Category Archives: Non-waterway

What part of “no” does Brendan Smith not understand?

On 11 February 2014 Brendan Smith [FF, Cavan-Monaghan] asked a written question and got a written answer:

To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the level of expenditure incurred to date in relation to the feasibility study and any other studies undertaken in respect of the proposed extension of the Erne Navigation from Belturbet to Killykeen and Killeshandra; if his Department proposes to review the decision not to proceed with this project any further; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Jimmy Deenihan [FG, Kerry North/West Limerick] said:

I am informed by Waterways Ireland that expenditure incurred to date in relation on this project, the Lough Oughter project, on the Erne Navigation from Belturbet to Killykeen and Killeshandra is €84,647. I am also advised that, on reviewing the environmental information from this process, Waterways Ireland considers that the environmental designations of this lake complex make the feasibility of the proposed navigation extension highly unviable.

I understand that Waterways Ireland does not, therefore, propose to pursue this project any further at this time.

The thing is that Mr Smith asked about Lough Oughter back in December and was told then:

On reviewing the environmental information from this process, Waterways Ireland considers that the environmental designations of this lake complex make the feasibility of the proposed navigation extension highly unviable. For that reason, I am advised that Waterways Ireland does not propose to pursue this project any further at this time.

Unless Mr Smith thinks that Waterways Ireland has won the Euromillions lottery since December, he is just wasting time and resources by asking again about Lough Oughter.

 

Flood plains

Patrick O’Donovan [FG, Limerick] wants to drain the Shannon. Or wants farmers to do it. He doesn’t want the “multiplicity of agencies [which] have made it virtually impossible for anything to be done with the river and the rivers and streams draining into it”; he wants a non-multiplicity of agencies — “the OPW, the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, Inland Fisheries Ireland or whoever” — to dig sheughs and stop flood plains flooding. He says

The one group of people who seem to have no say are those who live on the banks of the rivers or who have watched thousands of gallons of water coming in their front door and out their back door.

But he is wrong. That is the one group of people who can stop flood waters coursing through their houses and who can do it most quickly, most easily and without the permission of a single state agency.

The solution is simple: they should move house, away from the flood plains to higher ground.

Lowering Lough Derg

Boat-owners concerned about high water levels on Lough Derg will be glad to know that relief is in sight, although it may take a little while to arrive. Irish Water has taken over the project to send Shannon water to Dublin and is procuring something, although it is not at all clear what that is. The, er, news item is so far leading in the competition for least informative press release of the year.

Big it up for the OPW

I’ve just been reading some particularly nitwitted Dáil discussions and I need some time to calm down enough to report on them to the Learned Readers of this site. Let me just say that anyone who thinks that politicians cannot distinguish fact from fiction is absolutely right. But enough of that for the moment.

I reported earlier on an oddity in the results from the OPW’s Athlone waterlevel gauge. I emailed the OPW about it and a helpful chap got back on more or less immediately.

He explained that the data we see on the waterlevel.ie site is, as it were, live: raw unfiltered data with nothing added, nothing taken away. The same data goes in to the OPW and they spotted that the Athlone gauge was reading too high. They found the sensor was faulty; they have now adjusted it and the new, lower readings are correct.

The disappearance of the placenames is because of some work in progress on improving the website; they will be back.

He kindly pointed me to a list, in .xlsm format, downloadable from here; it shows all hydrometric stations in Ireland. It shows who operates them, whether they’re active and whether they use telemetry (which I take to mean that they can be monitored remotely). Unfortunately OPW itself doesn’t seem to have any gauges on Lough Derg and nor does Waterways Ireland. OPW does have a rather excitable gauge at Scarriff and gauges upstream of Meelick Weir and Meelick (Victoria) Lock. The ESB has gauges with telemetry at Ballyvalley (25073) and Killaloe (25074) but I can’t find any website giving the levels. If, Gentle Reader, you can find one, perhaps you would let us know.

The consoling part of dealing with the OPW is that you get the distinct impression that they know some useful stuff. Unlike, say, some folk working in Kildare Street ….

Doonbeg

It seems that this chap has bought the glof course near the (proposed) Doonbeg Ship Canal. I’m sure that any further development will be in the best possible taste.

