Category Archives: Non-waterway

Canals conference 7 March 2015

Information posted at the request of the organisers


Inland Navigations of Ireland Historical Society
in partnership with
The Heritage Boat Association

The Canals of Ireland

Saturday 7 March 2015

Hugh Lynch’s Function Room, Tullamore, Co Offaly

Programme

Memorial Slides Conor Nolan 09.30
Welcome Gerard Bayly 09.55
Session 1 Chairperson Judie Lambert
The Canals of Europe Mike & Rosaleen Miller 10.00
The Canals of Ireland Colin Becker 10.20
Coffee break 10.40
Saving the Royal Niall Galway 11.00
Fighting for the Grand Mick Kinahan 11.20
Living on a Canal Eric Kemp 11.40
Morning Question Time 12.00
Lunch break 12.30
Session 2 Chairperson Kristina Baker Kenny
Newry Canal Geraldine Foley 13.30
Limerick Navigation Raymie O’Halloran 13.50
John’s River Brian Simpson 14.10
Grand Canal Kilbeggan Branch James Scully 14.30
Boyne Navigation Seamus Costello 14.50
Coffee break 15.10
The Future Joe Treacy 15.25
The Future Brian J Goggin 15.45
The Future Nigel Russell 16.05
Evening Question Time 16.25

 

Details

Admission:                          €12
Breaks:                                Tea/coffee included
Lunch in room:                   Soup and sandwiches included
Music:                                 Live music session during lunch
HBA:                                   Merchandise for sale
IWAI:                                  Merchandise for sale
Authors:                              Books for sale

Directions

Hugh Lynch’s Pub, Kilbride Street, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

087 250 5422

 

Roll up! Roll up!

Download the form for paying Mineral Oil Tax on green diesel used for private pleasure navigation here [PDF]. The Kingstown Blazers are relying on you to save green diesel supplies:

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.

After all

How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?

 

 

The madness of Daniel O’Connell

In 1828 Daniel O’Connell was elected to the House of Commons for County Clare. As a Roman Catholic, he could not take the Oath of Supremacy [Frizzell, the illustrator, seems to have got his date wrong] and so could not take his seat, but the Emancipation Act 1829 removed that obstacle. However, it was not retrospective, so O’Connell had to stand again in County Clare; he was elected unopposed in July 1829.

On Sunday 31 January 1830 “The Patriotic member for Clare, Daniel O’Connell Esq, sailed from Howth […] at 8 o’clock, for England, to attend his Parliamentary duties” [Tipperary Free Press 3 February 1830] and when Parliament resumed on Thursday 4 February 1830

Daniel O’Connell Esq took the oaths prescribed by the Catholic Relief Bill, and his seat as a member for the county of Clare. The honourable member seated himself on the third row of the opposition side of the house, and exactly opposite to Mr Peel.

[London] Standard 5 February 1830

O’Connell’s letter

Before he left Ireland, O’Connell issued a letter to “the people of the County of Clare”; according to the Morning Post of 20 January 1830 it was issued from the Parliamentary Intelligence Office, 26 Stephen-street, on 15 January 1830. It began

MY FRIENDS AND BRETHREN — I take up the pledges which I made to you when I called on you to repose in me the high and awful trust of being your Representative. I will endeavour honestly to redeem those pledges.

For this purpose I propose to leave Dublin on the 26th of this month. I go off at the commencement of Term, and I shall be absent for two, if not three, entire Terms. Men will sneer at me for talking of these sacrifices to public duty, who, themselves, seek their own individual advantage in all their political exertions. I readily consent, and will proceed to do my duty to you with alacrity, zeal, and perseverance.

There was more along those lines, and then he said

My Parliamentary duties will naturally divide themselves into two distinct branches: the first relates to your local concerns; the second, to those mighty interests in which your prosperity is involved with that of all Ireland.

There were four local concerns: two about canals and two about ports.

An asylum harbour

West Clare [OSI ~1900]

West Clare [OSI ~1900]

The first port proposal was to build an “asylum harbour” on the west coast. An asylum harbour was a port that provided refuge in storms: Kingstown [Dun Laoghaire] was an asylum harbour (amongst other things). O’Connell thought an asylum harbour on the west coast would provide a safe haven for vessels coming across the Atlantic, feeling the force of the Gulf Stream and the prevailing westerly winds: they risked being “embayed on the iron-bound coast between Loop Head and Hag’s Head” where the Cliffs of Moher are. It is not clear how vessels could safely enter such a harbour, given that it would require them to come close to the lee shore, but O’Connell said

The existence of an asylum harbour on Malbay would be of the greatest value to the trade of the British Isles. I do hope to be able to realise this project, in the execution of which the talents of my most valued friend THOMAS STEELE would be found to be most highly beneficial to that county which he adorns by his abilities and patriotism.

O’Connell no doubt had in mind Thomas Steele’s talents as a urinator.

Carrigaholt and Kilrush

O’Connell also wanted

[…] the construction of two suitable piers, with other works, completely to protect shipping; the one on the Bay of Carrigaholt, the other on Scattery or Kilrush Harbour.

The commerce of Kerry, Clare, and Limerick, are interested in these works. We shall certainly obtain the powerful assistance of the patriotic Member for Limerick. His assiduity, information, and public spirit, render him a model which Irish representatives should imitate.

