'Waterways' documentary shot on Mullingar's Royal Canal
Olga AugheyFilming in Mullingar this week, an exciting new series of 'Waterways' which sees environmentalist, writer and broadcaster Dick Warner return to the inland waterways of Ireland, this time to the newly restored Royal Canal.His aim is to take the 'Rambler', an original 70ft Royal Canal Tug Barge, built in 1830, from Dublin to Lough Ree, as the last time 'Rambler' travelled the Royal Canal was 1923.On this epic journey, Dick meets both experts and ordinary people who live along the banks, learning from them about its heritage, history and wildlife.Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner, Dick who has travelled the waterways of Ireland, says Mullingar harbour is one of the most beautiful he has ever seen:"The Royal Canal is absolutely beautiful and I have to say Mullingar harbour is probably the most beautiful I've seen, certainly in such a big town, it safe and secure to moor, with great water," commented Dick."As you reach Mullingar and beyond it, there is much better water. At the Hill of Down we had a great party altogether, I think the entire community came out to meet us, and there was pints galore, we've received great hospitality here," he continued.Dick went on to say that the Royal Canal is full of fish, and on the right day in the right sunlight, it is almost like your very own aquarium."I'm enjoying the wildlife side of it the most, the king fishers and herons, the wildflowers, that's what I've loved the most about this journey. We're making very good progress. W're in Ballymahon now and we hope to reach the Shannon by towards the end of this week."The final journey"Waterways - The Final Journey" is a series of 6 x 25 minute HD television documentaries, following leading naturalist and broadcaster Dick Warner as he travels by barge along the Royal Canal from Dublin to Tarmonbarry. The series celebrates the final re-opening of the entire Royal Canal to navigation this year after more than half a century of dereliction.The purpose of the journey is to reunite 'Rambler' with it's sister barge 'Chang Cha' built by the same barge builder in the 1830's. Through the trials and tribulations of bringing 'Rambler' back up the Royal Canal, Dick will meet the people who live along the banks, and various experts along the way to learn about the canals rich heritage, history, and wildlife.Canal historyAs Dick Warner traverses the newly-reconstructed Royal Canal he reveals the rich history of transport in Ireland - not only canal transport, but also railway history and the story of the Bianconi stage coach company (a sort of 19th-century precursor to Bus Éireann).Dick will reveal how the canal was constructed in the late 18th century as a major commercial venture, and how its history mirrors the history of Irish capitalism.It is therefore fitting that the canal's starting point is adjacent to two bastions of Irish capitalism from two different eras - the Irish Financial Services Centre and the Custom House (once the hub of trade between Ireland and the outside world).Dick will unearth a trove of other archaeological and historical nuggets, from the Iron Age site at Corlea in County Longford, to tales of whiskey production and consumption, famine emigration and curious anecdotes such as the story of the Ribbonmen, a 19th century rural secret society.The series will also cover important elements of Ireland's natural heritage, including several species of water bird, several species of fish, butterflies, water plants, wildflowers, trees and woodland.It will feature items on renowned literary and artistic figures such as Brendan Behan and Oliver Goldsmith."Waterways - The Final Journey" promises to be a thoroughly captivating, insightful and visually stunning experience, bringing the stunning canal vistas to life on screen some time this autumn.