A plan to restore the Royal Canal to its former glory is revealed.

The Royal Canal stretches for 90 miles from north of the River Liffey in Dublin to Cloondara in County Longford, where it meets the River Shannon. This inland waterway became derelict and has been closed since 1961. There are now plans to clean and restore the canal creating a major environmental and tourist amenity.

Thanks to the work being carried out by voluntary workers and An Chomhairle Oiliúna (AnCO) trainees, nearly 70 miles of the waterway are navigable again. Young people have been restoring lock gates, building new slip ways, repairing brick work at harbours and landscaping canal banks across counties Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Westmeath and Longford.

When the work is completed it will be possible to make a round trip by barge or cruiser from Dublin to the Shannon along the Royal Canal and back to Dublin along the Grand Canal.

In the proposed Canals Bill ownership of the Grand Canal and the Royal Canal will pass from Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ) to the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland.

The government is working with the Royal Canal Amenity Group and various other bodies to get the work done. The cost for the work will be met from government grants and money from the European Economic Community (EEC) regional fund.

It is estimated that £5 million spent over a number of years will complete the work while also providing employment for hundreds of young people using the Social Employment Scheme and existing AnCO training programmes.

The hope is to have the Royal Canal fully restored by 1989 when it will be 200 years old.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 19 January 1985. The reporter is Reg Cullen.