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Displaying items by tag: Barrow Line

Amid concerns over reduced water levels this year on the Grand and Royal Canals, Afloat.ie reader and former Oireachtas policy advisor Cathal Murphy fears for the future of Ireland’s inland waterways

Water levels on the canals plummeted over recent months. This was seen on the Royal Canal and Grand Canal and along the latter’s Barrow Line. They were so bad in parts that boats could not move on these 200-year-old navigations.

The water levels in parts were allegedly down over half a metre, the lowest in living memory. These historic pieces of heritage are under threat because if water levels continue to decrease they will not survive.

Is it structural problems? Is climate change responsible? The answers are yet to be found. The canals are supposed to have a stable water level, they are supplied off feeders which are water sources redirected from rivers.

These canals are great pieces of engineering, naturally maintaining their levels for boats to navigate. But suddenly after two centuries of functional infrastructure, we are seeing boats halted as water levels shrink.

The State at the moment is putting millions into greenway and blueway routes along these canals, but without the water and the boats these will become just paths along empty trenches in the countryside. It should be a basic function to keep water levels up as has been done for the past 200 years.

Illustrating the reduction in water levels on the Barrow Line in Co Laois in September 2021 | Credit: Cathal MurphyIllustrating the reduction in water levels on the Barrow Line in Co Laois in September 2021 | Credit: Cathal Murphy

It is not just the heritage affected. These waterways maintain immense biodiversity. Low water levels increase algal blooms, with devastating effects on fish and other invertebrates that use the habitat of the canal.

There is huge cultural and historical importance to the canals, forming a network upon which nature flourishes, history is functioning and people travel. Ireland needs them. They encourage tourism from both home and abroad so people can navigate these waterways like the canals of England and France.

Waterways Ireland, who maintain the canals, have said previously that low levels are due to leaks and not enough machinery to maintain the feeders that supply the canal, and maintain canal navigation.

Although this year we have seen some of the lowest levels, this has been an ongoing issue for a decade. This year marine notices stated that water levels were down 45cm in late August, and anecdotally they were down 60cm from Monastarevin to Athy along the Barrow Line.

The drying up of our canals is happening in front of our eyes. Some interim measures have been taken that have seen a rise in water levels in recent weeks but these are not long-term.

Whatever the reason for the water disappearing, the canals need to be protected, and to be seen as the asset of the State that they really are — and an amenity to all.

Published in Your Say

Waterways Ireland advises masters and owners of vessels that low water levels are being experienced on the 26th level (Long Level) of the Grand Canal’s Barrow Line.

As of Friday 30 July, water levels are down 400mm from expected levels. As a result, masters of vessels are advised to proceed with additional caution and to contact the water patroller (Joe Moore at 087 247 3093) for latest advice and assistance.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland advises masters and owners of vessels that due to technical difficulties, the lifting bridge on the Grand Canal’s Barrow Line at Monasterevin cannot currently be opened for navigation traffic.

Staff are working to put the bridge back in operation, and the cross-border body for Ireland’s inland waterways says it hopes to issue an update by the coming weekend.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland advises masters and owners of vessels that Lock 26 on the Barrow Line of the Grand Canal, at Athy in Co Kildare, has been closed to navigation until further notice for essential maintenance and repairs.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland advises all masters of vessels and inland waterways users of the Shannon Navigation, Shannon-Erne Waterway, Grand Canal, Royal Canal, Barrow Line and Barrow Navigation that these waterways will reopen from Monday 10 May in line with the latest relaxation in pandemic restrictions.

On the Shannon Navigation and Shannon-Erne Waterway, the winter mooring period will end on this date and the five-day mooring rule will be in force.

Locks on will be open normal summer hours (9am to 8.30pm on weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Sundays on the Shannon Navigation; 9am to 8pm daily on the Shannon-Erne) and service blocks will also reopen.

An exception applies to the lock gates at Tarmonbarry on the Shannon Navigation, which remain closed for continued emergency repair works until Friday 28 May. Passage through the lock will not be possible during this period but an alternative route via the Camlin River is available.

No lock passage tolls will be collected in order to facilitate social distancing. Note that a smart card is required to operate locks on the Shannon-Erne Waterway and these can be purchased from Waterways Ireland’s online shop or from designated retails outlets along the waterway.

