Belturbet in July 2011

In July 2011 I made a brief stop in Belturbet, County Cavan, and took a short walk upriver. The photographs on this page do not constitute anything like a full account of the waterways and industrial heritage of Belturbet, but I was impressed by the fact that the town had information boards about some sites of interest and also had signposts to others. O si sic omnes ….

Belturbet is the head of the navigation of the River Erne: you can’t get upstream beyond this point in any sizeable conventional craft (although a dredger did manage the feat).

Belturbet OSI ~1840 01

Belturbet (OSI ~1840)

My brief visit began at the quay at Kilconny, just below the bridge.

Kilconny depth-gauge_resize

The quay at Kilconny

The quay is not marked on the OSI 6″ map of around 1840 but it is on the 25″ map of around 1900.

Belturbet OSI ~1900 02

Kilconny Quay (OSI ~1900)

There is a mooring pontoon off the quay but it was empty when I was there.

Kilconny boatshed_resize

The pontoon at Kilconny

Most boats moor further downstream.

Belturbet OSI ~1900 05

The main mooring area

Main moorings 1_resize

Modern moorings at Belturbet 1

Main moorings 2_resize

Modern moorings at Belturbet 2

Bend downstream of Kilconny_resize

Looking downstream from Kilconny

End of navigation_resize

Looking upstream to the bridge and the end-of-navigation sign

Kilconny pontoon_resize

The Kilconny pontoon from the quay

Kilconny Quay history board 1_resize

One of two information boards at Kilconny

Kilconny Quay history board 2_resize

The second information board at Kilconny

One of the photographs is of the SS Belturbet, which used Kilconny Quay. According to George E Morrissey in Belturbet, Co Cavan: a chequered history [self-published; no date given; available here], drainage schemes have lowered the water level by up to eight feet since the steamers ran.

Woodford Explorer (Tommy McMahon)_resize

Woodford Explorer

I was told that the white cruiser tied on the opposite bank was a trip boat called the Woodford Explorer. It’s mentioned on this page and on this one but it is not on the current [19 April 2015] Marine Survey Office list of Passenger Boats Currently Licensed [PDF]. If it is still operating, I would be grateful is someone could let me know by leaving a Comment below.

The 25″ OSI map shows more places for boats further downstream: a quay and two landing places, one of which is now part of the modern mooring place with pontoons.

Belturbet OSI ~1900 01

More berths downstream (OSI ~1900)

The quay appears to be on the site now occupied by a slipway at what is called Ducking Stool Jetty, a name that does not appear on either of the older OSI maps.

Signpost 2_resize

Signpost to Ducking Stool Jetty

Ducking Stool jetty_resize

Slipway at Ducking Stool Jetty

The second landing place is yet further downstream, where the river bends to the north.

Landing place upstream of Creeny Bridge_resize

The second landing place

I then went upstream towards the site of the distillery shown on the 6″ OSI map.

Belturbet OSI ~1840 02

The distillery (OSI ~1840)

Belturbet OSI ~1900 03

The absent distillery (OSI ~1900)

The distillery had closed in 1885. There is a brief history here, drawn from George Morrissey’s book.

I wonder whether some of the Erne Vale buildings, on the distillery site, were built for the distillery.

Former distillery buildings 1_resize

Erne Vale 1

Former distillery buildings 2_resize

Erne Vale 2


The spires of Belturbet

Possible remains of distillery weir_resize

Could this be part of the distillery weir?

Signpost 1_resize

IH signpost

Unidentified building near weir_resize

This building on the river bank might be a pumphouse

Unidentified machine near distillery 1_resize

According to a caption in George Morrissey’s book …

Unidentified machine near distillery 2_resize

… this is a stone crusher, originally bought for Castle Saunderson …

Unidentified machine near distillery 3_resize

… and bought by Cavan County Council at public auction

Belturbet OSI ~1900 04

The Cavan & Leitrim Railway bridge over the Erne

C&LR railway bridge and depth gauge_resize

The bridge

There is more information about the railway at the Belturbet Railway Station, which I did not have time to visit. Its page here says

The station served as the connecting point for the Great Northern Railway broad gauge and the Cavan and Leitrim Railway narrow gauge railway lines and accommodated both railway companies until its closure in 1959.

That will cause pain to at least one person I know, but happily these chaps get it right.


Here is a page about the Belturbet-built dredger used during the construction of the Junction Navigation in the Ballinamore and Ballyconnell Drainage District, later the Ballinamore and Ballyconnell Canal and now the Shannon–Erne Waterway.

My OSI logo and permit number for website sized to 480 pixels wide[wut/jn40]

3 responses to “Belturbet in July 2011

  1. I wonder who that chap is ;). The IHAI visited Belturbet at the start of the century and our guide from the local development group also told us that the piece of equipment in question was a stone crusher.

  2. Maybe it could be brought into use in some way for Saunderson’s Sheugh. bjg

  3. A unique historical work, you can thank the author only warm

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