Louisa Bridge & Leixlip Spa

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Louisa Bridge

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Louisa Bridge 53.369776, -6.507506

The canal bends sharply to the south after the deep sinking and canal and railway are carried across the Ryewater by a massive earth embankment with the river flowing through a tunnel 30 m below. Overlooking the aqueduct is the derelict house of the lengthsman, once responsible for this stretch of canal. Between the aqueduct and Louisa Bridge and just west of the canal are the remains of Leixlip Spa, which was discovered by workmen building the embankment in the 1790s and became a fashionable watering place.

Leixlip Spa

The spa was unearthed by workmen digging the canal in 1793. Newspapers of the time gave graphic descriptions of how the event happened: “it immediately issued in a narrow perpendicular stream from the bottom of the bed, to the astonishment and alarm of a labourer with whose naked leg it came in contact.”
The Royal Canal Company re-routed the warm spring to the side of the aqueduct, into a shallow hexagonal shaped pond, and from here it flowed down the side of the valley to a brick basin. This was used as a bath when the spa was a popular visiting place, particularly by the poor of Dublin, on Sunday afternoons in the late 18th century.

It is recorded that on a Sunday between 6am and 5pm in August 1794, that 55 coaches, 29 post chaises, 25 noddies, 82 jaunting cars, 20 jigs, 6 open landaus, 21 common cars and 450 horsemen and a sizeable number of pedestrians visited the spa.  Its popularity was such that the Rt. Hon. Thomas Connolly, on whose land the spa was discovered, intended to build a pump house and a hotel, but he died before the work could commence.

The area around the spa is considered an important amenity area because of its ecological, historical and archaeological interest. The plant-life in the area consists of watercress, Meadowsweet, Harrow Grass, Bog Pimpernel, March Horsetail, Butterworth and Lady’s Smock. In June and July, many species of Orchids can be found and in late summer, the dangerous white-flowered Hogweed flourishes close to the river.