Dry docks

I’m looking for help ….

It would be nice to have a list of all dry docks, graving docks, patent slips and other devices, past and present, on the Irish inland waterways. And then it would be nice to have old and new photos, descriptions, histories, anecdotes ….

I have photos of only some of the old and new docks. Most of them are illustrated below; the only ones of which I have many photos are those at Shannon Harbour, where the Grand Canal meets the River Shannon; I’ve put some of them on a page about Shannon Harbour dry docks.

In addition to those shown here, I am aware of the existence of dry docks in:

  • the Waterways Ireland canals maintenance HQ in Tullamore
  • Athy on the Barrow Line of the Grand Canal
  • Michael Barrett’s Lakeside Marina on Lough Ree (110 feet: used to build what is now the Shannon Princess II) .

There was a patent slip at Killaloe and a grid at Ballylynch, Carrick-on-Suir, where the Dowleys fleet could be maintained.

There were dry docks at the Grand Canal Harbour (see my sketch map here) and at Portobello Harbour in Dublin, and on the Royal Canal in Mullingar and on the Broadstone Line in Dublin. That’s off the top of my head; I’d be grateful for help in filling gaps, especially on the northern waterways. I’d also be grateful for photos, descriptions, histories and anecdotes about those listed here and any others that can be added to the list.

Update November 2012

I am grateful to Derek Doyle for permission to show his five photos of the dry dock at Athy; I have added them below.

update december 2010

Added two pics of New Ross dry dock, courtesy of Eamonn Coady, under Tidal Barrow below.

Update July 2010

Eunice Jeffers (to whom many thanks) points to a dry dock at Rathellin on the Barrow, shown on the 1840s OS map; switch to Historic 6″ if necessary.

Grand Canal

One of the graving docks at Grand Canal Basin, Ringsend, Dublin

Here is Jamie McNamara’s thesis [PDF] on the case for conserving the Ringsend graving docks.

Entrance to former Grand Canal dry dock at Sallins

More information on the Sallins dry dock here.

grand canal (Barrow Line)

I am grateful to Derek Doyle for permission to show these five photos of the little-used dry dock at Athy.

Looking out along the dock (Derek Doyle 2012)

The rack for draining the dock (Derek Doyle 2012)

The next photo shows the safety barriers, but also shows that there is no security for boats or their contents left in the dock overnight. As a result, few boat-owners use the facility and, I believe, that few use it only for short jobs that can be completed within a day.

Looking in (Derek Doyle 2012)

The entrance with the gate hinged down (Derek Doyle 2012)

The winch for lifting the gate (Derek Doyle 2012)

Evidently the Shannon Harbour Health and Safety bods haven’t been to Athy yet.

Barrow Navigation

On the Barrow Navigation, Carlow’s dry dock forms part of a riverside park

Further down the Barrow, boats were built in the docks at Graiguenamanagh. Boats entered above the weir and water was drained out below the weir

Tidal Barrow

Still further downriver, at New Ross, there is an enormous dry dock. Eamonn Coady says:

The dry dock was built by the old “Ross Company” in the 1970s for general shipbuilding work but was abandoned in the early 80s when the yard closed down. The Dock has now been renovated with a new gate and pump system by the current owners of the yard. Dunbrody was built there and she was the last ship built there. She is back in now until March 2010 for a refit.

Dunbrody in New Ross dry dock (Eamonn Coady)

Eamonn says:

We have a full boat yard here and would love more of the inland waterways users to come stay with us for repairs or storage. We can lift up to 50 tonnes with our travel lift so there aren’t too many inland boats we couldn’t handle.

New Ross dry dock empty (Eamonn Coady)

Contact details and info about the dry dock here.

Royal Canal

The Royal Canal dry dock at Richmond Harbour, Clondra, where the canal meets the Shannon. I presume the water drained below the lock into the Camlin river


The Waterways Ireland dry dock at Roosky

The ESB dry dock at Killaloe, at the bottom of Lough Derg on the Shannon. This is where the steamer Lady Lansdowne was assembled, from sections prefabricated in Liverpool, in 1833-34

The graving dock in Limerick

Northern waters

Fred Hamond says in Comments (below)

There was a dry dock on the Lagan Navigation at Lisburn (now infilled) and another at the N end of the Ulster Canal at Charlemont (still open; gravity drainage).

15 responses to “Dry docks

  1. Hello,
    Just came across your post and would like to inform you that the dry dock at New Ross boat Yard has been renovated and is currently home to the Dundrody until March 2011. We also have a new 50 tonne travel lift operating here in the yard.

  2. I asked Eamonn for some pics, which he kindly supplied, so I’ve added them, with contact info, under Tidal Barrow above.


  3. Pingback: Update: New Ross dry dock | Irish waterways history

  4. You probably have heard already that at least one of the graving yards at the grand canal docks are going to be restored to working order by IWAI, with volunteer work starting in June. 2 of the 3 docks (smallest and middle one) have been dug out, and are awaiting restoration.

  5. Good point; thanks. Link here. bjg

  6. i would love to be involved at grand canal dock

  7. Hi all,

    I am a student in TCD and am currently completing my thesis on the graving docks at the grand canal basin. This will incorporate it’s history, construction and eventual demise. I am hoping it will also provide a sound base for the restoration of not one but the three of the original docks. I will have this completed in the next 2 months and will happily make it available for those who may be interested,


  8. That will be very interesting; thank you. If you put it on tinterweb, let me know and I’ll provide a link. bjg

  9. There was a dry dock on the Lagan Navigation at Lisburn (now infilled) and another at the N end of the Ulster Canal at Charlemeont (still open; gravity drainage).

  10. Is there a link to Jamie McNamara’s thesis on the Grand Canal Basin dry docks?

  11. Thank you. bjg

  12. Not that I know of, alas. bjg

  13. Hi all, I’ll upload a link to my thesis for you later on this eve, hope you find it of interest,

    Best, Jamie McNamara

  14. Hi Brian, I have a few pictures that you may want to add to your article, mainly the dry dock in Grand canal Harbour in use, One of the dry-docks on the Broadstone branch and just up to date pictures of Mullingar and Richmond Harbour. let me know if you would like me to send them on.

  15. Ben: that would be great; thanks. bjg

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