Shifting the deckchairs on the Titanic

Fianna Fáil, an Irish political party, has published what it describes as a “new Bill to help tackle River Shannon flooding“.

In fact, of course, the bill, if enacted, would do nothing of the sort, as the party itself admits. It proposes to add even more idiotic measures, including subsidies to encourage people to live in flood plains. But at the core of its thinking is that no interests, other than those of the inhabitants of flood plains, should carry any legal weight, and that that can be assured by placing a single body, the Electricity Supply Board, in charge of everything to do with the Shannon. Perhaps it was inspired by the ESB’s success in dealing with the salmon and eel fisheries — although some might prefer that the ESB concentrate on reducing electricity prices instead.

Blithering idiocy of this kind is not confined to Fianna Fáil and it is, I suggest, a reflection of the generally low level of ability and experience of Irish politicians. They are, I suggest, simply unable to think usefully about large and complex problems.

I tried to find CVs for all members of the current Dáil. I looked at Wikipedia entries, personal websites and party websites, as well as a few other sites that I hoped might have information.

I was looking for TDs whose CVs indicated significant experience in running large organisations or large projects: projects as large and complex as, for instance, managing Shannon floods, hospitals or the water supply.

I found nobody whose experience came anywhere near those levels (although it is of course possible that some TDs have such experience but choose to keep quiet about it). There were a few who had worked in medium or large organisations, but at junior levels, and some who had worked at senior levels in small organisations. Some of those with relevant experience had gained it in public or third-sector bodies: I was not looking solely for private-sector experience. But there were far too many who had worked in “professions” or as lobbyists of one kind or another, whose proudest boasts were of involvement in local bodies and of a desire to help individual constituents.

I’m sure they’re all very nice people. But I don’t believe that they have any conception of what it takes to analyse complex data, cost alternative policies or set up and run large organisations carrying out difficult tasks. Hence their focus on nit-picking and on the personal: they are simply unable to cope with anything more difficult. And  hence too their fondness for setting up new organisations, reallocating functions and passing laws: they can do all of those things (and perhaps find places on boards for their mates) without having to get to grips with the real, the complex issues. They don’t even have to cope with the chaos their meddling causes — and they then have a new set of people they can shout at.

Some of them might just about be able to organise a piss-up in a brewery; few if any of them could organise the construction and fitting out of anything as complex as a large brewery or could manage the operations of such a brewery. That might not matter if they worked on policy analysis instead, but few of them seem to have any abilities in that sphere either. The problem is one of scale: organising a successful parish bingo night, or an election campaign, is not sufficient preparation for running a large project or organisation.

I see that wiktionary defines “shifting the deckchairs on the Titanic” as

To do something pointless or insignificant that will soon be overtaken by events, or that contributes nothing to the solution of a current problem.

That about sums it up.

Building Ireland

There is a television series called Building Ireland, about “Ireland’s building and engineering heritage”. A series of six programmes will begin on Friday 30 September 2016 at 8.30pm on RTÉ One, which is a television station.

The third programme, on 14 October, covers Ardnacrusha and the sixth, on 4 November, is entitled “Galway’s Corrib Canal” and covers canals in Galway and, I believe, may have some material about the Cong Canal.

Here is a PDF describing the series.

building-ireland-series-info-and-billings

 

White flour

A few minutes past two o’clock in the evening of Wednesday, the 6th instant, the Dover Castle left Glin [that should read Limerick] for Tarbert, with between 30 and 40 persons on board, including some of the Glin police.

shannon-estuary-osi-02

The route of the Dover Castle (OSI 25″ ~1900)

When she reached the pool, she took a large brig and a schooner in tow, which she took as far as Grass Island. She then continued her course, and when about three miles west of Ring Moylan quay, a thick fog came like a wall upon her, so that it was impossible to see half the length of the deck.

Captain White immediately dropped anchor, and was obliged to remain so. The fog continuing all night and the next day.

About two o’clock on Thursday, there being no appearance of the fog clearing off, and several persons on board having eaten nothing since Wednesday morning, two women fainted, and the circumstance having been communicated to the captain, he immediately ordered the steward to open a bag of flour, and served it out in large buckets to the women, who, in a short time, had large cakes made, and baked them for the passengers.

At half-past four o’clock the fog began to clear, and at five the steamer weighed anchor, and reached Kilrush in safety.

Statesman and Dublin Christian Record
19 January 1841 quoting Limerick Standard

My OSI logo and permit number for website

From the BNA

A Suir thing

Some weeks ago Redmond O’Brien left a comment here; later he very kindly sent some photos. I have interspersed comment and pics here.

Today, while cycling on the Greenway along the Suir, I noticed a small pier and harbour by Mount Congreve.

