Death of Brian J Goggin

Brian J Goggin

Today we have lost a much loved husband, father and grandfather, the author of the material on this website, Brian J Goggin.

Brian was dedicated to his research work on the waterways and loved to share the material he discovered. This website is the fruit of that labour, and it contributed to many friendships and interesting conversations over the years. He was an entertaining speaker and loved to share his knowledge with those who he hoped would share his passion for the history of the waterways.

Some of you may have met us as a family while we were on the River Shannon on our barge, Knocknagow. Brian loved to chat to everyone he met, particularly if they had stories about canals, boats, and related history. 

Beyond his work and personal interests, Brian was a loving and generous husband, and a hugely supportive parent. He chose to be called Grumpy by his grandchildren but delighted in making them giggle, reading bedtime stories with great animation, and encouraging them to drum on every surface possible. He was rarely without our dogs: at least one of Newby, Leavy, Pippa and Goldie are in almost every photo we have of him.

He was curious about the minutiae of the world in a way few are. He read widely, always diving deeply into other points of view and always broadening his knowledge. Even in his final days he was devouring books – and leaves behind a hefty collection that his family may one day read 2% of!

We’ll miss him for everything that he was, and everything that he helped the people around him to be. We’ll remember his constant encouragement, and his quiet efforts to help others succeed. We’ll remember his love of the waterways, and the times we shared with him there.

Remembering Brian

With Covid limiting events, we are not holding an open service. Instead we ask three things of you, depending on how you wish to remember Brian:

  1. Share a memory or appreciation

If you have a memory of Brian or a message to share please leave a comment on this post, or contact us at the email address below. That could be as a friend, a loved one, or simply as a reader of the website.

  1. Remember Brian’s love of the waterways

We can’t be together to remember Brian, but we can have a shared experience: remembering Brian by the places he loved so much.

If you want to remember Brian, find a stretch of waterway (he particularly loved the Shannon), or industrial heritage on the waterways, and spend some time in quiet reflection there, thinking of any memories you have of him.

  1. Celebrate his life and come to book launch next year

In a year’s time, we are hoping to have an opportunity to remember Brian, and to publish the first of two books. After his terminal diagnosis in August he worked intensely to arrange much of his writing so that it can be published posthumously, and left behind at least two books’ worth of material, which we will be preparing for publication.

We’ll publicise the event closer to the time, but we hope to see as many of you as possible there when the time comes – to celebrate his work, and to celebrate the legacy of our wonderful man. 

Anne, Carolan and Ian
Direct mails can be sent to

61 responses to “Death of Brian J Goggin

  1. May he Rest In Peace on his barge in Heaven.

  2. I am sad to hear of Brian’s death, I enjoyed his posts here a lot, he was passionate on many topics, I still browse through older posts with interest. He was a very generous man with his information. My thoughts go with his Family.

  3. Terrible news, so sorry to hear that.

  4. So sad to hear this news. My introduction to the website was in 2011 when I became involved in a discussion on the Broadstone section of the Royal Canal, the area of Dublin where I grew up. The outcome of that discussion encouraged me to publish a memoir called Growing Up Around The Basin. I am very grateful to Brian for opening up that possibility for me. He will be greatly missed. RIP.

  5. Heartbroken to hear this sad news. We will miss Brian enormously. We lost our virginity with him, our canal virginity I hasten to add. Brian organised a cruise in company some years ago for those who had never travelled along the Grand Canal. With his help and encouragement (and some craft beers!) we learned the ropes of how to manage locks and other aspects of navigating the canals. We will never forget our other experiences with Brian (again often involving said craft beers and good food and conversation). Love to all of you.

  6. Shocked to read this news this morning. Our thoughts are with you all, Anne, Carolan, Ian and grandchildren.
    We remember many happy days in Kilgarvan.

  7. News I was expecting after a phone call from the man himself looking for permission to use a photo. It doesn’t minimise the sadness I feel right now, I knew Brian from a long way back.
    Love to you all and be proud of the enormous legacy Brian has left.
    Joe Treacy.

  8. Sad day for the waterways. Brian was a force of nature and always a pleasure to meet. Deepest sympathy to Anne, Carolan and Ian.
    Anne and John Moore

  9. Very upset to hear this. Brian was a fellow voice in the wilderness on the issue of the Ulster Canal and his passing will be missed across the wide span of Irish waterways and industrial heritage interest.

  10. So sorry and sad with today’s news even though the great man had told me in advance. A long time friendship has ended unfortunately but the memories are a treasure. His unbelievable legacy should make you feel proud. Love and best wishes to you all
    Joe Treacy

  11. Sincere condolences on Brian’s passing. I worked with him on the Heritage Council Working Group on Water Quality. Paddy Mackey.

