Category Archives: Non-waterway

Re-invention or re-creation?

I realise that many folk visit this website in order to find out what is hip and trendy, cool and with-it, in all sorts of fields, from beer to boating, casual dining to cost-benefit analysis. So, in order to keep readers down wid da kidz in da hood [as the young folk say], I’ve been checking out the latest, baddest [which means ‘goodest’, I gather, or what in the old days we would have called ‘best’], grooviest developments on tinterweb. It’s a thing called FaceTweet, and those cool dudes at Waterways Ireland have one of them. Hep to the jive, daddy-o [which means ‘How perfectly splendid, old boy’.]

As far as I can see, FaceTweet is in general intended for folk whose attention span renders them unable to read more than a single paragraph of continuous prose. But brevity is sometimes the soul of wit and good goods come in small parcels [sentiments for whose veracity I have not found peer-reviewed evidence]. And I was interested in Waterways Ireland’s self-description on the page:

Waterways Ireland is the Recreation Authority for over 1000km of Ireland’s Inland navigable waterways.

That phrase, Recreation Authority, does not occur in Waterways Ireland’s Business Plan 2015 [as approved by the North South Ministerial Council on 18 December 2014 and screwed up by the Council shortly afterwards] or in its Corporate Plan 2014–2016 [ditto]. Nor, according to its own search engine, is the phrase used on Waterways Ireland’s proper website [the search engine rather bafflingly reports “We don’t have any refiners to show you”].

Yet the concept of Waterways Ireland as a Recreation Authority is almost entirely in tune with the thinking underlying both of the plans and it is the neatest encapsulation I have yet seen of what WI is about.

I put in ‘almost’ there because the Corporate Plan‘s Executive Summary includes this:

Central to our vision for the future is the development of recreational, heritage and environmental opportunities that link people, history and nature, providing both local communities and visitors with compelling reasons to spend more time in the waterways environment.

While I’m all — well, somewhat — in favour of heritage and environment, the words seem to sit uneasily in that sentence: added as a form of ritual obeisance to the shade of Michael D Higgins, who ripped the rivers and canals from the sheltering embrace of the Office of Public Works engineers and proclaimed the waterways to be heritage artefacts. Heritage is no longer of great interest to TPTB and most people’s experience of it [whatever it is] is as entertainment or recreation; much the same applies to environment, which — for most people — is of interest only as providing a scenic background for more interesting activities.

So both heritage and environment can be subsumed under the heading of recreation, leaving Waterways Ireland with a neat, well-focused description of itself, a subheading for its title, and one that matches its Mission and Vision.

Mind you, it’s not entirely clear what a recreation authority is — Google finds relatively few [129000] instances of the term’s use, most of them in the Americas — but that might be no harm.

Waterways Ireland — the recreation authority

Hep to the jive, daddy-o: I like it.


Riverfest in Limerick

Riverfest is an annual, er, happening in Limerick. I don’t know much about it: I’ve never been because I dislike both crowds and festivals and it would take something remarkably interesting to outweigh my dislike and persuade me to attend any part of the thing. I took notice of this year’s event only because I wanted to find out what streets would be closed to traffic; the festival organisers did not, alas, think to provide a map showing the closures.

I have only two other comments on the event:

  • the brochure [PDF] mentions a workshop called “Craft a River” but doesn’t say what, or indeed where, it is
  • in a city whose history is so intertwined with that of the food industry, and which has, in the Milk Market, the best Irish market outside Cork, it seems ludicrous to import a “continental market” instead of showcasing local producers.

But I acknowledge that I am not really entitled to comment; Brian Leddin, on the other hand, has a better informed view.

Portland House

Portland House from the Shannon

Chimneys of Portland House seen from the Shannon

Here is a good article about the destruction of Portland House, just upstream of Portumna on the east bank of the Shannon, by ruffians in 1938.

Lagoon Flights

No, nothing (as far as I can see) to do with the Irish firm Harbour Flights, whose fleet’s mysterious non-appearance (and whose website’s mysterious disappearance) has been noted here. This time it’s Cardiff Business Council that wants to set up a seaplane service between Cardiff and Swansea.

A pan-Wales service would have a “massive” effect on inward investment and tourism, Mr Roberts said.


[h/t Antoin Daltún]

Are the Sheughers …

seeing sense?

A cynic (not that there are any of them around here) might say that DAHG feels that it has done as much as it’s going to do (admittedly at Waterways Ireland’s expense) by dredging the River Finn and that it has told Monaghan Council that, if it wants any more Sheughery for Clones, it will have to pay for it itself. The Council might like a canal, but only if someone else pays for it, so it will have to be content with a greenway.

And rightly so.


The stolen railway

I’ve just been flying by rail: looking over some of the present and former railways that cross[ed], impinge[d] upon or were otherwise related to waterways. They are all on Industrial Heritage Ireland’s new Historic Map of Irish railways.

In the midlands, for example, it shows the line from Clara to Banagher, home of Ireland’s shortest canal: folk visiting Shannon Harbour will know about that. And anyone driving to Shannon Harbour from (say) Limerick will have crossed the Stolen Railway from Birr (then Parsonstown) to Portumna: it’s there too, as are the lines on both sides of the Shannon Estuary, and those near the Suir and Barrow and many many more.

