Tag Archives: O'Briensbridge

Money from the bog

To a small extent reclamation is now going on in Ireland; Mr M’Nab, of Castle Connell, county Limerick, has reclaimed 80 acres of the worst red bog, devoid of vegetation and 20 feet deep. It was drained, then coated with the subsoil, and the land which was not worth 2s 6d per acre is now worth 30s per acre.

Thus Robert Montgomery Martin in his Ireland before and after the Union with Great Britain third edition with additions; J D Nichols and Son, London; James McGlashen, Dublin 1848.

I have written here about Mr Macnab (that was how the spelling settled down) and his talent for extracting money from the bog at Portcrusha, which is between Castleconnell and Montpelier, Co Limerick. It seems that his achievements are still remembered — and emulated.

Incidentally, in the same work, published in 1848, Mr Martin refers to the

… large practical mind, great experience,  and Christian philosophy …

of Sir Charles Trevelyan.

Up with this sort of thing

Folk interested in the history of the Shannon before 1850 may like to know of a talk …

The smart green technology of the 1830s: the Shannon steamers and the definition of Ireland

… to be delivered to the Thomond Archaeological and Historical Society on Monday 4 November 2013. It’s in Room T.1.17, TARA Building, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, at 8pm.

A related topic …

Charles Wye Williams and the Anglo-Irish Trade

… will be discussed in one of the papers at the Eighth [British] Waterways History Conference on Saturday 26 October 2013 at the University of Birmingham. Leave a Comment below if you would like contact information for the conference.

Shannon passage times 1838

Estuary

Kilrush to Limerick 4 hours

Tarbert to Limerick 3 hours

Clare[castle] to Limerick 3.5 hours

Limerick Navigation

Limerick to Killaloe:

  • iron passenger boat 2.5 hours
  • timber passenger boat 3.5 hours
  • trade boat 6 hours.

Shannon

Killaloe to Portumna:

  • passenger steamer 6 hours
  • steamer towing lumber boats 8 hours.

Portumna to Shannon Harbour:

  • 6 hours.

Shannon Harbour to Athlone:

  • 8 hours.

Source: Railway Commissioners second report Appendix B No 6.

Ardnacrusha drowning

Killaloe Coast Guard report.

The Marquis survives

I reported last October that an unused London pub, named after Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne, KG, PC, FRS, was threatened with demolition in favour of a museum extension.

I pointed out that the late Marquis had two claims on the attention of Irish waterways enthusiasts. First, the best-known of the early River Shannon steamers, the Lady Lansdowne, was named after his wife. Second, he was Lord President of the Council [the current holder of the post is Nick Clegg] when the government of Her Late Majesty Queen Victoria decided, in 1839, to spend about half a million pounds improving the Shannon Navigation.

The Indie reports today that Hackney Council’s planning committee has voted against the demolition, so the Marquis survives, at least for now.

The Charles Wye Williams bridge campaign

Dublin City Council has published its call for proposals for naming the new bridge across the Liffey. According to RTE, various bolshies and literary types have been suggested, as though we didn’t have enough of them (and of politicians too). Accordingly, I have submitted an application suggesting that the bridge be named after a successful entrepreneur who understood technology and created employment: Charles Wye Williams, the Father of the Shannon, whose fleet of nine steamers and fifty-two barges gave us the Shannon as we know it today.

I will be happy to send a copy (PDF) of my application to anyone who is willing to support it.

The Limerick Navigation: lock sizes

Here is a table showing the sizes of the locks on the (now abandoned) Limerick Navigation.

The fear of Baal’s Bridge

In May 1895 the fear induced by the prospect of a passage under Baal’s Bridge, on the Abbey River in Limerick, as revealed in the commercial court in London before Mr Justice Mathew and reported by the Freeman’s Journal of 20 May 1895.

Arthur George Mumford of Colchester, Essex, was described as an agent, but was actually a marine engineer and manufacturer of steam engines. He owned a 25-ton steam yacht called Gipsy, which he decided to sell through Messrs Cox & King, the well-known yachting agents (their 1913 catalogue is here).

