Lowtown is at the western end of the summit level of the Grand Canal; it thus has some claim to be the highest point on the canal. It is close to the village of Robertstown in County Kildare.
Lowtown is also the site of the junction between the main (Dublin to Shannon) line of the Grand Canal and its most important branch, the Barrow Line.
The main line from Dublin comes in from near the bottom right and exits near the top left. The two cuts leaving near the bottom left are the Old and New Barrow Lines, which join together just off the map. The Barrow Line runs to Athy, in south County Kildare, from which the Barrow [river] Navigation runs to the tidal lock at St Mullins, downstream of Graiguenamanagh.
The River Nore joins the Barrow a litle further downstream; the Nore is navigable on the tide upstream to Inistiogue. The combined rivers flow south through the port of New Ross and eventually join the estuary of the River Suir. Turning right at that point takes you up the Suir to Waterford, Carrick-on-Suir and Clonmel. Thus the Barrow Line, from Lowtown, forms an inland waterway link between Dublin and some towns along the Barrow, Nore and Suir.
Isaac Slater’s Directory[i] of 1846 lists those carrying goods on inland waterways. There is a long list for Dublin; entries for other towns list those providing local services. There are some conflicts between the lists (see below).
The map below shows those carrying on the Barrow Line of the Grand Canal and on the rivers Barrow, Nore and Suir. Each carrier is assigned a colour, which is used to frame the name of each place served by that carrier. Some towns (Mountmellick, Carrick-on-Suir, Clonmel) are off the map, further to the west. Note that the map is from the 25″ Ordnance Survey map of around 1900 rather than the 6″ of around 1840: I used it because it was clearer, but it shows features (eg railway lines) that were not present in 1846.
Click on the map to get a slightly larger version.
All but one of the carriers are shown as having Dublin premises at Grand Canal Harbour, James Street. The exception is Gaven & Co, which is mentioned only in the Mountmellick entry.
I have not included the Grand Canal Company’s passenger-carrying boats, which carried parcels but not goods.
The City of Dublin Steam Packet Company entry for Dublin does not include Portarlington and Mountmellick amongst the towns served but the entry for Mountmellick says that the company’s boats leave for Dublin every Tuesday and Friday (its agent being John White) while that for Portarlington says they leave weekly. Boats from Mountmellick had to pass through Portarlington as well as Monastereven and other towns en route to Dublin.
Similarly, the entry for Mountmellick says that the Hylands boats leave there every other day while that for Portarlington says that they pass through weekly.
There is a page missing from the electronic copy of the directory that I consulted so the entry for Monastereven is incomplete.
The entry for Carlow says
To DUBLIN, and also to [New] ROSS, Boats depart, at uncertain periods, from the Wharfs of Lawrence and James Kelly, the Quay.
It does not say whether Lawrence and James Kelly owned any boats. They may have had boats but used them only for their own goods.
The entry for Mountmellick says “Bryan Hyland” rather than “B Hylands”.
The entry for Mountmellick includes the only mention I have found of Gaven & Co’s boats (James Waldron, agent).
The entry for Rathangan says
There are Boats for the conveyance of Goods, but no fixed period of departure.
Thomas Berry & Co, the most important carrier on the Grand Canal, did not venture south of Lowtown.
[i] I Slater’s National Commercial Directory of Ireland: including, in addition to the trades’ lists, alphabetical directories of Dublin, Belfast, Cork and Limerick. To which are added, classified directories of the important English towns of Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Leeds and Bristol; and, in Scotland, those of Glasgow and Paisley. Embellished with a large new map of Ireland, faithfully depicting the lines of railways in operation or in progress, engraved on steel. I Slater, Manchester, 1846
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