Yes, that’s what it is! Believe it or not. This seems, to me anyway, as the greatest insult you can give to a canal that is sadly terminally ill. Well, maybe it’s passed the ill stage by now and we can probably, officially confirm its death. We all know that the railway brought about the closure of many of the canals. But to build the railway line through this canal lock chamber seems a step too far. Locks are the hart of a canal, the levels (pounds) are the arteries.
The railway has become a living beast, no longer is it just steel and noisy diesel. Now it’s alive and it has resolved to confirm its victory over the canal. A track through the lock chamber, like a blade through the very aorta of the canal.
Okay I know it’s not the intercity express! It’s just a narrow gauge railway bringing turf (peat) to the nearby electricity power station in Shannon Bridge. But this sight at Kylemore Lock on the now derelict Ballinasloe Canal is a sad sight indeed. Much of the original lock chamber is still perfectly intact, in fact, the gates are still reasonably complete. Although nature is claiming them back and soon there will be very little left of them. I think they may have been made of oak, but it’s hard to tell. Let me know if you have any information on them, please.
This canal was closed to boat traffic in 1961, which isn’t that long ago really. However, since then the bog has claimed much of it back. The narrow gauge
railway runs through much of it. It was just under 15 miles long and terminated at a small harbour in Ballinasloe town. The canal had two locks on it. This one, Kylemore Lock and another lock called Fanning’s Lock where the canal met the River Shannon close to Shannon Harbour.
The old stone bridge has now been replaced by a much more basic road bridge that crossed the actual lock chamber itself. It’s probably a lot safer I suppose, and at least they left this lovely old stone bridge intact.
Look carefully at the picture above of the lockkeeper’s cottage and you can see how it was extended into this fine house. The original recessed windows of the initial cottage give away the earlier, smaller size of this building.