The Grand Canal by John Reid

Head shot picture of John Reid as an elderly man dressed in a stripped shirt and grey stripped tie with navy pullover jumper.

An Athy Song by John Reid

My uncle, John Reid, a native of Athy (22 Plewmans Terrace), spent his younger years by the banks of the Grand Canal, living life and playing on the waterways. His experiences and memories have been beautifully remembered in this song by him, “THE GRAND CANAL”. Filled with vivid imagery of the boats, the boatmen, and the activity around the harbour in the town, it paints a picture of a time when the canal was a lifeline for Athy. The song is not just a recollection of the past, but also a tribute to the boatmen and their trade, acknowledging their contribution to the life and character of Athy. John gave this to me several years ago and I just recently rediscovered it. Immediately you’re transported back in time to the banks of the Grand Canal, sharing in his memories and his joy. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.



I often think of my young days when I was but a boy
I’d go to watch the boats tied up at the Harbour in Athy
They might have come a long long way perhaps from Dublin grand
And they’d want to stay over night in Athy just to be near solid land

The next day they would hope to have a load of sugar beet
That was due to go to Carlow town the next place they would meet
Having taken most of the day to load they would finally have it all
And then it was time for them to go to their next port of call.

The stories those Boatmen would tell they’d fill your heart with fear
Of places they’d been and things they had seen not fit for a Boy to hear
Of storms that near capsized their craft as they came by Robertstown
And pike as big as sharks they’d claim to have seen on their way down

I’d ask if I might travel with them as far as the next lock
But they’d reply by telling me the boat might strike a rock
And if we had to go overboard then boy where would you be
Sure you’d never brave the treacherous waters that flow around Ardreigh

Well GOD be with those boatmen and also with their craft
They are long gone now ‘tis well I know they were all part of the past
But when I think back on my youth I think of them with joy
Cos they were a part of the grand canal that flows through Athy.

John Reid

May John Reid Rest In Peace.

For other local waterways poems and songs, have a click on the following Barrow Boating by Ann Marie Dunne or Horse Bridge  or Toberara Holy Well & Graveyard or The Thirteenth Lock by Arthur Griffith

An image of the text of a poem by John Reid RIP from Athy. The poem is titled The Grand Canal.
Head shot picture of John Reid as an elderly man dressed in a stripped shirt and grey stripped tie with navy pullover jumper.

5th July 2024


Clifford Reid

Written by Clifford Reid


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