On my page about the Upper Suir from Clonmel to Carrick-on-Suir, I wrote this:
A short distance below Sir Thomas’s Bridge, the Anner flows in: the Anner Mills of the 1840s were replaced by Anner House in the 1900s.There was a mooring post at the confluence. A further short distance below, the 1904 map (but not the 1840s map) shows a channel joining the Suir: it leaves the Anner above Inchanabraher, where there are stepping stones, runs along the edge of a small wood and passes a lodge and then goes under a road before it joins the Suir. The road bridge is marked Canal Bridge. I have no information about the canal and would like to know more: if you can help, please leave a Comment below.
I’ve headed this page “The Anner canal” but that’s just for convenience: I have no idea what, if anything, this canal was called, what it was for, who built it, when it was built or what, if anything, was ever carried on it. In fact, apart from having taken some photos that confirm the existence of a body of water, I know no more than I did when I wrote the paragraph quoted above. If you know anything about this canal, do please leave a Comment below.
Driving from Rosslare Harbour to Limerick the other day, I stopped to have a look at this canal where the N24 road crosses it, just east of the Bulmers factory, which itself is on the east side of Clonmel. The current road bridge is a little way downstream of an older bridge, which may be the Canal Bridge of 1904. The current bridge is numbered: I presume that road engineers fear that their bridges will get lost ….
The current N24 bridge over the canal
Looking downstream (southwards) from the N24 bridge
The north side of the N24 road bridge
Looking upstream from the north side of the N24 road bridge
Although there are several canals that were designed for small boats, this one seems ridiculously small. Could it have been a flood-prevention canal (if such a thing there be)? Or part of a millstream? Or an irrigation channel? The OS map shows no sign of a mill along the canal, although there was a mill on the other side, west of the Anner, where Bulmers now is. Nor is there any sign of any wharf or quay or of any building that might have been source or destination for any cargo to be carried. Accordingly, the flood relief idea seems most likely to me, faute de mieux, nut I would welcome enlightenment from anyone who actually knows.
The east bank of the canal between the old and new bridges
The railings of the old bridge can be seen through the foliage
This entrance is just east of the canal
The Anner itself, by the way, is further west, a little closer to Clonmel.
The bridge over the Anner (with number)
The Anner (looking upstream)
The Anner (looking downstream)
Related pages: the Upper Suir (Carrick to Clonmel and further upstream), a boat-trip on the Suir up to the confluence with the Anner, the Middle Suir (Carrick-on-Suir to Waterford).
Joseph Grubb built Anner Mill in 1765 and 10 years later built one 500m upstream at Redmondstown. Redmondstown was destroyed by fire in 1878 and the Anner Mill 2 years later.
If you look closely at the 1840 OS map you will see that there are at least two channels all the way up to the Redmondstown mill, far beyond the short canal in existence today, as well as sluices and dams. A fairly constant flow of water was needed on the mill race. There are huge variations in flow on the Anner and a constant rate of flow would be impossible without an extra channel.
The existing short canal was in all likelihood used to circumvent Anner Mill near the mouth of the Anner so that barges from Redmondstown could easily access the Suir. There were 23 mills in and around Clonmel and vast quantities of flour were sent down the Suir to the Barrow and up to Dublin. It was a by-pass.
The Grubbs were a prominent quaker merchant family in South Tipperary. One part of the family also controlled the transport of freight on the Suir river between Clonmel and Waterford. Further details available in the book “The Grubbs of Clonmel”.
Paul: are you the Slow Food man? I was at the Nenagh event yesterday, which is why I didn’t get back to you then.
Anyway, thank you for the very interesting suggestion. I can see the need for a mill race separate from the river, and clearly the Anner Mill had such a race. The canal then forms a third branch.
Unfortunately I have no map showing the situation after the canal was built (post-1840) and before the two mills burned down, so I can’t see what the set-up was in the 1870s. The 1904 map shows stepping-stones across the head of the canal, which wouldn’t fit with the idea of its being used for navigation. However, I don’t know whether they were there in the 1870s.
Have you seen any documentation about barges being used on the canal? I’d be very interested in having a look at any sources. I presume any barges would have been even smaller than the yawls used on the Upper Suir (I have a page about the navigation between Clonmel and Carrick at https://irishwaterwayshistory.com/abandoned-or-little-used-irish-waterways/the-upper-suir-carrick-to-clonmel/); it would be great to learn more about the types and sizes of vessels used.
You have the advantage. I’m with the Four Rivers Convivium. Have we met?
Anyway, I saw elsewhere that Nicholas Grubb is a correspondent of yours and may well have the information you are seeking regarding the craft used on the canal. Grubbs owned the mills and the transport company, though not necessarily the same branch of the family.
You probably already know about the River Suir website (www.riversuir.ie). Perhaps someone involved with it would know. They are connected with the Working Man’s Boat Club.
I knew I’d seen your domain name somewhere before. I’m just a food consumer, not a producer, though.
I have sent an email to someone in the Boat Club; thanks for that.
Heritage council newsletter provided link to your very interesting site Brian. Congrats on same! Can’t add anything to the history but learned to swim in the River Anner 45 years ago in the days before municipal swimming pools; besides the obvious risks one was very conscious of not stepping on the cow pats !
Thanks, John. Did you “live beside the Anner at the foot of Sliabh na mBan”? bjg