This calm and tranquil study of the Eglinton Canal dates from the 1950?s.
The canal was built to allow access to boats from the lake to the sea, and vice versa. There was significant commercial boat traffic on the lake and river. It was a more efficient way to carry goods then travelling by road, and so people from all around the Corrib could carry their produce to the city. This ranged from quarried stone and marble to cattle or sheep for the fair in Galway.
Construction of the canal began in 1848 and was completed in 1852 providing much needed employment, life saving work to many people in the immediate aftermath of the Famine. Its construction helped to regulate the water supply from the river to many of the mills and other industries in the city for whom waterpower would have been vital. The canal itself is 1,200 meters long and it had five bascule bridges which could be moved to allow boat traffic to pass.
And the traffic was significant ? 6,825 tons in 1857, and between 1902 and 1907, 4,000 tons annually. By this time road surfaces were improving and motorised traffic becoming more efficient, and the Galway Clifden Railway also carried a lot of freight, and so gradually, traffic on the canal decreased. So that in the end, only pleasure boats used the system. The last of these was AMO II in 1954, a boat owned by the Guinness family. Eventually all of the bridges were replaced by the present fixed ones to cater only for road traffic.
The building we see on the right was a science laboratory for U.C.G. students. It was originally the site of the Royal Yacht Club.
If you would like an evocation of life in Galway (particularly student life) during the sixties, then I can highly recommend a newly published novel entitled ?Allegations of Love?. The author is one of our own, Kevin Brophy from Renmore. His beautifully written book is mostly set in his native city, and tells the haunting story of a journeyman journalist as he struggles with ghosts of his past, a story of love and betrayal, sexual exploitation and planning corruption. Available in all good bookshops.