On 22 September 1870 the Irish Times said that the owner of the new steam launch Wingate was
willing, in case of six or eight gentlemen joining, to defray the expenses of making a cruise through the Grand Canal, down the Shannon to Limerick, and then up the river to its source.
The notice said that the launch would steam through Loughs Allen, Kay [now Key], Dee and Derg. I don’t know where Lough Dee is: perhaps it’s a typo (or printo) for Ree. There would be a side-trip to Lough Gill, taking the Lady of the Lake steamer to Sligo, and the launch would then take the Leitrim Canal (now the Shannon–Erne Waterway) to the Erne, covering the whole of it from Belturbet to Belleek.
After that, the Wingate would travel by the Ulster Canal to Lough Neagh and Coleraine, returning “either by Newry or the Royal Canal” to Dublin. It is not clear how the Royal Canal (which links Dublin to the Shannon) could form part of a route from Lough Neagh to Dublin.
Whoever wrote the notice suggested that the cruise would take ten days, which suggests a degree of optimism not consonant with a knowledge of the distances involved.
An ad appeared in the next day’s paper, offering for sale the Wingate, a composite steam screw launch lying at Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire), and saying that a cruise of 10–12 days, only as far as Lough Erne, could be arranged pending sale.
According to the invaluable Clydebuilt database, a launch called Wingate was built by T Wingate & Company of Glasgow in an unspecified year. But why was a new launch being offered for sale?
Richard Heaton’s genealogy website includes a collection of newspapers, and one of them, the Supplement to the Warder for 3 [not 31] September 1870, has an account of how the Wingate reached Dublin (Kingstown) from Scotland, where the owner had failed to find half a dozen hardy souls willing to accompany him on a tour of the Western Isles and the Highlands. This is scarcely surprising as the Wingate was an open launch only 35 feet long.
So who owned the Wingate? Did the owner manage to reach the Irish inland waterways, or was he forced to sell his launch? I would welcome more information.