Waterways & past uses

Midlands turf waterways

The lower Shannon

Waterways in Dublin

Waterways of Cork and Kerry

Waterways of the south-east

The Grand Canal

Waterways of the west

Waterways of Ulster and thereabouts

Saving the nation: old articles claiming that inland waterways would bring prosperity

Note that the Industrial Heritage Ireland website already covers some canals (and lots of other interesting material), and I don’t intend to duplicate any of that. See that site’s canals page for material on the Grand Canal’s abandoned Kilbeggan and Ballinasloe branches (and the Blackwood Feeder), the Royal Canal’s Bond Bridge, the Cong Canal, the Ulster Canal and Dukart’s Canal, as well as interesting old maps of the Lagan and the Grand Canal.


33 responses to “Waterways & past uses

  1. I’m trying to find out about my great grandfather who was the lock keeper at Erinagh on the old ?Limerick to Killaloe (a beautiful walk from O’Brien;s Bridge). He died in 1884 so must have been the lock keeper up until around then, when my grandfather seems to have taken over. Would you have records of lock keepers and where they originated. I’m really wondering where he came from or was he born in the Clonlara area. Would you be able to help? Thanks if so.

  2. I’m emailing Liz directly about this.


  3. I’m trying to get some information about the depth of the now filled lock in Portarlington. Would anyone be able to help me with that? Many thanks.

  4. A bit of guesswork here …. I have a handwritten table, provenance unknown, which gives the height OD of the water above each lock on the system. Subtracting the height of the water above the 25th lock (Monasterevan) on the Barrow Line from the heights for the three locks on the Mountmellick Line, I get rises of ten foot (bottom lock), nine foot and nine foot. I haven’t had time to investigate this at great length, but I see that no figures are given for individual locks on the Mountmellick Line in Ruth Delany’s *The Grand Canal of Ireland* or in the *Guide to the Grand Canal*. Ruth does mention a minimum size of 5′ 3″ and this figure is repeated by Fred Hamond in the survey for Laois County Council, but I don’t know what the source was.


  5. Just wanted to say well done on the site- absolutely fascinating. I have walked the full length of the Royal, Grand and Barrow in the last three years and they are so underused by walkers (apart from near built-up areas). delighted to see that others are also interested in them!!

  6. Thanks, Dara. As you’ll have seen I haven’t attempted to cover the whole of the waterways, only the abandoned bits! If you ever find yourself down Limerick way, there are some excellent walks along the old Limerick Navigation. Unfortunately it isn’t all open to the public, but a lot of it is, and has much of historical interest. Other waterside walks are listed on the IWAI site at http://walks.iwai.ie/


  7. I seek information about a six-oar barge named “St. Patrick” used in 1770 on Lower Lough Erne by Sir James Caldwell from Castle Caldwell on the lakes northern shore. I believe this is the vessel from which the fiddler Dennis McCabe fell and drowned–inspiring the Fiddler Stone now at the castle’s entrance.

  8. John Mc Cormack

    Great site ! Answered my curiosity about the remains of canal on N72 near Mallow

  9. Thanks very much. Mind you, I still haven’t solved all the mysteries about its beginning and end! bjg

  10. There is a small amount of information in Arthur Young’s “A Tour in Ireland”, which you should be able to find free on the web. It might also be worth contacting Michael Clarke, the historian of the Lough Erne Yacht Club, via their website . bjg

    I am interested in the history of the Marlow River a tributary, I believe, of the upper Suir River in Tipperary near Rossmore. Has your blog mentioned this river? I can find no information on it.

    Thank you.

  12. I don’t know much about it (it doesn’t seem to have been a navigable waterway, so it’s outside my usual scope), but you can see a Marlow River on the Ordnance Survey map. It flows into the Clodiagh (one of the Clodiaghs), which flows into the Suir. This link should get you to the confluence with the Clodiagh. You can look at the older maps using the selector on the right of the screen. If you follow the Marlow upstream to Coolanga Lower, you’ll see Rossmore (assuming the magnification and your screen size allow it) off to the left (west). If you find evidence that the river was used for carrying cargoes, do please let me know.


  13. Hi Brian
    sent you some photos of the River Nore one lot may have got throught but second lot did not may have overloaded the system.