  12. Shocked to hear of Brian’s death. I never met him but we had a shared interest in the Grand Canal around Echlin St. My people are from James’s St.

    What a beautiful post. I hope my own will be as nice and appreciative when I’m gone.

    I’m so glad you emphasised his open and sharing nature. For me, this is one of the highest tributes you can pay. He shared with me, and I with him. That creates a bond of sorts which is why his death was such a shock.

    Please let me know about the books and anything else of interest.

    Brian deserves to have his work preserved and published in hard copy.

    May he rest in peace.

  13. How very sad, we say goodbye to a giant among our waterway family. Rest easy Brian.
    Sincere sympathy to his family and friends

  14. I’m so sorry – my best love to all.

    A few birthdays Brian sent me a lovely CD (yes, old school) of Joel Frederiksen/Ensemble Phoenix Munich: Requiem for a Pink Moon. I’m playing it very loudly all day in his honour. And my local brewery Birdsong is going to make a special small batch with the same name for him.

    Looking forward to the book launch next year. Look after yourselves, all.

  15. So sorry to hear of Brian’s death, I had the pleasure of hearing him speak at an absolutely packed talk in the Lakeside last year, what a font of knowledge! and have frequently consulted this fabulous website resource that he leaves, Thinking of you all at this sad time. Susie Coote

  16. Your family are in our thoughts and prayers at this sad time.

  17. It is with great sadness on hearing of the sad news, it was great working with him when he put articles into print I sent him for the IWAI IWN which he took from black and white into the colour quality magazine it is today. In whatever format or no matter how jumbled the words and pictures he received Brian always made it into interesting reading. Irelands waterways will miss Brian.
    Our thoughts are with you his family.
    John Dimond

  18. A sad loss Brian helped me so much with my waterways map when it came do mapping Ireland, I’ll miss his vast knowledge.
    May he rest in peace and condolences to his family.

    Chris Lowe

  19. Very sad news, Brian will be greatly missed. He was a brilliant ambassador for the Irish Waterways, a man full of knowledge, which he loved to share with others. R.I.P. Brian.

  20. RIP Brian Sincere Sympathy to Anne & family
    Thinking of you all at this difficult time.
    From Jackie Ed & Boys Castlemahon

  21. I am desperately saddened to learn of Brian’s death. As Secretary of the Publications Committee of the R&CHS I worked with him on the publication of his “The Royal Under the Railway” and enjoyed his entertaining talks to the Society in Birmingham and Manchester. He was great company. I shall miss his insightful contributions on Irish Waterways History which usually left me with a smile on my face.
    My prayers are with his family and friends. God Bless.
    Stephen Rowson, Cardiff

  22. I never met Brian but many years ago sent him some bolts with a wood screw thread at one end and machine screw thread the other, I can’t remember what he was doing but he couldn’t find any.

  23. Brian was a true gentleman and his love of the waterways shone through. My every meeting with him was an education. He also constantly astonished in the variety of his interests and involvements. One memory I will treasure is when he invited myself and Neil Arlidge to the first service of the restored steam locomotive on the West Clare Railway and he entertained both ourselves and a Japanese film crew with his rendition of Are Ye Right There Michael. Rest in peace Brian. My thoughts are with Anne and the family.

    David Kitching, Cheshire

  24. Shocked and saddened to read of Brian’s passing. When I was researching history & heritage of the waterways Brian was always a fountain of knowledge and always willing to share what he knew with me. His interest in unearthing some of our lost heritage lead to some interesting projects, discussions and boat trips. Delighted to hear that his legacy will live on in the form of the written word. Deepest sympathies to Anne & family. Eunice Jeffers (ex 4B)

  25. So, so sad to hear. We had a long, long chat way back when you all came North at the opening of the Shannon Erne waterway, firstly Brian and later that day, Anne. You both instilled in me an interest to look beyond the Erne and we the rest. Well, I’d been to Lough Key several times! Between you, you awakened my on going passion for all of our rivers. Thankyou. Alun

  26. Deepest condolences.

  27. Fond memories of Brian at Meelick Quay. My sympathy to Anne and all the family.

  28. So sorry to hear of the loss of Brian to our maritime community. He was a very generous man, who gave me significant help and direction in many of my own articles. My thoughts are with his family and his many friends

  29. So very sorry to hear of Brian’s death. He will be missed tremendously. My deepest condolences to the family.

  30. I am not usually moved to tears but this is an exception Thanks for all your efforts to explain our waterways history. much appreciated Rest on the water Brian

  31. Brian was a lovely man. I still remember when he brought Knocknagow onto the Grand Canal, 2004 i think.
    sympathy to Anne and his children.
    Geraldine Wilson.

