John Connell Royal Canal Walking Tour at DBF 2022


Our literary tours in the outdoors prove to be some of our most popular events every year, and last year was no different, as you came back in your droves after DBF 2022 to tell us how much you loved connecting with literature on our walking and boat tours.

One of our earliest events of DBF 2022 was our ‘Nature Escape in the City’ walking tour with author, farmer and journalist John Connell, who led a group down the banks of the Royal Canal in search of a feeling of escape to nature within the urban landscape. John’s most recently published book The Stream of Everything (Gill Books) was inspired by his lockdown canoeing expeditions and reflects on everything from his travels and past relationships, to Irish folklore, philosophy and the healing power of nature. During the walk, John read passages from his book to our group, while reflecting on its themes, and more, including the history of Ireland’s canals and how water has always been a place of calm and restorative well-being for him. The walk culminated in the beautiful Mud Island Community Garden, a volunteer-led community garden in Dublin’s North East Inner City. It was developed on a derelict site owned by Dublin City Council, and is a manifestation of the power of community in transforming our forgotten spaces into somewhere for all to enjoy. 

This walk was in partnership with Waterways Ireland, the cross-border navigational authority responsible for the management, maintenance, development and promotion of over 1000 km of inland navigable waterways, principally for recreational purposes. It was our absolute pleasure to team up with Waterways Ireland for this walk bringing literature out into the open, while connecting with the landscape within the city, and it was also our first ever DBF walk exploring the canals that surround our city. While many of us walk them daily or weekly on our commute, or during our leisure time, we’re pretty sure this was your first time – but hopefully not last! – experiencing the canal this way. 

Waterways Ireland have, for a few years now, been producing a series called Stories from the Waterways, which aims to raise awareness of these shared heritage corridors, and promote and celebrate their sustainable development. We were delighted that our walk featured in this series, and the video can be watched HERE. 

Our huge thanks to John Connell, Waterways Ireland, and of course all of you who joined us on this memorable walk!