He wasn’t quite as complimentary about Thomas Spring Rice a few years later, when O’Connell’s five-hour speech in favour of the repeal of the Acts of Union was topped by Spring Rice’s six-hour contribution.

Here is a page about Kilrush. I haven’t done a page about Carrigaholt so there follows some information to fill the gap until I get around to doing it properly.

The earlier pier at Carrigaholt was built by Alexander Nimmo and was more successful than his harbour down the road at Kilbaha. Despite the description on the DIA site, I assume that it is the one shown on the 6″ OSI map.

Carrigaholt map 1

The old quay at Carrigaholt (OSI ~1840)

Here’s a photo.

Carrigaholt August 2011 7_resize

The old quay at Carrigaholt as extended

Commander James Wolfe’s Sailing Directions [PDF], compiled some time before 1848, say

Round Kilcradan, to the northward, and protected by it, is the anchorage or Road of Carrigaholt. It is a very fine secure anchorage with all winds from the westward, but from the ENE to S much sea prevails, though not heavy enough to endanger a vessel well found in ground tackling. With SW gales, a long rolling swell sets in round Kilcradan Point, which renders riding here at those times very uneasy. These roads have the advantage of being free from any great strength of tide.

The ground is level all over the road, but from six fathoms it shoals gradually towards the shores; the bottom, of sand over clay and mud, is generally considered good holding ground. The best anchorage for a large ship is with the top of Ray Hill in one with the Coast-guard Watchhouse W ¾ N, and Moyarta Lodge, just open of the point on which Carrigaholt Castle stands, nearly N ½ W in 5½ to 6 fathoms low-water springs.

The shore forms two smaller bays, the northern of which takes its name from the village which stands on its shores, and the southern is called Kilcradan. Both are very flat and shallow; in the latter there is a coast-guard station, but it is not a boarding station. The village is a poor miserable place, and does not afford supplies of any sort, nor can a ship complete water here. At the village is a small pier, accessible only (to loaded boats) at high water. It is used by the turf-boats, though most of these load on the beach.

Carrigaholt Castle, a high square tower on the point, and the chapel, a cruciform building, with its belfry, are very conspicuous objects.

As those directions were written some years ago, I suggest that you should not use them for navigating nowadays. You can tell that they are out of date because the village does now afford most excellent supplies, chiefly in the Long Dock. The Long Dock does not, alas, seem to have updated its website since 2006, having gone over to the Dark Side of FaceTweet which, at least to me, is impossible to search, so I can’t point you to a list of the interesting beers the Long Dock stocks in addition to its excellent food.

My spies tell me that, if you happen to be driving a barge from, say, Donegal to Limerick — not that I’m encouraging you to do anything of the sort — Mr Luke Aston of the Carrigaholt Sea Angling Centre will be able to advise on moorings. He’s got a Lochin, so he must be sound. You can have a day’s sea angling with him or a day watching dolphins with Geoff Magee (to whom I owe a glass of sherry), followed by a meal at the Long Dock: what more could you want?

Carrigaholt new harbour 24

Luke Aston’s Lochin [I assume] and Geoff Magee’s Draíocht

Well, if you were Daniel O’Connell, you’d want a new pier or quay.

Carrigaholt map 2

Carrigaholt old and new quays [OSI ~1900]

The old quay was extended at some stage and a new quay was built at the castle. I don’t know have dates for either of those, but I think the new quay was built as a fisheries pier in the 1890s. If, Gentle Reader, you know the dates, and can save me from having to plough through years of Board of Works reports, do please leave a Comment below.

If O’Connell had any role in having the old pier extended, that would have been the only one of his four local concerns on which he had any success, although he could also claim a minor supporting role in having the pier at Cappa, Kilrush, extended in the 1840s.

Carrigaholt new harbour 30_resize

Carrigaholt new quay seen from the old quay

The canal to Ennis

Daniel O’Connell’s third local concern was

The opening of the navigation of the Fergus to Ennis, so as to make that town a sea-port. The tide rises about half a mile beyond that town; and if there were a short canal cut near the village of Clare, of about 300 yards, vessels of burden could deliver their cargoes at Ennis, and carry away the produce of the country to the most remote markets.

This was a proposal that came up several times, but it was never implemented. The Shannon Commissioners built a fine quay at Clare [now Clarecastle] in the 1840s, but they left it as the head of the navigation.

Wolfe’s Sailing Directions made it clear that the passage of the Fergus estuary was not to be undertaken lightly:

A mile to the eastward of the Beeves is the principal and only navigable entrance to the River Fergus, which comes from the NNE amid vast banks of mud, and numerous islets and rocks. Having passed the Beeves, steer up for Feenish Island till you bring the tall square tower of an old castle (called Court Brown) in one with the north point of Low Island, WNW¼W, which is studded with white houses.

You must then keep rather more to the northward for the round hill of Coney Island, until Cannon Castle is in one with the peak of Grady Island, W¼S, when you must bear away for the east point of Coney Island; you will then shortly come into five and six fathoms, where you must anchor with the sharp peak of Coney Island bearing N by E and Cannon Castle WSW1/3W in about six fathoms soft muddy bottom.

