The middle and upper Shannon

The survey of Lough Ree in 1837

Athlone canal

Athlone Lock

Clondra Lock

Shannon lock sizes

6 responses to “The middle and upper Shannon

  1. I have been trying to see what might be around the blog about navigation on Lough Allen. In 1995 I reached Acres Lough by book and armed with an OSNI 1:50,000 26. This shows a whole number of Course of Old Canals west of Drumshanbo. Some of these I understand and some I do not, notably to Mountallen Bridge. I wonder if you could either point me to some existing coverage or put your informed talents into a summary about the Canals at the South End of Lough Allen? Robert

  2. Rpbert: greetings. Nice to hear from you again.

    I haven’t put up much material on Lough Allen. I have found that there is much of interest, and some of it is not widely known; I’ve been quietly collecting information but the subject needs much more work than I can give it at the moment. I will email you direct with a map that may be of assistance. bjg

  3. Hi — I am also interested in the 18th century history of commerce and general travel on Lough Allen. I never thought I would write a sentence like that, but that’s genealogy for you!

    Some background…. I have ancestors who lived in the sluice keepers house in Blackrock, Drumshanbo, from about 1860-1920. The first ancestor I know of who lived there was Peter Mahon. Peter previously lived in Drumhalwy and Drumhauver, which leads me to believe that he was a boatman of some kind. (Oddly, my other 2x GGF from Killaloe, Clare, was also a boatman!!). Peter married a women from Roscommon, I believe from around the Strabragan/Arigna area. Peter’s daughter married into a family headed by a blacksmith and publican named Noone who lived in Drumshanbo Town. Peter’s son also married a woman from Strabragan whose family ran a public house in Arigna (it served the miners primarily, I am told). I also have a DNA connection to the east coast of the lake — Tullyveacan. That person has a grandfather who was born in Tullyveacan, but was raised mostly in Roscommon. Finally, I also have DNA connections to Drumkeerin, about 3 miles north of the top of the lake.

    I am curious as to the possible connections of all these people coming from the canal, river, and lake. It seems like the Mahons must have been on the water a lot and possibly delivered supplies to the businesses in Drumshanbo Town, and perhaps around the perimeter of the lake. Is that likely? If you have any information on my question above, I would very much like to read it!

    Thank you,


  4. Oh, and for that matter, I would also be interested in anything you might have about commerce on the lower Shannon, esp between Killaloe and Limerick City.

  5. There was very little commercial carrying on Lough Allen. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries there were hopes that coal from Arigna could be carried to Dublin by the Lough Allen Canal, the upper Shannon and the Royal Canal, but it was cheaper to import sea coal from England. Most of the Shannon upstream of Athlone had very little traffic in the steam age (1827 onwards) and Lough Allen had hardly any because there are no towns around the shore of the lake, apart from Drumshanbo at its foot. However, in the last twenty or so years of the nineteenth century, the brick works at Spencer Harbour used a steamer and barges to carry its products, probably to the railway at Drumshanbo: I haven’t found much written about that operation [and would be glad to hear from anyone who knows more about it]. Any other non-pleasure boating on the lake is likely to have been small in scale: people living around the lake may have had their own boats for fishing, carrying turf and maybe moving fodder.

    There was no navigation lock at the Lough Allen end of the LA Canal in the nineteenth century, as you can see here. Thus the sluice you mention might have been for drainage or flood control rather than navigation. The sluices at Bellantra were completed in 1893 (I think), but they’re outside the townland of Blackrock. Perhaps there was an ancillary sluice near the canal. bjg

  6. It depends on the era …. The main published work on the navigation is Charlotte Murphy “The Limerick Navigation Company 1697–1836” in North Munster Antiquarian Journal Vol XXII 1980. There is some coverage in Ruth Delany The Shannon Navigation Lilliput Press Dublin 2008 (which also has material on Lough Allen). And I have come material on this page and those linked to it. Traffic between Limerick and Killaloe themselves was never particularly important (except, briefly, for passengers) but Killaloe was one of the three main areas from which the Grand Canal Company — the principal inland carrier for about 100 years from 1850 — recruited boatmen, the other two being Graiguenamanagh on the River Barrow and the Allenwood area on the Grand Canal. There was, as a result, intermarriage between boatmen from one area and women from the other two areas. bjg

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