Junction with Broadstone Branch

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You are now at the junction where the main line Royal Canal, joined with the Broadstone Branch.

Beyond the 1st Lock the canal rises steeply out of the city through a succession of double locks passing Croke Park, Mountjoy Prison, and the junction with the former Broadstone Branch of the canal

Work began on the Dublin sections of the Royal Canal in 1789 and continued through the 1790s with many delays caused by inaccurate surveys. The Broadstone Branch was not completed until 1801. Foster Aqueduct, a well- known city landmark on this branch, was demolished in 1951. There was a hotel at Broadstone Harbour, part of which became No. 1 Phibsborough Road.

Drinking water was drawn from the harbour for the nearby City Basin until the 1860s. The Royal Canal Company reneged on its obligation to build docks at the junction with the River Liffey. Spencer Dock, which opened in 1873, was eventually constructed by the Midland Great Western Railway Company which had bought the canal in 1845.

Mountjoy Prison

From Binns Bridge to the next bridge, the towpath is wide with a good tarmac surface. It is along this particular bank of canal that “the auld triangle went jingle jangle”. Mountjoy
Prison or “The Joy,” as it is more affectionately known, was opened for business in 1850. Mountjoy is named after Luke Gardiner, Lord Mountjoy. Gardiner’s grandfather also called Luke was the largest land owner and property developer on the north side of Dublin. He was responsible for developing Sackville Street (O’Connell Street) and Henrietta Street,
Dublin’s most important Georgian street. The young Luke made his mark on our fair city by building Mountjoy Square, Gardiner and Blessington Streets. However, his greatest
development plan only managed to make it to the drawing stage. His Royal Circus development was to be built where the Mater Hospital and the Prison now stand. This development consisted of several avenues of Georgians houses, leading to an elliptical shaped centre-piece of splendid Georgian mansions.  They were to resemble Castletown House in Co. Kildare and the houses of Bath in England. One of the avenues was to be named Cowley Place and was to run directly to the 4th lock on the canal, allowing the new transport system to link townhouse and country estate. Unfortunately, Luke Gardiner
was killed at the battle of New Ross in Wexford in the 1798 Rebellion, and with him died the dream of the Royal Circus.  Looking north across the railway track, you can see the
headquarters of the National Council of the Blind in Ireland (NCBI) on Whitworth Road. The small gated avenue alongside it leads to the rear of the building and the burial
ground for Saint George’s Church in nearby Temple Street.  This graveyard was donated to the church by Luke Gardiner.  The church was the masterpiece of the architect Francis
Johnston. It stands 200 feet high with a five-storey clock tower and spire. He also designed amongst other buildings in the city, the General Post Office in O’Connell Street. Francis Johnston died in 1829 and is buried in the graveyard.