The "Green & Silver" route

The "Green and Silver" route:
Royal Canal - River Liffey - Grand Canal - River Shannon - Camlin River (in any direction)
  1. A New Challenge!

  2. Why the "Green & Silver route?

  3. Making the Journey!

  4. Restrictions and challenges

  5. Some encouragement?

  6. Record of vessels which have navigated the "Green & Silver" Route

A New Challenge!

Boats that
we know

Boats that
the journey
in 2013

Boats that
the journey
 to date

With the re-opening of the Royal Canal in late 2010, it is now possible to complete the circular route formed by the Royal Canal, River Liffey, Grand Canal, River Shannon and Camlin River.

The total journey is approximately 356km with a total of 93 locks.  It comprises ~77km on the River Shannon (including ~27km across Lough Ree) and 2 locks, 132km on the Grand Canal (44 locks), 1km on the River Liffey, 145km on the Royal Canal (47 locks) and either 1km or 5km on the Camlin River depending on route.  At an extreme push, it could be done in 7 very long days (subject to the restrictions noted below and nothing going wrong mechanically), but one should take a more leisurely approach!  You can get an idea of typical progress by looking at the logs of some of the boats that have completed the circuit.

In an effort to encourage people to make the circular journey, the Dublin Branch has commissioned a certificate and plaque to be awarded to vessels completing the route. We’ve taken the liberty of naming the route the Green & Silver route - see below.

The Record of vessels which have navigated the "Green & Silver" Route can be found here. A partial list of boats currently en-route is found here.

Why the "Green & Silver route?

The 4th edition of the book "Green & Silver" is  now available from the IWAI shop.

On the 25th of June 1946, Tom and Angela Rolt left Athlone aboard, Le Coq, a 28ft x 8ft converted ship's lifeboat, on a voyage that would inspire both their contemporaries and successive generations of waterways enthusiasts, for, unlike most of us, Tom Rolt documented this voyage in his book “Green and Silver” published in 1949 (and once again in print and available).

From Athlone, they journeyed down the Shannon and entered the Grand Canal at Shannon Harbour. From there, they voyaged to Dublin and then returned to the Shannon via the Royal Canal. Then, they voyaged north to Lough Key and back south to Lough Derg, also taking in the West Clare Railway of Percy French fame.

In her foreword to the 1993 edition of the book, Ruth Delany wrote: "… Green and Silver became a classic and was an important element in the campaign launched by the small group who founded the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland in 1954 to save the Shannon navigation from strangulation by low bridges... It captures for all time the waterways as they were then, at their very lowest ebb, and his enchantment at what he experienced shines through strongly". Indeed the IWAI’s logo and burgee colour-scheme derive from the title of Rolt’s inspirational book. Incidentally, Ruth Delany was aboard Hark (shown at right), the last boat to do the circular route of Royal and Grand canals in 1955, prior to the canal’s closure in 1961.

With, the closure of Ireland’s Royal Canal in 1961, Rolt’s Green and Silver offered successive generations of boaters the only opportunity to experience this journey by boat. His book offered a glimpse of what might be experienced if, and when, the canal was restored. Rolt was the first to document a successful transit of the route in Green & Silver, a book which had such a positive influence on the development of the Irish waterways. It seems fitting therefore to name the route the Green & Silver route.  The name Green & Silver also echoes the mixed urban & rural nature of the route.

IWAI member Mick Farrell got a bit
poetic when reflecting on the
Green & Silver challenge!

The Quest for Rolt's Lost Treasure

Come all you lads and lassies,
From Belturbet to Beleek,
From the Shannon's side to the Barrow's tide,
There's treasure for to seek,
There's Green and Silver to be won,
Across the Mucky Mer,
O'er Grand and Royal, you'll have to toil,
If you want to claim your share.

Some hardships you'll encounter,
No shore power to be had,
Your gin and tonic's full of weed,
And your wine and cheese gone bad,
But persevere as you push those gates,
As you sweat upon the rack,
At the end of the day, there'll be time for play,
And time to have some craic.

And as you slowly navigate,
Watching walker's moving faster,
You'll start to think that you were mad,
To embark on this disaster,
But moving slowly gives you time,
To ponder your surrounds,
The man made ditch, that nature switched,
Into a Holy Ground.

Now Long John Slevin weaves his web,
Upon the world wide thingy,
To lure you all out on this quest,
By boat or barge or dingy,
Then Popeye Kinahan will strike,
Beware of him he's shifty,
"A rally fee, you'll pay to me,
Or you won't pass th' M-50".

