The Mahmoudié Canal

There is a possible link between the Mahmoudié Canal, which ran from Alexandria to the Nile, and Irish waterways. I have not managed to establish a definite link to this Irish canal-boat but it is not ruled out either, and a few other Irish connections came up along the way: Oscar Wilde’s father, for instance, who wrote about the Boyne and the Corrib, and sent his most famous son to school on the Erne, travelled on the Mahmoudié Canal.

And did you know that, in the early 1840s, you could buy bottled Guinness and Bass in Cairo? Or that, to transport 50 people (including 12 ladies and 3 female servants) and 3 bags and 62 chests of mail across 84 miles of desert, you would have needed, in 1841,

  • 130 camel men, donkey men and servants
  • an escort of 17 Arab horsemen
  • 145 camels
  • 60 donkeys
  • 12 saddle horses
  • 12 carriage horses
  • 7 carriage camels
  • 12 donkey chairs: “for invalids, or ladies, the donkey-chair forms as easy a conveyance as a palanquin or sedan”
  • 3 two-wheeled carriages
  • 1 four-wheeled carriage?

Or that, to reduce the number of rats and insects on a cangia (sailing boat) on the Nile, you should sink it for two or three days before boarding?

You can read about all of that and more in this PDF. However, it’s not for the faint-hearted: it’s 51 pages, with over 300 endnotes (which you don’t have to read) and lots of links for those who are really interested. There are illustrations in some of the linked materials.

The Mahmoudié mystery v04 iwh [PDF]

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