Longford's heritage comes in for much acclaim as crowds line out for Royal Canal boat walk

Aisling Kiernan

Reporter:

Aisling Kiernan

Email:

aisling.kiernan@longfordleader.ie

Heritage Week

Karen Kennedy water and Communities, Mairead Ni Chonghaile, Mayor Martin Mulleady with Little Joe and Ally Mulleady, Paul Martin and Damien McWeeney from Waterways Ireland.

Last Saturday the Heritage Boat Association in conjunction with national Heritage Week held a boat walk on the Royal Canal, between Keenagh and Richmond Harbour.

Entitled ‘Walk with the Big Boats’ the event also coincided with the 200th anniversary of the building of the Royal Canal and Richmond Harbour was packed to capacity with colourful, bright and in some cases, well weathered barges - all of which were gathered to accommodate passengers should they wish to avail of a unique trip down the canal to Mosstown and Killashee.

Cathaoirleach, Cllr Martin Mulleady was on hand to officiate at proceedings and he, along with his two children, later availed of a trip down the canal on one of the boats.

“I have never been on a barge before,” Cllr Mulleady admitted before pointing to the wonderful opportunity that was being afforded to members of the public.

“Let’s hope I don’t fall off,” he quipped.

He also added, “It is national Heritage Week and the barges are here coming up the canal at Richmond Harbour.

“This is the point where the River Shannon and the Canal meet, so that in itself is of major historical significance.”

Cllr Mulleady admitted too, that while the Royal Canal was now one of Co Longford’s biggest tourist attractions, there was still lots of work to be done on that front.

“We want to open the Canal all the way into Longford town - that is the next step in all of this,” he added.

“We will continue to focus on bringing that aspect of this project to fruition.”

Meanwhile, Co Longford’s Heritage Officer, Mairéad Nic Chonghaile said last weekend’s event was a celebration of the county’s rich culture and heritage.

“It is also the 200th anniversary of the Royal Canal this year, so we thought it was important to mark that very important event as well,” she said.

“The idea of the walk is that people can come along and walk with the boats as they head of on their journey down the Canal; they can go at the same pace as people would have done as they followed the barges along the canal in the past, and it provides an insight into life when the canals were full of traffic.”

One of the oldest barges on the Canal, dating back to 1846 was also at Richmond Harbour last Saturday.

“This boat dates back to the middle of the famine period in Ireland, imagine that?,” smiled Ms Nic Chonghaile.

“An event like this gives everyone an opportunity too, to enjoy the scenery, have a look at the biodiversity that is around and learn about the remarkable resource and amenity that is the Royal Canal.”

Further walks take place on August 26 and 27 from 11am - 6pm.

Check out /www.waterwaysireland.org/heritage-week for more details.

Also: Longford's Heritage Hero Matt Farrell meets the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall in Kilkenny Castle