So you've finally travelled in Rolt's wake,
Now you can claim your prize,
As you look down at your wee small hoard,
You won't believe your eyes,
And you'll ask if it was worth it ?
But if the truth be told,
It's the Green & Silver in your head,
That's worth it's weight in gold.

Copyright Mick Farrell 2011

Making the Journey

If you intend making the journey, we've organised a scheme to recognise your ambition and your achievement on completion.  Have a look at our record of boats which are known to have completed the journey.  Some of our participants are making the trip over the course of a year or more - see whose currently en-route!

Do get in touch with Dublin Branch by email if you're interested in undertaking the trip.  Those planning the journey can get:

  1. a Logbook to stamp along the route as evidence/souvenir of passage - some lockkeepers have been provided with "stamps" and have kindly agreed to stamp your log book - at the moment we've stamps distributed for Athlone, Richmond Harbour, Spencer Dock, Shannon Harbour, Lowtown, and Grand Canal Dock - you can also download your Logbook - we recommend you print it on manila paper for best effect (cut down a standard office manila folder to A4 size); 
    If you prefer, we're happy to send you a logbook free of charge.
  2. An especially commissioned burgee based on the cover design of Rolt's classic book at a cost of €25.

On successful completion of the journey, we will present you with:

  • a numbered certificate (free of charge) - certificates are numbered in the order of completion or as notified to Dublin Branch by email.
    Note that where more than one boat completes the journey in company, we expect the organiser to indicate to us the order in which the boats completed the journey.
  • a commemorative plaque at a cost of €25 - the plaque has an oval space where you can engrave your completion number!

Guidelines for those considering the journey:

  1. The journey is a circular journey, clockwise or anti-clockwise - e.g. two separate trips from Athlone to Dublin via the Grand and Athlone to Dublin via the Royal do NOT constitute a G&S journey.  The journey can be done over several stages - many are taking more than one year to do the trip. 
    For those who wish to do the trip in company, there are usually a number of boats heading into Dublin in late April, early May to participate in the Dublin Rally, departing from Dublin in late May, early June - just let  the organising committee at Dublin Branch know.
  2. Partial journeys completed prior to the opening of the Royal Canal in October 2010 do not count towards the award of a certificate.
  3. Lift-outs around locks are permitted for canoes and small boats
  4. A limited lift-out is permitted to avoid a notified obstruction to navigation (e.g. lock under emergency repair).
  5. Evidence of completion of the journey shall be provided to the organising committee on request - evidence may include a stamped LogBook, photographs, evidence of lock passage and similar.
  6. No "speed" records which involve necessary violation of the Canal Acts will be entertained.
  7. The skipper should pre-register his/her intent to undertake the journey by notifying the organising committee at Dublin Branch by email.
  8. The skipper should be a member of the IWAI or another approved organisation including the Royal Canal Amenity Group (RCAG), Heritage Boat Association (HBA), Irish Canoe Union (ICU), ISA and UK-based IWA.  If you're not a member of any of these organisations, you can join the IWAI online!
  9. The boat should be sound and suitable for the journey and suitably equipped for a canal journey (see article here for some advice). 
  10. In terms of permits & fees, boats have two options for using the Grand and Royal canals. The first option is an annual licence covering both passage and moorings: this covers all fees, including locks, for all those waterways. Alternatively, you can pay a monthly mooring fee plus a small charge per lock: the total due has to be paid in advance for the entire length of the journey.  Fees are payable to Waterways Ireland who control the waterways.  Boats over 10hp must be registered with Waterways Ireland (no charge at present).  NOTE that currently Waterways Ireland are only issuing the Annual Permit - see "Permits & Registrations" section here
    Click on the relevant link for further information (including on-line charts) about Navigating the Grand Canal, Royal Canals and River Shannon  including on-line charts. 
    Paper charts or guides for all three navigations can be purchased from the IWAI shop
    See also our Tips on Travelling the Royal Canal
  11. In undertaking this journey, be advised that the organising committee or Dublin Branch is explicitly NOT organising an "event" - it is simply helping you the boater commemorate an achievement.  No responsibility attaches to the committee or Dublin Branch for any actions of inactions of others or damage or injury to vessel or crew during this journey.
  12. For a sense of the journey as it was in 1949, we recommend you read Rolt’s book, Green & Silver, now available from the IWAI shop.
  13. Boats doing the journey multiple times will NOT be recorded again except where a different crew undertakes the journey.
  14. In the event of any dispute, the committee's decision is final.
  15. These guidelines or terms & conditions are subject to change without notice.

