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canal cruising

Katoomba, Australia
Level Contributor
2 posts
3 reviews
1 helpful vote
canal cruising

I am planning to hire a canal boat for a week. My research seems to indicate that the grand canal and the barrow river are the best options. Has anyone done the royal canal? Any recomendations for short excursions into the surrounding country or towns?

Western Ireland...
Destination Expert
for Southport, Connemara, County Clare, Portumna
Level Contributor
20,430 posts
79 reviews
87 helpful votes
1. Re: canal cruising

There is Also the Shannon to consider but remember the waterways might not be on the doorstep for public transport to local towns.

Western Ireland...
Level Contributor
457 posts
146 reviews
111 helpful votes
2. Re: canal cruising

Check out www.rentmybarge.com - a private operator offering his boat for rent on the Royal Canal.

Of the two canals, the Royal offers more varied stopping points in terms of villages and pubs. The Grand traverses a large swathe of the flat and sometimes featureless midlands (with apologies to the people of Offaly).

The Barrow is a much more scenic trip,if a little trickier from a boat handling point of view with a number of weirs on the navigation. Unfortunately,Arnie Poole is no longer renting narrowboats out of Graignamanagh and I am not sure if there are any renters on the Barrow at the moment.

If you could rent a boat for a week on the Barrow Navigation, that would be my preferred option.

Dublin, Ireland
2 posts
1 review
5 helpful votes
3. Re: canal cruising

Check out Barrowline Cruisers www.barrowline.com They are based in Vicarstown, on the Grand Canal/Barrow Line and are the nearest barge hire company to the River Barrow. Vicarstown is only two hours away by boat to Athy, which is where the canal meets the Barrow River.

The Grand Canal passes through Dublin, Kildare, Laois and Offaly. You will pass through countryside not accessible in any other way. It offers scenic landscape of ancient bogland, farmland, forest and hills. It's a beautiful old canal with elegant stone bridges and locks. There are towns and villages every couple of hours along the way. So you have a choice of both worlds. There are taxis in every town and village for your excursions. There are also train stations in some of the towns along the way. For your excursions, if you take the Grand Canal route you could take a taxi to Emo Court or the Japanese Gardens in Kildare Town. You would pass through Tullamore where you have Tullamore Dew Heritage Centre. You could also take a train to Dublin to see the sights.

The Barrow River is also very scenic, uncrowded and unspoilt with its tree-lined valleys. There are towns and villages every couple of hours along the way also. In Athy you have the Athy Heritage Centre www.athyheritagecentre-museum.ie/ Carlow also has loads to offer http://www.carlowtourism.com/

Take a taxi to Kilkenny city to see Kilkenny castle. There are so many things to do and see along the Grand Canal and River Barrow, I'm sure you would love it.

Western Ireland...
Level Contributor
457 posts
146 reviews
111 helpful votes
4. Re: canal cruising

Vicarstown would be a good start point to explore the Barrow.

To give you an idea of your range in terms of distances that can be covered, I have travelled Bagenalstown to Vicarstown in a single day and in a week,travelled between Graiguemanagh and Robertstown on the Grand Canal and back. Although we were not up and away at crack of dawn,we did not take any side trips, we enjoyed excellent weather with no wet days (trip taken at end of May) so this amount of distance covered would be a maximum in a 7 day period in my estimation.

One could easily travel from Vicarstown to the end of navigation at St Mullins in a week,while having time to spare for excursions on dry land.

In terms of options for side trips, Carlow town offers the best choice for public transport to other locations.

Katoomba, Australia
Level Contributor
2 posts
3 reviews
1 helpful vote
5. Re: canal cruising

Thanks for your comments. I have purchased the IWAI guides so hopefully they may throw some more light on this. I tracked down a company Barrowline Cruisers who rent barges on the barrow and grand canal. Have you heard of them? Any feedback?

Thanks again, Alan

London, United...
1 post
6. Re: canal cruising

We have hired barges several times from Barrowline Cruisers and we can really recommend them. They are a well established small family company run by Phillip and Orla who couldn't be more helpful and friendly. They often have very good special offers/deals on the boat hire costs. All the barges we have hired from Barrowline have been modern and well equipped. They even have wood burner stoves and central heating which is great. The big attraction for us about the Grand Canal was being in the middle of the countryside surrounded only by nature. Yet if we wanted more activity we could moor in one of the villages or towns along the way. Living in a big city and wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life when on holiday, we find the waterways in England can be a bit busy so it is really something special to be on the Grand Canal, a real gem, in the midlands of Ireland where it is so much calmer and quieter. We hope to go back to Ireland this year and the plan is to hire a barge from Barrowline again. However this time we think we have enough experience to go onto the River Barrow which we are excited about as it is very beautiful.

7. Re: canal cruising

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