Tag Archives: Plassey

The Black Bridge at Plassey

I am repeating here a point I made in response to a comment on this page. I do so because the point is, I think, an important one: some readers don’t check the comments and might miss this.

I have an imperfect copy [with some lines missing] of an indenture made on 8 July 1849 between the Minister for Finance and Limerick County Council under which the Council leased from the Minister

… all that those parts of the lands of Garraun and Sreelane on which Plassey Bridge abuts on both banks of the River Shannon and the site and piles of said Plassey Bridge together with said Plassey Bridge […].

I am not a lawyer, so my interpretation may be misleading, but I think that there are two points of interest.

The first is that, under the indenture, the Council is obliged to “well and sufficiently repair cleanse maintain amend and keep the hereby demised premises”, which includes the bridge. The Council is also required to “use the said demised premises as a public highway”.

The second is that, if the Council fails to do so, the Minister, and his agents the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland, are entitled (after giving due notice) “to enter upon the hereby demised premises and to execute and to do the necessary repairs and works and the Lessees [ie Limerick Councy Council] shall repay the expenses of such repairs to the Lessor on demand […]“.

As far as I can see, Limerick County Council is in breach of its agreement with the Minister for Finance, and that Minister is entitled to repair the bridge and charge the Council for the cost.

If only there were a Minister for Finance who had an interest in Limerick (or in bridges) ….

Who writes this stuff?

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage on the Black Bridge at Plass[e]y and on Baal’s Bridge in Limerick.

It would be nice if the NIAH provided reliable historical information.

 

The Gillogue railroad

Gillogue, in Co Clare, is the site of a former Burlington factory and of a Clare entrance to the University of Limerick. It is also the site of a lock on the Plassey–Errina Canal, a section of the old Limerick Navigation, and of quarries, gravel pits and lime kilns.

And, according to the 6″ Ordnance Survey map, of around 1840, Gillogue also had a railroad.

The Gillogue rail road

The Gillogue rail road (click to enlarge)

The railroad was almost certainly not for carrying passengers; it may have been a light railway, with small wagons pushed by men or pulled by horses, and designed to be taken up and moved elsewhere fairly easily. However, I have no hard information about who owned it, who built it or what it was for. I can make guesses, based on its closeness to the canal and to the quarries, but it would be nice to have evidence.

If, Gentle Reader, you know anything about it, do please leave a Comment below.

My OSI logo and permit number for website

The Limerick Navigation: lock sizes

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

The 120′ Irish steam-powered narrow boat

Read about it here.

Errina Bridge

I remarked in November 2012 that Waterways Ireland had parked a canteen trailer and some pontoons at Errina Bridge, the uppermost bridge on the Plassey–Errina Canal, which is part of the old Limerick Navigation.

WI pontoons

WI pontoons

WI canteen

WI canteen

I wondered what was to be done; I noted that a stone at the top of one of the stop-plank grooves under the bridge had been removed (the stone on the far side was removed some time ago).

So I asked Waterways Ireland what was happening. They said:

The works in Clonlara are Flood relief works to protect Errina Lock from catastrophic failure. After the flooding in 2009, during which the dam in Errina Lock was overtopped by approximately 0.5 metres, it was decided to protect it from this happening again.

It has happened before too: in February 1809 the lock was destroyed by floods when heavy snows melted.

Errina Lock (looking upstream)

Errina Lock (looking upstream)

I asked WI about the nature of the works. They said:

Stop logs are to be put into the grooves under the bridge forming a dam with the same size opening as that in the concrete dam in Errina Lock. As for the stone which is removed to facilitate the installation of the timbers, this will be replaced once the timbers are in place.

That is good to know.

Errina Bridge stop-plank grooves (towing-path side, with uppermost stone removed)

Errina Bridge stop-plank grooves (towing-path side, with uppermost stone removed)

Errina Bridge stop-plank grooves (off side)

Errina Bridge stop-plank grooves (off side)

An authority on waterways has suggested that the curious shape of the grooves was designed to allow planks to be inserted from boats rather than from land.

 

Bring back the Black

The Black Bridge at Plassey has been closed since the floods of November 2009. Its reopening seems to have a low priority; I suspect that is because the importance of the bridge in Ireland’s technological, economic, entrepreneurial and political history is not widely appreciated. Here is a page explaining some of the background and suggesting a context within which reopening might be justifiable.

Planting Plassey

A group called We Love Plassey Riverbank has a facetweet page and another group called Limerick City Biodiversity Network also has one.

On Sunday 13 May 2012, starting at noon, the two groups will cooperate in planting native wildflowers along the banks of the Park Canal and the towing-path to Plassey; details here and I wish them a successful day.

 

 

Limerick bridge

Just as Killaloe is to have a new bridge, so too is Limerick. Or perhaps more than one …. This page (on a site whose ownership I do not know) has a map of proposed routes for the proposed Limerick Northern Distributor Road, which is to provide a northern bypass of Limerick. You can read about it on the websites of the promoters, Limerick County Council, Clare County Council and Limerick City Council. You can download stuff. And you will be pleased to hear that there are to be consultations (only not many of them).

This road is to be built in two phases, the first covering the area from west of the city to Parteen and the second from there to the old Dublin road (N7 as was, now demoted to the status of boreen). There are (or were) several options for each section, but the decision to cross the navigation at the Ardnacrusha tailrace, between the power station and the existing bridge, seems to be set in, er, concrete: that is, it seems, where the ESB wants it.

Ardnacrusha and the tailrace seen from the existing bridge at Parteen

The current consultation is about Phase 2, south-east from Parteen. There are several possible routes.

Two of them, B1 and B2, would cross the Shannon downstream of Plassey and the Black Bridge; they would not cross the Plassey–Errina Canal. It would be important to ensure that they did not further damage the towing-path and its artefacts on the Limerick side.

The west bank below Plassey

Four other routes — C1, D1, D2 and E1 — would cross the Plassey–Errina Canal between Gillogue and Wooden Bridge; they would cross the non-navigable Shannon upstream of Plassey, between there and a point just above the confluence of the Mulcair. C1 seems to run very close to Gillogue Lock, although that may be an effect of the scale of the route markings.

Woodenbridge (which isn't)

I am sure that the ESB will look after the interests of the existing navigation (through Ardnacrusha) and that Waterways Ireland will look after those of the former navigation (the river to Plassey and the canal thence to Errina). However, it might be worthwhile lobbing in a comment to TPTB, first to sttress the heritage value of the abandoned navigation and second to suggest that a new road near Plassey might improve rather than diminish access to that area.

One final thought: this new road seems likely to put the final nail in the coffin of the Limerick Tunnel under the Shannon estuary downstream of Limerick. I very much enjoy using the tunnel, but many folk are deterred by the charges and they drive through the city instead — or, worse, cross the Shannon at O’Briensbridge. As a result, revenue is less than expected, so the traffic guarantee mechanism means that the National Roads Authority has to compensate the tunnel operators.

So now that a new, free, presumably fast road is to link the east and west sides of the city, what will happen to the numbers of vehicles using the tunnel and to the taxpayers who are ultimately paying the compensation? They’ll pay more. The tunnel is on a national primary route, so it’s the NRA’s problem, whereas the new bypass is a regional or local route, which is in the hands of the local authorities.

 

 

 

=p-po-

Annoying the neighbours

It would be unfair to condemn the proposed opening of a canal to Clones without also condemning the proposed reopening of the Park Canal in Limerick (and the Newry, when I get around to it). The link is to a top-level page; the first substantive page has a lead to the second, the second to the third and so on up to the fifth.