Grady's and Cannon Islands from off Innish Corker [Admiralty Surveyors 1841 by kind permission of the UK National Archives]

Grady’s and Cannon Islands from off Innish Corker [Admiralty Surveyors 1841 by kind permission of the UK National Archives]

Beyond this it would be impossible to proceed without a pilot. The river beyond Coney Island winds through vast banks of mud, extending from 1 to 1½ miles from the shore, decreasing gradually in width from 600 yards, and varying in depth from nine to three feet up to the town of Clare, nearly seven miles in a direct line, and nine following the channel.

At Clare the bed of the river is dry at low water, but there is a quay, alongside of which vessels load. Clare is a miserable place, though the shipping port of Ennis. It is a military station.

Pilots may be had at Low Island, but no vessel above 150 tons should go up to Clare.

Clare_resize

The bridge at Clare[castle] [OSI ~1840]

As well as a lock, some opening mechanism would have been required for vessels to get though the bridge, which was not the current flat structure; here is a photo of the old bridge.

Clarecastle Fergus Navigation June 2007 07_resize

Looking from the Shannon Commissioners 1840s quay at Clare towards the bridge

Clarecastle November 2014 16_resize

Clarecastle gandalows at the quay

Clarecastle old quay from far side 03_resize

The quay from across the river

Very low water at Clarecastle 5_resize

Low water at Clarecastle

The interesting thing is that, even though a boat could not pass through Clarecastle to the estuary, there must have been some navigation on the Fergus; I would like to know more about what and how much was carried when. There was a quay, Parson’s Quay, in Ennis …

Ennis_resize

Parson’s Quay in Ennis [OSI ~1840]

… and another quay further downstream. I put the next map in black and white to make it easier to see things; it’s scaled down from the Ennis map.

Quays_resize

Ennis and district [OSI ~1840]

The map also shows that O’Connell was right about the tide: it did flow well above Ennis.

The other canal

Although the first three proposals were not implemented, and probably would have been either uneconomic or unsuccessful, they weren’t absolutely bonkers. His fourth idea, though, was nuts.

The fourth local concern relates to a communication by a canal from the bay of Galway to Limerick. The point of junction should be somewhere in the neighbourhood of Killaloe. The entire of the western and midland counties of Ireland would derive great advantage from such a canal.

Getting through the hills above Killaloe would have been fun. But the real problem with the proposal is that O’Connell fundamentally misunderstood the nature of the Irish economy. Each Irish port served its own hinterland, shipping out its produce and shipping in coal, timber and other overseas goods. But the ports did not need to trade with each other, as each performed the same function.

The exception to that was created by the application of steam on the inland Shannon, which allowed perishable produce from the Limerick area to be carried across Ireland for export through Dublin to Britain. That role was soon taken over by the railways.

But there was no point in connecting two westward-facing ports by canal: if they needed to trade with each other, they could do so by sea.

My OSI logo and permit number for website

Plassey in 1851

Plassey August 2010 37_resize

Free the Black Bridge

Here is a page about a cot race at Plassey in 1851.

 

 

The olden days …

… when the police caught thieves and recovered property.

Utility and Vigilance of the City Police. — On Saturday morning, at about eight o’clock, a girl named Ann Harold, absconded with some valuable clothes the property of Mr Hannan, Catherine-streeet, Classical Teacher, to whom she was servant; and intimation of the robbery being immediately given to the police, who were all on the alert, that most indefatigable and successful “terror of evil doers”, Serjeant Reidy, discovered and arrested an associate of Harold’s from whom it was ascertained that she had sailed on board the packet for Dublin, on Saturday evening. On which Joseph Wilson, of the city police, with an alacrity and quickness not to be surpassed, set off for Killaloe, where from his activity, intelligence and knowledge of the country, he succeeded in apprehending the thief, and recovering all the stolen property, except what she had pawned and brought her into Limerick on Sunday evening, where she is now safely lodged to abide the fiat of the Recorder on Tuesday.

Clonmel Herald 12 July 1834 quoting the Limerick Star

Moral: if there’s no transport on Sundays, don’t time your getaway for Saturday evening.

Two Limerick footbridges

The Black Bridge at Plassey has long had a place in the hearts of Limerick people. It was damaged in the floods of 2009 and has been closed to the public ever since. Limerick Council says it can’t afford to repair it. Limerick Council is, as far as I can see, in breach of the terms of its lease of the bridge from the Department of Finance; the Department of Finance could, but has chosen not to, insist that the Council repair the bridge.

In the meantime, the Minister for Finance, for reasons best known to himself, wants a new, er, iconic footbridge in Limerick city and is prepared to spend €6 million of taxpayers’ money, via Fáilte Ireland, on a structure that can scarcely avoid blocking some of the finest views in the city.

Now, the Limerick Leader tells us, the ghastly edifice is to cost almost €18 million: €6 million from the Minister for Finance (who represents Limerick), €4 million to be borrowed and €7.8 million from the leprechauns’ pot of gold under the thorn bush. Or somewhere. Even Fianna Fáil councillors think this is insane, which is saying something.

This ridiculous proposal should be abandoned immediately and a much smaller sum should be spent instead on repairing the Black Bridge as part of a European Route of Industrial Heritage.

The Minister’s €6 million is a gift-horse that should not only have its teeth inspected: it should be taken out and shot and its carcass sent to the burger factory.

Greyways and the Black Bridge

Martin McGuinness [SF] was asked recently, in the Northern Ireland Assembly, about blueways:

Leslie Cree [UUP]: It was interesting to read that Waterways Ireland has developed this first blueway in the Carrick-on-Shannon area. Can he share with us if, in fact, Waterways Ireland has developed any projects for the Erne waterway itself?

