Thomastown Bridge & 18th Lock

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Immediately below 17th Lock an important feeder enters the canal drawn from the upper reaches of the Ryewater which accompanies the canal here for some distance. From 17th Lock to Cloncurry Bridge is an attractive tree-lined stretch of waterway.

At Hill of Down the railway line heads straight across a bog but the canal takes a more winding route. This can be a bleak and exposed section of canal until the wooded demense of Hyde Park is reached near D’Arcy’s Bridge. At Thomastown the canal widens out into a large harbour fed by the Riverstown Supply before commencing the steep climb up to the summit level through a series of eight locks, spaced out at approximately 400 m intervals. From Thomastown to Riverstown Bridge there are now towpaths on both banks.

Having abandoned the line through Kinnegad, work continued on the new line to Thomastown and the canal was opened to here in 1805. One year earlier the rival canal, the Grand Canal, had been opened right through to the River Shannon. The old canal boats lying above D’Arcy’s Bridge belong to the Leech family of Killucan, who were the last bye-traders working on the canal before it closed.

When, in 1985, the harbour at Thomastown was restored by the Killucan Branch of the RCAG, a new boat slipway was constructed on the south bank.