  32. Shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of a long standing friend. Brian introduced me to writing for the waterway community, way back when he was editor of IWN. I remember his contributions to both Executive and Council meetings, he laid the foundations for the IWAI website, modernized the magazine and much, much more. Our views regarding the future of the Ulster Canal may have differed; when I wrote the book on the Ulster Brian was so generous with both time and material. To Anne and the family, Maree and I send our love, thoughts and prayers. We have precious memories of a great man.

  33. I am very saddened to hear this news. Brian was always very generous with his knowledge of the waterways when I was working on the fishermen of the Shannon and the Limerick canal. he will be missed.

  34. Andrew John Waldron

    So Really sorry to hear that my good friend Brian has passed away, some great trips out over the years i had the pleasure to know him, he also had a keen interest in railways, more so those associated with any kind of waterway be it ireland or elsewhere.

    A true doyen of information and he has done so much real work to help further both my interests and those of the Waterway World, Ireland i think has lost one great man, who really knew his subject, i for one will greatly miss him.

    My sincere condolences to his wife and family and will inform his other old friends as time allows.
    Go in peace old friend, i will miss you, hopefully you will look down from heaven and give me the inspiration i need, when next i have that little question, that i know only you could answer.
    My deepest sympathy.

    Andrew John Waldron.

  35. I am so sorry to hear this , our thoughts are with Anne and family, Melissa O’Halloran and Family, Co Clare.

  36. I’m very saddened to hear of Brian’s passing ar dheis Dé. His enthusiasm was infectious and his wisdom and knowledge was phenomenal. I’ll miss him from the Shannon!

  37. Very sad to hear of Brian’s death – he was a gentleman and so generous with his wisdom and his knowledge. I’ll miss him from the Shannon!!

  38. Little could we know that the invitation for ‘drinks and nibbles’ aboard the barge, ‘Knocknagow’, that had just arrived on the quay wall behind our own moored boat, would be the start of a truly great friendship with both Brian and his family. It was late July 2009, we’d only just started to boat the Shannon after arriving in Ireland a few weeks earlier and, given we were still in a state of wide-eyed awe at the navigation’s wonders, there couldn’t be a better person than Brian to have met. That evening’s generosity was extensive (Brian’s notion of ‘nibbles’ was an interesting concept) and we left in the early hours full of food and so much knowledge about not just Irish waterways but all manner of diverse subjects that our heads were spinning. Though that may have been the beer, so much beer.

    We’d met the full force of nature that was Brian: generous to the extreme, warm and funny; a polymath with a love of sharing knowledge and enthusiasms. The additional gifts of being a master of words with an extraordinary ability to deal with detail furthered his, and our, riches.

    Over the years of friendship that followed we were to witness these qualities on many occasions and in countless ways. Brian and Jill’s shared love of food and feasting would see them put their heads together over menus. Whether it be a daughter’s wedding, a family Christmas, or a get together in a quiet and remote mooring, every detail was noted and considered. And Brian’s qualities of friendship were never more welcome than when, on hearing how my father’s encroaching dementia made his editing of the book I was working on no longer possible, he offered his own time and skills. Our knowledge of Ireland’s history, waterways and culture is so much richer for the joy of having spent time in Brian’s company. To us he was the gift that kept on giving and we’re heartbroken at his passing.

    Yet, we know our heartbreak is as nothing compared to that of Anne, Carolan and Ian and their families. Our love to you all.

    Giles and Jill.

    Barge Hawthorn

  39. Saddened to here this. A great loss to the Irish Waterway community. I first met Brian virtually on the UK canals list and uk.rec.waterways. He was a true gentleman and generous with his time and knowledge. We soon became friends and he introduced me and the TNC crew to the Irish waterways, often driving us (sometimes at immense speed in his Subaru!) around all of Ireland to show us the latest restoration, or interesting bit of waterway. On one occasion we got involved in a waterways quiz. Brian was on our team, and due to his knowledge we trounced the other teams…even though they were using their phones, under the table!

    Condolences to Ann, Ian, Carolan and family.

