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Ireland Loop

Posted by Rob Set 
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Ireland Loop
08 February, 2018 07:43
Could someone please advise me if it is possible to travel the loop of the Grand Canal, River Shannon, Royal Canal and Liffey River.

Is there a previous forum post which covers this topic?

Thank you.
Re: Ireland Loop
08 February, 2018 09:13
Hi Rob,

Not only is it possible, it's positively encouraged! Dublin IWAI will award a "Green & Silver" plaque to any boat that does the loop. Doesn't have to be a continuous trip, can be done in stages over as long as you like. See []

There's a couple of "gotchas". You need to plan the Liffey crossing to coincide with one of the planned lifts of the "Effin Bridge" (the name given by some folks to the lifting railway bridge at Newcomen Junction in Fairview at the Dublin end of the Royal. - because of its "effin" unreliability, specially in the early days!) They only lift the bridge once a month and so that means you have to plan your transit to coincide with one of the lifts. Details of the lift schedule are published by Waterways Ireland and ourselves every year. You have to book the passage with Waterways Ireland in advance. If they don't have bookings, they won't open the bridge.

Another "gotcha" is the issue of canal water levels. The Grand Canal was generally in good shape when I travelled it late last year but the Royal Canal was effectively closed at the summit level for much of the year because of water shortages. (Though the western end was in great shape when we travelled that.) Don't know what's going to happen this year but it would be worth contacting the folks in our Royal Canal Branch to get their take on the conditions. (

Aside from the actual water levels, weed can be a problem from mid-late summer through the autumn. It depends somewhat on your boat as to how well it will cope with it.

And thats the final question. Some boats are just better suited to the canals than others. Twin engined boats are generally less suitable as are boats with a deep draft. And some boats just seem to have a better shape for canal work than others. Obviously the boat has to fit the canal locks and bridges. The Royal locks are longer but a smidgen narrower in places.

Hope this helps,

Best Wishes,

GMY Chang Sha
Re: Ireland Loop
08 February, 2018 10:11
Thank you Colin for your prompt response. I am in Australia and over a couple of visits have covered the length of the Shannon from the southernmost point possible by boat) to the top of the Erne (Kesh), and was thinking of doing the loop, as I have referred to it)

I have done the Shannon on my own thanks to Silverline who allowed me a solo hire and did the top bit with my wife using CarrickCraft.

The once a month bridge lift is a bit of a problem which would need to be looked at, but my bigger problem would probably be finding a hire company which would permit me solo hire of a small boat to do this last incomplete bit of my Ireland adventures.


Re: Ireland Loop
08 February, 2018 11:47
Hi Rob,

That's a long way to come to go boating! (I have fond memories of being on the Murray River piloting the paddle steamer Canberra for a short while!)

I believe that both Carrick Craft and Silver Line will allow (or at least they have in the past) some of their smaller boats up the canals for some distance, but whether they would allow them through Dublin or not I don't know but you could ask.

Barrowline have one of their barges in Dublin at the moment as have Riversdale so they might be an option for you as well.

In reality, you will need help to get through the Dublin section anyway, even if you were single-handing elsewhere. There's a lot of locks to negotiate. Might be worth contacting Dublin Branch about events they are organising ( and see could you synchronise your passage with one of those.

Best Wishes,


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