Waterways – The Royal Canal

6 x 25 min HD Documentary Series

In the early 1990s, Dick Warner, naturalist and broadcaster, journeyed through the canals of Ireland in a canal boat. His adventures were captured in four series entitled “Waterways” for RTE. In this exciting new series of Waterways, Dick Warner returns to the inland waterways of Ireland, to explore the newly restored Royal Canal

Reaching over 30 million households in the U.S. and Canada, Sacred Sites Season Two was first broadcast on the Smithsonian Channel in August and September 2018.


  • Producers – Stephen Rooke, Larry Masterson
  • Director – Stephen Rooke
  • Presenter – Dick Warner
  • Director of Photography – Peter Robertson
RELEASE DATE: October 2011
GENRES: Documentary Series
SERIES FORMAT: 6 x 25 min HD


  • RTÉ

WATERWAYS, THE ROYAL CANAL – In this exciting new series of Waterways, Dick Warner returns to the inland waterways of Ireland, this time to the newly restored Royal Canal. He will be taking ‘Rambler’, an original 70ft Royal Canal Tug Barge, built in 1878, from Dublin to Lough Ree. 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.

Tile Films – internationally acclaimed Irish documentary production company, have re-assembled the core team from the original, multi award-winning and hugely successful “Waterways” series that was produced by EMDEE Productions for RTÉ in the early 1990s.

“Waterways – The Royal Canal” is a series of 6 x 25 minute HD television documentaries, following leading naturalist and broadcaster Dick Warner as he travels by barge ‘Rambler’ 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. Rambler started life, in 1878, as a steam tug on the Royal Canal. The closure of the canal effectively marooned her because the other route west, the Grand Canal, has smaller locks and she won’t fit into them. But now, at last, she has a chance to escape and to meet up with her long-lost sister, Chang Sha, and the other heritage boats on the Shannon. Rambler is searching for missing relatives.

Why is Dick doing this? Because the passing years have failed to quench his thirst for exploration, unexplored territory doesn’t exist any more, but it’s not necessary for exploration. Dick will join Ramblers crew, her owner, John Connon, his brother Evan and their father Johnnie Senior. It will be a difficult journey. Rambler is very large and not very manoeuvrable…

As Dick Warner traverses the newly-reconstructed Royal Canal he reveals the rich history of transport in Ireland – not only canal transport, but also our Irish railway history. 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 Teresa Brayton. 

Through the Irish Film Institute, which contains the archive collection of canal historian Ruth Heard, ‘Waterways’ will feature a wealth of untapped archive film documenting the years of the canal’s use as a commercial conduit and the fight to have it restored.

“Waterways – The Royal Canal” is vividly shot on High Definition bringing the stunning canal vistas to life on screen evoking the look and feel of Old Masters landscape paintings. The series is thoroughly captivating, insightful and visually stunning experience. 

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