    Neil and Linda Arlidge
    Barge Maurice A – Ireland
    Nb Earnest – England

  40. Sad day for the waterways. Brian was wealth of knowledge which he was always willing to impart and full of encouragement for others to bring him any nuget of information that might be of interest, It was our pleasure to have crossed paths with Brian on a couple of occasions. Deepest sympathy to Anne, Carolan and Ian.
    Michael & Sophie Geraghty

  41. Very sorry to learn about Brian’s passing. Deepest sympathies to Anne, Carolan and Ian and all the family. Genevieve and I first met Brian and Anne in Kilgarvan in 1980 and I have great memories of plotting and scheming with him in the planning of “Boat Handling” and “Rescue of a Cruiser” competitions in Kilgarvan Bay.
    I had the privilege of sharing one of his last trips on the Knocknagow from Portumna to Shannonbridge during the summer. I had been with him several years back when he visited Wexford to take a trial run in the Knocknagow prior to buying the boat.
    Brian’s knowledge of the waterways was vast and, more importantly in some ways, he knew where to find information. Many a time I contacted him looking for some obscure piece of information and he was back, usually by return e-mail, with a link or a reference or a photo that answered my question.
    The Irish inland waterways community has lost a real treasure.

    Colin Becker
    GMY Chang Sha

  42. My memories of Brian are as a consummate wordsmith, a meticulous and skilled writer and editor when we worked together almost 40 years ago. He was a wonderful conversationalist, a master of the colon and semi-colon and all aspects of language, a rarity nowadays.
    I am so glad that his publications and this web site will remain as a legacy of all his work.
    My sincere sympathy to Anne and family.

  43. Pingback: Brian Goggin – BJG – Oct 22 – IWAI Kildare

  44. Thinking of you in this sad time.

  45. My sympathies to Anne, Carolan and Ian
    Brian was the first person I knew on the Irish inland waterways, when as Editor of the IWN, he answered my queries on lock sizes. A few years later in 2003, having met him in person in Shannon Harbour, Aqualegia and a number of other boats set off along the Grand Canal, a memorable trip he organised and led as an introduction to canal cruising. The participants of this cruise are still referred to as ‘Brian’s virgins’.
    Brian has left behind a wonderful legacy in his research and prose. But more than that, through his generosity, kindness and his love for the canals, lakes and rivers, he has passed on this enthusiasm to many others.
    [Still have not found those lost canals near Kilmeaden!]

  46. Very sorry to hear that Brian has passed away. I had a couple of conversations with him on the phone recently regarding an old map of the Shannon and my grandfather’s work as Limerick Harbour Engineer. I’d never met him and he didn’t know me from Adam but he was very warm and welcoming. I have spent many enjoyable hours on the website and look forward to the new publications.

  47. A sad loss to so many. His archive will hopefully stand as a memorial

  48. We are deeply saddened to learn of the recent passing of Brian.
    We were privileged to have someone with Brian’s wealth of knowledge involved with our local history society and we will always be so grateful for his generosity and support!
    We would like to extend our sincere condolences to Brian’s wife, children, grandchildren, his mother, his siblings, extended family and friends, and of course, his beloved four-legged friends.
    Rest in Peace Brian.

  49. Sincere sympathies to Brian’s family on his passing. I never met Brian, but was an avid reader of his blog and corresponded with him by email occasionally. I contacted him last August about the remains of the Kilkenny Canal and he told me the bad news. His work on the history of our waterways will be an enduring legacy. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h-anam dilís.

  50. I was shocked and very sorry to hear about Brian – a sad loss to his family and friends, and to the small number of serious waterways history investigators in the British Isles. I met him once, at The Archives and Artefacts Study Network workshop at the National Waterways Museum in Ellesmere Port. He was very entertaining company, and his lecture succeeded in conveying a lot of serious points with a sense of fun – something that is quite difficult to achieve. I can well believe the description of him as a force of nature!

    Brian’s Irish Waterways History website is a tour de force. It has regularly raised so many lines of enquiry covering a wide range of subjects, bringing forth meticulous but tentative attempts to develop and resolve these and set out a careful narrative. One recent favourite article was less than three months ago – August’s posting on the “Effin Bridge”, a very entertaining and informative piece, which very carefully set out the evidence. The long series of indexed articles that are now on Brian’s website now provide many insights into waterways history.

    I have been listening to Brian’s interview of the late Willie Leech, which is on YouTube. When Mr Leech spoke of “tracking” on the Royal Canal, Brian showed himself very enthusiastic and interested in terms used like “trackway” for the Barrow towpath. “Apart from boats, the other thing I’m interested in is words”, he revealed, and then “This is great. I’m sorry, I get carried away on strange things”. There is much of Brian in this. Hopefully, others can carry forward some of his enthusiasm and will be inspired both by his example and his work. Thank you, Brian.

