Shannon water levels

According to the Indo, which may or may not know anything about the matter itself but probably got a press release from someone [to whom the same qualification may apply], farmers along the Shannon Callows are concerned about rising water levels at Clonown, an area on the west bank below Athlone.

The level in that area is held up by the weir at Meelick. But according to Waterways Ireland today,

[…]  low water levels exist on the upstream approaches to Meelick and Victoria Lock. Water levels are currently below Summer levels.

According to the OPW gauges at Athlone, the water level is below the 50th percentile and is falling. The same applies at Banagher, although it did exceed the 50th percentile for some days.

Three lessons suggest themselves:

  • farmers might need to get used to the idea that, when it rains, it gets wet — and that, if they choose to farm on a floodplain, their land might get wet too
  • politicians might refrain from issuing nonsensical panic-laden press releases to gain free publicity [but I suppose that’s too much to ask for]
  • journalists might like to check stuff for themselves instead of reprinting press releases unquestioningly [but that too is probably too much to ask for].

Hilda Ormond?

In December 2012 I published a post entitled Looking for Hilda in which I said that D B McNeill had written in his Irish Passenger Steamship Services Volume 2: South of Ireland (David & Charles, Newton Abbot 1971) that

In the autumn of 1964 the Ormonde Hotel at Nenagh took delivery of the Hilda from Holland. She is a modern canal cruising launch with central heating and a transparent roof. She is used for local trips on Lough Derg.

I said that she was described as a single-screw motor vessel with a diesel engine but that no further details are given. I sought more information about the Hilda, and hoped that a photo might be available.

Earlier today Loire commented on that post:

The MV Ormond was purchased in Amsterdam in 1964 by Denis Gilmartin, owner of the Ormond Hotel in Nenagh, Co Tipperary. Denis was accompanied on that trip to Amsterdam by local solicitor Michael O’Meara. The vessel was used to entertain guests staying at the Ormond Hotel and in promoting tourism around Lough Derg in the 1960s. Home port for MV Ormond was Garrykennedy on Lough Derg. The MV Ormond was sold to Company in Cork that deployed it for cruises on the river Lee. I have photo of the MV Ormond docked at Garrykennedy Harbour circa 1968 which I will send you.

I am very grateful for that information and for the photo, which has now arrived.

M V Ormond ~1968 (courtesy of Loire)

 

Obviously the name Ormond was bestowed when the vessel reached Lough Derg, so it is possible that it was named Hilda when in Holland.

Can anyone identify the people and dog in the photo?

 

 

Westvleteren …

… now on tinterweb.

Been there, done that; got the beer, glasses and crate. And very nice too.

Apart from …

all that, though, what did you think of Mrs May as prime minister?

Barges

River problems in the Americas.

Lacy and the canal

I have a short page about Lacy’s Canal, which runs from the south of the town of Mullingar to Lough Ennell (or vice versa).

Some folk say that the canal was named after Hugh de Lacy, a twelfth-century Lord of Meath, even though it was built in the eighteenth century. I have to say that that sounds improbable to me: I see no reason why the builders (or excavators) should thus summon the ghost of a long-dead lord, and I know of no evidence for the assertion. I accept, of course, that it may exist and, if so, I would be glad to hear about it.

However, it seems to me to be more likely that the canal was named after the eighteenth-century person who built it, who owned the land or who ran a business selling turf. I was therefore interested to read this advertisement in Saunders’s News-Letter of 29 April 1829:

COUNTY WESTMEATH

To be sold, the interest in a lease for three young lives or 26 years unexpired, of about 50 acres of the lands of Grange, adjoining the Royal Canal, and the Great Barrack now building, and within half a mile of Mullingar: the lands are of prime quality, and one of the best situations in Westmeath for a lodge, dwelling, farm house, or dairy, there being the materials of a mansion upon the premises which would build it upon a site commanding an extensive prospect of the beautiful lake and improvements of Belvedere and Rochfort.

The crops of oats and potatoes can be had at a valuation. A purchaser of this interest will acquire many other advantages; immediate possession can be given when the value is offered. Apply to Edward Lacy, Mullingar, or Mr Charles Crampton, No 45, Clarendon-street, Dublin.

Grange and Mullingar (OSI ~1840)

Thus it seems that there were folk (or was at least one person) called Lacy living near Mullingar in the early nineteenth century. Unfortunately the Landed Estates Database does not cover Leinster, so I have no more information about them (or him).

This month’s header

Bartlett drawing of turf boats below Wellesley (now Sarsfield) Bridge, Limerick.

P J G Ransom

P J G Ransom died on 27 March 2019.

I don’t know anything about his work on railways, but he gave generous coverage to Irish history in his waterways books. His Holiday Cruising in Ireland (David & Charles 1971) was carefully researched; if memory serves, his is still one of the few accounts of cruising on the Corrib. Finally, it was he who found the drawing of William Watson’s 120-foot canal passenger boat, developed for the Limerick Navigation; the drawing is now in the Canal & River Trust Museum & Archive at Ellesmere Port.

Meelick

Sinn Féin has a TD called Martin Kenny who, in the Dáil on 29 May 2019, asked about repairs to a walkway across Meelick Weir. He said that

The weir is a crossing point on the Shannon on an important walkway, the Beara-Breifne Way, which runs from Breifne in Leitrim to the Beara Peninsula, straight through Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands.

I’m not sure that he’s got the direction of travel right, but let that pass. He also said

The problem is that people using the walkway have not been informed it is closed. Many businesses, particularly tourism businesses, are directing people up the walkway as far as the bridge but they cannot cross it. Over the past several days, some tourists could not cross the river at the point.

One Seán Kyne, a mini-minister, said in reply that

In 2009, during an extreme weather event, the weir and its walkway from which the weir boards are placed and removed were extensively damaged. In the 2015-16 severe weather event, the last remnants of the walkway were destroyed.

If the “many businesses, particularly tourism businesses” have not noticed that the walkway has been out of action for almost ten years, it suggests that the Beara-Breifne Way is used by very few people and that its reinstatement is not important, or at least not urgent. On the other hand, it might suggest that the operators of the tourism businesses in question have not paid as much attention to the route as they might have.

The minister, by the way, said

Meelick weir was originally built in the 1790s as part of the Shannon navigation.

I thought it was built by the Shannon Commissioners in the 1840s.

Derivatives

Financial innovation, Irish navvies, suicides and a canal.

h/y Barry Ritholtz