Mr McGuinness said:

These projects are under ongoing consideration by Waterways Ireland, as the development of blueways and greenways could add to our tourist potential. It is clear from how greenways have been used, particularly in the west of Ireland, that they have huge health benefits for those now walking and cycling and involved in physical activity.

There is a proposal for another greenway from Derry city to County Donegal. Blueways and greenways offer important tourist potential, and it is exciting to see that Waterways Ireland is considering the linkage in the Leitrim area and how it can be extended to Lough Erne.

But, if I might remind TPTB, not everybody likes walking, cycling and physical activity; not everybody is going to be rolling around in a kayak or paddling a canoe. There are older folk, there are those who rightly view exercise with the gravest of suspicion and there are those whose interests simply lie elsewhere.

The Greyway concept

It is for such folk that I have developed the Greyway [TM]  concept. It’s the same as a blueway or a greenway but without the sweating or the lurid dayglo clothing.

The basic idea is that you form a “route” or “way” as a marketing concept to get more people using your existing assets. Your expenditure is low: research, product development, marketing and information provision rather than infrastructure; self-guided rather than staffed user experiences. Direct income might be low too, although there may be ways to extract cash from users; there might also be spin-off opportunities for other providers. [All my usual reservations about small-scale providers apply here too.]

There might be Greyways catering for

  • walkers: gentle walks with opportunities for sitting down, drinking tea and getting a taxi back to the start
  • drivers: long-distance routes taking in several sites
  • boaters: most of Waterways Ireland’s sites are accessible by water and by road. Furthermore, some trip boats might use elements of the Greyway material in providing information for their passengers.

Themes

You need a theme to attract people: “come and walk/drive the X Greyway and see all the lovely/interesting Ys”. No doubt there are several possible values for Y: bunnies, trees, fish, bogs, hills …. But the main thing that Waterways Ireland has to sell, and that it does not currently sell, is its industrial heritage. The Shannon, in particular, exists as an improved navigation only because of (a) steam, (b) the British industrial revolution, (c) Irish agriculture and (d) low politics. And industrial heritage is something that interests some at least of the older folk. Package it into routes and sell it for grey pounds, euros or dollars.

There is all sorts of interesting stuff along the Shannon, mostly just lying there, and it should be put to work. The most concentrated section is along the old Limerick Navigation, from Limerick to Killaloe: for instance, last time I looked seven of the original twelve milestones were still present. [The distance was 12 Irish miles, approx 24 km or 15 statute miles.] It’s a walkable route and it includes

  • the neglected Black Bridge at Plassey, whose very existence reflects the Victorian version of Just-in-time delivery
  • the bridge and artefacts at O’Briensbridge
  • the richest waterways heritage site in Ireland at Killaloe.

But there could also be driving tours along the middle Shannon, between Portumna and Athlone, where there is lots to see, and from Lanesborough upwards. Shannon Harbour might eventually house a museum ….

ERIH

What I’m suggesting is that Waterways Ireland should designate the Shannon as the first route (as opposed to site) in Ireland within the European Route of Industrial Heritage [ERIH] framework. ERIH’s website includes descriptions of the route system and of anchor points, which may be too advanced for present use, but why not a European Theme Route in Transport and Communication? Ireland might even make a case for the use of advanced (or at least interesting) transport technology (steamers) in carrying agricultural produce to industrial markets.

Furthermore, if CIE were to cooperate, the railways might be brought in too, and the livestock trade, and Dublin Port, and a regional route linking to Liverpool and the railway to Manchester ….

There is an interesting story to be told about the Shannon and its links to the east coast and beyond; its industrial heritage could be used to attract tourists and entertain natives.

 

 

 

The Steam Carriage and Waggon Company of Ireland

In a piece about developments in steam propulsion in 1829, I mentioned Sir James Anderson’s contract with the Irish Post Office to carry the mails on the roads of Ireland in “coaches impelled by steam”.

The Farmer’s Magazine July–December 1838

The Farmer’s Magazine for July to December 1838 reproduced, on pages 201–211, an article from the Cork Southern Reporter headed “A visit to Sir James Anderson’s Steam Carriage”. Amidst outpourings of national pride at this Irish invention, the “Steam Drag, or Carriage for Common Roads”, praise for Sir James and his father John [who was a Scot], maunderings about the plight of the horse and admiration for Sir James’s Buttevant Castle, we learn that Sir James

[…] spent two apprenticeships and a fortune in building 29 unsuccessful carriages to succeed in the 30th.

There is even a small amount of information about the machine itself:

The “Drag”, or steam engine, is not like those hitherto attempted; it is a machine to do the work now done by horses. The vehicle by which the passengers are conveyed is to be attached to it […].

If the drag broke down, horses could pull the passengers the rest of the way. Fuel to haul 30 passengers and their luggage at 15 mph was expected to cost not more than 4d a mile. The drag’s “broad cylindrical wheels” would act as rollers, helping to preserve rather than damage the roads. Travellers could look forward to breakfasting in Cork and dining in Dublin.

We understand the Irish Company is now forming, and all arrangements making for a commencement in this county as soon as carriages can be made.

