way and Sli na Slainte routes, click HERE 

Works are ongoing to develop sections of the Grand Canal Towpath to Greenway standard.  Greenways are recreational, off-road routes for walkers, cyclists and other non-motorised transport. During the current development phase you may experience some disruption to your walking or cycling journey. Click HERE for a summary of the works and the areas where restrictions may be in place.

13. Is the Lower Bann Navigable from the sea?

The Lower Bann is navigable from the sea at the Barmouth. Care should be taken at the entrance as in rough conditions there can be breaking waves. Coleraine Harbour Commissioners manage the 8km of river from the Millennium Bridge in Coleraine to the sea and are responsible for the Coleraine Harbour. Masters of deep drafted boats are asked to contact the Operations office in Coleraine before travelling on   +44 (0)28 7034 4342.   

14.  What are smart cards and where can I buy them?

Smart cards are used to operate the locks on the Shannon-Erne Waterways and the Shannon Navigation. They are also used to gain access to the service blocks and to use the facilities and pump-outs. Cards are available in either 10 or 20 units and cost €6.35 or €12.70.

Services use the following number of units:

  • Locks: 1 unit (Shannon-Erne Waterway)
  • Locks: 2 units (Shannon Navigation)
  • Bridges: 2 units (Shannon Navigation)
  • Pump-outs: 2 units
  • Showers: 2 units
  • Chemical Toilets: 2 units
  • Washing Machines: 5 units
  • Tumble Dryers: 5 units
  • 2kwh Electricity: 1 unit

Smart cards can be purchased HERE and many retailers along the navigations

15.   Where can I get a list of service blocks to stop whilst in my campervan?

Campervans can use Waterways Ireland service block facilities, however they are not intended for overnight stays and access may be restricted. You can get a list of service blocks from our Voyages and Visits publication HERE

If you are looking for overnight stays we would encourage you to seek a private or council owned site.

16.  Can I swim in the canals?

Under the Canal Byelaws it is strictly prohibited to bathe or swim in any lock, harbour or dock on the canals. Outside that, whilst not prohibited, the canals are used by a variety of users including boaters, canoeists, rowers, anglers and any swimmer should ensure they are safe in the area they wish to access. Other issues such as the prevalence of aquatic weed in a given area should be assessed. The canals are not designated bathing areas and as such are not monitored in accordance with Bathing Water Regulations.

17.  Can I ride my horse on the towpaths?

No. Waterways Ireland do not permit horse riding along the canal towpaths.

18.  Do Waterways Ireland have any boats for sale?

From time to time Waterways Ireland do seize vessels. Sales are generally advertised on the Waterways Ireland website, locally and in the national press – normally the Irish Independent. Please note that generally vessels are in very poor condition almost always requiring full refurbishment. For further information please contact inspectorate.athlone@waterwaysireland.org

19.  How can I get permission to use Waterways Ireland property for videography/photography.

Please contact the Waterways Ireland Press Office on +353 (0)71 9650560 or email corporate@waterwaysireland.org

20. How do I apply for a job in Waterways Ireland?

As and when jobs become available they are advertised on our website and Facebook, Linked In and the local and/or national press. For a list of current job vacancies please click HERE

21. There is a lot of rubbish along the canal – who do I report this to?

To report rubbish along canals click HERE select 'Something Else' from the 'Queries and Requests' drop down list and complete the form including details of which waterway and the exact location of the rubbish.

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