Work on constructing the canal was completed in 1817.
Initially an important hub for trade, by the 1950s the canal had fallen into
disrepair and was officially closed in 1961.
Following extensive restoration work, the Royal Canal was
re-opened for navigation in 2010 reigniting enthusiasm for the historic trail.
As a result of the Royal Canal’s colourful history and passage through Ireland’s
Ancient East, this waterway truly is a snapshot of the past. Several bridges date
back more than 200 years and there are buildings in Abbeyshrule that can be
traced back to 1200 AD.
Legend and myth abound along each leafy corridor including
stories such as the haunted Bridge at the 13th Lock. According to legend, in
years gone by, boatmen would never moor there overnight.
Today, cruising the Royal Canal is a wonderfully serene
experience. Draped in beauty, peace and tranquillity, a trip down the Royal
Canal - be it by paddle or engine - is a trip into another world.
The Royal Canal Greenway provides a 130km walking and
cycling trail from Maynooth to Cloondara where the Royal meets the Shannon.
Nested within is the Mullingar Blueway, where you can explore a 23km paddling
The Royal Canal is heaving with wildlife, and eagle-eyed
nature watchers could be fortunate enough to spot herons, swans, otters,
badgers and foxes amidst the restful waters and colourful hedgerows.
Of course, that’s just on the surface, beneath the water a
biosphere of life exists with roach proving to be one of the most popular fish,
along with pike, tench and bream. This makes angling a very popular activity along the canal
with all levels of experience finding excellent conditions.
Wherever the Royal Canal takes you, lose yourself in the
lingering, leafy surrounds of this industrial grande dame’s still waters.
Click to view our Navigation Guide.
Click to view current status of Royal Canal towpath developments