Where is this?

Paul Gauci's 1831 drawing of a Shannon steamer

Paul Gauci’s 1831 drawing of a Shannon steamer

This drawing of a steamer is from an 1831 book called Select Views of Lough Derg and the River Shannon by Paul Gauci. I haven’t seen the book myself, but this illustration is used in a couple of places, including Ruth Delany’s book The Shannon Navigation [The Lilliput Press Ltd, Dublin 2008]. Andrew Bowcock, in his article “Early iron ships on the River Shannon” in The Mariner’s Mirror Vol 92 No 3 August 2006, says of the steamer shown that

The funnel looks to be almost over the paddle shaft, which is artistic license.

But my question is not about the vessel but about the house in the background. If it is drawn without artistic licence, where is it?

It is a very large house, seven bays by three storeys, quite close to the water. Using the Historic 6″ Ordnance Survey map [~1840], I have followed the banks of the Shannon from Shannon Harbour down Lough Derg to Killaloe, then from Limerick down the estuary as far as Tarbert, across the estuary to Doonaha and back up on the Clare side to Limerick, then from Killaloe up the Clare and Galway shores back to Shannon Harbour. Anywhere I found a large house within what seemed the right distance of the shore, I looked it up in the Landed Estates Database and in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, with some supplementary googling.

I haven’t been able to find images of all the houses marked on the OSI map, but I found enough to show that houses of the size shown by Gauci were very rare. Within those few, I ruled out some (like Tervoe) because they didn’t seem to match Gauci’s drawing (although alterations could have accounted for that). I ended up with only one house that looked at all like Gauci’s, but the background may not match.

If you can identify the house, I would be glad if you could leave a Comment below.

13 responses to “Where is this?

  1. You have probably tried Hugh Weir’s Houses of Clare (1999)
    ISBN 978-0946538003?
    and the collections at http://foto.clarelibrary.ie/fotoweb/ ?

    Antoin

  2. Alas, I haven’t got a copy of Weir’s book. I’ll have a look next time I’m in the library. But the clarelibrary site enabled me to eliminate several possibilities. I think the only one left, the only Co Clare house that might be big enough and have the right sort of background, is Ballyvall(e)y House north of Killaloe, of which I haven’t found a decent pic. It’s very hard to see in Stokes 1842 but I
    don’t think Balllyvall(e)y has the right configuration; however, I can’t rule it out yet. bjg

  3. Hi Brian,

    I think it is almost certianly Slovair house just across from Terryglass, is it now well covered in by the trees recently owned and i believe sold be the Getti family.

  4. You mean Drominagh? Slevoir is the one above Terryglass, rebuilt in Italianate style in the late nineteenth century. On a poor copy of a Stokes (1842) drawing, it seems to have been a two-storey building at that time too. The house sold by the Getty family was Gurthalougha, which doesn’t seem to be big enough. Drominagh is big, but I think that a steamer passing it to port would be soon aground, although again artistic licence could be in use! bjg

  5. Obviously got that wrong so!! I did mean Slevoir by the way

  6. Oh sorry. I can’t really be certain, because the drawing of (pre-1870) Slevoir is pretty blurred, at least in the copy I have, but I think it wasn’t big enough. bjg

  7. Brian was Tinerana ever that size ? Would the hills in the background match that area? Regards…Mark

  8. Hi, Mark. I don’t think the older Tinerana was that big and it seems to have been closer to the shore than the Gauci pic suggests. bjg

  9. I read in Sean Kierse’s Land & People of Killaloe Parish that “Ballyvally House is a two-storey Georgian building with bays at either end and a front porch with ionic pillars”, so that’s another possibility ruled out. bjg

  10. The house has to be Drominagh – 3 story, 7 windows across and two prominent chimney stacks. It overlooks the Ballyfinboy River just as it enters the lake where the vestiges of a quay for a coal barge could still be discerned in the 1980’s. The house is visible from the black (green) mark off Gurthalougha but to get so close to the house the artist must have been on Bounla Island looking across the mouth of the river – where the small sail craft could have navigated but not the steamer.

  11. Thank you. Does the background match, so you think? bjg

  12. No, it doesn’t. The background suggests the lower lake but no 3-story, 7-bay house, extent or demolished, comes to mind on either shore ( Tinerana is 2-story as far as I know ). Perhaps the hills and the steamer were embellishments to please William Biggs, the owner.

  13. I suspect it would have been the other way around: a house might have been put in to please the steamer owner, as the book was dedicated to Charles Wye Williams of the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company and the Inland Steam Navigation Company, the latter being the only operator of steamers on the Shannon at the time.

    I wondered whether the house might be Tarbert House, which is 3 X 7, but I don’t know that the steamer could have got into that position relative to the house, and the hills may be too hilly. Ruth Delany suggested that it might be Derry Castle, which certainly had a hilly background, but the only image I have of that is a poor copy from the Stokes Pictorial Survey and it’s very hard to make out the details. It did seem to have three storeys, though.

    bjg

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