I fancied a bit of a change for today’s walk and since I had to go into Longford, I took a ramble out to The Junction on the towpath of the long-defunct Longford Branch of the Royal Canal. A little over 5km out from where the N63 goes through the old canal line, you come across the point the Branch joins the canal’s main line.
The Junction was the single most important piece of infrastructure ever built in the county at the time and represented the last piece of an incredible £1.5 million investment in bringing the Royal Canal from Dublin to the Shannon and to Longford town. The 8km Branch took the canal right into a harbour at the back on Longford’s market square before it was filled in the 1960s to build a swimming pool which has since been demolished and replaced with a car-park.
The Branch opened in 1830 but had a very short career as the railway to Mullingar effectively ended the canal as a going concern in 1848. When it reached Longford in 1855 there was little need for the canal except for a few niche purposes such as beer which didn’t take well to being rattled about on the rails. The other main cargo was horse manure which Dublin produced in vast quantities and wasn’t cost effective to transport by rail.
Anyway, for the stretch I was walking there is little left but a deep ditch filled mostly with Birch and Willow trees. There is a good gravel paved path that could do with a little attention and it’s a perfectly flat walk for the 6km stretch I did – the branch took a bit of a winding route to avoid the costly expense of locks.