The Claddagh Basin

On 1 January 1848 Samuel U Roberts CE was appointed District Engineer of the Districts of Loughs Corrib, Mask and Carra in the counties of Galway and Mayo. He spent the early part of that year in “making the necessary preparations and arrangements” and began operations on navigation works in Galway on 8 March, having taken possession of some of the land required for the Eglinton Canal.

Look! No basin: the Claddagh before Roberts began work (OSI ~1840)

Look! No basin: the Claddagh before Roberts began work (OSI ~1840)

In his report to the Board of Public Works for 1848 [Seventeenth Report from the Board of Public Works, Ireland, with Appendices HMSO, London 1849], he covered the start of work on the tidal basin at the Claddagh:

A large quantity of ashlar stone has been prepared for the lock and tidal basin works, in connexion with the canal, and some stanks have been formed with a view to carrying on the works as easrly as the approaching season will permit.

In the following year’s report, he said:

The exterior wall of the tidal basin has been completed, and a secure lining of puddle carried round the whole work. The site of the tidal lock and basin has been enclosed, and the necessary excavation is now progressing.

I don’t have a copy of the nineteenth report of the Board of Works, but in the twentieth, covering 1851 and published in 1852, Roberts said:

The lock which forms the entrance from the sea to the tidal basin has been built during the last year, the gates and sluices erected, and everything in connexion therewith perfected. The cofferdam enclosing the site of the lock has also been removed, and a great portion of the timber subsequently used as centering for the new West Bridge. The progress of that portion of the tidal basin extending from the causeway formed in connexion with the Claddagh wooden bridge up to the lock at Folan’s Lane has been a work of peculiar difficulty. The channel here is narrow, and it has been necessary to provide for the discharge of the tail-waters of three mills, in addition to which the tides which at high water percolated through the made ground on every side rendering it a matter almost of impossibility to unwater the work. The excavation of the western side of this portion of the basin has been completed, the Claddagh quay underpinned, and the quay wall between Balls Bridge and the lock at Folan’s Lane raised to the full height, and the trackway formed.

Finally, in the twenty-first report, covering 1852, Roberts was able to announce the completion of the work on the basin:

These [navigation] works, with the exception of some excavation between the Tidal Basin and Folan’s-lane Lock (which cannot be executed until the mill-works in that locality are in progress), and the dredging of a shoal at the head of the canal, were completed in September, and the navigation was opened by the late Lord Lieutenant, Lord Eglinton, on the 20th August.

Happily, his lordship did not organise a tournament to mark the occasion.

Roberts's work: the basin completed (OSI ~1900)

Roberts’s work: the basin completed (OSI ~1900)

In Lough Corrib, its shores and islands: with notices of Lough Mask [McGlashan & Gill, Dublin 1867], Sir William R Wilde MD quoted a letter from Roberts giving the dimensions of the basin:

[…] the length of the Ship Canal is two-thirds of a mile; at the entrance is a tidal basin, 470 feet long, and 170 feet wide, with 1000 feet in length of quayage. The ascent from this basin to the level of the lough [Corrib] is accomplished by one lock, 130 feet long, and twenty-one wide, with a lift of fourteen feet. The depth of the navigation is six and a half feet.

The basin in close-up (OSI ~1900)

The basin in close-up (OSI ~1900) Here are some photos taken in early 2014.

The basin

Claddagh 20140301 34_resize

Boats are allowed into the basin for the winter

Claddagh 20140301 35_resize

The basin is managed by the Corrib Navigation Trustees

Claddagh 20140301 75_resize

The exit from the tidal basin to the Eglinton Canal

Claddagh 20140301 57_resize

Secure for the winter

Boats large and small

Boats large and small

 The Corrib Navigation Trustees

The lock

Claddagh 20140301 38_resize

Looking across the lock

Claddagh 20140301 39_resize

Perhaps a relic of Galway fertility rites?

Claddagh 20140301 40_resize

Provision for stop planks

Claddagh 20140301 42_resize

Dual-purpose ladder

Claddagh 20140301 68_resize

Footbridge across the lock chamber. I presume it’s lifted out of the way when boats pass through

Claddagh 20140301 59_resize

Only the upper gates remain so the lock can be used only when the water level outside the gates matches that inside. I gather that boats are admitted in the autumn and released in the spring

Claddagh 20140301 81_resize

Some gate details. I presume the gates are modern

Claddagh 20140301 76_resize

These boats may have overwintered in the lock chamber

Claddagh 20140301 80_resize

Mooring ring

Claddagh 20140301 47_resize

Unsafe? I don’t know what this is

Claddagh 20140301 43_resize

Perhaps for lifting a rack to drain the lock chamber

Claddagh 20140301 51_resize

Made by Mallets in Dublin

Claddagh 20140301 49_resize

I don’t know what this was (or is) for

Claddagh 20140301 50_resize

It has two spindles for winding

Claddagh 20140301 53_resize

Collar for one of the lower gates

Claddagh 20140301 62_resize

Upper gate collar

Claddagh 20140301 54_resize

Chain

Claddagh 20140301 45_resize

At least it’s not painted

Outside the basin

Claddagh 20140301 01_resize

Looking upriver: a boat tied at the Claddagh Quay and the basin beyond that

Claddagh 20140301 10_resize

Boats looking as if they have been abandoned

Claddagh 20140301 16_resize

The Claddagh Quay

Claddagh 20140301 19_resize

The outer wall of the basin (Ballyknow Quay)

Claddagh 20140301 18_resize

Between Ballyknow and Claddagh Quays

Claddagh 20140301 83_resize

Gentle Anne

Claddagh 20140301 86_resize

Hooker-type hull. Gleoiteog? Púcán?

Claddagh 20140301 05_resize

Currach

Claddagh 20140301 08_resize

Another currach

Claddagh 20140301 09_resize

Hooker hull. Is this large enough to be a bád mór or a leathbhád?

Claddagh 20140301 21_resize

Colour

Claddagh 20140301 23_resize

Boats on the inside of the Claddagh Quay

Claddagh 20140301 74_resize

The river

I would welcome corrections on anything I’ve got wrong, especially the identification of the traditional boats.

 

My OSI logo and permit number for website[wotw2]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s