War of the Deep Sinking: The Battle of words for the Royal Canal in Dublin 15

Public consultation ends at 23.59 on Wednesday night.

— Section of greenway route in Dublin 15 likely to be one of the last bits built on route from Dublin Docklands towards the Shannon near Longford and at Athlone.

...IrishCycle.com's reader-funded journalism won't survive without your help. With over 762,000 views so-far this year, it's not just "avid cyclists" who read this website, but, if you want it to keep going, more support is needed from readers like you. Now, back to the article...

Campaigners have called on members of the public to support the north bank option for the Deep Sinking section of the Royal Canal Greenway in Dublin 15 as opponents of the northern option have mounted a concerted effort against the preferred route

The Deep Sinking is a section of the canal which has higher than normal banks around the canal. The current towpath is narrow, stoney, and harder to upgrade into a greenway than the rest of the route, now usable between Maynooth and the river Shannon.

The north bank option is Fingal County Council’s preferred option for the Deep Sinking section of greenway because the south bank option is seen as problematic as it is more expensive, more destructive, technically difficult and likely to cause further delay. It would need long lengths of boardwalk, near-total removal of greenery and is very close to the Maynooth railway line.

Some people want the north bank of the Deep Sinking preserved, but many of those same people seem to have little issue with all the greenery stripped from the south bank of the canal. Some supporters of the north bank option point out that some the objectors are people who extended their gardens into north bank greenery.

The call to support the option comes as people objecting to the preferred route have claimed the greenway will bring anti-social behaviour, extra people parking cars on their streets, a danger to children from that extra traffic, privacy concerns an increased risk of burglaries — these are similar to claims made about other urban and rural greenways which rarely materialise in reality.

The submissions made so-far on the project can be read on the council’s consultation portal. Locals and others have made submissions both for and against the project.

There are a wide range of points being made, for example ranging from requests to have separate paths for walking and cycling to requests to do nothing with the canal banks at all.

Local and city-wide groups are calling on the public to support the north bank.

A group of locals coming under the name ‘My Lovely Greenway’ to support the greenway, said: “We are an architect, and a designer, resident, and a former resident of the area. We are concerned that the voices of many residents who support the Greenway on the North Bank of the Royal Canal are not being heard. We are also concerned that those who occupy the ‘middle ground’ could be better informed as to the opportunity this proposal presents for the area.”

“The main beneficiaries of this project will undoubtedly be local residents, with a world class amenity on their doorstep,” they said.

My Lovely Greenway said: “The Greenway offers the potential to safely bike from D15 to the city (30 minutes, leisurely cycle – faster than a car/bus most of the time!), all the way to Galway in the west, or connecting with the Grand Canal, Phoenix Park, or Dunsink Observatory (via proposed Hamilton Way). This is for everyone, and the North Bank is the best option!”

The group added: “The urban greenway on the north bank will be easier to enter, exit thanks to the multiple entry and exit points. That means more people will use it, making it safer, all year round.”

The Dublin Cycling Campaign said: “One of the significant issues with this consultation concerns a section of the Royal Canal known as the Deep Sinking. Dublin Cycling Campaign is supporting the North Bank route option at the Deep Sinking, due to the significant engineering and safety challenges facing the South Bank route option. We believe the only viable option for progressing the Royal Canal Greenway in a reasonable timeframe is to pursue the North Bank option at the Deep Sinking.”



  1. Dear Dubliners. I am a cyclist and a resident of Delwood estate. Your information that there is large support for the freeway north bank is hearsay. 96% of the houses canvased in the estates close to the canal have welcomed the urban cycleway but on the south bank.
    As far as the security of the estates along the north bank is concerned, we have already suffered this in years gone by resulting in the erecting of 2 m high fences along Brompton Green.
    The extension of gardens as a reason for objections is laughable, those people who have negotiated with waterways Ireland and paid for the land did us all a huge favour as they have maintained the north bank to a higher standard than if left to the councils.
    The councils presentation is very slick and glosses over the possibilities available on the south bank. In conjunction with IRISH rail and waterways Ireland there should be a new vision for the south bank with replanting and viewing platforms to view the north bank and the deep sinking.
    The costs are unbelievable in either case and need to be looked very carefully.
    Therefore I would urge my brother and sister cyclists to visit the south bank to view the deep sinking before we allow the council to destroy an amenity and diverse habitat we now have, that others are trying to achieve.
    Cycle safely

    • Hi Lawrence… One thing I keep saying to people is that that if people cycle or not is not a good indicator — for example, there’s some councillors who cycle regularly and support cycle paths etc less than some councillors who don’t cycle much.

