Discover just what makes Dublin's southern canal a coveted corner of the city.


With its lush, tree-lined banks and clear, tranquil waters, the Grand Canal sets the scene for all manner of waterside experiences. From the thrill-seeker to the leisurely stroller, young and young at heart, there's a pace for everyone along its lovely, leafy stretch.


Built to connect Dublin with the mighty River Shannon in the west, the glorious Grand Canal is the southern of the city's two captivating canals. It reaches across the city from Grand Canal Dock to Inchicore, before extending out through the suburbs a further ten kilometres to its Dublin limit at Adamstown. Its placid waters then wind their way through County Kildare en route to Shannon Harbour, County Offaly. End to end, this enchanting waterway covers an impressive 131km.

Barges, bridges and bridles

​The Grand Canal's charming Dublin banks have inspired poets and writers, while its waters were once the lifeblood of trade and industry. Flanked on both sides with some elegant late Georgian and Victorian architecture, time spent along the canal invites you to appreciate the area's beautiful built heritage, its ornate bridges and the enormous engineering feat it took to create the waterway.


A vital artery in the cityscape since its 18th-century beginnings, clip-clopping horses on the towpath were a familiar sight during the canal's heyday as the capital's distribution network. In an era before motorised transport, these hefty workhorses pulled commercial barges laden with the likes of Guinness, to their destinations. On the canal bank at Herbert Place, you'll spot an ode to those sturdy animals and their once indispensable role, in the form of the bronze Barge Horse sculpture by Maurice Harron.

Inspiring poets, playwrights and beyond

​Perfectly picturesque with its wind-swept branches, lily pads and rushing locks, over 250 years of Dublin life have played out over the Grand Canal's canvas. Unfurling by the birthplaces of artist Francis Bacon and playwright George Bernard Shaw, its waters stirred poet Patrick Kavanagh's soul enough to compose the beautiful Canal Bank Walk:


"Leafy-with-love banks and the green waters of the canal

Pouring redemption for me"


Kavanagh enjoys a permanent presence on his beloved canal thanks to John Coll's commemorative sculpture of the Monaghan poet, which sits facing the water along Mespil Road.


Samuel Beckett was also a regular stroller on its iconic towpath. In the 1950s, the Nobel Prize-winner would follow the canal up to Portobello Harbour to visit artist Jack B Yeats who was convalescing at Portobello House. The house is still there today, facing idyllic Portobello Lock and historic La Touche Bridge.

Experience, explore, enjoy

Ready to discover the Grand Canal for yourself? Take your pick of ways to wander the Grand Canal's towpaths on two feet or two wheels. Indulge in the mouth-watering food destinations that pepper its banks. Make a splash and explore the waters by kayak, canoe or stand-up paddle board. Or simply admire the city on board a relaxing dinner cruise as you spot herons, kingfishers and even otters along the way. Immerse yourself in an abundance of art and culture in the museums and galleries a mere stone's throw from its waters or go full Viking with the kids on a sight-seeing tour like no other.


A backyard to city-dwellers, a corner of calm for those seeking it, the setting to fantastic family days out and an adventure playground for anyone looking to take the plunge; however you choose to enjoy it, you'll soon discover why these green, sun-dappled waters are the very soul of the city's southern sweep. 


Find your ideal way to experience the Grand Canal by checking out our Highlights section.

A Very Grand Canal Dock

​Today the home of high-octane watersports,busy eateries and a world-class theatre , when Grand Canal Dock first opened in 1796 it was the largest dock in the world. Then end point of the glorious Grand Canal, the area boasts industrial and political heritage in the form of historic Boland's Mill. This 19th-century flour mill was not only a byword for great baked goods across the city, it was also the first flour mill worldwide to use an innovative automatic roller system. Baking prowess aside, it's best known as having been a strategic outpost for Éamon de Valera and his 100-strong battalion during the 1916 Rising. 

The European headquarters of Google, Facebook and Airbnb are based around Grand Canal Dock too, adding to the area's eye-catching skyline that showcases the award-winning Alto Vetro building, the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre's angular glass facade and the chequered exterior of The Marker Hotel. Take a stroll across charming Grand Canal Square and as well as enjoying the view, you might just spot the Viking Splash Tour bus chugging through the waters on the amphibious leg of its route!


Still haven't found what you're looking for? Grand Canal Dock showcases unique U2 heritage too. Their unassuming Hanover Quay studio is nestled among the striking dockland architecture not far from the waterfront. While the cover of their 1981 album October was photographed at the canal locks connecting Hanover Quay to Grand Canal Street Upper.