  14. Got them, thanks. Just back from the Erne so I’m still catching up but will open a Nore page soon. bjg

  15. Hello, this is an e-mail from New Mexico (dry desert country!) My grandmother at age 16 ran away from a farm possibly near the Blackwater River where she was a worker and came to America via Elizabethtown port of departure in 1890s. She told me that the farmer and his wife chased after her and she crossed a body of water to escape them. I believe she walked all the way to the dock to board the vessel bound for New York. Her name is Mary Elizabeth Powers. I do not know the place of birth but have traced her origins to the Blackwater area. She also told me that as a child she recalls seeing the boots of Black & Tan soldiers marching past from her hiding place. I would love to find out more, Can you help me? information as possible.

  16. can you tell me anything about the so called dumb canal

  17. I haven’t heard of it. Any clues? bjg

  18. I’m interested to know whether this painting, near Letterkenny, is of a genuine scene, or is it ‘composite’ with the foreground boats and buildings imported from somewhere else – and if so, where?


    The small lighters are quite similar to the one shown here, at Lowtown:-


  19. I have copied Tim’s query to the post about Letterkenny canal here, to keep any discussion in one place. bjg

  20. hi their ,,i was wondering could you help me,im researching my family
    tree ,my mother was born in the 6th lock of the grand canal (blubell ) at this time or clondalkin ?/ her father was the lockeeper at the time as was his father in law befr him ,,the names are gannon /moran /baker from the year 1940 backwards ,,do yoy know wher i would get work record or any other information ?/

  21. Hi, Donna. I suggest that you contact the Waterways Ireland Archive and see what they have. Waterways Ireland now manages the Grand Canal, but I’m not sure how much of the Grand Canal Company’s personnel records they have. Still, they should, I think, be your first step. bjg

  22. Hi. My great grandfather was an employee of Canal Co. in Limerick Ireland in the 1830s. Is this related to the above information? Thanks, Lynne

  23. Do you know the name of the company he worked for? It might have been the Limerick Navigation Company, which owned and ran the canal/river navigation from Limerick to Killaloe: this page and its links cover that area. Alternatively, he might have worked for the Inland Steam Navigation Company [absorbed by the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company], which operated vessels on that navigation. Or he might have worked for the Grand Canal Company or one of the independent carrying companies. Have you any idea what his job was? bjg

  24. Liz we must be related. Surbo34@gmail.com

  25. My great grandfather was the lick keeper at plassey Liz.. James Ryan or was it Gullys lock? That’s the lock up further on the erinagh canal

  26. Jean,
    My great great grandfather was Joseph Ryan, lock keeper at Plassey lock/ Annabeg. I know he had a son James who in the 1911 census was a lock keeper. I’m assuming they’re one and the same.

  27. Sandy we share a blood line. Joseph’s ryan was my great great grandfather. James Ryan was my great grandad and Maura his daughter my grandmother!

  28. I also have a photo of Joseph Ryan whichyou might like to see!

  29. Jean, Sandy: if you like and you both agree I will give you each other’s email addresses. bjg

  30. Oh wow! I’d love to see a picture. Yes please bjg, happy for you to pass my email address on.

  31. Siobhan Sweeney

    Hi bjg. Great site. I am trying to find some information on the salmon houses on the Shannon Estuary. One in Knock, Co. Clare and the other in Loughill, Co. Limerick? There was also a couple of other places, that I know of, like one in Cahara, Glin and another on the peninsula with a ice lodge (opposite knock). I don’t know the history but know the ESB owned them and sold them back to the people in 70’s, I think? If you can help, that would be great? Thanks. Siobhán

  32. Sandy did you get my email?

  33. Thanks, Siobhán. It’s not a subject I’ve studied, so I don’t know that much about it. The book I thought might be helpful is Aidan O’Sullivan “Foragers, Farmers and Fishers in a Coastal Landscape: an intertidal archaeological survey of the Shannon estuary” Royal Irish Academy, Dublin 2001. However, it doesn’t go beyond the nineteenth century and, as the book’s title suggests, it doesn’t have much to say about structures (eg salmon houses) on shore; it’s mostly about the salmon weirs, nets, traps etc.

    An older source is the writings of A E J Went, who wrote a lot about different Irish fisheries. I know he wrote at least one article about the Shannon estuary, but I can’t read it online without paying money. Your library might be able to get it for you.

    Sorry not to be of any use on this occasion. bjg

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