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Cong Canal

The Cong Canal, also known as the "Dry Canal," was a failure, primarily due to its inability to hold water. Now used as a drainage channel only, the water level can vary between 6 inches and 12 feet depending on the time of year (summer dry, winter full). Built heritage features of the canal remain.
A walk along the dry canal rekindles memories of the dreaded famine of 1845-1848. The canal was a famine relief scheme that never quite fulfilled its promise in any sense of the word. Due to the limestone nature of the terrain, the water disappeared into the ground like water gurgling down the plug hole of a bath.
Construction of the "Dry Canal" as the Cong Canal has come to be known, commenced in 1848. Work continued for 6 years when the decision to abandon the work, except for that necessary to allow the channel to serve for drainage purposes, was taken.
According to Delany (A Celebration of 250 Years of Ireland's Inland Waterways - Appletree press 1992), the reasons for its abandonment were:
The extension of railways into the West of Ireland
Labour shortages, which increased the cost of hiring workers
The geological makeup of the terrain through which the canal was built, which would make the canal difficult to staunch.
North of Cong at Creggaree, the canal is diverted into an adjacent stream and the bed remains dry from this point to Lough Corrib. The section south of Cong was sold to Lord Ardilaun, becoming part of the Ashford Castle estate and one of the locks converted to a boathouse.
In Cong itself, it is possible to walk into the dry lock and harbour.

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