The Naas Branch

Naas Branch, Naas Line, Naas and Corbally Branch, Herbertstown Branch … it started life as an independent entity, constructed by the County of Kildare Canal Company, set up by an act of 1786 to link the Grand Canal to Kilcullen and perhaps to Baltinglass in Co Wicklow. It lasted as an independent entity only until 1808, when the Grand Canal Company took it over, extending it to Corbally in 1810; it never reached Kilcullen, never mind Baltinglass, and it does not seem ever to have had much trade, except perhaps to the Leinster Mills. See Ruth Delany The Grand Canal of Ireland David & Charles, Newton Abbot 1973 for more details.

But folk were optimistic in 1788 when the canal had its official opening. It sounds as if it was a bit premature, as the dignitaries’ boat seems to have gone only as far as the third lock, at Oldtown, which was still being constructed; there are two more beyond that before you reach Naas.

This account of the ceremony is from The Gentleman’s and London Magazine: or, Monthly Chronologer for March 1788 Dublin: Printed by John Exshaw.

Naas, March 6. This day was opened the new county of Kildare Canal. His Grace the Duke of Leinster, and the other gentlemen of the company, assembled this morning on board the Millecent packet, where an excellent breakfast, music, &c were provided. They proceeded with streamers flying, and the discharge of several pieces, from Sallins up their own line, through the company’s bridge, the Leinster and Wolfe Lock, &c.

Naas Branch from Soldier's Island to Oldtown [OSI ~1840]

Naas Branch from Soldier’s Island to Oldtown [OSI ~1840]

27 Turning left off Main Line at Soldier's Island to head for Naas_resize

Entering the Naas Branch from Sallins

On entering the new line, they were received with loud and repeated acclamation, and as soon as they entered the Leinster Lock, the populace seized the track line, and drew them in teams to the excavation of the third lock at Oldtown.

29 Lock 2 of Naas Branch at former Odlum's Mills_resize

Approaching the Leinster Mills

They passed through each of the locks in rather less than three minutes. The perfect execution of the works, the curving line of the Canal, the variety and beauty of the adjacent country, interspersed with ancient and modern buildings and improvements, all embellished by the fineness of the day, and enhanced by the consideration of the utility of the work to the comfort and industry of the inhabitants of the large tract of country, through which it is to pass, filled every breast with a glow of satisfaction.

Naas Branch Leinster Mills July 2008 12_resize

Lock 2 at the Leinster Mills

Naas Branch Lock 3 01_resize

Lock 3 at Oldtown

It was likewise a matter of pleasing observation that they appeared on this occasion in one of the boats of the Grand Canal Company; a circumstance indicative of that harmony, liberality, and co-operation which do honour to both companies, embarked as they are in undertakings so much calculated for the common good and infinite advantage of the country.

Naas Harbour 01_resize

The canal harbour at Naas

Corbally Line 01_resize

Bridge on the Corbally Line

My OSI logo and permit number for website


10 responses to “The Naas Branch

  1. Pingback: Opening of the Naas Branch – Mar 1788 | Kildare Inland Waterways Association of Ireland

  2. It really is one of the most beautiful sections of canal we have. Particularly the section between Naas and the Oldtown lock. Its probably nicer now then when it opened. Now that the trees and plants along it are mature.

  3. Patricia A Krezel

    I’m trying to obtain the names of the Naas lockkeepers. My great-great Grandfather, William Lynch, was a lockkeeper of the Robertstown lock and also the Blackwood feeder in County Kildare. My Grandfather, Patrick Lynch, who was born in Coolree, and his wife, Alicia Harris of Robertstown, emigrated to Newark, N.J. about 1892.
    In 1982, while I was touring Naas, there were election signs for Thomas Harris about the town. I have often wondered if he could have been a relative of my family. At that time in Naas, my associates weren’t interested in knowing who
    Thomas Harris was, but I have often wondered if he could be related to me.
    In other words, I would like to know more about my grandmother’s family.
    Might they have been lockkeepers also. Thank you. Sincerely,
    Patricia Lynch Krezel

  4. Sorry for the delay in replying. I am not skilled in genealogy so I may not be the best person to help, but there are two waterways-related sources that might have information. One is the records of the Grand Canal Company, which are in the National Archives in Dublin under OPW10. There is a limited online search facility but you’d have to go to the Archives to see the documents themselves. If there is anything,. it’s more likely to be about Lynch rather than Harris.

    The other possibility is the Waterways Ireland archive in Enniskillen; again you’d have to visit there to see anything they have, but you can at least ask them in advance.


  5. Pingback: A Meeting Place for Kings | Lydia Little – creative writer and K-Girl

  6. Nice to see old mill again
    Works there for 15 years
    Great place know every Ince of it even under ground tunnel

  7. Martin Connelly

    Is it possible to organise a trip on the canal and to have someone give the history along the way.
    Much appreciated.

  8. I’m not in the area so I don’t know who might organise what, but you could try contacting the IWAI Kildare Branch whose email address is bjg

  9. Pingback: Corbally Branch – an amenity for all – Feb 1 – IWAI Kildare

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.