The Ballinasloe Canal
This important national work, now drawing towards its completion, will, we understand, be opened to the public in the course of the next week. This extension of the Grand Canal into Connaught, the first undertaking of that nature in this province, will, no doubt, be found most advantageous to a county exclusively agricultural and pastoral, the cheap and easy mode of transit which it affords being peculiarly adapted to the conveyance of grain and fat cattle to market. It is also a convenient, comfortable and cheap mode of travelling, a matter of no small importance to the prosperity of a county and from which we hope to see the public shortly drawing further advantage by the establishment of those caravans so much in use in other parts of the kingdom. Vehicles of this description running from Ballinasloe in the different directions of Gort, Loughrea, Galway, Tuam, Castlebar, Ballinrobe, Westport, Roscommon, and Castlerea, etc., etc., must prove only highly beneficial to the trade and commercial intercourse of the province but should, we presume, become a lucrative undertaking to those engaged in it, one which we will further observe that there is no part of the United Kingdom where the leading roads are better, horses and provender cheaper, yet where travelling charges are higher than in the province of Connaught, possessing besides this peculiar advantage over all other districts we are acquainted with, namely its exception altogether from the imposts of turnpikes or toll gates.
The public have been looking for some time with considerable anxiety to the completion of this canal; but the natural difficulties which interposed were not overcome speedily by any force or power whatsoever; which many will understand when they learn that, of this line, about 15 English miles in length, there were nearly 13 miles cut through bog, principally red shaking bog of the softest and most unimaginable description over which it was scarcely possible to walk, yet the bottom of the canal was to be sought in many places at a depth of from 24 to 25 feet below the surface of this floating mass, shaking for miles around; this could evidently be only attained by time and constant persevering attention at all seasons directed by the greatest skill and experience bringing down to some degree of solid consistency the whole district or line of country through which it passes, by innumerable drains to the extent we calculate of above 200 miles in length. It is a surprising fact, yet perfectly evident on inspection, that the operation of this extensive drainage, a great portion of the original surface was lowered or subsided from 12 to 16 feet below its original situation and what had appeared an insurmountable obstacle to that great and eminent engineer, Sineaton, has been completely overcome on the Ballinasloe Canal.
In firmness and security of construction, durability and style of the masonry connected with it, it certainly surpasses any other line of canal we are acquainted with, while as a whole it may fairly cope with any other great public work in the kingdom, creditable alike to the known talents and experience of John Killaly, Esq., the engineer, who designed and planned it as it is to the skill and efficiency of the contractors Messrs. Henry, Mullins and McMahon, who have completed it. We have much pleasure in anticipating the most beneficial results to this neighbourhood from this navigation, which will have the benefit of an experienced Board of Directors for its management, and reaching as it does to the heart of a great corn country, must increase most materially the trade and consequent revenue of the Grand Canal.
[Source: The Western Argus, Saturday, 4 June 1828.
Transcribed and submitted by Damian Mac Con Uladh, November 2003]