County Offaly: The Architecture of the Grand Canal

The Grand Canal is the main canal within County Offaly and links Dublin with the River Shannon. It crosses the Kildare border near Edenderry and runs west through Tullamore to Shannon Harbour on the River Shannon. It was built by the Grand Canal Company in two stages - as far as Tullamore in 1798 and then on to Shannon in 1804. A short spur to Tullamore Harbour, its terminus, from 1798 to 1804, and branch lines to Edenderry and Kilbeggan were constructed - Edenderry opened in 1802 and Kilbeggan in 1835. The advent of the canal brought about a whole new range of building types, most notably, the elegant canal bridges with date plaques, that grace the county. A unique building type within the county is Blundell Aqueduct, which is the only example of a canal-over-road crossing. Some of the bridges were named after local landlords who contributed towards the building costs. The many bridges with associated hotels, lock-houses, harbours and warehouses are testament to the skill of the stonemasons who worked on them.

Edenderry Grand Canal, JKL Street, EDENDERRY, Edenderry, County Offaly

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Spur of the Grand Canal, built between 1797 and 1802. Coursed squared limestone block walls with concrete coping. Cast-iron mooring points spaced along quay wall. Metal ladders descending into water. Walkway to one side of canal. Northern end surrounded by modern stone wall.


CLONIFFEEN, Shannonbridge, County Offaly

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Detached three-bay two-storey lock keeper's house, built c.1760, to a design by Thomas Omer. Now used as a tourist office. Fronts east onto street. Pitched slate roof with cement ridge tiles, rendered chimneystacks, terracotta pots and rendered coping. Squared coursed limestone to walls, on rock platform with limestone plinth and string course at first floor…


Crane Number 10, CLONIFFEEN, Shannonbridge, County Offaly

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Cast-iron quay crane, erected c.1840. Located to quayside. Spoked cog wheel to shaft with maker's mark reading 'Courtney and Stephens Dublin', 'H. Lee and Sons Limerick', 'Board of Public Works Shannon Navigation, to lift 1 ton 1-8-03'.


Bury Bridge, Convent Road, PUTTAGHAN (BC. BY.), Tullamore, County Offaly

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Single-arch masonry canal bridge, built in 1799, carrying road over a spur of Grand Canal leading to Tullamore Harbour. Random rubble limestone walls with dressed limestone blocks to voussoirs to arch, string course and coping to parapet. Random rubble limestone walls flank roadway. Deck is humped. Towpaths flank canal with tooled limestone retaining walls. Date…


Saint Brigid's Place, TULLAMORE, Tullamore, County Offaly

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Detached corner-sited three-bay two-storey over basement house, built in 1800, with external wall to west with door opening former canal office. Fronts onto street. Pitched slate roof with rendered stone gable coping. Roughcast render to walls with smooth rendered quoins. Replacement uPVC windows with rendered surround, painted sills. Round-headed door opening with tooled stone surround,…


Kilbeggan Bridge, Emmet Road, Columcille Street, TULLAMORE, Tullamore, County Offaly

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Single-arch reinforced-concrete road bridge, built between 1929-30, carrying the Kilbeggan road over the Grand Canal. Replaced an earlier bridge, called Pound Bridge, built between 1801-1803. Spandrels with recessed panels. Parapets with vertical metal railings set between concrete posts and terminate in concrete piers. Concrete coping blocks and piers. Slight curve to deck.


Main Street, TOWNPARKS (LO. PH. BY.), Daingean, County Offaly

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Detached three-bay three-storey to canal side and two-storey to road side former canal store, built c.1797. Now disused. Set back from road on south-eastern bank of canal. Pitched slate roof with limestone coping. Random coursed limestone and yellow brick walls with red brick eaves course. Roughcast render to west. Moulded yellow brick window openings with…


TOWNPARKS (LO. PH. BY.), Daingean, County Offaly

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Stone built quay, constructed c.1800, running under Molesworth Bridge, along edge of canal. Retaining wall runs along upper part of canal. Quay downstream to west has been renovated c.2000.


