More reading material

A bit of a break from the politicking ….

First,  the long-awaited second edition of David Walsh’s extraordinary book Oileáin is now available from Pesda Press. It’s an exhaustive guide to the islands around Ireland, seen from a sea-kayaker’s perspective. It tells you where they are, how you get there, what the tides and currents and hazards are, whether you might be able to camp …. A lot of this is, of course, aimed mainly at folk rather more athletically minded than I am, but I got it for its information about the islands in the Shannon and Fergus estuaries. David’s website keeps an electronic version updated, so that you can check the latest information before you set off, but even if you’re unlikely to start paddling to the Skelligs yourself you may find the information and the photos of interest.

Shannon enthusiasts will be familiar with Richard Hayward’s Where the River Shannon Flows, written as Hitler’s war was breaking out. It is an account of a road trip down the Shannon during which a film about the river was being made: the party was in Portumna when Hayward heard, on a wireless set through a window, that Britain was at war with Germany. I was privileged, some years ago, to be able to see the film and to match it with the scenes from the book, from which L T C Rolt drew information for his Green and Silver. Hayward was a proud Ulsterman, but one who was happy to meet, converse and exchange songs with anyone of any creed anywhere in Ireland. He was, if I remember correctly, a confectionery salesman by way of a day job, but more importantly he was an actor, a writer and a singer. His style is of its time, and perhaps rather laboured by modern standards, but he was a decent skin and I haven’t read anything of his that I didn’t enjoy. I am pleased to learn that a biography, An Unrepentant Romantic — the life and times of Richard Hayward by Paul Clements, is due to be published by Lilliput Press in May.

In the same month, UCD Press is to publish James Murphy’s Ireland’s Czar: Gladstonian government and the lord lieutenancies of the Red Earl Spencer, 1868–86. That’s this chap here, whose claim to fame is that he has a dock on the Royal in Dublin, and a harbour on Lough Allen, both called after him.

I don’t know whether I want to shell out €50 for Nigel Everett’s The Woodlands of Ireland, 700–1800 [Four Courts Press, May], but I like the idea that it

Focuses on the fundamentally pragmatic and commercial view of trees adopted by Gaelic civilisation, and the attempts of the various Anglo-Irish administrations to introduce more conservative woodland practices into Ireland.

Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan adhmaid? Why, we’ll import seacoal from Whitehaven, of course.

Finally, I am hoping that Joe Curtis’s Terenure: an illustrated history [The History Press, Ireland, March] will have more information about the remarkable Bourne family.

The information on forthcoming books comes from the magazine Books Ireland, which was until recently edited by old Shannon hand (and, if I mistake not, former Ditchcrawler) Jeremy Addis. Jeremy has now passed over the tiller and the magazine is now edited by Tony Canavan and published by Wordwell.


3 responses to “More reading material

  1. Hello, I love this site and find it incredibly useful as a historian. I wonder could you or any of your members you could put me on to answer a few questions:
    1. I would love to see admiralty charts of Lough Derg – especially old ones
    2. Can you tell me the location of Mota Quay?
    3. Can you tell me about the ‘Belvidere’ marked at Mota townland on the first os survey?
    4. Is there a map or description of the ‘marine railways’ leading to and from Lough Derg
    5. do you know anything about the early Shannon Development Company?

    thank you! any answers to the above most welcome

  2. Greetings. Thank you for your comments. There are no members, alas.

    The Admiralty ceased publishing the charts of Lough Derg (and other Irish lakes) some years ago as they were incompatible with modern formats, the waters had not been surveyed since the 1830s (and are now in a foreign country) and demand for the charts was low. I presume that some of the national institutions have copies, but I don’t know for certain. Some years ago Carrick Craft got a licence entitling them to produce facsimiles (slightly smaller than the originals, IIRC) of the charts; I don’t know whether they are still available but you could try ringing Wendy Newell at 01 278 1666. Alternatively, you’re welcome to look at my copy if you happen to be nearby, but it’s mounted to a wall and not easily copied.

    Mota Quay is (or was) here.

    I know nothing about the Belvidere, other than that it was shown on both online OSI historic maps; my guess is that it was built to provide the Mota folk with a place to sit and look at the lake (I understand that belvederes can be separate structures, not just things on the roof, although I should add that I do not study houses so I know little about them). Nancy Murphy [of Nenagh], in *A Trip through Tipperary Lakeside” (Relay Books, Nenagh 1997) says (of a new road) “This leads to what is shown on the maps as ‘Belvedere Quay’ but is in fact a raised look-out.” It is conceivable that the folk running Coolbawn Quay might know if there are any traces left.

    I would need to check what you mean by “marine railway”. I understand the term to be an alternative to “patent slip”, a cradle on wheels, running on a track, for taking a boat out of, or returning it to, the water. The only big one I know of, capable of taking a sixty-foot boat, is the disused patent slip at Killaloe. I understand that there was a boatshed on Foot’s/Fool’s Island off Kilgarvan that had a cradle for smaller boats and that it was used by a boat repair business at some stage; I have not seen it myself. The other two types of railways you may be thinking of are the light industrial narrowgauge railway; the only one I know of that came to the water’s edge was at Williamstown. And the only Irish standard-gauge railway line branched, at Birdhill, off the Limerick/Castleconnell/Nenagh/Roscrea/Ballybrophy line and ran to Killaloe (actually Ballina); the freight terminal was a little further upstream than the passenger.

    I know about the Shannon Development Company, but only at second hand; I have not investigated it myself. Ruth Delany’s *The Shannon navigation* (Lilliput Press) covers the subject.


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