      It’s misinformation to claim that the article shows that there’s large support for the northbank or not. The article does not indicate or attempt to indicate what level of support there is for any option. But to be clear: There are people locally both for and against the options. Locally equals Dublin 15. The people in one estate or on a few roads don’t own the canal.

      Re: “The extension of gardens as a reason for objections is laughable, those people who have negotiated with waterways Ireland and paid for the land did us all a huge favour as they have maintained the north bank to a higher standard than if left to the councils.”

      The article doesn’t say anything about the extension of gardens as a reason for objections, but rather it points highlights that people are pointing out that some objectors are being hypocritical saying they are concert for the wild greenery and wildlife etc when the garden extensions affected more of that greenery than the greenway will affect.

      You said that the greenway will “destroy an amenity and diverse habitat” — but the greenway will use a relatively small strip of ground compared to the garden… so how can you defend the garden extensions?

      For the record: I know nothing about how the garden extensions happened and am not reporting on or commenting on that one way or another.

      The costs are not unbelievable in either case… unless you place such a low value on getting one of the final bits of a cross-country greenway route in a timely manner?

  2. Hi Lawrence

    To say that the greenway on the north bank would destroy an “amenity and diverse habitat” while at the same time approving the extension of gardens and the destruction of the habitat is gross hypocrisy. To go on and say that there should be viewing platforms on the south bank so we can admire the said gardens just leaves me lost for words. As a D15 resident I am opposed to the south bank option as it would require major engineering works to provide an adequate width greenway. The south bank option also means that the greenway is right beside the rail track leaving no buffer from the noise of passing trains.

  3. There is no amenity and diverse habitat currently. Most of either bank is accessible and overgrown, has been poorly maintained for decades. There has been no access for decades except at the bridges. The current path, and indeed most of the Green way to Ashtown is beside the railway. These are bogus arguments.

  4. @Lawrence
    I have been riding as far as Porterstown bridge four times weekly for over a decade and have been promised this greenway by various governments for most of that time. The Southern path is narrow and treacherous with a precipitous drop on one side and a railway line on the other. Any work to convert that path into a usable cycle lane would involve hugely expensive engineering works to flatten and reinforce the foundations without compromising the railway line, before any thought is given to laying a surface path. There is no comparison in the price of these two prospective projects. The Southern bank would be hugely more expensive and will take significantly longer to design and implement. We should not expect to see completion of this project until 2030 or later if that route is taken.

    Regarding biodiversity; the loss of even a narrow strip of wild land is always regrettable, but it would quickly recover and become a pleasant place to walk and cycle and a welcome amenity for the local community. In addition the Southern bank can be closed off and will return completely to nature in a very short space of time. As has been pointed out elsewhere, the irony of the argument to preserve this area for nature being put forward by those who have extended their gardens so far into the same resource is not lost on anyone.
    The security argument too is false. Elsewhere along the towpath, both new and old estates have added walkways joining the existing Northern bank towpath, so clearly they do not share these concerns. The Delwood park houses will be safely segregated from the towpath so there is no additional risk.

    Lastly utility. A Northern bank route will join together the communities along the canal and provide a common pleasant public space that is beneficial to everyone. Any Southern bank project will only be wide enough to take a bike path. There will not be any space to add a footpath so an additional community amenity will be lost.

    The cynical attempts to use whatever means and arguments necessary to undermine a positive community project are symptomatic of a larger and growing mentality that puts the perceived loss of a very small amount of privilege above all else no matter how beneficial to your own community and society in general. It is a shame.