Pier @ Mount Congreve

Pier at Mount Congreve (copyright Redmond O’Brien)

Is anything known about this? Possibly used by Mount Congreve at some time? A rather unusual design. The pier/quay is rectangular with stone steps on the upriver side.

Pier @ Mount Congreve

Stone steps (copyright Redmond O’Brien)

On the downriver side of the pier is a small rectangular harbour with a wall enclosing the side opposite the pier.

Boat Dock @ Mount Congreve

Enclosure at Mount Congreve (copyright Redmond O’Brien)

I wondered whether the pier or quay might have anything to do with the Christmas Canals, which Anthony M Sheedy said were “a joint effort between the Two Estates to bring irrigation into the Mount Congreve Estate”. I emailed the Mount Congreve Estate to ask if they knew anything about it, but I had no reply.

I also wondered whether the enclosed area might be for smaller boats, which might be transhipping cargoes to or from larger vessels tied at the end of the pier, quay or wharf. However, all of that is speculation.

The pier or wharf is shown on the 6″ Ordnance Survey map.

suir-whard-1840_resize

The pier on the 6″ Ordnance Survey map ~1840 (copyright Ordnance Survey Ireland)

It also appears on the 25″ map of around 1900.

suir-whard-1900_resize

The wharf and the wall on the 25″ map (copyright Ordnance Survey Ireland)

Here’s a close-up.

suir-whard-1900-close-up_resize

The wharf ~1900 (copyright Ordnance Survey Ireland)

I have found nothing about this in Charles Smith’s The Ancient and Present State of the County and City of Waterford or anywhere else, save for one possible clue in an article “Rambles by Road and by Rail” published in the Waterford Mail on 3 December 1862 and in the Waterford News on 12 December 1862 (both on the British Newspaper Archive), but originally from the Farmers’ Gazette. The article, part of a series, is about Mount Congreve. It begins:

There is scarcely an individual in Waterford or Tramore who does not know Mount Congreve, the beautifully situated residence of John Congreve Esq, in consequence of the free permission given by that gentleman to those who may wish at any time to visit his grounds. It is, consequently, the regular resort during summer and autumn of pleasure parties from Waterford and Tramore, those visiting it from Waterford generally preferring to sail up the Suir to the place, handy quays being erected at different parts of the grounds for the accommodation of visitors.

No doubt the quays could accommodate visitors, but a later part of the article offers a more plausible explanation for the existence of the handy quays:

Four large lime kilns are kept constantly at work during summer, one of them being generally working all the year round, not so much as a matter of profit, as for the purpose of affording employment and of supplying Mr Congreve’s tenants and others in the neighbourhood with lime at moderate rates. The limestone is brought from Mr Congreve’s property on the county Kilkenny side of the Suir, as there is no limestone on the county of Waterford side, and the navigable capabilities of that river enables vessels to discharge their cargoes of culm just at the kilns, thereby effecting a considerable saving in point of carriage. One way or other, a considerable number of people are employed by Mr Congreve in connection with his lime works, besides being of great service to the neighbourhood.

The 6″ OSI map shows what may be the handy quays here (they’re easier to see on the black and white version). And if you switch to Historic 25″ you’ll see even more round objects, with the legend LK, which I take to mean Lime Kiln.

However, the kilns are some way downstream of the wharf, and it has no LK legend or round objects near it. There are, though, some LKs just a little way up the Christmas canals.

But this is speculation, and I would be glad to hear from anyone who knows anything about the wharf on the Suir.

My OSI logo and permit number for website

 

 

From the BNA

Celebrating Ireland’s floating heritage

Waterways Ireland
MARINE NOTICE No 126 of 2016

SHANNON NAVIGATION

Large Vessels Berthing  at Floating Moorings

Waterways Ireland wishes to advise all masters and owners of vessels with an overall length in excess of 11m, particularly those constructed in steel, of the following points in relation to berthing at floating moorings and also on finger jetties having a length of 9m:

  1. These vessels cannot be secured properly over their entire length thereby placing extra strain on the pontoon mooring cleats as mooring lines are doubled up.
  1. The large overhang of these vessels creates an obstruction to other vessels trying to manoeuvre onto the berth especially for novice recreational boaters and hire boat crews with limited experience.
  1. In adverse weather conditions of high winds and /or flood conditions with high flow rates there is a greater risk of breaking free of the mooring and causing damage to other vessels and the mooring infrastructure especially as these large vessels are primarily constructed in steel and are very heavy.
  1. The 9m finger mooring is designed for vessels with a max overall length of circa 10-11m.
  1. The fixings attaching the floating mooring to the main spine can be compromised due to excessive forces induced by inappropriate sized craft leading to premature wear.
  1. Such vessels place excessive strain on the mooring piles and anchor chains as water levels rise especially where masters have secured to both the cleats and the mooring piles themselves.

Masters of such vessels are requested to berth on appropriate lengths of fixed quay wall only. Waterways Ireland thanks its customers for their cooperation in this matter.