More Pathé

A train ferry, claimed to be in service on the Liffey

Fishing at Ringsend the hard way

Turf by canal

Launching the Irish Elm in Cork

A Boyne regatta

Making and using a Boyne currach in 1921 (you can learn the art yourself here)

A non-watery film: Irish Aviation Day 1936

 

Lartigue in motion

I’ve just noticed a 3½-minute video of the original Lartigue on the British Pathé website. Here is my page about the modern recreation, which is well worth a visit. The other monorail by the Shannon River is covered here.

Canal tourists or canal pensioners?

The Village at Lyons 265_resize

La Serre

Nibbling yesterday on a morsel of cured salmon, with fennel and apple salad, lemon crème fraiche and lavender jelly, at the excellent La Serre restaurant at the Village at Lyons, I looked forward to walking outside afterwards, on to the canal bank, to view the many boats that would undoubtedly be moored there, above the thirteenth lock, as their owners lunched at La Serre’s sister institution, the Canal Café.

The thirteenth lock (and its wonderful O)

The thirteenth lock (and its wonderful O)

Judge of my surprise, then, when I found not a single boat outside. I realised, though, that boaters probably walked from nearby Hazelhatch and even from Sallins. For we know, do we not, that boaters are vital to tourism? Even Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party tells us so, which means that they must be out and about along the canals, spending money (and where better to spend it than at the Canal Café?).

The Canal Café, mere feet from the canal bank

The Canal Café, mere feet from the canal bank

But a difficulty has struck me. Mr Higgins’s position is that boaters have money available for discretionary expenditure, but Senator John Kelly tells us that most boaters are “retired couples from England who are receiving small English pensions”. So one politician tells us that boaters have disposable incomes and that they should not pay money to Waterways Ireland because they spend money in pubs and restaurants along the canals; another politician tells us that boaters should not pay money to Waterways Ireland because they have none to spare.

I find it difficult to reconcile these two positions.

 

Drawbacks of canals

There was a proposal in the 1830s for a ship canal along the coast, outside the railway embankment, from Dublin to the asylum harbour at Kingstown. A preliminary report was provided by William Cubitt after the House of Commons Select Committee on the Dublin and Kingstown Ship Canal had reported in July 1833.

Henry E Flynn was opposed to the idea and, in his A Glance at the Question of a Ship Canal connecting the asylum harbour at Kingstown with the river Anne Liffey at Dublin &c &c &c [George Folds, Dublin 1834], dedicated to Daniel O’Connell, he wrote eloquently of the drawbacks of the proposal, which included this:

Be it remembered, that the whole coast from Ringsend to Merrion is the bathing ground for the less affluent classes of the Citizens; and hundreds get their bread by attending on and bathing the females who frequent it.

And are the patriotic Would-be’s who support a Ship Canal equally reckless of the health, the morality, and the existence of those persons? Would they have no objection to expose their mothers, wives, sisters and daughters to the immediate wanton gaze, the scoffs, the jeers, the immodest jest, the filthy exposure and indecent exhibitions which the most abandoned race of men [ie sailors] could find in their dissolute minds to perpetrate in their view, and within their hearing? And yet, all this must be the consequence of a Ship Canal in the immediate vicinity of the female baths and bathing ground along the line.

Happily, the canal was never built.

Horace Kitchener and the peat briquette

I commented recently on the posthumous honour awarded to Kerryman Horace Kitchener, born at Ballylongford near Saleen Quay on the Shannon estuary. Part of the cost of building Saleen was paid by the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth neare Dublin (whose present gaffer wants to change its name to something more snappy and brand-like, probably with an exclamation mark or a number in it (maybe he would like something modern: L33T or D00dz!, perhaps). The College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth neare Dublin owned large bogs in the area and sent turf to Limerick by boat.

Another turf connection has just come to my notice. Donal Clarke, in Brown Gold: a history of Bord na Móna and the Irish peat industry (Gill and Macmillan, Dublin 2010, but it is no longer on their website), says that in the 1850s Horace’s father experimented at Ballycarbery [which seems to be a long way from Ballylongford] “with the production of peat charcoal for se in the manufacture of gunpowder” and, in the process, discovered a way of making peat briquettes.

Not a lot of people (apart from Donal Clarke’s readers) know that.

Incidentally, Kitchener appears in this trip around the world with Irish waterways.