  5. Where have new and old Estates ADDED access to the canal in a way similar than is proposed here? There is no need anyway. All thats needed is a wide safe path between the bridges. Nothing more. Simply that would be a vast improvement and join the sections.

  6. Well here for example:



    This is part of a much larger Greenway project stretching from the docklands to the Shannon. It needs to have some separation between the cycle path and footpath as it will be used by commuters and tourists as well as locals and walkers.

  7. @Peter
    Weavers Wood is a good example:

    My understanding is there is also going to be an entrance from Hansfield on to the canal.

    You should take a walk down the existing North bank towpath some time, it really is a nice place.

    However, I must disagree with your assertion of what is needed for this stretch. It needs to be seen in the context of a greenway stretching from the docklands to the Shannon, catering for local dog walkers, schoolkids going to school, commuters and cycle tourers from abroad so a wide safe path will not be sufficient and a clear delineation between cycle path and footpath is vital.

  8. With respect Weavers Wood is not new access to an old estate. Its a new development. Which is an entirely different thing. So its disingenuous (In my opinion) to make a comparison. Not that it wouldn’t be nice. But its not essential to the greenway. It could be added later. But insisting on it at this point, it a good way to mire the proposals in arguments for another decade. Saving it for a later phase, eliminates a lot of objections I would expect.

    Painting a line on a path, is trivial detail. It doesn’t exist for the major of the existing route. Its not a point of contention for anyone. Most people walkers and cyclists will ignore it as we know from years of experience on other painted lines. But no one is objecting to a bit paint. So why mention it.

    I’ve used the existing path for 30+ yrs. I’ve used the canal paths to cycle from D15 to City centre frequently over many years. I’m all for going the long scenic route if its off road and thus more pleasant, sager etc. But I can’t see any viable route to schools. But even for commuters, that require access through the old estates to the canal, or is significantly effected by not having it. Its very nice to have, not a need to have.

    The north bank is the obvious choice. But if someone wanted to make a cycle skyway, (cantilevered walkway) or similar on the south bank other than being unnecessarily expensive, would be fantastic amenity in its own right. https://www.welovecycling.com/wide/2016/11/16/top-10-pieces-cycling-infrastructure-country-right/
    Unless of course you live in the imitate vicinity of the north bank estates and want direct access.

    I don’t really care which bank they make the path. Once they make a path. Its a root covered, overgrown hazard at the moment. especially when wet and in the winter. But it would terrible if this insistence on non essential features, stops all progress.

  9. @Peter
    Below is the question you asked to which aka replied. It may be not the what you meant to say but it is what you said and therefore to call his answer disingenuous in my opinion is incorrect and an apology should be given.

    JULY 8, 2021 AT 10:30 PM.

    Where have new and old Estates ADDED access to the canal

  10. With respect, You only part quoted me. The bit you left out was “….in a way similar than is proposed here…”

    I’m open to correction, but Weavers Wood didn’t add access after if was built. It looks like it was part of the original development. It sounds like they haven’t built the access at Hansfield yet. Rathborne/Royal park is the obvious working example, but even there, access was part of the original development.

    None of these are in anyway similar to Delwood/Brompton which have cul de sacs, and been there for 40~50yrs Or seeking at least 4 new access points.

    Not that it wouldn’t be useful. But on the most contentious and difficult stretch, its really a big ask to seek all the bells and whistles, that mostly (and subjectively) don’t exist for the most part on most of the existing green-way.

    No harm in being ambitious and talking it up I guess. The worst that can happen is it stays the same.

  11. With respect a new estate in built 2018 that has one point of access from new is very different from 50yr old estate and Cul de sacs being opened up with at least 4 new points of access.

    Sorry but I can’t agree they are in any way similar.

    The vast majority of this Greenway mostly doesn’t have access between bridges. While nice to have, it’s not essential.

    Makes no sense to me to risk delays to completing this section over non essential nice to haves. We need to connect the sections, that’s the priority here.