The buyer was Ambrose Hall, the man responsible for the statue of Patrick Sarsfield. A former mayor of Limerick, he was an alderman and a “house and land commission agent”; his address was given as Mignon House, Limerick, which I have not so far found.

Hall bought the boat for £500; it was to be delivered to him at Limerick. The original plan was to sail it around the coast of Ireland and up the Shannon estuary, but bad weather in late 1894 caused Cox & King to suggest taking it to Dublin and then down the Grand Canal and the Shannon to Limerick. Hall agreed; the boat left Dublin in January 1895. It reached Killaloe on 19 January and Limerick “a day or two afterwards”, where it was moored in the canal harbour.

25 Grand Canal Harbour Limerick March 2007 01_resize

Canal harbour, Limerick in March 2007

Hall refused to accept the boat in the canal, saying that it should have been delivered to Limerick dock, a short distance downstream. Mumford and Cox & King sued him and the National Bank.

Hall and Baal

Ordnance Survey ~1900

Hall, an alderman and a former mayor, who had lived at North Strand, presumably knew the river and its difficulties.

Baal's Bridge 20091128 1_resize

Baal’s Bridge looking upstream towards the canal harbour in the floods of 2009

Navigation arch at Mathew Bridge 20091122_resize

The navigation arch at Mathew Bridge looking downstream in the floods of 2009

It was contended by the defendant that to get the vessel from the canal into the estuary of the Shannon there was a considerable risk involved. The passage was only a few hundred yards, but it was stated it could only be effected at certain states of the tide when it would be possible to get through Ballsbridge.

The judge sensibly suggested that it should be possible to insure the boat for the journey; the plaintiffs agreed to deliver it; Hall agreed to accept delivery and to pay £15 for the cost of the caretaker who had been looking after the boat since 23 January; the case was settled.

Clearly Ambrose Hall didn’t know Pat Lysaght.

My OSI logo and permit number for website

The 120′ Irish steam-powered narrow boat

Read about it here.

Around the world with Irish waterways

Yesterday was one of those days: I managed to track down sources for several pieces of information I’ve been hunting for some time, but in the process I came across a few interesting links, from Gordon of Khartoum to the War between the States.

The starting point was William Watson, manager of the Inland Department and later Chairman of the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company. He worked with Robert Mallet on the design of an innovative boat for use on Irish inland waterways. Robert Mallet married a Cordelia Watson in 1831. (I thought that might be a daughter of William of the CoDSPCo but it’s pretty clear from the excellent Mallett Family History site that that was not so.)

One of Mallet’s inventions was a large mortar designed for use in the Crimean War. And one of Mallet’s sons, John William Mallet, went to the USA and became professor of chemistry at the University of Alabama. He joined the Confederate forces, rising to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the artillery and superintendent of the Confederate ordnance laboratories.

Meanwhile Watson’s son Charles Moore went east rather than west. Colonel Sir Charles Moore Watson KCMG, CB, MA, of the Royal Engineers, Watson Pasha, was a general in the Egyptian Army and Governor-General of the Red Sea Littoral. Watson’s base was at Suakin on the Red Sea. The Dubliner was succeeded in that post by a Kerryman, Horatio Herbert Kitchener, from Ballylongford near Saleen on the Shannon Estuary, on which the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company operated.

Watson was “Gordon’s principal friend in Egypt”:

It is certain that Watson was, above all others, the one man in Cairo whom Gordon cared about most, and that he was the last to see Gordon off when he started [for Khartoum].

Gordon died at Khartoum; the relief expedition, led by another Irishman, Sir Garnet Wolseley, arrived two days too late.

A younger brother of Sir Garnet, Frederick Wolseley, went to Australia. His Sheep Shearing Machine Company made a brief expedition into the manufacture of motor-cars, under one Herbert Austin, who later founded his own company. Austin and Wolseley both ended up in British Leyland Motor Corporation, which made diesel engines, some of which were marinised and used in boats on the Irish inland waterways … which brings us back to where we started.