Boating

Navigating the Royal Canal

The Royal Canal main line is 146 km with 46 sets of locks. The Longford Branch (presently dry) runs from the main line at Killashee to the town of Longford and is 8 km long. All the locks on the Royal Canal are manually operated. Passage through the locks is only permitted during daylight hours. Contact the waterway controllers for lock operations.

Waterway Controllers contact numbers:

  • Spencer Dock: Phone +353 (0)87 258 4713
  • Locks 1 – 17: Des Phillips – Phone +353 (0)87 248 5754.
  • Locks 17 – 38: Liam Croash – Phone +353 (0)87 618 2104.
  • Richmond Harbour: Liam Cox – Phone +353 (0)87 922 2020.

    Before setting out we recommend picking up a copy of Guide to the Royal Canal (available to buy at our RCAG Shop), which contains detailed navigation maps and a wealth of information about the canal and its environment. And details on our Smart-Tag system can be found at Royal Canal Smart-Tags

    And you don’t need a barge or large boat to explore the Royal. It can be done in sections by Kayak; see Kayaking on the Royal


Newcomen Bridge; lift dates for 2018

Waterways Ireland wishes to advise that the schedule of bridge lift dates 2018 for Newcomen Bridge, Royal Canal, Dublin are as follows:

  • Tuesday 24th April; 11am – 1pm
  • Sunday 13th May; 9am – 1pm
  • Saturday 2nd June; 9am – 1pm
  • Tuesday 19th June; 11am – 1pm
  • Thursday 19th July; 11am – 1pm
  • Tuesday 21st August; 11am – 1pm
  • Tuesday 2nd October; 11am – 1pm

​Two weeks notice is required from boaters for use of these lifts; should there be no demand (min 2 boats) for a particular date, Irish Rail will be notified by WI that the lift is cancelled. Priority will be given on a first come first served basis.

Contact Waterways Ireland Eastern Regional Office phone +353(0)1 868 0148 or email; dublincanals@waterwaysireland.org


Active marine notices, Royal Canal

  • Newcomen Bridge lift dates 2018. Feb 15 2018; MN 7
  • Royal and Grand Canal boat passage in and out of Dublin. Feb 15th 2018; MN 8

General Information:

Lock Dimensions:

  • Length; 21m
  • Beam; 3.9m.
  • Draft; 1m.
  • Airdraft; 3m. (2.1m at Spencer Dock and Sherriff St).

Waterways Ireland Contacts:

  • Operations Eastern Region, Floor 2 Block C, Ashtowngate, Navan Rd, Dublin, 15.
  • Phone +353 (0)18 823 301
  • Fax no +353 (0)18 383 647
  • Email: info@waterwaysireland.org

Navigational Criteria: (Maximum values): Length: 21m Beam: 3.8m Draft: 1m Airdraft: 3m Lowest Bridge: Liffey Junction Railway Bridge

Permits: Permits are required to enter and moor on the Royal Canal. They must be purchased in advance of travel. At the time of publication these cost:

Lock Passage: The cost is €0.60 per lock Mooring: €12.70 per month Annual Permit: €126                                                                                                                                               Permits can be purchased from: Waterways Ireland, Floor 2 Block C, Ashtowngate, Navan Road, Dublin 15. Tel: +353 (0)18 680 148

Slipways: Slipways are provided at a number of locations along the Royal which are:

  • M50 Aqueduct

    Maynooth Harbour slipway

  • Confey:
  • Maynooth Harbour:
  • Enfield Harbour:
  • Thomastown/Killucan Harbour:
  • Mullingar Harbour:
  • Ballinea Harbour:
  • Ballynacargy Harbour:
  • Abbeyshrule.

Consult the Guide to the Royal Canal for more detailed information, or contact Waterways Ireland for up to date information.

Speed Limit:  the max speed limit is 6km/h. Please ensure your wash and wake does not cause nuisance to other waterway users, especially in confined waters or channels. Reduce speed where necessary to prevent bank erosion, damage to reed beds and destruction of birds’ nests among reed and bank habitats. Slow down where boats are moored, when approaching quays, jetties or locks or where water activities are taking place.

Mooring Time Limits: No boat shall be moored at the same place on the canal or within 500 metres of the same place, for more than 5 days without the appropriate permit.

Fuel Points: Fuel is available from garages adjacent to the canal


Maintenance works: Maintenance work on the system is whenever possible carried out during the winter months. However, it is always advisable to contact Waterways Ireland before making any journey, to confirm that the section of waterway that you wish to navigate is open. You may also keep up to date on closures and work on the canal at Waterways Ireland Royal Canal Marine Notices. (MN)