  12. Not withstanding the North Bank, South Bank Debate, Most people forget about the destruction of ecology and visual amenity that will result from the proposed widening of tow path from 2 to 4 metres, between the Kildare border and Porterstown in the Royal Canal Urban Greenway proposals . For example Widening of the tarmac path along Clonsilla to 4m will result in all trees and hedgerows being removed and replaced with a concrete retaining structure. And from the Callaghan bridge to the ramp up to the old Schoolhouse site, a concrete cantilever deck will lead to the destruction of trees and planting along the waters edge. The proposals don’t take account of the actual embankment or path widths and impose engineered solutions, as though FCC were building a motorway! This misguided approach will lead untold destruction and should be re-thought. Another aspect is the choice of path construction. The path between Callaghan and Portestown bridges was upgraded 12 years ago with blinded crushed stone and is accessible year round and remains permeable and therefore a much more sustainable alternative to the proposed sealed Tarmacadam. Cycling is a sustainable mode of transport, so why should cyclists support the unnecessary destruction of the environment along the Riyal Canal when alternative approaches are available (see above)?
    Andrew Davies
    Dublin 15

  13. With the lockdown, a lot of paths, in parks and canals, were churned into mud, with the increased footfall. That aside, we don’t want a concrete jungle either.

  14. @Andrew Davies
    I agree with the thrust of your argument that putting in place a 4m wide bonded surface will have a negative impact on the surrounding area. This is an unfortunate trade-off that is also the case elsewhere along the route. However, the 4m is in the context of a much larger area that will remain relatively undisturbed. In addition, this is to facilitate a high standard greenway that will be the backbone of the Commuter and Cycle Tourism traffic in the West of the city so it needs to be done properly. As has been stated on these pages many times before, we cannot be put in a situation where we are forced to fight for limited environmentally beneficial crumbs in a shrinking pool of unspoilt nature under siege by badly planned development and intensive agriculture; we need to greatly increase the size of the pool.

    The existing and relatively recently resurfaced stretch between Clonsilla and Porterstown is a mixture of badly laid bonded surface (that is already cracking in many places where it was put down over tree roots) and the loose crushed stone surface you mention. While more visually appealing, the loose surface is largely gone, most of it ending up in the canal and the path has not been maintained in any way. The environmental damage of a loose surface like this is significantly higher over time for precisely this reason and any resurfacing eventually goes the same way.

    The same is true of the loose surfaces laid further out at Leixlip that have become a pothole filled quagmire after a few years of neglect. Knowing the build it and forget it attitude of our County Councils, this will be the same fate that will befall any surface that is laid in this project so we need to ensure that the best laid, best quality surface that will last the longest is the one that is selected.

  15. regarding the antisocial activity in brompton – did that fencing not go in decades ago? is it not a reaction to a problem which existed decades ago, so to claim it would happen again not be a bit premature? The area has changed massively in that time.
    and regarding the opposition to the greenway in Delwood – many residents of Delwood are pro or maybe just sitting on the fence, but are keeping their heads down due to the vociferousness of the opposition. I see the same where I now live (affected by the Metro) – those of us in favour are much less likely to publically share our opinions than those anti it, for the sake of an easy life.

    i just think the position of Delwood Resident’s Association (‘we’re all for the greenway, as long as it’s on the south bank’) is completely disingenuous, because they remove a massive amount of utility the greenway could bring to delwood. someone from delwood wanting to go for a stroll along the greenway – without turning back – would be faced with a minimum walk of 4km were it to be put on the south bank. it’d remove a huge amount of casual use for those residents.

  16. A lot of people on the south side of the canal , or just passing through won’t care about the Delwood Access. If Delwood Resident’s want to block themselves off from it, it shouldn’t block progress for all everyone people.

    Delwood/Roselawn has always been a quiet settled area. That hasn’t changed over the years. Its just that alleys, and access through estates can cause trouble. But you only can only know that by testing them as a trial.

    It would seem to cost less to build on the north bank, and build a security wall or fence there. You can see this approach at the docklands.

  17. What’s the latest on this folks? Is there any timeline in place? The obvious route is the north bank, trying to make the south bank work would be shocking waste of money


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.