Ballybrannigan Harbour & Ballymahon

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Ballybrannigan Harbour & Ballymahon 53.575270, -7.763654


The level from 39th Lock is the longest on the western end Of the canal, extending for more than 11 km. The canal follows the contours of the Inny Valley and is undoubtedly the most winding section of the whole line. As far as Archie’s Bridge there are now towpaths on both banks. For the first 6.5 km the canal is narrow and enclosed with high hedgerows so that the nearby river is only visible occasionally.

Passing under Chaigneau Bridge, known locally as Brannigan Bridge, the canal opens out into Ballybrannigan Harbour where there is a large store, and the passage-boat ticket office, recently restored by the Ballymahon Branch of the RCAG. This stretch of canal around Ballymahon is through more open country and parts ofthe canal are embanked. At Archie’s Bridge there a quay and the remains of two large stores. From here the canal curves around Mullawornia Hill following the contours. At this point the canal is only about 3 km from the River Shannon at Lough Ree but instead of continuing west in the Inny Valley. it takes a sharp turn to the north. Emerging from a cutting the canal enters 40th Lock, Mullawornia, and is carried along a rocky escarpment with the rock rising sheer above the east bank and falling away almost vertically on the opposite side. An extensive stone quarrying operation has eaten away a large portion of Mullawornia Hill. As can be imagined, there are excellent views towards Lough Ree.


Although the harbour and passage boat station were at Ballybrannigan Harbour, Toome Bridge was the place where passengers alighted to connect with Bianconi’s cars to Athlone. Bianconi was Ireland’s principal operator of horse-drawn coaches which were frequently referred to as “cars”. There were quite a number of places along the route of the canal where coaching establishments provided connecting services. In the 1830s over 40,000 passengers were carried per year on the canal and the tonnage of goods rose to a peak of 100,000 tons per annum in the 1840s.