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The Eglinton Canal is a short canal, about three quarters of a mile long, that allowed a connection between Lough Corrib and Galway Bay. It followed a roughly semi-circular course around the west of the city (as it then was), bypassing the main line of the river and many other watercourses. It was built by the Commissioners of Public Works between 1848 and 1852; the original estimate allocated £27,000 for the canal and £11,000 to improve the flow to mills in the city. Other improvements were made to the Corrib at the same time and the Cong Canal, linking to Lough Mask, was worked on between 1848 and 1854 (but was abandoned before it was finished).

The canal had only two locks: the Parkavera Lock (14′) about two thirds of the way along from the upper end, and the sea lock linking the Claddagh Basin to the bay. There were five hand-operated swing-bridges (marked as swivel-bridges on a map), made of wood on steel frames.

In 1954 Frank Bailey bought the Amo II, a 90′ motor yacht, from the Guinness trustees: it had been part of the family’s fleet at Ashford Castle. Bailey wanted to take it to the sea but, when the authorities examined the bridges, they found that, though they could be opened, they could not be closed again safely. Accordingly, even as Amo II passed down the Eglinton Canal, the swivelling bridges were being removed; they were replaced by fixed bridges that are still there today, and Amo II was the last large vessel to use the Eglinton Canal.

Construction of the Canal

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.

Built between 1848 and 1852 by the Commissioners of Public Works allowing a connection between Lough Corrib and Galway Bay. 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.”



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