The Dublin Monitor 7 October 1841

STEAM CARRIAGE AND WAGGON COMPANY,
FOR THE CONVEYANCE OF
GOODS AND PASSENGERS ON THE MAIL
COACH ROADS OF IRELAND

APPLICATION for Shares to be made by letter (post-paid), addressed to the Directors, at the Temporary Office of the Company, 47, Lower Sackville-street, Dublin, where Prospectuses and every information may be obtained.

J GREY PORTER ATTHILL, Sec

According to the 1835 Report from the Select Committee on Orange Lodges in Ireland [HC 1835 (377) XV 1; Google version here], J Grey Porter Atthill was then Master of the Lisnarric [Lisnarick] District Orange Lodge in County Fermanagh, near Castle Archdale, meeting at Ardes [Ardess?] near the post town of Resh [recte Kesh, I imagine].

The Galway Vindicator 16 October 1841

Steam Carriages on Common Roads

Extract of a letter from a gentleman who accompanied the Steam-carriage from Dublin, on its experimental trip.

Kilbeggan, Oct 11, 1841

You are aware that it was our intention to have taken our new steam carriage to Ballinasloe fair; but finding that the boiler was not sufficiently stanched for a long journey, having only just issued from the workshop, we determined to make an experimental trip along the same line with the old carriage — one intended entirely for drawing conveyances for luggage and goods, at the rate of four to six miles an hour — to enable us to see where proper stations could be established, and to try the machine in every way, and at every speed, during this extraordinary inclement weather, on this hilly road.

We certainly set forth under most inauspicious circumstances; but feeling assured of the power and efficiency of the machinery, no matter on what description of ground, we fearlessly departed, and we have tested the carriage to the very utmost, yet without even deranging or straining a single screw. We have certainly achieved a great undertaking, and incontestibly proved the superiority of the patent of Sir J C Anderson and Mr J Rogers, especially on bad roads, against heavy hills, in rains unprecedented, and without having one station for water along the entire line.

When the steam-carriage left Dublin it rained in torrents, and has never ceased to do so since our departure on Tuesday afternoon. The hill at Chapelizod was ascended with ease, without a check of any kind; and the very steep descent going into Lucan, on the old road, was descended at a walking pace, without drags of any kind, and the engine afterwards ran on and drew up short at the Percy Arms, to the utter astonishment of all the village. From thence to Maynooth the journey was in the dark, and the incessant rain rendered the water in the ditches wholly unavailing, by making it muddy — so that the supply was absolutely obtained by bucket-fulls, at a distance often of two or three hundred yards.

The rain continuing in almost a perfect deluge on the following morning, it was considered only common justice to the men not to proceed, especially as the Duke of Leinster and the gentlemen connected with the College of Maynooth were desirous of inspecting the carriage, which they subsequently did in the midst of pelting rain, and expressed themselves delighted with the machinery and various ingenious movements. Indeed, the Duke of Leinster treated us with the utmost courtesy and condescension, and in the afternoon, on meeting us in the Park, personally took us through some of the beautiful grounds, and showed us his princely mansion of Carton.

On Thursday we again set forth — again in the midst of heavy rain — and immediately on leaving Maynooth had to pass through the flood, which extended along the road for about 300 yards, and about a foot deep. This was effected gallantly, and curious and interesting in the extreme was the effect of the carriage proceeding through the water. Hundreds of persons, notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather, came down to witness this feat, and expressed their gratification at the successful issue by deafening cheers. The impression was, that the fire would be extinguished, and it is only right that I should mention that young Lord Otho Fitzgerald, who came down early to see us off, rode into every part of the water to show us the depth, and to be ready to ride back for horses, which, entirely from himself, he kindly and most considerately proposed to do, in case of the fire being put out.

The floods being out to this extent furnishes some notion of the state of the roads, but it is almost impossible to describe the trying condition of the whole line. It is, indeed, lamentable to see corn, hay, potatoes, and every description of agricultural and garden produce floating about. The residents of Maynooth say that for eighteen years they have not known the floods so high, or the country in such a saturated state.

From Maynooth the carriage proceeded to Kinnegad, through Kilcock and Seafield, passing over two bridges of a rise of one in fifteen, and one in ten feet. At the latter the mud was so deep, and the ground beneath so soft, that the carmen were unable to go on, and were compelled to put up altogether. These were surmounted without check or hindrance, although in the latter there was a very sharp turn, independent of the great rise.

From Kinnegad to Tyrelspass was the most difficult part of the line, from the softness of the roads (newly macadamised) and continuous rise, independent of the great hill of Gillabonine, about three quarters of a mile long, with a rise in parts of one in ten, one in fifteen, and averaging one in twenty-two feet. On the summit hundreds of persons assembled to witness what could be done, and fully impressed with a belief that the carriage could never get up. To their evident astonishment, however, the carriage ran up at about four or five miles an hour, taking a direct line from bottom to top. It was received at the summit with immense cheering, and commenced the descent — which is even more precipitate than the rise on the other side — in a quiet walk, to show the power of withholding the speed at pleasure, no matter how sudden the fall may be.

Below the middle of the hill the speed was increased, and we ran into Tyrelspass at the rate of twenty-five miles an hour, and drew up short at the inn door. Coming down the hill an incident occurred which may be mentioned as showing the command of the conductor over the carriage: when at the greatest speed, a pig dashed across the road. Mr Rogers, who was conducting, instantaneously checked the speed, and, altering the direction of the carriage, avoided the animal with the utmost ease. This astonished the people above all things.

