From Clonsilla to Clew Bay

I wrote here about the Midland Great Western Railway’s steamers on the Royal Canal. Not much is known about where they were built or about what happened to them afterwards, but here is an interesting snippet about one of them.

On 26 July 1884 the Irish Times carried an article entitled The Western Coast and its Fisheries. The anonymous author reported that a new system of netting had been introduced and that an enterprising fisherman had established a steam trawler in Killala Bay.

At Westport, an “enterprising Englishman” had come over to instruct the natives in modern fishing techniques. However, Westport quay was six miles from the open sea, and the Englishman’s steam trawler had to travel up there to discharge its cargo. The writer said:

In Clew Bay and Blacksod Bay the Midland Great Western Railway Company have placed one of their canal steam launches, which, although an old boat, is yet tolerably good for smooth water, but her steam power is too small and her pace too slow for the purposes for which she is intended — that of taking the fish from a regular steam trawler, and transmitting it to the railway terminus at Westport.

This was two years before the MGWR ceased carrying on the Royal Canal, but of course we don’t know that they retained all their five (or seven) steamers until the last moment. I don’t know which steam launch was sent to Co Mayo, or what happened to it afterwards. It could be either of the two Grendon-built boats, or the Mermaid, or the Rattler. More information welcome.


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