Work has begun on providing links to a database with information about the individual stations: Donegal, which had an extraordinary number of them, was the first area to be done.

Hours of enjoyment; thanks to Ewan Duffy for putting in so much work.


Saunderson’s Sheugh and the border problem

Castle Saunderson and the border

Castle Saunderson and the border

Saunderson’s Sheugh, the latest manifestation of the proposed reconstruction of the Ulster Canal, would run along a border for much of its length. That’s the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, but there is one important border it does not seem to cross [as far as I can see]: that between counties Cavan and Monaghan.

Has Cavan stolen the sheugh from its northern neighbour? I’m sure that folk in the Monaghan part of the Dáil constituency of Cavan-Monaghan won’t mind, but I wonder whether the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, who is a TD from the Monaghan end and is in charge of Sheughery, is concerned that her Monaghan colleague Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin [Sinn Féin] might turn the situation to his party’s advantage. On the other hand, from Sinn Féin’s viewpoint, the question might be whether any sheugh is better than none.

Of course, as soon as a coalition of Sinn Féin and the Éamon Ó Cuív wing of Fianna Fáil takes power, we’ll have the entire Ulster Canal built immediately. And there will be grants for growing flax, carrying corn to Dublin and draining the Shannon [which might mean that there are no southern boats to visit the Ulster Canal].

I should say, though, that Davy, in two reports out today, is not very worried about what Sinn Féin might do: Finfacts story here; Davy here; the two reports here and here [each of which should open as a PDF; if that doesn’t work, use the links on the Davy or the Finfacts page].

Map: OpenStreetMap; copyright explained here.

Belleek to Tralee in 10 hours by inland waterway

Learned Readers are undoubtedly familiar with Design-Driven Innovation, but I’m afraid I hadn’t come across it until I read a conference paper: S McCartan, P Murphy, R Starkel, A Sánchez González and M López Cabeceira “Design-Driven Innovation: Sustainable Transport Opportunities for the Inland Waterways of Ireland”, read at the fifth annual conference of the Irish Transportation Research Network at the University of Limerick from 3 to 5 September 2014.

The paper [PDF] can be downloaded free from Sean McCartan’s page on the site, though you have to be registered with the site; the paper is also available, I think, from, but I’m not registered there so I haven’t tried the download.

As I understand it — and I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and Long Words Bother me — Design-Driven Innovation means that a lot of clever chaps and chapesses come up with new and brilliant ideas and then ask people what they think of them:

The process of Design-Driven Innovation is an exploratory research project, which aims to create an entirely new market sector for a given product through changing the design meaning the user has for the product.

It seems that, in Ireland, 99.1% of freight travels by road, leaving just 0.9% for rail; 82.8% of passenger traffic is by car and 14.4% by bus and coach, leaving just 2.8% by rail. Waterways transport could use existing ports and canals; once the canals had the right bridges and automatic locks, running costs would be low. West coast ports could be used by a “coastal cruiser service”; people could travel by fast boat from Donegal right around the west and south coasts to Rosslare. All of this would reduce the carbon dioxide footprint (assuming, of course, that folk on the west coast wanted to travel, or needed to send goods, to anywhere else on the west coast rather than to Dublin).

On the inland waterways, 139 catamaran CLF vessels (Cruise Logistics Ferries) could run from Belleek to Tralee. Travelling at 22 knots, and ignoring lock times, they would complete the journey in only 10 hours; they could carry freight but also carry passengers in green luxury. These CLFs would be 81 metres long and 25 metres wide; each could carry 20 TEUs. At sea, 26 high-speed (40-knot) CLFs could each transport 12 TEUs from Cork to Dublin in just under four hours. And solar-powered catamarans on the Shannon and Erne could carry 64 passengers at 12 knots.

Meanwhile, the Grand, Barrow and Royal would not be forgotten. They would have a fleet of 1549 unmanned canal catamarans, with autonomous control systems, powered either by batteries or by fuel cells, ultimately fed from wind farms. They would each carry two TEUs but could also be converted for tourist cruising.

The overall aim, with those numbers of boats, is to replace half of the amount carried by road.

The paper concludes:

This is a first step in the analysis of the potential of the coastal and inland waterways of Ireland, to meet the EU targets for transport. State aid has been identified as a potential funding mechanism to support the realisation of these proposals.

Sometimes I wonder.


Cycling the MGWR

From Michael Geraghty:

There is a photography exhibition currently running at the National Photographic Archive in Temple Bar’s Meeting House Square called Midland – Lár Tíre: Cycling the MGWR from past to present and features photographs along the 1,000km old Midland Great Western Railway (MGWR) network. The photographer, Pamela De Brí (my sister), cycled the 1,000km and recorded her journey as photographs and audio tapes.

The exhibition will run until Sunday 24 May 2015 and here is a link to an article on the

The history of the MGWR is linked to that of Irish waterways more closely than, I think, that of any other Irish railway.

Outbreak of sanity in Co Westmeath

Our big thing is to link the Galway Dublin cycleway into Kilbeggan and along the stretch of the old canal to Ballycommon. That’s around a million euro project and the biggest thing in our Vision for Kilbeggan plan.

Thus Dan Scally of Renew Kilbeggan in the Westmeath Examiner.