A 20 year community project to renovate a historic canal barge is nearing completion just in time for the opening of the Royal canal greenway. In the early 1990’s, the Royal Canal Amenity Group had the idea of restoring an old derelict Royal Canal Barge that was partly submerged on the canal at Killucan.

The hope was to create a barge for the community that could be used as a floating museum of canal transport, with displays of canal fauna and flora. It was also hoped that water-bus trips could be provided with running commentary on canal sights, flora, fauna history and folklore.

The original barge at Killucan in 1995

In 1995, the then Minister for Arts Culture & The Gaeltacht announced the Barge Restoration Project – the project involved FAS and local communities. The Royal Canal groups and the Killucan Community Development formed the canal development company. Following the development of a business plan, the Department granted funding for the project.

In 1996, a Community Youth Training Programme was set up and a workshop was found. The barge was hoisted out of the Royal Canal, moved to the workshop and restoration commenced.

Hoisting the Barge Out of the Royal Canal

Between 2000 and 2003, the hull and superstructure were ready and the barge was brought back to Killucan for sandblasting & painting. And during the 2003 and 2004, volunteers sandblasted & painted the barge. The barge was returned to the water. Interior fitting was undertaken.

Barge after sandblasting

Currently, the project is nearing completion and should be a welcome attraction of interest to visitors to the Royal canal greenway. If you are taking a trip on the greenway be sure to stop in Killucan and check out this amazing project. Hopefully soon visitors will be able to take a trip on the barge and explore the wonderful greenway from the canal.

Eventual plan for barge trips

Leave a Reply