I am grateful to Waterways Ireland for letting me have the Shannon traffic figures for June 2014. All the usual caveats apply:
- the underlying figures do not record total waterways usage (even for the Shannon) as, for instance, sailing, fishing or waterskiing on lakes or river stretches, which did not involve a passage through a lock or Portumna Bridge, would not be recorded
- the passage records would not show, for instance, a change in the balance of types of activities from those in larger cruising boats to those in smaller (sailing, fishing, waterskiing) boats
- figures like these, for a small number of months, will not necessarily be representative of those for the year as a whole. The winter months, January to March, see little traffic in any year; for April, May and June, the weather can have a large influence on the amount of activity especially, I suspect, in private boats.
On the other hand, the figures do include the Shannon’s most significant tourism activity, the cruiser hire business. And they are our only consistent long-term indicator of usage of the inland waterways.
Total traffic is down again, but only slightly. The decline does seem to be levelling off and a continuation of the relatively good weather could increase usage.
Private traffic is down slightly on last year, but it has been pretty much the same for three years. I had thought that the good weather might have caused something of an increase, but on the other hand my own impression of Lough Derg traffic (not reflected in the passage figures) is that it has been fairly light.
For hire-boat traffic, there is no sign of an upturn, although the drop on last year’s figures is not very large.
That table amalgamates the two before it, but shows the figures as percentages of the 2003 figures. For private boats, the Celtic Tiger (nach maireann) caused an increase; that effect has worn off and usage has not changed much since about 2011. For hired boats, the decline began long before the Celtic Tiger idiocy.
Hired boats were once the major users; private boats have almost caught up.
I don’t know how much the various locks cost to run, so I can’t work out any measure of value for money, but the sea lock in Limerick and the Lough Allen Canal must surely be candidates for the chop.
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Well, I would doubt that skimping on routine maintenance and allowing locks to become derelict does not save money – it only creates bigger and bigger costs, as something with could have been prevented by a proverbial ‘lick of paint’ ends up needing closed for 18 months for a €5million rebuild.
(probably a double negative in my post above …. or is this a zero sum game anyways… ;)
I was wondering how to interpret it …. The locks in question need not be simply neglected: those sections of the navigations could be abandoned altogether and the land could be sold off. Obviously few boaters are interested in using them. bjg
Well, they could always sell them to ex-pat Russian Oligarchs and Quatarian oil sheiks who are looking for something different to stash their loot into, rather than the usual boring old London Property. How much does some Shannon cost anyways? Could I buy Lough Derg? (Let’s not forget that Lough Neagh is apparently “owned” by the Earl of Chichester… who doesn’t even own Chichester… but then, he were poor in them days, ‘e ‘ad it hard – had to live in a bloody lake! Get up too hours before he went to bed, eat some gravel, and then clean the lake before working all ‘t day down’t pit……. )
See T M Healy MP [later the Governor-General] Stolen Waters: a page in the conquest of Ulster Longmans, Green & Co, London 1913. bjg
Hiya Brian,I see Emerald Star have published losses for 2013 of E175000.The parent company will support them for at least one more year.
Thanks, PJ. Can you give me a link to the accounts? I get lost in the reams of TUI Travel documents. bjg
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