Craigavon Historical Society
Newry Navigation

Portadown - Newry Canal

Before canals became a reality, the main means of transportation was by coastal shipping or river barge, in fact the rivers took the place of main roads. Away from rivers the transportation of merchandise was by pack horse or mule, where rough tracks or roads existed, then bullock or horse drawn carts were used.

Colonel George Monck, an officer in Cromwell's army, first proposed a canal link between Carlingford Lough and Lough Neagh in the 1640's. However it was not until 1703 that a route was actually surveyed. The actual impetus for work to begin came with the discovery of coal in Co. Tyrone. The Irish government favoured the prospect of fires in Dublin being fuelled by Coalisland coal, thus saving considerably on costly imports from north-east England. Parliament established the Commissioners of Inland Navigation for Ireland in 1729. Money was raised through an Act of Parliament, which allowed the Commissioners to benefit from duties on carriages, playing cards, wrought plate and dice etc.

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