A similar circumstance occurred at Rochfort Bridge, where a greyhound ran close to the wheel. Mr Rogers immediately stopped, and the whole population (for every body was out) expressed their astonishment and admiration by an unanimous cheer.

A letter

The following letter, from Mr Rogers, has been received since the above was in type:—

The rain continued incessantly the next day, we were stormstaid at Kinnegad, but ceased the following; we started for Tyrelspass, having to ascend the famed hill of Guineabawn, a mile long, and varying from one in twenty to one in ten. As usual, this hill was also crowded by the inhabitants, who cheered us as we passed it, at a speed of four to five miles per hour, descending the opposite side at a walk, and subsequently entering the town on its flat and firm road, at a speed of at least fifteen miles an hour.

Here the excitement was so considerable that we were obliged to remain some time to gratify the people, and in consequence darkness came on before we reached Kilbeggan, at the entrance of which the steersman, not seeing his way, ran one of the wheels off the road, when the wheels sunk, but after some little delay, the carriage was backed out and steamed into the town, accompanied by almost all the inhabitants. Every window was illuminated to welcome us in, and, amidst the most joyous cheers, we reached the yard of Messrs Mullins, brewers, who kindly came to offer it for our use, and to whom our entire party are much indebted for their warm-hearted hospitality and attention.

But here I fear my narrative must end, for here we found the first supply of Ballinasloe coke. Being desirous to show the powers and command of the engine to the inhabitants who had so kindly received us, we delayed a day, but on getting in our fire, found at once its total inefficiency. We, however, ran through the town at a slow speed, proving the management and power up a stiff hill in the Main-street, but it was impossible to proceed on our journey.

Steam can no more be had from bad fuel, than condition and mettle from bad oats. A steam-carriage may as well attempt a journey to Galway and keep time, without relays of coke and pure water on the road, as a mail-coach attempt it without relays of horses, oats, and pure water too; but still I may, perhaps not too proudly, say, that more has been done to prove the undoubted capability and durability of steam carriages than ever has yet been accomplished.

We have journeyed here amidst incessant rain — the roads saturated till the carriers’ traffic was stopped — the whole line to this, covered so much with broken stones, that one wheel of the carriage was rarely, if ever off it, while the other ploughed its way through mud some inches deep; hills met us at elevations pronounced impossible of ascent, and which in the present age may be considered barbarisms; barbarisms, indeed, where horses are made I may say, to pant out their very lives in ascending them.

“Pure water” we had none, for the elements conspired to give us mud; and I need scarcely say in this enlightened age that pure water is an essential to the proper working of the locomotive engine — at least every engineer well knows that without it the most injurious effects arise. Since we started we have not had it half a dozen times; and yet our engine and boiler are at this hour as perfect as the day we set out.

It has been said of common road locomotives, “they come out with the butterflies and go in with them”. We have come out in the storm, and passed over the heaviest and worst roads in the country, when not a vehicle was to be met — and yet we are uninjured one particle, and are “driven in” alone by want of proper fuel.

Pardon the length of what I have called “a short narrative”; but I think I am not wrong in believing that the advancement of any science will find amongst your readers an interest sufficient to excuse my perhaps too minute description. Let me add, that, although the weather would have driven most men to their houses, the party of directors &c who accompanied our expedition, remained to prove and test the carriage to the last moment, suffering every hardship from the weather. If, in naming Messrs Mansell, Reardon, and Williams; also Mr Maunsell, the Company’s solicitor, and Mr Motley, an English engineer, who accompanied them, I may be thought to have needlessly eulogised what I believe they considered to be their duty, they will, I think, excuse it, when I give their names also as witnesses of what I have thus stated for the information of the public.

I have the honour to be, sir, your faithful servant,

Jasper W Rogers

Dublin University Magazine November 1841

I outlined the company’s November 1841 Plan [Jasper W Rogers Plan proposed by Sir James C Anderson Bart and Jasper W Rogers CE for establishing Steam Carriages for the conveyance of goods and passengers on the mail coach roads of Ireland; also a proposed system for repair of the roads by means of a Road Police, and for telegraphing Nicholas Walsh, Dublin 1841] here. In the same month the Dublin University Magazine had a two-page ad for the new company, headed

Steam Carriage and Waggon Company,
for the conveyance of goods and passengers
on the mail-coach roads of Ireland.

There were ten Patrons and Honorary Directors: four marquises [Downshire, Donegal, Sligo, Ely, all KPs], two earls [Mountcashell, Bandon] and four barons [Arden, Muskerry, Riversdale, Cremorne]. The Directors were:

  • the Hon Major Massy, Upper Fitzwilliam Street
  • the Hon Robert Le Poer Trench RN, Garbally
  • Sir Valentine Blake Bart MP DL, Menlo Castle
  • Sir William Chatterton Bart DL, Castle Mahon
  • Sir James C Anderson Bart, Buttevant Castle
  • Colonel Richard England KH
  • Captain Hamilton T Johnston JP, Holly Park
  • Captain John Irvine DL, Rockfield and Fitzgibbon Street
  • Captain Fitzgerald Higgins JP, Westport
  • Arthur Hume Esq, Dawson Street
  • Crofton Moore Vandaleur Esq DL, Kilrush House and Rutland Square
  • H K Grogan Morgan Esq DL, Johnstown Castle
  • Robert Guinness Esq, South Frederick Street
  • William H Reardan Esq, Cor Mem Council Coll C En
  • George Newton Esq, Upper Buckingham Street
  • Henry Williams Esq, Essex Bridge
  • William W Mansell Esq FSA, Kildare Street Club.