Shannon Navigation lock-keepers are available at the following phone numbers:

  • Lough Allen Canal - 071 964 1552
  • Clarendon Lock - 071 966 7011
  • Albert Lock - 071 963 7715
  • Rooskey Lock - 071 963 8018
  • Tarmonbarry Lock - 043 332 6117
  • Athlone Lock - 090 649 2026
  • Poolboy Lock - 090 964 4938
  • Victoria Lock - 057 915 1359
  • Portumna Bridge - 090 974 1011
  • Ardnacrusha - 061 344 515
  • Sarsfield Lock - 087 797 2998

Anyone who require assistance along the Shannon-Erne Waterway, meanwhile, is directed to contact the following:

  • Ballyconnell Waterway Patroller - 087 260 3662
  • Kilclare Waterway Patroller - 087 260 3663

Normal summer hours will also apply to locks on the Grand Canal, Royal Cabal, Barrow Line and Barrow Navigation.

Electricity and water services have been reconnected at all Waterways Navigations in the Republic, and normal pump-out facilities are available for boaters.

Visitors to the waterways are urged to be aware of other users and continue to observe social distancing protocols, keen a distance of at least two metres from others.

Waterways Ireland also notes that water levels are becoming low due to the recent period of low rainfall. In addition, normal maintenance weed-cutting of navigation channels has been late in starting due to the ongoing restrictions, so additional weed growth can be expected in the navigation channels.

Masters are asked to contact the local waterway patroller for updated information if wishing to navigate a particular area.

Published in Inland Waterways

Owners of boats without permits on the Barrow Line of the Grand Canal and the Barrow Navigation face the removal of their vessels by Waterways Ireland later this month.

They are among the boats in contravention of bye-laws that will be taken from these inland waterways from Monday 26 October.

Others include vessels that appear abandoned, are double moored and/or causing obstruction (sunk) or are deemed to be or likely to cause a hazard to navigation, as per the Canal Act 1986 (Bye-Laws) 1988.

Owners of boats on the Royal Canal have been similarly advised of plans to remove non-permitted, abandoned or obstructing vessels from Monday 9 November.

Similar to last month’s planned boat removal on the Grand Canal, affected vessels have been stickered with warning notices, given suitable access, and owners — where known — have been contacted, Waterways Ireland says.

This story was updated on Wednesday 14 November with additional details about Royal Canal boat removals.

Published in Inland Waterways

The salvage and disposal of a number of sunk and abandoned vessels from the Barrow Line of the Grand Canal at Lowtown took place on 12-13 October 2016 by Waterways Ireland.

As part of the canals clean up a number of sunken and abandoned, non permitted, vessels were targeted for removal and disposal from the canals. Every effort was made to trace owners of the vessels via the permit database, Shannon Registration number or local knowledge. No owners or interested parties were found.

Upon inspection of all vessels by the Assistant Inspector of Navigation, it was determined that none of the vessels were salvageable and were beyond economic repair. Consequently it was decided to remove and dispose of the wrecks. A company was contracted to undertake the work.

The first vessel, a steel hulk has been sunk on the Eastern bank of the Barrow Line for approximately 5 years. Accumulated debris and rubbish hindered the pump out but eventually the vessel was floated. The vessel was recovered onto the canal bank after 7 hours of work. As initial cuts with cutting equipment were made, Waterways Ireland received a request from Heritage Boat Association to pause the removal of the vessel as it potentially had heritage value. No further cutting was done and the hulk has been left on the canal bank, overturned to prevent further ingress of water, while the HBA's interest is followed up.

Removal of the other vessels went ahead as planned. Most vessels broke up as they were being towed to the Western bank for disposal. A diver in the water recovered all floating debris and heavy materials were recovered with the assistance of a digger bucket.

One vessel was pumped out and returned to its owner who was identified after a number of phone calls on 13th October.

Vessel removal was completed on 13th October with contractor returning on site on 14th October to "dress" the bank and remove any remaining debris.

Waterways Ireland requests owners of boats on the Grand Canal, Royal Canal and Barrow Navigation to ensure they have a valid permit and that the Inspector of Navigation has been provided with up to date contact details.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland have advised all owners and masters of inland waterways vessels that the Barrow Line of the Grand Canal between the 21st Lock at Ballyteague and the 22nd Lock at Glenaree, will be closed to navigation from 16th Nov 2010 until 17th Mar 2011 to facilitate Waterways Ireland's winter dredging programme.

Published in Inland Waterways

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