Dublin native Annalise Murphy captured the hearts of Irish audiences during the 2016 Rio Olympics when she realised her dream in the Women’s Laser Radial sailing competition by winning a silver medal for Ireland. Annalise will be accompanied by her mother, Cathy McAleavey an Olympian who competed in the 1998 Seoul Olympics as a sailor. They will walk alongside the Royal Canal starting at Spencer Dock, exploring some of the twelve locks, by foot and navigating the last section by boat.
The Royal Canal fondly known as the green and silver line, started life in the 1880’s as a major cargo and passenger corridor from Dublin to the River Shannon. With the onset of trains and roads it went into decline but since the 1990’s it was restored into an enchanting 145km inland waterway. Cathy and Annalise start at Spencer Dock a sea lock, on the north bank of the Liffey. They meet John Mckeon who has overseen the sympathetic restoration of the original canal.
After the first lock the canal heads west along an urban route towards Croke Park stadium and the skyline of the GAA’s headquarters, presenting a perfect bird’s eye view of the Royal Canal. At Cross Guns Bridge they watch canoe polo which is played every Sunday.
The second lock is home to the memorial of a renowned character who served time in the local Mountjoy prison. His name was Brendan Behan and the Canal historian Peter Clark has the story. The walkers take a detour into Blessington Park which covers over the original link for the Royal Canal to the River Liffey and they meet a musician Marion McEvoy on their way.
At Broome Bridge the Royal Canal begins its transition from urban to rural Dublin. It also marks an unlikely famous eureka moment. The mathematician, Sir William Rowan Hamilton had a spark of inspiration while walking here and he carved a revolutionary new form of algebra into the stone bridge. Scientists and historians from all over the world mark the moment on the annual Hamilton Walk. This is a place that Annalise and her mother stop to admire and pause for a few moments.
At the end of their walk they re-join John McKeown at the 11th Lock, where the N3 Navan Road, the railway line and the Royal Canal cross the M50 orbital. Annalise and Cathy have walked over 10 locks, and they also experience the journey through a double lock. They complete their journey to the twelfth lock by boat on a rural section of the canal. They moor the boat and take time to reflect on the day’s journey.