In the Wake of Giants

Journeys on the Barrow and the Grand Canal


Gerald Potterton


In the Wake of Giants is an entertaining account of one farmer’s initially hesitant steps into the world of canals and narrow boats. As a young man Gerald Potterton on Sunday afternoons walked the banks of the Royal Canal near his home. Gerald’s naturally inquiring mind and an enthusiasm for engineering ensured his interest had grown to become a burning ambition to follow in the wake of his hero, L.T.C Rolt and sail the length of the Grand Canal and River Barrow in Ireland.


These journeys provided the ideal impetus to consider the work of the giants – the great civil engineers such as Thomas Omer, John Smeaton and the three Williams namely Jessop, Chapman and Dargan, who designed these waterways as well as the thousands of navvies who built them and whose names were never recorded.


This book is much more than a eulogy to the shadows of great men. In his travels Gerald takes time to reflect on his own life, to observe society in general and to digress into other topics. From responding to the perceptive observations of children through the pros and cons of the Celtic Tiger to Global warming and renewable energy – all are subjected to Gerald’s sharp eye tempered by a gentle self-depreciating humour.


In the Wake of Giants is essentially a light-hearted commentary with some historical reference and a dash of more serious opinion. Packed full of anecdotes, and Gerald’s own particular philosophical musings on life, it will keep the reader engaged from beginning to end and will delight readers well outside the core group of canal enthusiasts for whom it will be essential reading.


Gerald Potterton began writing with a regular column in the Irish Farmers Journal which built up a wide readership. He lives in Co. Meath with his wife and four children and a spoilt Jack Russell called Holly.


In the Wake of Giants is published by Ballyhay Books (Laurel Cottage Ltd).

ISBN 978 1900935 72 2. ” and is available from the IWAI On-Line Bookshop