You are now able to cruise along the Grand Canal as far as Tullamore in County Offaly. The canal has been dredged and cleaned - but not modernised! - and is an idyllic alternative to the large lakes and rivers of the Shannon. This section starts at Shannon Harbour, just an hour's motoring north of Banagher. There are two locks to get up to the harbour where there are new moorings, a shower block, an excellent children's play area and, of course, a pub.
A different experience
As you go through the first lock, let the lockkeeper know your plans and he will telephone ahead to his colleagues so that they know you are coming. Further on is Lock 33 which is a rare double chamber - we would advise that you seek assistance from the lockkeeper for this one as you could literally be left high and dry. Although the canal runs through rural areas, some towns are only a short walk, such as Ferbane and Belmont. There are plenty of official moorings along the canal but there are also plenty of places where bank mooring would be possible.
Along the way you will pass the Bord Na Mona swing bridge. Bord Na Mona are the authority who cut and process the turf from the surrounding area and they have a narrow-gauge railway which crosses the canal at this point. The bridge opens electrically so it's fairly easy. There is a pub and a small shop at Pollagh on the banks of the canal and another pub further on at Corcorans Bridge. Finally you arrive in Tullamore with two more locks and dozens of pubs and restaurants - ask the lockkeeper for recommendations. There is an excellent harbour with easy access to the town centre. There are 11 locks in total and you will pass under 20 bridges and we suggest that you allow three days to get up to Tullamore and back to the Shannon. The bridges are very narrow - hence we only allow the Carlow Class on the canal.
Please mention when booking if you intend to go up the Grand Canal as we will have to make some special arrangements for your trip.