Eglinton Canal

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It was Alexander Nimmo who first mooted the idea of a canal in 1822. If steamboats could travel from the docks to the Corrib, it would greatly enhance the commercial importance of the city and a valuable connection with the hinterland would be established. His original plan was that this connection would start at the top of Woodquay, where McSwiggan’s is today, go along Eglinton Street and down the west side of Eyre Square to the docks. The cost proved to be prohibitive and there were a lot of objections from people who owned land or a business along the route. The actual construction of the canal, as we know it today, provided much needed work and relief during the Famine. The filling they dug out was used to fill terraces in UCG and also to fill in the causeway behind Claddagh Quay. The Claddagh Basin was constructed to cater for the 300 boats which were operating out of the fishing village at the time. Canal locks were constructed at the Basin and at Parkaveara, and the project included five swivel bridges. The canal was initially very successful commercially, but by 1915 a combination of apathy, neglect, and drainage problems had greatly reduced traffic. The last boat to use the canal was the Amo II, a converted minelayer which had seen service in World War I. It belonged to Ernest Guinness of Ashford Castle, who sold it to Frank Bailey of Eyre Square. It came down from the lake in 1954 and when the bridges were examined, they were found to be in a dangerous state, which meant either replacing them, or building fixed bridges. They decided on the latter and that was the end of the canal as a navigational channel. It still is one of the most attractive features of our city.