Tag Archives: O'Briensbridge

Draining Lough Derg

The ESB is currently letting more water down the old course of the Shannon, from Parteen Villa Weir through O’Briensbridge, Castleconnell and the Falls of Doonass. This channel gets the first 10 cubic metres per second from the Shannon; the next 400 go through Ardnacrusha and anything left over is sent down the old course.

The result is to help to reduce the water level on Lough Derg while raising it on the old course.

The footbridge in Castleconnell at normal summer level in 2002

The footbridge in Castleconnell at normal summer level in 2002

The footbridge on 1 January 2014

The footbridge on 1 January 2014

Before Ardnacrusha was built, the old channel took the entire flow of the Shannon, so it can take more than it has now.

The footbridge in the floods of November 2009

The footbridge in the floods of November 2009

The level is still below that of 2009, when the land around the old channel flooded in several places. But much land is waterlogged: I saw yesterday that the upper reaches of the Nore, the Barrow and other rivers were in flood. And more rain is forecast.

Wouldn’t it be nice if some of that could be sent to Dublin instead? I see that some folk claim (on what looks like a website that hasn’t been updated for a while) that the evil Dublin folk want to extract 350 million litres of water from the Shannon every day; the original idea was to take it from Lough Ree but now it seems that Lough Derg is the preferred source.

Now 350 million litres sounds like a lot, but it’s 350 000 cubic metres per day, 14 583.3 per hour, 243.05 per minute, 4.05 per second, which is less than 1% of normal flow through the two channels draining Lough Derg. There’s a lot more at the moment, and the good citizens of Dublin are welcome to come down and fill their buckets. I suspect that Clare TD Michael McNamara has got things out of proportion.

Addendum: 350 million litres per day, over a lake whose area is 130 square kilometres, would lower the level of the lake (if my calculations are correct) by 2.69 millimetres. If no water entered the lake, the level would be down 983 mm after a year, ignoring evaporation and other abstractions and assuming that the Shannon and other tributaries no longer flowed in and that there was no rain.

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


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.


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.