The steamer Firefly at Crom in 1850

Some time ago I posted a query, asking whether anyone could identify the location shown in this drawing on the National Library of Ireland website. Click on the thumbnail to expand it; you may then need to click “PRINTABLE VERSION”. I said:

The black object between the sailing boats and the church looks to me like a paddle steamer, but the image is quite blurred so I’m not certain.

I have now seen the original in the National Library. I have also seen a print of a painting that is, I think, based on the drawing; the painting was done by Henry Brocas junior and is entitled “Lord Clarendon’s visit to Crom Castle, Co Fermanagh, 1850” (tiny thumbnail here).

According to the Erne papers [PDF]:

The earliest known steam boat at Crom was the “Firefly”, which is recorded as having brought the Viceroy, Lord Clarendon, from Crom to Lanesborough Lodge [Belturbet] on his visit of 1850.

It may be that the view is pretty well south from Crom Old Castle with its yew gardens  (Historic 6″), which might explain the odd shapes in the foreground, but it could also be from Crom new castle or even from Inisherk: I don’t know the lie of the land well enough, and would welcome enlightenment. The church on the right-hand side of the picture is Holy Trinity (C of I) church at Derryvore, which originally had a steeple. The drawing shows the island of Innisfendra (Inishfendra) on the left, after which Waterways Ireland’s latest tug has been named.

Another Brocas pic on the NLI site seems to complement the first image: it shows a view to the right of the other, with Gad Island and with Corlatt in the background. I suspect that The regatta  was done (perhaps from a boat) at the same event: the ruins look to me like those of Old Crom Castle.

8 responses to “The steamer Firefly at Crom in 1850

  1. Is there a possibility that the large paddle steamer is the
    Eglington belonging to Lord Erne?

  2. Hi, Zara. I think that Lord Erne’s steamer Eglantine (not Eglin(g)ton) was a successor to Firefly. My link to the PRONI papers didn’t work and I’ve now corrected it; see here. The steamers are discussed on pages 33-34; it seems that Eglantine was about ten years later than Firefly. However, I’m not an expert on the subject, so I’m open to correction. bjg

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  4. Could you tell me anything about sailing vessels to America in 1800s from the Waterford area. My great grandmother came to America as a bride with my great grandfather and his two brothers (name: Lennon) They went to a mission in Pennsylvania for a short time before returning to Ireland. Didn’t like the cold winter I guess. The two brothers headed to California for the gold rush but the bride and groom got homesick for Waterford. Her maiden name was Mary Powers and the generations that came after drank it with vigor.

  5. Hello again, Claire. Your comment doesn’t have much to do with steamers on Lough Erne, or indeed about Irish inland waterways. I don’t know about sailing vessels at sea or about genealogy. Here are three links that might be useful: Genealogy Waterford and the Irish Genealogy Toolkit. bjg

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  7. It’s a pity that NLI add their own descriptive titles to sketches, ignoring the inscriptions on the sketches themselves, which are often more informative. On Samuel Frederick Brocas’s sketch, I can decipher the words ‘woods of Corlatt’ and possibly ‘three houses'(?) in his superscription. I believe NLI have by now removed all access to the original sketchbooks (don’t get me started), so it may not be possible for me to decipher the rest. S.F. and Henry jr were brothers from the well-known Brocas family of artists who quite often travelled together on sketching trips around Ireland and Britain.

  8. Thanks for that.

    I have Patricia Butler’s book The Brocas Collection; I had hoped that there might be more illustrations of Shannon steamers. No doubt they’ll turn up some day …. bjg

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