The Blackwater: Fermoy to Lismore 1844

This is the text of a report from the Cork Examiner of 19 January 1844 about a meeting in Fermoy to try to get the River Blackwater made navigable upstream to Fermoy. The headings (other than the one immediately below) were not in the original article.

Navigation of the Blackwater

A meeting was held in Fermoy on Tuesday [16 January], of persons interested in the Navigation of the Blackwater, to hear Colonel Jones’ report in reference to the undertaking. Amongst those present were the Earl of Mountcashel, Moore Park; Sir Richard Musgrave, Bart, Tourin; Matthias Hendley, Mountrivers; Rev George Gumbleton, Bellgrove; John Gumbleton, Fortwilliam; Charles Furlong, Fermoy; Captain Barry, Ballyclough-house; Captain Hewson, Barry Drew, Flower-hill; Rev M A Collis, Fermoy House; John Carey, South Greg; L Corban, Maryville; Major Teulon, Glenwood; E Hoare Reeves, Ballyglissane; J Allen, Monabee; Rev R Deane Freeman, Cairn Lodge; Rev James Mockler, Rockvale; R Briscoe, Fermoy; E Morrogh, Kilworth; Thomas Dennehy, Bellview; Captain Briscoe, Fermoy; Doctor J O’Neill, Fermoy; Rev Jasper Grant, Killmurry; Thomas Mockler, Rockvale; John Kinsley, Ballymacsimon; John Dennehy, Fermoy; John Perrott, Bellview; N W Roche, Carrigabrick Castle; Walter Dennehy, Fermoy; Denis O’Brien, Mitchelstown; Captain O’Flanagan, Fermoy; Dan Geran, Rushmount; Capt Pearde, Coole; Rev James Barry, RCC, Fermoy; Dr F P Drew, Fermoy; T Barry, Solicitor, Fermoy; Rev J Murphy, PP; Stephen Barry, Fermoy; W G Perrott, Civil Engineer, Fermoy; Dr J P Edgar, Fermoy; James Morrough, Kilworth; Dr O’Donnell, Fermoy; T O’Sullivan, jun, Fermoy; Capt E Croker, Lisfinny Castle; Capt Barnes, Fermoy; H Peard, Fermoy; Robert Briscoe, jun, Glandelane; Francis Dennehy, Brooklodge; William O’Connell, Rathcormac; Thomas Perrott, Upland; H Wigmore, Killarney. The body of the building was filled with farmers, tradespeople, and labourers. About half-past one o’clock, on the motion of Mr Hendley, seconded by the Rev Mr Freeman, the Earl of Mountcashel was moved to the Chair.

The Noble Lord said that in consequence of suggestions made that it was highly desirable to obtain the assistance of government relative to the navigation, he took upon himself to make an application to the Lords of the Treasury to permit Colonel Jones, the head engineer who had the conducting of the improvement of the navigation of the river Shannon, to examine the river Blackwater; upon receipt of which their lordships issued an order to Colonel Jones, requesting him to make an inspection of the river, and report on its practicabillity to being made navigable.

Col Jones’s report

The following was Colonel Jones’ report:—

Shannon Commission, Custom House, Dublin
Dec 27, 1843

My Lord — I have the honour to report for your Lordship’s information, that from the inspection I have been enabled to make of the river Blackwater, there does not appear to be any obstacle of a serious nature to prevent its being made navigable from Lismore to Fermoy.

The expense of the necessary works for effecting this desirable object, will be trifling as compared with the great benefits which the flourishing and important Town of Fermoy, with the adjacent country, will derive from a direct water communication with the sea at Youghal, instead of the long land-carriage by a hilly road with Cork.

In order to be enabled to estimate with a tolerable degree of accuracy the sum required to construct the necessary works, the following surveys must be made:

1st — A longitudinal survey of the river from Lismore to Fermoy. 2ndly — Detailed sections of the several intermediate shoals, with the necessary borings, to ascertain the nature of them. 3rdly — An accurate survey of the ground above and below Lismore Bridge, with a series of levels from the harbour below the bridge to the water surface, summer level above the salmon weir, in order to determine the best mode of passing the trade boats from the tide way to the river course above the weir. As the surveying operations are always more expeditiously and more satisfactorily executed by persons who are accustomed and practiced in this particular description of work; I would, with your Lordship’s permission, recommend three or four individuals duly qualified, and who have been employed upon the Shannon to undertake the surveys required, according to instructions which I would prepare for their guidance, and I would at the same time fix the amount to be paid to them as a remuneration for their service. In order to assist your Lordship in determining whether the surveys shall be made, I would say that the expenses ought not to exceed £150, including the drawings of the proposed work, and estimates of cost of construction; with favourable weather and due diligence, the surveys ought to be completed in one month.