  51. I offer my sincere condolences to Brian’s wife and family on his passing. Although I never had the privilege of meeting him, I visited this wonderful website on many occasions and also corresponded with Brian on a number of issues. He was always extraordinarily well-informed and gracious in his willingness to share his deep knowledge of the waterway system and its history. May he rest in peace.

  52. I also have some great memories of Brian. He was certainly always entertaining whether he was trying to pick your brain about the minute detail of some obscure artifact that he found beside the waterways or giving a talk to a full room about some forgotten nineteenth century landlord. On hearing of his passing two personal memories came to mind. The day that Colin mentioned when we both went with Brian to view the Little Knock in Wexford. If I remember correctly we picked up Ian in Waterford on the way. The early afternoon was spent with the Miller’s and the late Paddy Hatton. However, Brian’s day wasn’t full enough with making his decision on the Barge that was going to become his passion for years to come. On our way back home he took Colin and I to look at the Pil navigation, then over to Portlaw to look at the Clodiagh navigation. Both navigation’s were new to me at the time, little did I know then that Brian enthusiasm for the navigation’s would rub off on me, so much so that I would years later lead a group of large boats from the Shannon up those very rivers. The second fond memory was a family day out when the Goggin’s and the Burke’s with our kids headed off in our wellies to walk the bed of the Abbey River. This was when the river was drained during the Limerick drainage project that coincided with the weir and moorings at Arthur’s Quay being installed. We walked the river bed down through Balls and Matthew Bridges, around Arthur’s Quay and down to Sarsfield Lock. The drainage pipes were in place and the weir was being built so we stood on top of the weir. We came home covered in muck but happy as we got to do something that very few boaters could say that they did.

    The world will certainly be a lesser place without Brian’s enthusiasms and larger than life presence in it, may he rest in peace.

    Gerry Burke
    GCC 68M

  53. A sad loss. I was always impressed by the depth of knowledge and his great sense of humour.

  54. Very sad to hear of Brian’s passing and I send my condolences to his family. my most recent contact with Brian was in regard to the Henns of Paradise House with whom there is a familial connection. This featured on the Waterways website. I subsequently met him briefly in the Milk Market. I got great from reading his fine work on Ireland’s waterways. Some appropriate poetry. May he rest in peace

    O commemorate me where there is water,
    Canal water, preferably, so stilly
    Greeny at the heart of summer. Brother
    Commemorate me thus beautifully
    Where by a lock niagarously roars
    The falls for those who sit in the tremendous silence
    Of mid-July. No one will speak in prose
    Who finds his way to these Parnassian islands.
    A swan goes by head low with many apologies,
    Fantastic light looks through the eyes of bridges –
    And look! a barge comes bringing from Athy
    And other far-flung towns mythologies.
    O commemorate me with no hero-courageous
    Tomb – just a canal-bank seat for the passer-by.
    -Patrick Kavanagh
    Copyright © Estate of Katherine Kavanagh

  55. Very sorry to hear of Brian’s passing. We met off the water and memorably once on the water. After the latter we had a spirited but genial exchange of views on “right of way” on the navigation that ended with a handshake. My sympathy to his family. John Kinsella

  56. Greg Whelan/Brenda Ainsworth

    Like a number here we were part of that “Expedition” known as a the canal virgins. Through Brian’s enthusiasm and passion we eagerly joined. A Good Friday campfire sing along stands out. Brian’s stewardship of the IWN establishing the independence of the editor role and his defense of it demonstrated to all his journalistic abilities. His wordsmithing skills were a joy to read. We were lucky and fortunate to meet up with Brian and family on the Waterways and what enjoyable meet ups they were. Our thoughts are with Anne, Carolan and Ian at this sad time.

  57. I met Brian only once, but he left a long lasting impression.
    After an a waterways history event we shared a few beers, some fine conversation and much laughter.
    My deepest sympathies to his family and all those who knew him.

  58. May he rest in peace

  59. Very sad to hear of Brian’s death. I sat beside him for years in school at Drimnagh Castle and had some great fun with him.
    Evan in those school days it was clear that he was the sharpest brain in the class, but still had time for a bit of craic.
    I’ve often wondered which career path he chose, knowing full well that he’d be brilliant at whatever he decided to put his mind to.
    My condolences to all his family

  60. May he rest in peace.

  61. What a wonderful website – excellently written and wonderfully opinioned. It is diverse and board ranging, it should have won an award. I am so glad to have accidentally come across it , I am so happy the Brian (RIP) has dedicated himself to such a wonderful project. It is an amazing legacy and I hope somebody with the equal humour and passion will continue.

    Thank you Kindly Brian for your work . Posthumously

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