Category Archives: Non-waterway

All sheugh up

Heather Humphreys [FG, Cavan-Monaghan] is to be Minister for Waterways (as well as arts and heritage).

That’s Heather Humphreys, who asked her predecessor as minister three questions about the Clones Sheugh (some of which would be in Monaghan):

21 July 2011: To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if €35 million was ring-fenced for the restoration of the section of the Ulster Canal between Clones and Upper Lough Erne; if this funding was included in any budget between 2008 and 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

30 January 2013: To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will provide an update on progress on the Ulster Canal Project; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

6 March 2014: To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will provide an update on the progress of the Ulster canal project; the work carried out to date by the interagency group which was set up to examine possible funding options; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

How could a Fine Gael minister hold back the tide of Shinners in Cavan-Monaghan? Not, I hope, by wasting public money on porkbarrel projects.

 

The Brosna: fish and mills

Two reports from Dr William O’Connor about fish on the Brosna here at Clara and here at Belmont. Both are mill sites, now generating electricity, and the difficulty lies in providing for fish to get past.

Dear Mr Bannon

I would be grateful if you could explain why any government in its right mind would restore the Longford branch of the Royal Canal given that (a) canal traffic in Ireland is so small as to be insignificant, (b) the upkeep of the Royal’s main line is causing severe budgetary strain and (c) the Irish hire boat industry is in decline.

If you have conducted any analyses of the costs and benefits of such restoration, I would be grateful if you would publish them.

bjg

Note: Mr Bannon is a Fine Gael TD. But that’s no excuse.

 

Thon sheughery business

It will be recalled that Her Majesty’s Loyal Home Rule Government in Belfast is considering investing in the Clones Sheugh [aka Ulster Canal] and that I asked DCAL, the department responsible, for a copy of the Business Case. To my surprise, it said:

Your request is being treated as a Access to Information request and will be handled under either Freedom of Information Act 2000 or the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

Either way, DCAL has now told me that I can’t see it. The Business Case, which is apparently an addendum to the 2007 Business Case (which was rotten: see here passim), won’t be complete until November. I have made a note to remind myself to ask for it then.

I quite sympathise with the DCAL folks: it can’t be easy thinking of any good reason to spend taxpayers’ [British or Irish] money on the Clones Sheugh. But perhaps DCAL can spin it out until the Shinners have taken over the Free State, at which point the economics of Grattan’s Parliament will be in vogue and we can all take up growing flax, spinning and weaving, giving grants for canals and making money out of the slave plantations.

Speaking of Shinners, there’s one called Cathal Ó hOisín, a member of HM Loyal Home Rule Government in Belfast representing East Londonderry, who said there recently:

The possibility of the reopening of the Ulster canal would open up limitless opportunities in tourism. The idea that, once again, we could travel from Coleraine to Limerick, Dublin and Galway by boat would be absolutely wonderful.

Well, you can do that: by sea. There was never an inland navigation from Coleraine, Limerick or Dublin to Galway, despite the urgings of Lord Cloncurry and the nitwitted ideas of Sir Edward Watkin.

As for a connection between Limerick or Dublin and Coleraine, I suspect that Mr Ó hOisín is perpetuating the error into which Her late Majesty Victoria, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen, etc, seems to have fallen when she appointed

Commissioners to inquire respecting the System of Navigation which connects Coleraine, Belfast, and Limerick

which Commissioners reported in 1882. There was no such system and, if Mr Ó hOisín can provide evidence that any vessel ever travelled by inland navigation between Coleraine and Limerick, I would be glad to hear of it. I prefer to think of the Commissioners’ conclusion that

As an investment for capital the whole canal system in Ireland has been a complete failure.

I see no reason why politicians of the twenty-first century should repeat the errors of their predecessors in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

You expect the Paarnellite members to have a bit more sense, but one John Dallat said in the same debate:

[...] when the Ulster canal is open, tourists will come in their thousands and that will benefit the Lower Bann, the Foyle as well, and right over to Scotland.

Er, John? There are actually canals in other countries. Even in Scotland. Folk are familiar with canals. They’ve seen them before. And a short sheugh to Clones is not going to attract tourists (apart from the relatively small number of canal twitchers, who will need to tick it off on their lists) unless the town of Clones is particularly attractive. Which … well, let me put it this way: why not look it up on TripAdvisor?

Of course I’m all in favour of Clones myself: I am quite interested in concrete engine-sheds and former canal stores.

 

Euroloot for the Clones Sheugh?

According to today’s Irish Times [which will disappear behind a paywall at some stage]

EU seeks feedback on plans to invest €500m in North and Border counties.

