Before Kildare IWAI was established, members of Dublin IWAI took an active interest in Kildare waterways. Here are some of the highlights from those years:
1964 IWAI gave active support to Fr. Murphy’s efforts to promote Robertstown and the canal through Muintir na Tire
1965 First Robertstown Grand Canal Festa
1973 Dublin IWAI organised trips on the City Line of the Grand Canal with the Robertstown barge, carrying in total 1,383 passengers
1974 St Patrick’s Day rally held at Robertstown
1975 North Kildare Branch formed to embrace the Sallins, Naas and Robertstown areas
1977 Dublin IWAI carries out repairs to Lock 1 on the Naas Branch of the Grand Canal. Rally to Pollardstown Fen to protest against the proposed drainage plans for part of the Fen, a threat to the Grand Canal water supply and the rare flora and fauna
1978 Rally held on the Naas Branch and Lock 1 was in action for the first time since refurbishment
1979 AnCO agrees to set up a project to make lockgates for the Royal Canal and Naas Branch, if suitable premises can he obtained
1980 Government decision to halt all further drainage works on Pollardstown Fen and half a million pounds allocated to purchase parts of it. Rally to focus attention on restoration of the Naas Branch and restoration work begins at both ends
1981 Minister for Transport, Albert Reynolds, inaugurates Lockgate AnCO building scheme in premises made available by Messrs Arthur Guinness. Minister for Fisheries, Mr Power, announced allocation of £250,000 for purchase by the State of areas of Pollardstown Fen threatened by drainage
1982 Dublin IWAI organises a work party on Lock 3 of the Naas Branch. Naas Urban Council makes money available for timber for lockgates on Naas Branch, to be made in Watling Street under the AnCO lockgate building scheme
1983 Kilcock Festival held in newly watered level of the Royal Canal
1984 Kildare IWAI was established
1986 The Canals Act was finally passed. The official transfer from CIE to OPW of the Grand Canal system, the Royal Canal and the Barrow Navigation took place at a ceremony in Robertstown
1987 Dublin IWAI organise a Rally to mark the official reopening of the Naas Branch of the Grand Canal by Padraig Flynn, Minister for the Environment.
1989 Two boats travelled to Naas Harbour representing the IWAI at the Harbour Festival organised by the local community
1997 Kildare IWAI continues its work on the excavation of the original side chambers of Lock 16 on the Grand Canal
1999 Grand Canal Liaison Group formed by Offaly and Kildare County Councils with a Regeneration Officer
2000 Kildare County Council’s water abstraction scheme from the River Barrow causes concern. NRA Kildare Bypass deep cutting road works posed threat to Pollardstown Fen, IWAI campaigns
2001 Irish International Canoe Polo Championships held at Kilcock Harbour. Kildare Bypass controversy led to NRA adopting measures that it is confident will safeguard the water supply to Pollardstown Fen. Kildare barges and boats attended the Dublin IWAI Rally while the World Canal Conference was taking place
2002 The refurbished Naas Harbour was officially opened in March during the Naas 2002 Easter Rally. Kildare County Council was permitted to extract water from the Barrow with remedial measures to allow for possible reductions in navigation levels in dry conditions.
2003 Kildare IWAI carried out remedial work on the Four Pots near Digby Bridge, Grand Canal. Seventeen boats attended the Naas Canal Rally and some small boats made their way along the Corbally Branch.
2004 Celebrating 50Years of the IWAI and 200 years of the Grand Canal. Many Kildare boats joined in the 50 Boats to Dublin Rally celebration and members of the IWAI along the Grand got together for this anniversary with events in Dublin, Edenderry, Tullamore and Shannon Harbour
2005 A consultant’s report indicates that Pollardstown Fen is experiencing low levels because of the Kildare Bypass. A record thirty-five boats attended Kildare IWAI Spring Rally in Hazelhatch, joining the sixty boats along the line. On display were the Orion steamboat and the Offaly IWAI Bolinder Engine. In the evening there was musical entertainment and a firework display. Dick Warner unveiled a granite seat in memory of Bob Sharpe, founder member of Kildare IWAI.
2006 In March Kildare barges and boats travelled to Naas, in April it was Monasterevin, followed by the the Shannon for the Jamestown Festival in July.
2007 In April the season opened with the Easter Rally in Edenderry and closed in October with a rally to Littletown on the Old Barrow Line of the Grand Canal.
2008 In March the Easter Rally took place in Naas harbour. As well as local boats Kildare IWAI welcomed a visiting narrowboat from Harefield, UK. Highlights of the rally included the table quiz and the small boat rally along the Corbally branch of the canal. This was followed by a large boat CIC to the Limerick Bridge culvert. In September, boats travelled to Littletown along the Old Barrow Line for the end of season bash. On a cold, crisp day in December, there was a warm reception from Dublin IWAI for our annual walk, this year around Grand Canal Docks in Dublin, led by Niall Galway. The refreshments, including roasted chestnuts, mulled wine and mince pies, were devoured by the hungry gathering.
Note: The complete IWAI History can be viewed here – EOL 2013