How long will it take me? 

The following chart is based on those who completed the journey up to the end of 2013.  However, bear in mind that there are lots of boats en-route who are started more than a year ago.

News / Current Restrictions or challenges!


Like all canals, the urban sections of both canals can suffer from dumping - clothing, plastic, duvets and the like.  Some boats lead a charmed life while others seem to attract every chocolate wrapper in the canal.  Take it gently through the city sections.  Weed can be an issue late in the season (July onwards).  The later in the season, the more weed and algal blooms you're likely to encounter.
At left is the one passport stamp you don't want to collect.  We've issued this "loyalty" stamp to Irish Diving & Marine Contractors Ltd. who'll happily apply it to your passport if you need their assistance!


Grand Canal:

Those intending to use the section of the Grand Canal between Locks 1 and 12 of the main line should give 2 days notice to Waterways Ireland - Waterways Ireland have issued Marine Notices governing boating on the section of the Grand Canal between Ringsend, Portobello and onward to 12th Lock. In essence, it involves giving two days notice of travel since you must be accompanied by lockkeepers during the transit.  See the Marine Notice concerning movement of boats in Dublin on the Grand Canal.


Royal Canal:

There remain some minor obstacles to what should be a straightforward journey, all at the Dublin end of the Royal Canal.  See also the Marine Notice concerning movement of boats in Dublin on the Royal Canal.

  1. There are some limits to times of operation of locks/bridges:
    • Begnagh Bridge (Road) and a Bord Na Móna (rail) bridge between locks 43-44.  These require WI staff to lift - contact Paddy Dixon, Water patroller in Richmond Harbour 0879151400 - it won't be lifted out of hours!
    • Locks 16 and 17 are usually locked and require WI staff to unlock them - see the Marine Notice concerning operating hours for Summer 2011.
  2. An Irish Rail lifting bridge needs to be lifted and Irish Rail have only agreed to lift the bridge on certain dates - Dates for 2014 are:

    Newcomen Bridge Lift Dates 2014
    Thursday 24th April                              11am - 1pm
    Sunday 4th May                                   9am - 1pm
    Saturday 31st May                               9am - 1pm
    Monday 9th June                                  11am - 1pm
    Monday 7th July                                   11am - 1pm
    Monday 21st July                                 11am - 1pm
    Monday 18th August                            11am - 1pm
    Thurs 18th September                          11am - 1pm

    Lifts will not happen if there is no demand.  For further information, or to make use of a scheduled opening please contact the Waterways Ireland Eastern Regional Office on 353 (0)1 868 0148

  3. Closer to the Liffey, the Sheriff St. bridge doesn't lift (clearance at "normal" levels is 88" or 2.2m) but Spencer Dock will be lowered to let you get under Sheriff St. bridge.   A low ESB cable was removed in March 2011. 
  4. The Scherzer rolling bridge which lies between the Sea Lock and the Liffey is now bolted in place.  You can only access the Liffey near low tide as seen below.
  5. The underwater profile of Neads Bridge in Mullingar may cause problems for full size wide-bottomed craft such as traditional GCC M-boats (or even B boats) as Mick Farrell found out - see this forum discussion for more detail.  This was sorted by raising the level over a period of three days.  However, he's been past here a 2nd time without encountering any problem.



The Record of vessels which have navigated the "Green & Silver" Route has moved to here, but here are a few images to give you encouragement!

Cameron & Genevieve Gleeson of the Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club, at just 12 and 16yrs old are the youngest overall crew to complete the journey in an IDRA 14 dinghy.

5 boats from Belturbet branch completed the route ... and claimed the Dublin Branch's Endeavour Cup in 2011

Ebenhaezer is the first former trading boat and the widest boat to go around.

Henrietta (Hetty) Leech of Ebenhaezer, on the Liffey.  She is the youngest to do the full circle.

Cill Iomai went around in the shortest time (12 days)

Nick Theato
and Pat Kelly went around solo to raise money for the RNLI

Seamus McDonnell canoed the Green & Silver route to raise money for the Irish Hospice Foundation - facebook page here, donations here
Seamus is the first to go around by manpower alone.

4E, built in 1895
is the oldest boat to go around.

The Dublin Branch boat Dubhlinn was the first boat 'round since the Royal Canal reopened.
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