The Managing Director was John Jemison Esq, Drumcondra Hill, and the Directing Engineer Jasper W Rogers Esq CE, Nottingham Street. The auditors were George Hatchell Esq, The Priory, Rathfarnham, and Henry Dwyer Esq, Upper Mount Street. Counsel were Richard Wilson Green, Christopher Copinger and Charles Granby Burke; solicitor was Robert Maunsell, London law Agent W Mosson Kearns, Secretary J Grey Porter Atthill (Barrister) and bankers Messrs Ball & Co in Dublin and Messrs Coutts & Co in London. The company had local directors and agents in Cork, Limerick, Galway, Waterford, Wexford, Belfast, Londonderry, Enniskillen, Dundalk, Athlone, Westport and Ennis.

The ad said:

The practicability of running Steam Carriages upon common roads, with a degree of rapidity far beyond the utmost speed of horses in draught, and at one-half to a third less cost, has long since been made evident by the report of a Committee of the House of Commons, after a most minute and searching inquiry; and has now been confirmed by the Carriage built at Manchester by Sir James C Anderson Bart, for the Steam Carriage and Waggon Company of England, and those built at Newcomen Bridge Works, upon the same principle for this Company, by Jasper W Rogers Esq, the partner of Sir James Anderson, which for some time past have been publicly shown and tested in every way in the streets and neighbourhood of Dublin, as well as by the late experimental trip of about sixty English miles along the Galway road, against heavy hills, through even floods, in rains unprecedented.

It quoted from the account given in the Galway Vindicator and from that paper’s laudatory comment, concluding with an invitation to buy shares.

The company’s report November 1841

On 2 November 1841 the company issued its Report of the Steam Carriage and Waggon Company of Ireland, another short document. This showed William W Mansell as Managing Director and John Jemison as an ordinary director. It also listed 32 local agents.

It is a report from Mansell about the setting up of the company. It said that two drags had been built and tested: one was for goods and luggage, the other for passenger carriages. It reported the favourable impressions of Mr Motley, the Liverpool engineer, and described the trip to Tyrrellspass. Some additional information:

From the time we left Dublin not a single horse took fright, nor did any accident even of the most trivial nature occur […].

Independent of the unusually severe and unseasonable weather, about 76,000 sheep, 13,300 horned cattle, besides a great number of horses, independent of the regular traffic, have passed over this line of road, going and returning from the [Ballinasloe] fair, which it is needless to say tended greatly to render the roads more difficult for the Steam Carriage.

None of the persons in charge of turnpikes asked us to pay any thing excepting at Kilbeggan; but when we begged to know what we were drawn by, the man soon shrunk back.

Mansell recommended opening the Galway road as soon as possible, with enough vehicles “to supply the wants of communication”. He had been corresponding with people along the line and, with Mr Reardon, had inspected it as far as Ballinasloe, to which a new, shorter and more level road from Athlone was planned; a new road of 1½ miles had already been made between Horseleap and Moate. Thomas Bermingham, who had favoured a railway to Galway, now supported the company’s plans and had agreed to become a director.

Mansell gave an interesting sidelight on the reaction of the mail-coach operators:

The Nenagh Guardian is the only paper which has attacked us; but the nature of its remarks is strong evidence indeed of the manner this undertaking is making way, and arise wholly from interested persons. A gentleman from Nenagh voluntarily wrote to our Secretary on this subject, saying: ‘It so happens that the only Reporter and chief Editor the Guardian has, is the Stage Coach Agent of Messrs Bourne, the owners of the turnpikes and coaches on the Limerick and Dublin line of road; and as the Messrs Bourne have already been most illiberal monopolists, and as they apprehend serious consequences to themselves, and advantage to the public, from the success of the Company — after, I presume, trying their feelers elsewhere — they could not succeed in enlisting any Journal in their dirty work but an obscure venal publication.’

I should mention that the writer who thus apprises us of the management of the Messrs Bourne is not a Shareholder, nor, indeed, acquainted with any person connected with the Company, further than being a gentleman of standing and high character. The monopoly of Messrs Bourne expires in about three years and a-half.

[Note: Bournes had been partners with John Anderson [Sir James’s father] on the Dublin to Cork mail coaches.]

Various nobles and gentlemen had supported the idea. Coach-operators wanted to buy or lease steam carriages; they included Mr W Staunton of Killiney, who

[…] is desirous of having a Carriage to draw ten tons for supplying Limerick with pure water.

There had been applications for 5179 shares, but few from Galway, Cork or Limerick, all of which would benefit from the operation.

Mansell said that six steam carriages would be enough to work 100 miles of road, whereas on a railway the same distance would require 100 engines: there were over 40 on the 32 miles between Liverpool and Manchester and over 120 on the 110 miles between London and Birmingham.

