Mick the Coach

A familiar face in unfamiliar surroundings ….

For railway enthusiasts

The economics of the current Irish railway system have received insufficient attention. If they had, the entire system (with the possible exception of some commuter lines) would have been closed down years ago and we wouldn’t have the current mad proposal to reopen the railway line to Foynes [h/t COM] at the same time as a road improvement scheme is being studied.

Happily, however, the railways of the neighbouring island have recently been the subject of considerable attention. Duncan Weldon considers here the “economic, financial and business questions raised” by the railway systems of the island of Sodor, concluding:

Economists do not fully understand the long term drivers of productivity growth. But the lesson of Sodor is this: over investing in a technologically backward, sheltered and protected from competition railway is not the road to prosperity.

And yet despite stagnant living standards the people/engines of Sodor appear content. Indeed it is unclear if they get paid at all — instead they seek meaning and joy in a Stakhanovite desire to be “really useful engines”. The great trick of Sir Toppham is employ engines who essentially evoke the image of the New Soviet man in the service of a proto-capitalist, semi-feudal enterprise.

Responding, James Kwak said:

Sodor Railways seems to be the epitome of a fat, dumb, and happy company. Labor is incompetent, yet management does nothing about it, and in return labor is eternally loyal to management. Who loses? Customers and shareholders.

However, Dan Davies offers a different perspective here. But Tracy Van Slyke has spotted other issues. I wonder whether any university offers courses in TtTE Studies.

But back to Foynes. I see that Councillor Emmett O’Brien believes that

[…] the tourism potential of this line could be explored with the possibility of steam train tourism linking Adare to Askeaton and Foynes.

The appropriate information is here.

Ballygalane on the Blackwater

Lismore Canal lock 28_resize

The Lismore Canal lock

The only lock on the Lismore Canal is at Ballygalane, on the River Blackwater. Here is a new page about the canal, with photos of some of its important features.

Waterside Belturbet

Here is a small amount of information about Belturbet and some of its industrial heritage. The photos were taken on a brief visit in July 2011.

Big it up for the Kingstown Blazers

Hats off to the Irish Sailing Association for its successful campaign to persuade owners of diesel-powered pleasure craft to pay the Mineral Oil Tax. The ISA reckoned that, if more folk paid up, the nasty foreigners might allow boaters to continue to use patriotic green diesel:

It may already be too late to save the present diesel supply system in Ireland, but the very least we can do is to strengthen the country’s case by paying the tax. If we don’t do that, we won’t have a leg to stand on.

There have been other press releases since then, and the ISA has said that

The issue for leisure sailors is not the price of diesel but its availability.

Which suggests that it’s only a series of misfortunes that has prevented 99.75% of owners from paying the tax they should have paid. Perhaps the dog ate their chequebooks.

But the ISA put its shoulder to the wheel, its nose to the grindstone and its money where its mouth was, calling on other people to pay up. And, by golly, they did. It is no doubt as a result of the ISA’s call that the number of folk paying Mineral Oil Tax in 2015 (for 2014) was …

30%

… up on the previous year’s figure.

Admittedly that just meant it went from 20 to 26, so the non-compliance rate is still around 99.75%, but let us not mock honest effort. If the number continues to increase at six a year, there will be full compliance by the year 3677, which will be good; I look forward to recording the event.

For the record:

Year Payers Litres Amount
2010 for 2009 38 n/a n/a
2011 for 2010 41 n/a n/a
2012 for 2011 22 141,503.29 €53,398.58
2013 for 2012 23 301,674 €113,841.45
2014 for 2013 20 279,842.4 €105,561.74
2015 for 2014 26 289,151 €108,934.80

The income generated by the tax is about 10% of the amount the ISA gets from the state every year.

 

Was the Brickey a navigation?

The Brickey is a small river that flows into Dungarvan Bay. Small boats used its lower, tidal reaches, but in the eighteenth century there was a proposal to link the Brickey to the Finisk, another small river that flows into the Blackwater south of Cappoquin.

Waterford County Museum, and others, believe that work began on that project in the mid nineteenth century and that a driveable track along the south bank of a stretch of the river was built as a towpath.

I have visited the river and looked online for further information; my conclusions (with maps and photographs) are here. However, I would welcome further information.

Grand Canal Greenway

Ewan Duffy reports on damage here.

“Rural Ireland no longer exists”

Sensible comments here from a knowledgeable chap, who provides a link to this piece too.

A grand day out in Galway for small boats

Here, courtesy of Kyran O’Gorman, are his notes on navigating the Ballycuirke Canal from Lough Corrib to Ross Lake. Small boats only, and at your own risk.

The importance of Saunderson’s Sheugh

Back in the days when nitwitted Irish governments believed the state had found the secret to permanent wealth, Sinn Féin was promised the Clones Sheugh, a rebuilding of part of the line of the Ulster Canal. For reasons that are not clear to me, the reason for the project was concealed by a lot of nonsense about economic regeneration.

Sinn Féin still want their sheugh, and have continually asked questions about it. They own the Northern Ireland department currently responsible for waterways. And they have, I believe, forced its southern counterpart to pretend it will deliver the sheugh. Admittedly it’s really just going to dredge the River Finn — Saunderson’s Sheugh — and call it the Ulster Canal, which is better and cheaper than doing anything about the real Ulster Canal, but we might wonder why the current southern minister, Heather Humphreys, a TD for the Cavan-Monaghan constituency wherein Clones lies, is quite so keen on sheughery.

Perhaps Wikipedia can help.

Cavan-Monaghan constituency, general election 2011

Cavan-Monaghan constituency, general election 2011

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