Work began on the Grand Canal in 1756. In fact the first sods were turned near the starting point of our walk at Hazelhatch. However engineering difficulties and mistakes by the builders in the early stages meant that progress was slow. The tempo picked up during the last twenty years of the 18th century and although thwarted many times by the difficulties of engineering a canal across the Bog of Allen the canal company managed to make the link with the Shannon in 1803. The important branch to the river Barrow had been completed a decade earlier. Passenger boats used the waterway until the 1850s and cargo boats until 1960. The big, broad-beamed barges laden with porter, coal or grain were a familiar sight to generations of canal-side dwellers. After their closure to commercial traffic in 1960 the future for the waterways seemed bleak (although the Grand, unlike the Royal, remained navigable). However the vision of the inland waterways activists encouraged a more enlightened attitude by Government. Lyons House designed by Ricahrd Morrison in 1805 18 LEIXLIP TO KILCOCK THE ROYAL CANAL 13.5km / 8.5 Miles HAZELHATCH TO SALLINS THE GRAND CANAL 13km / 8 miles 13.5km / 8.5 Miles THE GRAND CANAL THE GRAND CANAL COUNTY KILDARE 13.5km / 8.5 Miles THE ROYAL CANAL THE ROYAL CANAL COUNTY KILDARE A BRIEF HISTORY A BRIEF HISTORY