According to Mr Monks‘s plan for the intended northern line of navigation, great accommodation and advantages would be afforded to the inhabitants of that part of the kingdom that lies north of the city of Dublin, particularly to those of the province of Ulster, who are so numerous — for all the sea ports, all the considerable towns and villages would have a cheap and secure interchangeable communication with each other, and the metropolis, in peace or war, safe from enemies and storms, most desirable objects to that extensive manufacturing country.
The design is to run a canal from Dublin to Blackwater-town (about 68 miles); the river Blackwater is navigable from thence to Lough Neagh — and with very little expence afterwards the following great general navigable canal communication would be opened:
- to the east coast of Ireland by the river Liffey to the bay of Dublin
- by the Boyne Navigation (which the northern line would intersect near Navan) to the bay of Drogheda
- from Lough Neagh, by the Newry Navigation to Carlingford bay
- to the north east coast from Lough Neagh by the Belfast canal to Belfast lough, or Carrickfergus bay
- to the north coast from Lough Neagh by the river Bann to Colerain
- and by off-branching along the Ballyhays river about 10 miles, to the east end of Lough Erne, which is nearly navigable to the town of Ballyshannon, would open a communication with the bay of Donegall to the west
- and by the Grand Canal and Barrow Navigation to the south to Waterford harbour
- by the western branch of the Grand Canal, which will be shortly completed, to the Shannon, and the Limerick Navigation to the south west of Ireland.
And we understand (in order that the inland towns and villages should reap every advantage by this general plan) he proposes that canals of very small dimensions (which are made at very little expence) should be extended from the great lines to them for boats of only four tuns burden, where water cannot be obtained to answer canals of a larger scale; and wastage of locks, in place of which he would substitute machinery on a plain simple construction, to raise and lower them on inclined planes at the rate of 100 feet in four minutes, and which would also answer instead of aqueducts and embanking across wide valleys, one horse would be sufficient to draw, and one man to attend ten of these boats chained together, the whole carrying forty tons with great ease.
Thus not only the wealthy merchant and manufacturer, but the most inferior tradesman would have an opportunity of attending and disposing of his goods at the best market (let the quantity be ever so small) on equal terms, which would be a great means to defeat and put down forestalling — a most destructive species of dealing in a manufacturing country,
Dublin Evening Post 19 January 1797
Of course, if the Act of Union hadn’t happened, the all Ireland Government may well have sunk money into the scheme to avoid giving any surplus to the King, as was the requirement of the day.