The Corbally Canal, a branch of the Grand Canal extends from Naas Harbour to Corbally Harbour in Herbertstown, near Athgarvan, Kilcullen and Newbury. It is the feeder for the Naas Canal. Water is fed from springs into Corbally Harbour, then through a large pipe under the Newbridge Road (R445), past Naas Harbour and the locks on the Naas Canal, to the Main Line of the Grand Canal at Soldier’s Island, west of Sallins. Unfortunately, the culvert at the R445 makes it impassable west of this point, for walkers, cyclists and boaters.
The Transport Tribunal in Feb 1953, released CIE of its obligation to keep the Corbally Canal open. The road authority in 1954 when building what was then the main to Limerick Road, were allowed to build a barricade across the canal, rather than a bridge.
Today, it seems amazing that this was allowed to happen, but it was at a time when canals meant the transportation of goods and people did not see the need or potential for leisure activities and tourism on rural Canals. The IWAI, founded in 1954, focused all their energy in the initial years, on ensuring the proposed new bridges on the Shannon would not block the navigation. It was not until the 1960s that the idea of canals as a recreational facility came into vogue and by then it was too late for the Corbally Canal. Until recent years, there did not seem much hope of changing this disastrous decision, as the road was part of the major artery between Dublin and Limerick. However, now with the M7, M9 and M8, this has changed and the IWAI is actively campaigning for the reopening of this canal all the way to Corbally Harbour.
Waterways Ireland maintain the canal by removing weed and silt every year, to allow the water to flow and to ensure it does not overflow into the adjoining land.
In recent years, with the emphasis on health, safety and outdoor recreation, there has been considerable interest expressed in creating an off-road facility for all. This stretch of canal can be a Greenway for those of all ages and abilities, a place for children and adults to enjoy canoeing and kayaking, a destination for boating tourists and those with an interest in our industrial and natural heritage.
The recent history of the Corbally Canal goes back to 1811, when the canal was first built as a transport conduit for Tuthill & Reeves, the Mill located 2 miles away in Athgarvan near Newbridge and other local businesses. Its industrial history revolved around the shipping of goods to Athgarvan, Kilcullen and Newbridge. Malt, flour and other raw materials were transported by cart along the Harbour Road to Corbally, where they were loaded onto barges in the Harbour, and then carried along the Grand Canal to businesses in Dublin.
There is a range of photographs in our Waterways’ Gallery section showing trips down the Corbally Canal in recent years, giving an indication of the potential of this amenity. More information: Naas Canal and Corbally Trip