There are two dry docks at Shannon Harbour, and they are the most heavily used on the Irish inland waterways. Some of the other dry docks are shown here.
According to Waterways Ireland, you should contact the Grand Canal depot at Tullamore to book the use of one of the docks, although in practice most people contact Jason Pender, the Shannon Harbour lockkeeper (listed under “Main Line: Locks 34 – 36”). Charges for the use of the docks are modest.
There are some requirements for the licensing of contractors based on Waterways Ireland property, but contractors who are based elsewhere may work in the docks and owners may work on their own boats. The relevant regulations do not seem to be shown on the Waterways Ireland website, though, so authoritative corrections to this paragraph would be welcome.
One of the dry docks is covered, and is therefore in demand for painting, but its blocks are lower than those in the open dock so it is harder to work underneath a boat.
The covered dry dock
The covered dry dock seen from the open dock
Inside looking out
Dutch Barge Liberty in the dock
The eastern wall of the shed
The inside of the eastern wall; note the door
The inside of the western wall
The back wall. Note the stairs on the left, the rack for emptying the dock (between the door and the dog) and the boat-names painted on the wall
The entrance to the covered dry dock. The black grille can be lowered and raised (note the winch on the right-hand support) and is presumably intended as a barrier, but I've never seen it down and I don't really know what it's for
The gate into the dock is raised by a cable wound from this pillar on the east side
This is the front of the pillar with the cable slack
Here is a close-up showing the pillar, the winch for the grille, an old bollard and a roller to protect a taut cable from the stone edge
Now for a more detailed look at the open dry dock.
Some years ago, Waterways Ireland railed off the (previously open) dry docks, presumably to protect themselves against legal action by folk who tripped or fell in. Here are some of the fortifications.
The railings along the west side of the open dock
The gate at the south-east corner. Moving around the dock, inside the railings, is not easy
This bollard, for your starboard bow rope, is outside the railings. So how do you throw a rope over it?
The entrance to the open dry dock
For the open as for the covered dry dock, entrance is controlled by a wooden gate, hinged at the bottom, which is dropped outwards to allow boats in.
The entrance gate with three paddles in the top row. Note the drainage channel in the bed of the dock
Another view of the gate, with the wire cable used to raise it. Note that the cable is looped around a metal bollard on the far side
A close-up of the top corner of the gate. Note the metal loop for withdrawing the paddle
On the left is the winch used to raise the gate
This is the grille for the open dock
This is the winch for raising the grille
This paddle has been drawn and is resting on the bank
It's a bit cluttered on the dock-side. Note the metal top of the gate, which daring folk have been known to walk across
And here is the other side, with the cable around the bollard
The base of the dock
The base of the dock has large blocks spanning a drainage channel. Three blocks, in the middle, have timbers on either side, running to the dock sides, and with sloping timbers above them.
The base of the dock
The base of an empty dock
Close-up of a block
Cleaning out the dock
On one occasion, a wooden boat was dismantled in the dock. Unfortunately much debris was left behind; Waterways Ireland had to send down a crew to clean it before water could be let in.
Waterways Ireland vehicles
Excavator lifting material
Transferring it to a truck
Going back for more
Draining the dock
The canal is above the surrounding land (and the nearby River Shannon), so it is easy to drain the dock.
The rack for draining the dock and the stairs behind it
Grille for catching debris
I have been told that the water that is drained out removes, er, matter from beneath this (now disused) loo
The sides of the dock
Stairs to base of dock. Getting to it from the gate requires some agility
The sides of the dock are stepped and folk who are fit can get up and down them
A walkway was built out over the east side of the dock adjoining the covered dock
Boats in the dock
Now for some boats in the dock.
Ex-Grand Canal Company motor-barge 59M Countess Corinne in the full dock
34B in the dock
Work in progress (Richard and Mary Swaine painting)
Ladder and prop
Letting the water back in
The paddles are drawn
The water flows down the dock
The inward end is last to fill ...
... but eventually "she starts, she moves, she seems to feel ..."
If I’ve got anything wrong, or omitted anything, please leave a Comment below. I’d like to make this as comprehensive as possible ….