The Royal Canal, sometimes called ‘the Shoemaker’s Canal’ from a story linking one of its early promoters with such a craft, always played second fiddle to its better known cousin, the Grand Canal, which takes a more southerly route across the midlands. The Royal was fourteen years behind the Grand in making the link between Dublin and the Shannon in the early 19th century; it never carried the same volume of traffic; and it had effectively ceased to be used as a commercial waterway in 1951 while there was still some level of traffic on the Grand. However what it lacks in its commercial history compared to the Grand it more than compensates by its route, which is rich in the landmarks of history. The massive aqueduct over the River Rye near Leixlip, Maynooth’s fine harbour against the background of a university town and the walled demesnes of the great estates of Carton and Castletown are as impressive a backdrop as any to be found on the waterways. 10 LEIXLIP TO KILCOCK THE ROYAL CANAL 13.5km / 8.5 Miles HAZELHATCH TO SALLINS THE GRAND CANAL 13km / 8 miles SALLINS TO ROBERTSTOWN THE GRAND CANAL 13.5km / 8.5 Miles THE ROYAL CANAL THE ROYAL CANAL COUNTY KILDARE A BRIEF HISTORY