A HERITAGE WEBSITE FOR  LOUGH CORRIB

Corrib Connect

OIDHREACHT NA COIRIBE

CONSTRUCTION OF THE EGLINTON CANAL

Background

Following Alexander Nimmo's survey of Lough Corrib, over 200 years ago, Eglinton Canal was constructed (although not to Nimmo's specifications). It's presence allowed for trade to occur between Galway City, Maam and Cong. It also linked the River to the sea (Atlantic Ocean) to the west of the city. For an image and article by Tom Kenny of the Galway Advertiser (17/3/2011) on dredging the River Corrib, see ‘relevant links’.

Built between 1848 and 1852 by the Commissioners of Public Works allowing a connection between Lough Corrib and Galway Bay (source: Irish Waterways History website, go to ‘relevant links’ for more). It was the passing of the 1842 Act which authorised the Board of Works to conduct drainage and navigation works that enabled this project to proceed. It was also started as a result of pressure from land owners in the area and due to the fact that there were approx. 110 boats operating on the lake of "from five to eight tons", (Delaney, 1986).

According to Ruth Delaney in her 1986 publication entitled "A Celebration of 250 Years of Ireland's Inland Waterways', the author states that the Eglinton Canal was opened officially in 1852 by the Earl of Eglinton. This event was recorded in the Illustrated London News along with a detailed sketch of the Lord Lieutenant and his Lady who sailed "aboard the paddle-steamer O'Connell through the large sea lock".

The Engineer in charge of the project was John McMahon. The canal measured about 3/4 miles in length and was made with two locks (Delaney, 1986)

Journalistic Coverage Abroad

Interestingly, the article in the Illustrated London News and which appears in Ruth Delaney's publication stated the following in its report:

"A portion of the route from the landing pier to the basin wherein this tiny craft lay, chanced to be the fish market; and through this not very oderiferous locale their Excellencies had to be driven - nay even to walk a portion...Having gone on board the O'Connell, amidst the sounds of music and cheers of the people, deputations and addresses were presented from the Claddagh, as also from the other societies connected with that side of the town.. the steamer entered the dock for the first time amidst the cheers of thousands."

Other sources:

Delaney, Ruth (1986). A Celebration of 250 Years of Ireland's Inland Waterways. Published by Appletree Press. Belfast.

The Cong Canal

Teh canal had it origins in a proposal to open up the navigation between Galway and Ballina via the Corrib, Mask, Carra and Conn, Castlebar lakes and their associated rivers. At the time boats having one square sail and crewed by four men were carrying ten to twenty tone  tons of cargo between Woodquay and Cong. A horse-drawn cart travelling over the poor roads could carry only one ton and take a day to travel from Galway to Cong. Alexander Nimmo researched the project and proposed a route one mile to the rest of the present canal. It was a more difficult route but avoided the porus limestone on the present route. Work on the canal under the supervision of S. U. Roberts, a civil engineer, began in 1848. Over three hundred labourers were employed and were paid on a piece-work basis. Due to malnourishment, many of the workers only managed to earn 3d per day at a time when the average daily wage was 10-14 d or one shilling. In Ap[ril 1854, work on the navigation aspects of the canal ceased and only drainage associated activity continued until 1857.

Luke Varley wrote a detailed history of the canal in 1997 - click here to view it.

Jarlath Cunnane has written a detailed account of his travels on the Corrib and Mask up to Ballinrobe.

The Ballycuirke Canal

This canal joins Ross lake to the Corrib. The links on the right provice an excellent account of this canal and the notes by Kyran O’Gorman (March 2015) describe the actual navigation from Moycullen Bay to Ross lake in great detail. A really good read!

Back

Relevant Links

Downloads

BUILT HERITAGE - CANALS

Journals