Tag Archives: Plassey

Politician asks sensible question shock

The invaluable KildareStreet.com tells us of this written Dáil question and answer on 4 February 2015:

Martin Heydon [FG, Kildare South]: To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if her attention has been drawn to concerns regarding the lack of dredging on the lateral canals of the River Barrow and overgrown vegetation which is making navigation difficult; her plans to improve this situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

The lateral canal at Ardree on the Barrow

The lateral canal at Ardree on the Barrow [OSI ~1840]

Heather Humphreys [FG, Clones Sheugh]: I am advised by Waterways Ireland that, as the Barrow Navigation is wholly situated within the River Barrow and River Nore Special Area of Conservation (SAC), due regard must be given to the provisions of the EC (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011. These require a rigorous assessment to be carried out to assess the impacts of any work on the protected species and habitats, prior to any works being undertaken.

If the impacts cannot be screened out and a Stage II assessment is required, a full planning application must be made. In addition, the Fisheries Consolidation Act 1959 (as amended) prohibits any in-stream works, such as dredging, during the spawning season from October to June.

I am informed by Waterways Ireland that dredging on the lateral canals of the Barrow Navigation was historically done during the winter months but that this is not now possible. However, Waterways Ireland is working with Inland Fisheries Ireland to formulate procedures which would allow work to be carried out in accordance with the relevant legislation. In addition, Waterways Ireland is continuing to work with all relevant agencies to ensure that as much work as possible is carried out on the Barrow within the time constraints which exist.

I have been assured by Waterways Ireland that it remains fully committed to the development of the Barrow Navigation in line with its statutory remit.

This question produced useful information, whereas some TDs seem to ask questions only as a way of assuring their constituents of their undying love and devotion. See, for instance, Brendan Smith, who has asked the same question at least three times.

Note that the short dredging season presumably applies to other rivers that are within SACs, such as the River Shannon at Plassey.

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Plassey in 1851

Plassey August 2010 37_resize

Free the Black Bridge

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

 

 

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.

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 1949 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.

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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.