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 & the River Shannon?


All craft with an engine capacity in excess of 10bhp on the Erne System and 15bhp on the Shannon Navigation and Shannon-Erne Waterway must be registered with the Waterways Ireland Inspectorate.  Registration is free and you can register by clicking on the link below.  Upon registering you will be provided with a registration number that must be displayed in a prominent position on your craft.  You need to inform Inspectorate immediately of any change in ownership.


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


A permit system operates on the Grand Canal, Royal Canal and Barrow Navigation, and a registrations system operates on the Shannon Navigation, Shannon-Erne Waterway and Erne System


Boats on the Barrow Navigation, Grand Canal and Royal Canal must display a valid permit.  There are three types of permits available. Depending on your boat requirements.


Holders are permitted to pass through locks and to moor at the same Public Mooring for up to five days in any calendar month.  Permits are issued on the basis of a completed application form, subject to certain conditions and cost €126.  Permits take the form of a window sticker which must be shown on the permitted craft at all times.


This grants a boat owner the right to leave their boat in one location for longer than five days.  This permit enables the holder to moor on navigation property in a specific position allocated by Waterways Ireland for a period of up to one year.  Only holders of a valid Combined mooring and Passage Permit will be able to apply for the Extended Mooring Permit.  The Extended Mooring Licence costs €152 per annum.  Non-Residential EMP's may leave their vessel in a single location for up to one year.  Vessel cannot be used as a "principle private residence" and only allowed to have a total of 90 overnight stays in one year (licensee or immediate family combined) – which may be monitored by WI authorised officers.  This applies to all non-residential EMPs (on all of the navigation – GCD, Royal, Grand and Barrow)


You can apply for permit by using the below link:


3.     Where do I display my registration sticker?


Place your registration sticker on your boat where the Inspectorate of Navigation can visibly identify it. There is no specific location required. We do however recommend placing it on your windscreen where it can best be seen and will not be covered by a canopy etc.


4.     Can I live on my boat?


Regrettably there are no available residential moorings in central Dublin at this time.  All residential moorings in Grand Canal Dock were allocated on a first come first served basis.  It is unlikely that one of these licences 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.


If you wish to be placed on this list you should contact Waterways Ireland Inspectorate of Navigation and request that you be placed on the "interested" list giving current contact details, address, e-mail and contact number(s).


The closest alternative moorings in the Dublin area are either at the 12th Lock in Castleknock, Leixlip (Confey)  – Royal Canal - (unserviced) or Caslteknock bur operations have determined that both locations are at peak capacity.  Currently there are only soft bank non-residential extended mooring locations in Sallins and Hazelhatch (West of bridge) in both cases – Grand Canal (unserviced).  These are non-serviced and non-residential.  There is water available but no electricity and only soft bank moorings available.


In order to apply for a permit you must have, at a minimum, third party liability insurance arranged.


5.     How long can I stay at a jetty?



Waterways Ireland do not charge fees for mooring on public jetties on Lough Erne.  Mooring is subject to a time limit of 48 hours (with a four hour absence before return) as per current legislation - Lough Erne Bye Laws.


On the Shannon Navigation and the Shannon-Erne Waterway the mooring limit is five consecutive days or a total of seven days in any one month during the period 1st April to 31 October.  Winter Moorings are available at all Waterways Ireland's public jetties/harbours on the Shannon Navigations and Shannon-Erne Waterways only.  The "Winter Mooring Period" commences on 1st November and ends 31st March, both days inclusive.  Charges as laid out in the Shannon Navigation Bye-laws, 1992 apply.  If you wish to avail of this facility you need to apply on line.



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


If you are simply looking to go paddling as an individual, no licence 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.  Alternatively if heavily loaded they may be long lined through the lock.  Please find information on our waterways with the below link.  You may also like to contact Canoe Association NI ( or Outdoor Recreation NI ( for further information on canoeing in Northern Ireland.  You may also like to contact Canoeing Ireland ( or Canoe Polo Ireland ( for information on canoeing in Ireland.


