These are the adventures of Andy and Sally Rawnsley on their narrowboat "The Puzzler". We have been living on the boat for over eight years now and are still loving it. Our Ulster born Shih Tzu, Shannon, has grown up, and has taken over the boat! After three wonderful years in Ireland, we transported The Puzzler to The Netherlands, and spent a year there. In 2015 we went southwards, to reach the north of France by June. After glorious weather throughout the summer, we arrived in Roanne in late October, and enjoyed our winter in this friendly port. We cruised extensively in France in 2016, returning to Roanne for a second winter.


Tuesday, 5 June 2012

2nd - 4th June. The Grand Canal. Bord Na Mona railway. Pollagh.



We are carrying on along the Grand Canal, which does not have many corners in it! Here we are crossing the Macartney Aqueduct over the Silver River.




 Silver River stretches away down below us.
The Bord Na Mona railway swingbridge is open today for the passage of boats. Bord Na Mona, which is a government based energy company, was founded in 1946 to oversee further development of the bogs and utilisation of peat. At that time it was the main source of employment in this area and it still collects the peat from the bog by railway.
This is a narrow gauge railway and apparently it is fitted together in sections, like a model railway track, to carry the trains across whichever part of the bog is currently in use.




This is a particularly straight section of the canal.




The broom is in full flower at the moment.
The approach to Pollagh is attractive, with the village mooring just through the bridge. St Mary's Church in Pollagh was built in 1907 using locally produced yellow brick. It has a famous altar, made from 4000 year old bog yew, which was extracted from the Bog of Allen. It attracts international visitors, but, sadly, it was closed while we were there.


This turf cutter, close to our mooring, was carved from 3-4000 year old bog oak and is mounted on a plinth made from traditional yellow Pollagh brick. The Grand Canal was very important for the transportation of these bricks, particularly to Dublin.




The canal bridges are in excellent condition.


We sailed on along the canal and through Tullamore, where the railway crosses the canal. We saw a "cat on a hot tin roof"!



The lock cottage at lock 26 was particularly attractive.


This is the machine used to dredge the canal, but he is having a rest today, as it is Bank Holiday Monday!
Where the track by the canal is narrow, the dredged mud and weeds are put as extra puddling along the edge of the canal. It does not look very good, but it creates a deep centre channel for cruising, with no weed for now, which is always good.

As we carry on across Ireland, the scenery is varied, with flat countryside stretching away to our left at one point.



Five minutes later it is quite different, with an avenue of trees ahead of us.
Each lockkeeper works us through a few locks, then calls ahead to make sure that the next man is ready for us. We can see Jimmy's van waiting for us at lock 21. This system failed us a few locks ago, as one lockkeeper was strimming his grass and did not hear the phone. We had to work two locks ourselves - what a hardship! One lockkeeper told me that it was his job to work the locks, and he was glad to have a job.
Soon after lock 21 we stopped near the old junction with the Kilbeggan Branch at Ballycommon hamlet. The entrance was dammed in 1961 and the canal was allowed to dry out.


It has since become overgrown with young trees but the towpath is still walkable and is well maintained.

1 comment:

  1. The Grand Canal looks lovely :) I love the 'Turf Cutter' carving. Sounds like you are having a good time in the South.

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