Barge recreates historic Grand Canal voyage


FIFTY YEARS after it carried the last commercial cargo from Dublin to Limerick, the canal boat 51M began retracing its historic journey yesterday.

The anniversary of the boat’s voyage along the Grand Canal and river Shannon is being marked by Waterways Ireland and the Heritage Boat Association.

Paul Martin, chairman of the association said: “We have recreated the events of May 1960 by sailing the original 51M down Dublin’s Grand Canal. The boat today looks exactly like she did 50 years ago.”

In keeping with its last journey, 51M departed yesterday with a number of original Guinness casks as its cargo. The sons of the original skipper, the late Tommy McCormack, were on board.

The recreation of the voyage is a part of the commemoration of the end of the canal’s commercial history. It also focuses on looking to the future of the canal, said Mr Martin.

51M, manufactured by Vickers (Ireland) in 1928 was one of a number of boats used to carry cargo from Dublin city centre, and became known as a Guinness barge. Unlike other boats, 51M was not sold off in the 1960s but was kept by CIÉ for maintenance use on the canal.