7.     How do I apply for a winter mooring?


Winter Moorings are available at all Waterways Ireland's public jetties / harbours on the Shannon Navigation and Shannon-Erne Waterway only.  The "Winter Mooring Period" commences on November and ends on 31 march, both days inclusive.  Charges re laid out in the Shannon Navigation Bye-Laws, 1992 (S.I No 80 of 1992) apply.  If you wish to avail of this facility you need to book online.


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.


9.     Have you further iformation on the Green & Silver Route?


Newcommen Bridge lifts on the Royal Canal.  If intending to  travel in our out of Dublin four weeks prior notice must be given to the Eastern Regional Office, Floor 2 Block C, Ashtowngate, Navan Road, Dublin 15, D15 Y3EK or by telephone on +353 (0)1 868 0148.  This office will also arrange passage through Newcommen Lift Bridge, which is owned and operated by Irish Rail and will only be lifted for boats at limited pre-arranged dates and times.



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 dock Superintendent at Ringsend: +353 (0)87 258 4713

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


  • Barrow Navigation


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


  • Royal Canal


Locks 17-40: +353 (0)97 618 2104

Locks 41-469: +353 (0)87 915 1400


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


You will see on the website ( that the sections currently under construction have a completion date of Q3 in 2019, with the aim of launching the fully branded and ready for market Greenway to the public in Q1 of 2020.  

The aim is that the 130km stretch from Maynooth to Longford/Richmond Harbour will be ready for market in Q1 of 2020, with the appropriate national Greenway branding including signs, and other marketing materials such as a website, brochures and guides.  At present Waterways Ireland does not have a date surrounding the developments taking place east of Maynooth towards Spencer Dock in Dublin, some of these sections have only recently been granted planning, this section of the canal has a much longer completion date.  

It is important to note that there are two sides to the canal with only one side under construction, I recognise that a grass towpath is not ideal, but in certain sections it can act as a detour when travelling through the sections which are currently being developed.



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


Please see below link for maps for each section of the Grand Canal Way.  The Irish Trails website is also very good for reviews and tips. 


13.  Can I cycle on the Barrow towpath?


The River Barrow is Ireland's second longest river, flowing from the Slieve Bloom Mountains in Co Laois to the sea at New Ross in Co Wexford. The river becomes increasingly dramatic as it flows south, forming a deep, wooded valley in County Carlow, watched over by Brandon Hill.

The Barrow Way is a long-distance trail that is almost entirely off road. It starts by following the Barrow Line of the Grand Canal from Robertstown in Co Kildare for almost 50km to Athy, where it joins the River Barrow, and from there it continues south for 66km to St Mullins, Co Carlow, where the river becomes tidal.

The route passes through the towns of Robertstown, Rathangan, Monasterevin, Athy, Carlow, Leighlinbridge, Bagenalstown and Graiguenamanagh on the way, and finishes in the picturesque riverside village of St Mullins, deep in the Barrow valley. 


Cycle the Barrow Way by section:

  • Section 1: Robertstown –Monasterevin (24.5km)
  • Section 2: Monasterevin – Athy (22.5km)
  • Section 3: Athy to Carlow (19km)
  • Section 4: Carlow to Goresbridge (25.5km)
  • Section 5: Goresbridge to St Mullin's (22.5km)


14.  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. 

Maters of deep drafted boats are asked to contact the Operations office in Coleraine before travelling on +44 (0)28 7034 4342.  I hope you find this information useful.  If you need anything further please do not hesitate to contact me directly.



15.  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 units or 20 units.  There is a card reader in each service block to enable users to check the number of units remaining on the smart cards.  

Services use the following number of units:

  • Locks:  1 unit 9Shannon-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 units


  • 10 Unit Smart Card €6.35


  • 20 Unit Smart Card €12.70



You can  purchase smart cards from our online shop using the below link.


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


Portumna Harbour is a new facility run in conjunction with Galway County Council, at present this is the only facility, specifically designed for campervans we have across our waterways. 

Campervans can use Waterways Ireland facilities at other waterway locations but 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. 

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