The building of Shannon Harbour took place in 1803 in the townland of Clononeybeg or in Irish, ‘Cluain Uaine Beag’, meaning the small enclosed meadow.It was a purpose built settlement, constructed to meet the requirements of the Grand Canal Company. Situated on the western end of the Grand Canal it forms a confluence with the River Shannon and the River Brosna.
On completion it became a thriving, vital place having a bonded warehouse, a customs and excise post, a large R.I.C. barracks complete with holding cells, a Harbour Masters House, boat and barge repair dockyard with two dry docks, a small school, a smithy and livery. As well as many cottages in the town there was also the Grand Hotel and several taverns. At its peak over 1,000 people lived in Shannon Harbour and its’ hinterland.
The construction of any canal is a feat of civil engineering. The Grand Canal venture was no less and has to have been a headache at times for the engineers, especially when cutting through the many acres of bog lands between Shannon Harbour and Dublin. The work was all done by hand and over three thousand navvies were on site, for the mechanical digger had yet to be invented. Putting in puddled clay bottoms thirty-six inches deep and up the bank sides to a thickness of ten inches was not always sufficient to prevent seepage through its peat banks and in many areas the fibrous material of peat had to be removed and replaced with other materials, such as stone and clay soils. A spectacular opening ceremony, complete with a military band, was planned for the completion of the Grand Canal however, this had to be cancelled when the bog banks collapsed between Shannon Bridge and Tullamore.
During it’s commercial life over 250,000 people were believed to have used the canal, many of them were on the emigration route to countries such as America, Canada and Australia.
Today less than 30 people live in the village and the Harbour Masters house is now a well appointed three star B&B
Now seeing this gave me a surprise!
I wonder how this twinning came about ?
This is the penultimate lock or the second depending on which way you are going.
The house peeping out from behind the trees was the Lock Keepers Cottage
The First or Last Lock of the Grand Canal.
I hope that you have enjoyed the mini tour as much as I have.
Where we go next is in the lap of the Gods!