For full information, go to the SEUPB website. The Consultation Information Document [PDF may open or download as soon as you click] is the more useful and most readable document, but there are several others, including drafts of the PEACE and INTERREG Cooperation Programmes.

I have not myself been initiated into the Mystical Brotherhood of Euroloot Interpreters, so I can’t be sure, but I don’t think that either of these programmes contains, or could contain, anything that could fund the Clones Sheugh. It is difficult to see how a Sheugh-related action could be made to fit any of the objectives of either programme. But who knows what Fine Gael’s desperation might drive it to do? It faces the threat, in Monaghan, that the Shinners might arrive from Stormont bearing money from Her Majesty’s Treasury [NI branch office].

 

The end of the Tralee Ship Canal? [updated]

I am grateful to Holger Lorenz of Tralee for alerting me to the removal of one of the gates of the Tralee Ship Canal. Holger’s photos of the lock and gate are here:

Photo 1    Photo 2    Photo 3    Photo 4    Photo 5    Photo 6

According to a Radio Kerry story, the gate had to be removed for maintenance and Tralee Town Council has “no time frame” for replacing it.

It seems to me, from Holger’s photos, that only one gate of the upper pair was removed. If the lower gates were working properly, surely they should be able to keep the canal in water.

It is some years since I visited Tralee. At the time, there was a largeish barge moored on the canal at the bridge. If it hasn’t been moved, I presume that its occupants are now unhappy.

I do not know what Tralee Town Council, or whoever it was, hoped to achieve by restoring the canal (or, for that matter, why whoever it was built the Jeanie Johnston, which was a huge waste of money). But whatever they hoped to achieve, I suspect that the canal failed to meet expectations. I do not know whether there has ever been a formal review of the project but I cannot imagine that it provided a reasonable return on investment.

The best thing to do with it now would be to seal up the seaward end with a fixed wall, forget about opening the bridge, maintain some flow through the canal to keep the water from becoming overly offensive and let the rowers take over the canal.

Addendum

I have written to Tralee Town Council:

I would be grateful if you could tell me:

- the cost of the restoration of the Tralee Ship Canal, including the lock and the swing bridge

- the annual maintenance cost since it was restored

- the number of boats that have passed through the lock in each year since restoration

- the income generated (a) from users and (b) from other sources to fund the annual cost

- the expected costs of (a) the restoration or replacement of the lock gate that has now been removed and (b) other necessary works.

I would also be grateful if you could tell me why the lower gates are not used to keep the canal in water.

And I’m like wow …

… as the young folk say nowadays. Searching the National Library catalogue for prints and drawings of the Royal Canal before 1900 brought up the usual suspects but also a very interesting map and this stunning view of Dublin in 1853. Viaducts! Railways! Steamers! Barges being propelled by sweeps!

I couldn’t find the Royal Canal, though.

Construction

The government’s new election manifesto construction strategy has just been published and can be downloaded here. I wouldn’t bother, though: there’s nothing in it about the Clones Sheugh and it’s written in the sort of turgid prose that won’t fry your brain: it will instead submerge your brain in a slurry pit and hold it under, providing a slow, choking, unpleasant death.

Anyway, the doughty Rob Kitchin has waded through it on our behalf and gives his conclusions here. I don’t share his enthusiasm for National Spatial Strategies and National Development Plans, but I have some sympathy for him when he says

I would have preferred something a bit more holistic, rather than trying to frame a whole bunch of stuff as a coordinated plan.

Michael Hennigan uses the B word.

Spring is sprung …

… the grass is riz.
I wonder where the brand new fleet of aircraft is.

I would welcome news of sightings of the fleet of (presumably) floatplanes/seaplanes/amphibians that Harbour Flights is to have operating “early in the new year … from [sic] destinations nationwide”.

There is some discussion on Boards.ie here, by folk who appear to know one end of an aeroplane from the other; the later posts on the second page discuss suitable types of craft.

 

Rejoice!

Waterways Ireland’s annual report for 2012 has now been published and is available for download here [PDF].

The English-language version begins on page 77 of 144; the earlier pages are devoted to an Irish-language version, that tongue being widely used in Belfast North.

The Ulster Scots Foreword gets in twice, but Dawn Livingstone is described as Chief Executive and not, alas, as Heid Fector. In a blow for parity of esteem, only the Foreword has been translated into the Hamely Tongue. And we continue to find “Waterways Ireland” translated as “Watterweys Airlann” in WI’s logo but as “Watterwyes Airlan” in the text. No wonder the shinners are running rings around the unionists [although I see that David Cameron intends to fix that].

Now I must read the report to see if I can spot why its publication was so long delayed, but we must welcome the success of the peace process that has reconciled the NI Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure with the roI Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

I suppose there’s be no chance of the 2013 report being published soon …?