The River Boyne and Boyne Canal

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  • Aspects of Co. Meath

Importance of the River Boyne

The Boyne is an important river in Meath and in Ireland. Before bridges were built, a special type of boat called a Boyne curragh was developed. The curragh was made from a wooden frame of hazel wands with an ox hide stretched over it. The boat was very light and buoyant but took great skill by the two-person crew to handle.

For many centuries the River Boyne provided fish, water power to turn mills, and an important transport link. By the eighteenth century, canals were being developed as a new way to link towns. Plans were first made in 1710 to build a canal along the Boyne from Trim to Navan, and on to Drogheda. It was hoped that links could be established to Lough Erne and to the River Shannon for trade and transport.

Work began on the Drogheda to Slane section in 1748, making it one of the earliest Irish river schemes. During the 1790s, much difficult work was begun on bringing the canal to Navan and possibly to Trim. The main cargoes carried to Navan were coal, anthracite and wheat, with smaller amounts of timber and slates. Goods carried from Navan to Drogheda port included flour, oats, barley, yarn and linen.