I have not posted charts of Shannon traffic figures for some months now. That was not Waterways Ireland’s fault: it has kindly continued to send the figures to me, but other demands on my time have intervened. However, I have now charted the figures to the end of October 2015, which takes in the bulk of the year’s boating activity. 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.
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.
There has been a very slight increase in total traffic, although it might be better to regard the figures as confirming that traffic has stabilised at the new, lower level established around 2011.
I commented on the May figures:
The big news is that there is an increase in the amount of hire-boat traffic and a decrease in the amount of private traffic. [Personal observation suggests very little activity on Lough Derg, apart from the sailing bods.]
Again, that trend has continued. Hire-boat traffic is up …
… and private-boat traffic is down.
Perhaps the private boats were afraid to move from the new berths in Killaloe where they wanted to spend the winter at Waterways Ireland’s ridiculously low rates. Is this some delayed effect of the death of the Celtic tiger? Or was it the weather? Neither hire nor private figures changed hugely, but change they nonetheless did.
Of course hire-boat traffic fell much further from its 2003 figure: it dropped to 40% and is still not much higher, whereas private traffic is still more than 80% of its 2003 figure.
It would be nice to have data on other forms of waterways usage.