Before the plans and estimates of the works can be prepared, it will be necessary for your Lordship to inform me of the size and description of the trade boat, with its greatest draught of water proposed to be used; the important question then suggests itself, whether the trade the trade from Fermoy shall descend the river to Lismore or Cappoquin, there to be transhipped, or go direct to Youghal; this is a very important point, and one which will require much consideration, and upon the determination of which, the size and dimensions of the works to be erected must be regulated. Waiting your Lordship’s further commands, I have the honour to subscribe myself,

Your Lordship’s obedient servant,
Hardy D Jones, Lieut-Col

The Earl of Mountcashel &c &c
Moore Park, Kilworth

Government money

When the survey was made, Col Jones would have to lay it before the government, accompanied by a report, and it was probable that after that, in justice and fairness, the government would come forward with a few thousands to do the work (cheers). He expected that the report would be so favourable, that the government would be induced to come forward generously and liberally, and make the navigation at little or no expense to the counties of Cork and Waterford (loud cheering).

Rev R D Freeman was requested to propose the first resolution:— “Resolved — That we have heard with great satisfaction the passage in Colonel Jones’ report addressed to Lord Mountcashel, stating the opinion of that experienced eminent Engineer, that there do not appear any obstacles of a serious nature to prevent the River Blackwater being rendered navigable to Fermoy.”

Mr Hendley having seconded the resolution, it was carried unanimously.

Mr Geran said that a resolution was put into his hand:— “Resolved — That we deem Colonel Jones’ opinion as to the expense of the necessary works most satisfactory, the amount of whch he asserts will be very trifling as compared with the great benefits it will confer on the flourishing town of Fermoy and the adjacent country.”

Mr T Denehy seconded the resolution, which was adopted.

Raising local money

Sir R Musgrave read the next resolution:— “Resolved — That we resolve to take immediate steps to carry out the suggestion of Colonel Jones, by procuding a detailed survey and estimate of the necessary works without which the navigation of the Blackwater cannot be opened, and that a subscription list be now opened for the purpose of raising the sum Colonel Jones states to be necessary, say, £150.”

For the assistance of Col Jones they were indebted to Lord Mountcashel, who from the commencement came forward and gave every support to the project, getting two of the finest boats built he had ever seen, which proved the practicability of navigating the river, while their model and finish were creditable both to his Lordship and Mr Cleverly, under whose superintendence they were constructed. He (Sir R) had considerable experience during the last twelve months on this river, and he could add his testimony that there was no serious obstacle (hear). He had frequently passed from Lismore to Glandelane, and had brought up 20 tons of wheat to the mills, and had taken down upwards of 30 tons of other articles.

Captain Barry seconded the resolution.

An objector

Mr Allin [is this the J Allen of Monabee listed amongst those present?] said that there was no doubt of the practicability and feasibility of the project, but he wished to know supposing the work was done, and that like other speculations it became a failure, how was the money borrowed to be repaid? (hisses) He met Sir Richard in this building at the time the Youghal bridge was in contemplation, a project which was opposed by his Lordship, but it was carried out, money was borrowed and debentures issued, but two or three instalments of the loan were paid and the debenture holders never got 1d (uproar). — He wished to know was the land to be pledged for the payment of the loan? (hisses). The Shannon was alluded to, but they were not told that the inhabitants of the county and city of Limerick complained loudly of the tax put upon them for the making of the navigation. He would also wish to know, supposing they sent their property down to Youghal, how was it to get farther? Was there any chance of a steam company being established after the deplorable failure of the St George Company? (loud yelling and hissing).

Sir Richard Musgrave said that all they now asked was to subscribe for the preliminary expense, so as to ascertain the cost of the work, after which they could see whether a boat tax would be sufficient or whether they would require a land tax. (Cheers).

The Chairman would reply to the only opponent.

Mr Allin — I am not an opponent. (Hisses with cries of “turn him out`.”)

The Chairman could not sit quiet when he found one gentleman in a great assembly trying to stifle the child in his birth. (Cheers).

Mr Allin denied that altogether. (Hisses).

Chairman — Why then come forward in this way, and start up difficulties of your own invention? (Cheers, hisses, and uproar).

Captain Barry was sorry to interfere, but he did not think a chairman should act in such a way. (Tremendous uproar.)

The Chairman was going to answer. (Confusion.)

Mr Allin thought it very unfair to attribute unfair motives.

After some angry discussion the resolution was carried.

Sir R Musgrave was then moved to the chair, when thanks were voted to the noble earl, and the meeting separated.


One response to “The Blackwater: Fermoy to Lismore 1844

  1. Is there a reason why this scheme was never undertaken? The famine????
    Noel Howard.

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