I am grateful to Waterways Ireland for letting me have the Shannon traffic figures for September 2014.
Regular readers may wish to skip this section
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 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.
Not a lot to say: slightly down on last year, but the numbers for the last three years have been fairly even.
Note that the vertical scale is truncated, which exaggerates the scale of the changed. The good weather, especially in July and September, doesn’t seem to have resulted in a continuation of last year’s improvement.
Not much change from last year, but it’s the lowest nine-month figure in my records.
Percentages of 2003 levels
The nine-month figure for private boats is the second-lowest in my records (2012 was lowest) despite the good weather. The hire-boat figure is the lowest in my records, but the pace of decline seems to have levelled off.
Private -v- hired
Nothing very encouraging there, alas.