The formation of canals was scarcely known in Ireland until the year 1765, when the Grand Canal was begun by a company of enterprising men, who were incorporated in 1772 by an act of parliament; boats began to ply to Sallins in 1783, to Athy in 1791; it is a cheap and pleasant mode of travelling, at the rate of 3½ miles an hour. This Canal is carrying on to Philipstown, Banagher, and Birr. From the first lock at Kilmainham, a cut has been made to the river Liffey at Rings-end, extending 3 miles, having 12 neat bridges to accommodate the different roads to Dublin. At the seventh lock on this line, the great basons and docks are, 4000 feet long, and 330 feet average breadth, capable of containing 400 sail of square-rigged vessels. On the 23rd of April 1796, it was opened at high tide; when his excellency Earl Camden in the Dorset yacht, commanded by Sir A. Schomberg, with a number of barges from the canal, cutters, and boats highly decorated, were admitted under a discharge of 21 pieces of cannon, and had room to sail in various directions. There were 60,000 people present; it was the best aquatic fête ever seen in this kingdom. John Macartney Esq addressed his Excellency, and was knighted.
The Royal Canal is another proof of national spirit and national industry. The subscribers were incorporated in 1789; it is now finished beyond Kilcock, 14 miles, and is proceeding rapidly to Kinnegad. On Sunday the 20th of December 1795, the first excursion was made in a barge to Kilcock, with the Duke of Leinster and Marquis of Kildare, amidst the acclamations of the people.
J S Dodd, MD The Traveller’s Director through Ireland; being a topographical description not only of all the roads but of the several cities, towns, villages, parishes, cathedrals, churches, abbeys, castles, rivers, lakes, mountains, harbours, the seats of noblemen and gentlemen on those roads: their antiquities and present state respecting parliamentary representation, patronage, trade, manufactures. commerce, markets, fairs, distances from each other, and natural curiosities; with an account of their foundations, vicissitudes, battles, sieges, and other remarkable events that have occurred at them — insomuch, that this work comprehends in itself, an accurate Irish itinerary, an extensive Irish gazetteer, an Irish chronological remebrancer [sic], and an epitome of the ecclesiastical, civil, military and natural history of Ireland, from the earliest accounts to the present year, and every information necessary for the resident, or the stranger. Embellished with two elegant maps; one of the roads and post towns in Ireland, the other of the city of Dublin, compiled from the most authentic authorities Dublin 1801