Charles Lawn, Inspector of Navigation. 23 rd September 2016

 

A bicycle boat

On Limerick’s Life here.

Lough Gill

Mr Kernaghan’s steamer is navigating Lough Gill, which has increased the value of country produce in Sligo market 15 per cent, and it is proposed to connect the Lough with the Shannon four miles distant.

Roscommon & Leitrim Gazette 11 May 1844

From the BNA

The American and Colonial Steam Navigation Company

What a collection of notables ….

Provisional Committee of 1836

Captain Beaufort RN, Hydrographer to the Admiralty
The Right Hon Maurice A Fitzgerald
Simon M’Gillivray Esq
The Right Hon Lord Talbot de Malahide
George Richardson Porter Esq, Board of Trade
Richard Griffith Esq, Civil Engineer
John David Latouche Esq
Peirce Mahony Esq
Daniel O’Connell Esq
The Hon Frederick Ponsonby
Charles Wye Williams Esq
Christopher Bullin Esq
James Ferrier Esq
James Jameson Esq
Richard Williams Esq
George M’Bride Esq
Francis Carleton Esq

Dublin Mercantile Advertiser, and Weekly Price Current 1 August 1836

From the British Newspaper Archive

From the BNA

Why rural Ireland is doomed?

Lewis Davis says:

Empirically, I find a robust negative correlation between rainfall variation, a measure of exogenous agricultural risk, and a measure of individual responsibility. Using rainfall variation as an instrument, I find that individual responsibility has a large positive effect on economic development.

Abstract on Tyler Cowen‘s site. You can rent the whole article for $6.

 

The danger of carbon monoxide

At Christmas 1839 the 150-ton schooner Lansdowne, owned by the Limerick Shipping Company, sailed from Limerick for Glasgow.

The Limerick Shipping Company

The Marquis of Lansdowne had been built at the company’s yard at North Strand, Limerick, downstream of the Wellesley Bridge and on land owned by the noble Marquis. She was named by Miss Russell, daughter of John Norris Russell, a principal shareholder, and launched on Tuesday 5 November 1839, in the presence of Sir William Macbean, Col Mansel and most of the officers of the garrison. The other merchant vessels in port had “colours flying from stem to stern” and “frequent discharges of artillery” welcomed the new schooner to the “world of waters”.

The Limerick Shipping Company's ship-building yard

The Limerick Shipping Company’s ship-building yard (OSI ~1840)

My OSI logo and permit number for website

The yard, which was equipped with a patent slip, had another schooner on the stocks at the time. According to Commander James Wolfe

There is a patent slip and yard at Kilrush, as well as at Limerick. At the latter place the slip is proved for vessels of 400 tons, at the former only for those of 250 tons. Repairs to any extent may be done at either of these places; and at Limerick some fine vessels have lately been built.

The Limerick Shipping Company had ten schooners by 1834 and, in 1838, bought a steam tug, the Dover Castle, which also competed in the passenger-carrying trade on the Shannon Estuary. By 1842 it had thirteen schooners and was offering regular weekly sailings between Limerick and London.

At no period were the Commercial interests of the Port of Limerick so prosperous, this spirited Company having now at their command a squadron of vessels equal, if not superior for all sailing qualities, to those of any other port in Ireland.

Death at the Broomielaw

John Brown, aged 27 or 28, got married one day before the Lansdowne sailed at Christmas on what must have been one of its first voyages. In Glasgow, the schooner berthed at the Broomielaw, and in mid-January Brown went drinking with William Bennet and John Anson, both aged about 20. When they returned to the schooner, they lit the stove in the forecastle, closed the hatch and went to bed.

The port regulations banned fires on vessels after nine o’clock; the newspaper said [without citing any evidence] that the three men closed the hatch “so as to prevent a single ray being seen outside” by the police on the quay.

The unfortunate men went into their sleeping berths, and as might have been anticipated, the consequence proved fatal to all the three, the action of carbonic acid having done its deadly work long before morning.

About seven o’clock they were found dead, their countenances as calm as if they had still been under the influence of sleep. One of them was in a half sitting posture.

Two doctors inspected the bodies and “corroborated the accidental nature of the causes which led to death; and liberty was granted to have the bodies interred.”

The Lansdowne herself survived for only another three years: she was wrecked on the Scottish coast in January 1843.

Sources

Clare Journal, and Ennis Advertiser 7 November 1839

Sailing Directions for the Lower Shannon, and for Lough Derg; with some Hydrographic Notices of Lough Ree and Lough Erne. By Commander James Wolfe RN; being the result of Surveys made by Order of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty

Clonmel Herald 25 January 1840 quoting Glasgow Courier

Limerick Reporter 17 January 1843

All newspapers from the British Newspaper Archive:

From the BNA