I am grateful to Waterways Ireland for letting me have the Shannon traffic figures for the first five months of 2015. All the usual caveats apply:
- the underlying figures do not record total waterways usage (even for the Shannon) as, for instance, sailing, fishing or waterskiing on lakes or river stretches, which did not involve a passage through a lock or Portumna Bridge, would not be recorded
- the passage records would not show, for instance, a change in the balance of types of activities from those in larger cruising boats to those in smaller (sailing, fishing, waterskiing) boats
- figures like these will not necessarily be representative of those for the year as a whole. The winter months, January to March, see little traffic in any year; for April, May and June, the weather can have a large influence on the amount of activity especially, I suspect, in private boats.
On the other hand, the figures do include the Shannon’s most significant tourism activity, the cruiser hire business. And they are our only consistent long-term indicator of usage of the inland waterways.
The big news is that there is an increase in the amount of hire-boat traffic and a decrease in the amount of private traffic. [Personal observation suggests very little activity on Lough Derg, apart from the sailing bods.]
All boats. Note the slight increase in total traffic — or is it a dead-cat bounce?
The increase comes from hire-boat traffic …
… as private-boat traffic is down on last year
Nonetheless, hire-boat traffic is still close to 40% of what it was in 2003, with no sign of a major recovery
But, at least for April and May, hire boats are the major users of the Shannon
In January, 18 boat passages were recorded, 9 of them at Portumna Bridge. There were 20 passages in February and 362 in March. Is there any point in keeping the Shannon open throughout the winter?
In the first five months, 11 boats used Sarsfield Lock, the sea-lock in Limerick. There were 88 passages through Pollboy Lock on the River Suck. On the Lough Allen Canal, 96 boats went through Battlebridge Lock, 95 through Drumleague and only 38 through Drumshanbo. These branches can’t be paying their way.
Posted in Canals, Economic activities, Engineering and construction, Extant waterways, Ireland, Irish inland waterways vessels, Modern matters, Operations, Restoration and rebuilding, Shannon, shannon estuary, Sources, Tourism, Water sports activities, waterways, Waterways management
Tagged Ballinasloe, Battlebridge, bridge, Drumleague, Drumshanbo, hire boats, Limerick, lock, Pollboy, Portumna, private boats, Sarsfield Lock, Shannon, traffic
A minister speaks [or at least reads out a script prepared by other people].
I see that
The independent Standing Scientific Committee on Eels sets targets of quantities to be transported annually.
Which would be nice, if transporting eels were an end in itself. But the object is surely to increase the eel population, and I note that the minister had nothing to say on that subject. Nor did he tell John McGuinness what the stock of eels was. So we have no idea whether all this activity is achieving anything, and responsibility is diffused amongst the members of an Standing Scientific Committee on Eels, none of whom seem to have any stake in the matter.
This is a clear case for privatisation: sell the eels and the fishing rights to people [cooperatives, as on Lough Neagh?] who will have an interest in managing the populations of eels, rather than in managing the numbers trapped and transported.
The minister also introduced a red herring about compensation, which he wasn’t asked about. By my reckoning he answered only half the question, and even that credits him with answering the ritual invocation “if he will make a statement on the matter”.
Posted in Economic activities, Engineering and construction, Extant waterways, Ireland, Modern matters, Natural heritage, Non-waterway, Operations, People, Politics, Sea, Shannon, shannon estuary, The fishing trade, waterways, Waterways management
Tagged eels, ESB, Lough Neagh, red herrings, trap and transport
Waterways Ireland is having a photographic competition for which it is
seeking contributions from the public on what they think best fulfils the theme “Waterways Heritage”.
Details here. You can win an iPad Air, which I think is a sort of pocket calculator for chaps with ponytails.
I was in two minds about whether to publicise this competition. You see, many of the bits of “heritage” I’m interested in are invisible, having vanished since the late nineteenth century. So maybe they’re not heritage at all?
But I decided that it would probably be difficult for Waterways Ireland to judge a competition in which all the photographs were of invisible objects, so I should encourage the photographing of the visible.
I was asked recently by another respectable public sector body to say, for publication, why industrial heritage was important to me. Unfortunately my response was deemed to be unusable, because it was too controversial. I’ll write more about that soon.
Posted in Ashore, Built heritage, Canals, Economic activities, Engineering and construction, Extant waterways, Industrial heritage, Ireland, Irish inland waterways vessels, Natural heritage, Non-waterway, Operations, Restoration and rebuilding, Scenery, Shannon, Sources, Steamers, Tourism, waterways, Waterways management
Tagged heritage, Waterways Ireland
According to the Clare Champion, a Clare county councillor called Pat Hayes, who is a member of Fianna Fáil [an excitable lot, Fianna Fáil], is boycotting something or other for some reason that is not clear to me [and, to be honest, is probably entirely unimportant]. Mr Hayes thinks that water from Lough Derg should be sent to the Atlantic, where it is wasted, rather than to Dublin, where it might be used, and the newspaper cites the River Shannon Protection Alliance as estimating that
… up to 350 million litres of water could be taken from Lough Derg by 2030.
The River Shannon Protection Alliance itself doesn’t agree with those figures. It says:
The central principal and immediate purpose of the organisation is to prevent the proposal of Dublin City Council to abstract in excess of 350 million litres of water on a daily basis from Lough Ree on the river Shannon, and to oppose any action that may be harmful to the well being of the river Shannon system. Since then, the abstraction options have been considered and the current recommended proposal is to abstract upwards 500 million litres of water from Lough Derg and store it in a depleted bog hole to be developed by Bord na Móna at Garryhinch bog, (near Portarlington) where the water will then be treated and pumped on to Dublin.
Eek. That’s a bignum: a lot of litres. Let’s all panic.
On the other hand, 500 000 000 litres is 500 000 cubic metres. Each of Ardnacrusha’s four turbines uses 100 cubic metres per second. So the amount of water to be sent to Dublin every day is less than Ardnacrusha uses in 21 minutes.
If the Alliance wants to save the Shannon, shouldn’t it be trying to get Ardnacrusha closed down first?
Posted in Ashore, Built heritage, Canals, Drainage, Economic activities, Engineering and construction, Extant waterways, Industrial heritage, Ireland, Natural heritage, Operations, People, Politics, Sea, Shannon, Sources, waterways, Waterways management
Tagged Ardnacrusha, Dublin, ESB, Ireland, irish water, Lough Derg, Operations, River Shannon Protection Alliance, Shannon, water level, waterways