Molesworth Bridge, Main Street, TOWNPARKS (LO. PH. BY.), Daingean, County Offaly

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Single-arch limestone canal bridge, built 1796, carrying the Daingean Tyrrellpass road over the Grand Canal. Semi-elliptical arch is set skew to the canal. Random rubble limestone walls with dressed stone string course, voussoirs, parapets and abutment quoins. String course cross parapets and piers. Tooled limestone voussoirs to segmental arch-ring. Stone plaques to both parapets reads:…


33rd Lock, BALLINGOWAN GLEBE, Belmont, County Offaly

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Single-arch masonry canal bridge, built c.1800, carrying the road to Belmont over the Grand Canal at the 33rd lock. Dressed limestone blocks regularly laid. Arch of segmental profile. String course from parapet to piers. Curved deck with ramped approaches.


Killeen Bridge, CASTLEBARNAGH LITTLE, County Offaly

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Single-arch masonry bridge, built in 1793, carrying a road over the Grand Canal. Random rubble construction. Arch is semi-elliptical in profile. Finely dressed voussoirs. Parapets and coping with dressed limestone blocks. East parapet repaired with concrete. Curved string course. Deck is humped. Ramped approaches.


Cartland Bridge, MONASTERORIS, County Offaly

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Single-arch masonry bridge, built in 1793, over the Grand Canal. Random rubble wall with dressed voussoirs. Parapets with dressed limestone blocks and curved string courses across faces extending to piers. Carved limestone name and date plaques to upstream and downstream parapets reads: 'Cartland Bridge 1793'. Pedestrian underpasses to canal banks.


Trimblestown Bridge, ROGERSTOWN, County Offaly

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Single-arch masonry canal bridge, built in 1797, spanning the Grand Canal. Random rubble limestone walls with dressed string course, voussoirs and terminating piers. Parapets coped with dressed limestone. Circular carved stone date plaque reads: 'Trimblestown Bridge 1797'. Deck is humped and has ramped approaches.


Toberdaly Bridge, TOBERDALY, County Offaly

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Single-arch masonry canal bridge, built c.1797, spanning Grand Canal. Squared random rubble limestone walls with dressed string course, voussoirs and coping to parapet. Deck humped with ramped approaches.


Rathmore Bridge, RATHMORE (CO. BY.), County Offaly

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Single-arch masonry accommodation bridge, built c.1795, over the Grant Canal. Random rubble construction. Arch is semi-elliptical in profiole. Finely dressed voussoirs. Towpath on both sides. Parapets with dressed limestone coping. String course across faces extending to terminal piers. Humped deck and ramped approaches.


Downshire Bridge, EDENDERRY, County Offaly

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Single-arch masonry bridge, built c.1802, carrying towpath over entrance to the Edenderry Branch of the Grand Canal. Dressed limestone blocks, laid to courses. Segmental profile arch with dressed voussoirs. Parapets regularly coursed and coped with dressed limestone blocks. String course across face extending to terminal piers.


Blundell Aqueduct, EDENDERRY, County Offaly

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Squared masonry aqueduct, built in 1793, carrying the Grand Canal over the Edenderry Rathangan road. Abutments of squared rubble limestone, coursed with dressed quoins. Segmental profile arch. Spandrels of dressed blocks. Carved limestone date plaque to sides of aqueduct read: 'Blundell Aqueduct 1793'. Canal narrows at aqueduct to form quay. Benchmark to limestone quay wall.


DRUMCOOLY, County Offaly

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Triangular-profile limestone milepost, c.1793. Located on south bank of the Grand Canal. Number '28' carved onto two sides of the post. Benchmark carved on top of post.


Gallen Bridge, GALLEN, County Offaly

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Single-arch limestone canal bridge, c.1805, carrying the Ferbane Kilcormac road over the Grand Canal. Random rubble construction. Semi-elliptical profile arch with dressed limestone voussoirs. String course extends across face. Parapets coped with dressed stone blocks. Humped deck and ramped approaches.


Ballincloghan Bridge, BALLINCLOGHAN (BA. BY.), County Offaly

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Single-arch masonry accommodation bridge, built c.1804, over the Grand Canal. Coursed dressed limestone to lower parapet wall with dressed string course and rubble wall parapet. Dressed limestone voussoirs and soffits of rubble. Hump back deck. Located at the west end of the 30th lock of the Canal. Lock gates to upstream and stone steps downstream.