The forestry has the effect of almost completely deadening sound achieving almost perfect isolation from the outside world. Emerging from the forested stretch the skyline of the town of Rathangan comes into view. Rathangan village is worth a diversion from the canal bank. A flash point in the 1798 Rebellion it is now known for its strong community spirit as demonstrated in the landscaping carried out in the area of the canal. Rathangan also has a notable literary tradition. The poet William A. Byrne is commemorated by a plaque near the canal bridge while the 20th novelist Maura Laverty also hailed from the town. From Rathangan the canal heads into the watershed of the river Barrow in the southwest extremity of Co. Kildare almost touching the Offaly boundary. The peatlands off its banks have long been the subject of experimentation. At Umeras, south of Rathangan, a factory was set up in 1885 to produce board from peat and, later, peat bedding for livestock. At Lullymore, to the northwest, horticultural experiments were carried out on the cutaway bogs. Along the way look out for the rope marks cut deep in the stone of bridge arches- a reminder of the heavy strain taken by the barge horses as they hauled the heavily laden boats through the still waters of the canal. Former grain stores at Rathangan 39 THE BARROW LINE