Bringing boating tourists to Kildare – Nav-Watch Report – Dec 10

Recommendations on what is needed to bring boating tourists to communities in Kildare, all year round. 

The recently launched, IWAI Nav-Watch Report 2020, explains why communities along the Canals and Barrow are missing out on the economic benefits of boating tourism, at a time when the River Shannon, its Lakes and the Erne system have seen a huge surge in both holiday and weekend boating traffic. 

The report is available as a soft copy to download at Nav-Watch

Brief Review

The findings in the report are based on facts, where boaters documented precisely the problems they encountered when attempting to traverse the Grand Canal, Royal Canal and Barrow navigation, during 2019.  It includes an analysis of how these waterways are funded and most importantly, it describes and illustrates the conditions impacting the progress of boats through the water. 

It ends with the Group’s conclusions, recommendations and a look at how the communities along the waterways might look all year round, if boaters were able to guide their vessels through the water, to visit the towns and villages.   

Examples in Kildare

These images illustrate just one aspect of the difficulties encountered by boaters and answers the question, why do boats only visit Naas late in the year? 

                  Naas Harbour May 2020 © R Parrow

The weed you see thriving in the Harbour is a variety of Waterweed, a plant bought by gardeners to clean the water in their ponds.  It has escaped into the wild and can be found in various places along our canals.  It thrives in warm conditions, but totally dies back to the bottom of the water when the first frost hits.  It then comes alive again in the spring and by May, it is once again occupying the water in large swathes. 

It propagates through cuttings, so when the weed-cutter removes the tops of these plants and pieces sink, a new plant is started in the underlying silt.  This plant is invasive, a boat’s propellor has difficulty in ploughing through it and when dense, it can cause damage to boats. 

                Naas Canal Festival Oct 2019 ©



This is Naas Harbour in the previous October.  Frost has hit, trees are in autumn colours, weed now brown and hibernating at the bottom of the canal. 

Boats have arrived for the annual Naas Harbour Festival and are moored from the harbour down to the bridge, their crews enjoying the delights of the town for the weekend. 


                Grand Canal at Lullymore 2012 © P Keogh



This picture illustrates the type of work required to remove invasive weed once it takes hold. 

In 2011, New Zealand Pygmyweed or Crassula helmsii was growing along the Grand Canal between Kilpatrick Bridge, Lullymore and Ticknevin Lock.

After trying a type of matting to eradicate it with no success, the canal was dredged back to its original profile over the winter of 2011/12 and a new layer of puddle clay laid down.  This picture shows work in progress before it was re-watered in March 2012.