Navigating the Royal Canal

The Royal Canal main line is 146 km with 46 sets of locks. The Longford Branch line (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. Assistance from a Lockkeeper is also required for lifting the road bridge between locks 44 and 45.

Lockkeepers Royal Canal:

  • Spencer Dock: Mark Clarke – Phone +353 (0)87 258 4713
  • Locks 1 – 17: P J Massey – Phone +353 (0)87 9857019.
  • Locks 18 – 40: Billy Dixon – Phone +353 (0)87 6182104.
  • Locks 41 – 46: Paddy Dixon – Phone +353 (0)87 9151400

Navigation is open from Mid-March to October each year but is subject to restrictions at the entrance to the Liffey in Dublin at the Newcomen Lifting Bridge

Newcomen Bridge; lift dates

​Contact Waterways Ireland Eastern Regional Office phone +353(0)1 868 0148 or email;

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

Active marine notices, Royal Canal 2022

Marine Notice 1, Marine Notice 3,

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:

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)