The Company had expected to sell 3000 shares and to supply 7 carriages for the Dublin to Limerick route and the same for each of the lines from Dublin to Galway, Sligo and Londonderry; 2,500 shares and 6 carriages would serve Dublin to Belfast and 2000 shares and five carriages each for Dublin to Waterford and Dublin to Wexford. It had not yet issued its prospectus in England but expected extensive support there.

Anderson and Rogers had spent over £60,000 perfecting Locomotive Carriages.

The Galway Vindicator 8 December 1841

The Galway Vindicator had two relevant items on 8 December 1841: both of them written by the indefatigable Thomas Bermingham of Caramana, Kilconnel, Co Galway. The shorter was a letter to the editor; it permitted him to print the longer, a letter to the Guardians of the [Poor Law] Unions of Galway, Loughrea, Tuam, Athlone and Ballinasloe and to the other inhabitants of counties Roscommon and Galway.

It seems that Bermingham was less than completely convinced of the virtues of the Steam Carriage and Waggon Company’s locomotive carriages. He felt that they should run on a line of their own, a level road from Athlone via Ballinasloe to Galway, with branches to Tuam and Loughrea. Then, if the venture failed, the line could be converted to a railway, using either horse or steam power. The building of the road would provide employment to the poor and its completion would assist the prosperity of the port of Galway.

Bermingham reckoned the cost of the road at £1000 a mile for 80 miles; he allowed £6000 to connect Mutton Island to the mainland and rounded it up to £100000 to provide for station-houses. He thought that the Board of Works should provide 40% of the cost as a free grant and the rest as a loan at 5%.

What good came of it at last?

Canal, road and rail were, it seems, vying for Ballinasloe’s traffic. The canal got there first but the railway took over from 1851 (and the line to Galway passed just south of Thomas Bermingham’s house). Did road-going locomotive carriages ever successfully serve that, or any other, town?

In 1902 Rhys Jenkins, in Motor cars and the application of mechanical power to road vehicles [T Fisher Unwin, London; J Pott & Company, New York], wrote [pp68–69]:

Anderson, however, nine years later [1838], came out as an inventor himself with a new boiler. The Steam Carriage and Waggon Company was formed to build carriages on his plans, and a number were made in the years 1839 and 1840 in Dublin and Manchester, and carriages were to be seen at work in both places. There are glowing accounts of the success obtained at experimental runs, but the scheme very soon fell through.

I would be glad to hear from anyone who can fill in the details or point to a source that does so.

Roads, steam and the alleviation of poverty

I mentioned here Sir James Anderson‘s contract with the Irish Post Office for carrying the mails at 12 mph in steam-powered road-going coaches. I don’t know how that worked out [anyone who observed the coaches between Howth and Dublin is encouraged to leave a Comment below] but in 1841 Sir James was back with a new idea for the use of steam power on Irish roads.

He was joined this time by Jasper W Rogers CE. They produced a pamphlet outlining their idea: Jasper W Rogers Plan proposed by Sir James C Anderson Bart and Jasper W Rogers CE for establishing Steam Carriages for the conveyance of goods and passengers on the mail coach roads of Ireland; also a proposed system for repair of the roads by means of a Road Police, and for telegraphing [Nicholas Walsh, Dublin 1841], which pretty well says it all. The pamphlet is only fifteen pages, so it’s not much longer than its title, and [thanks to Messrs Google] you can read the whole thing here, free of charge.

Essentially, they thought railways would never pay, but that Locomotive Steam Carriages, capable of carrying twenty people, could be used on the roads. They also suggest the use of  “drags” (tractor units): as far as I can gather, they were to be an interim measure until the roads had reached the required standard. The roads would be divided in two: one section for steam and the other for “the general purposes of the country”.

At every mile, a “convenient lodge or cottage” would be built to house three “road police”, with a “chief officer” every ten miles. Their main function would be to repair the roads but they could keep order in their spare time. The cottages would be furnished with [non-electric] telegraphs, each using a “ten-sided hollow revolving figure”.

My favourite bit is this:

In order to give every facility for repair of roads, and at the same time to benefit the labouring population — particularly the aged, decrepid and young, who at all times find difficulty in obtaining occupation — we would recommend that the peasantry be invited to supply broken stone in accordance to sample; delivering same in any quantity not less than 1 cwt at any station on the line.

That could help to solve this problem.

Here is a longer piece about Anderson’s Steam Carriage and Waggon Company of Ireland.

Tourism and beer

According to Padraig Cribben of the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland [which seems to include the brewers of the beers we don’t drink],

[…] the latest figures I have seen show that 35% of foreign tourists do not move outside Dublin. That creates a massive challenge. That challenge is being addressed, initially through the Wild Atlantic Way, but even if one looks at the figures for that, my understanding is that while it was very successful last year, two thirds of all visitors to the Wild Atlantic Way were domestic visitors. There is still a great deal of scope there and it will pay more dividends over time.

There is an initiative due to happen in 2015 which is being broadly termed “south and east” and involves a trail from the Boyne Valley through to the heritage centres in the south east. In 2016 or thereabouts, a whole waterways section will relate to the Shannon and the canals to increase the dispersal.

Jolly good, but why is the drinks industry announcing this? Whose initiatives are these? Who else is involved? More info and links welcome, please.

By the way, Mr Cribben also said

The other point to make is that the Irish pub is unique. It is not just unique here, it has been replicated around the world.

I’m still trying to work out what “unique” means there.

Folk seeking interesting Irish beer should start with the Beoir directories.