Many of the pages on this site are about Irish bog waterways: canals dug to enable turf (peat) to be extracted from the bogs. This page, in contrast, is about Irish waterway bogs.
Update May 2010
Added the Flying Loo of Killaloe at the end.
On two recent visits to waterways sites, I found myself photographing loos.
I’m not talking about the loos provided for modern boaters, like this service block at Portrunny on Lough Ree …
… or this new, but alas as yet unopened, block at Shannon Harbour.
It is rumoured that this block awaits the attention of Our Glorious Leader, Brian Cowen, local TD (parliamentary representative) and Taoiseach (prime minister). He may of course be busy borrowing billions to give to bankers; he may also be reluctant to remind voters of this cartoon.
But such modern, sophisticated and perhaps even clean loos are not what interests me. Nor, despite their apparent ubiquity, am I moved by those blue plastic jobbies that accompany working parties nowadays. You know the sort of thing:
That one is hiding coyly behind a container, but the next one is out and proud.
But, as I say, they are of little interest. The real gems are the old loos, built for the men who worked on the waterways. I’ve found only two so far, so if you know of any more, do please let me know (leave a Comment at the bottom of the page).
The first of these loos I came across was at the quay at Ballylynch, Carrick-on-Suir, where Dowleys had their second premises and moored the Rocksand and the lighters: you can read about it here.
The loo stands on the edge of the quay, a bit like Ozymandias:
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Not that there are sands, of course, but there is some ferrous sulphate, which might do instead.
Not that that’s got anything to do with anything.
You can see that the loo is a simple, unpretentious structure, with a straightforward system for disposing of waste.
The blend of traditional materials marks it out as a valuable heritage artefact …
… while the interior matches form and function in a timeless style.
But despite the building’s elegance, it is not necessarily somewhere that you would want to spend half an hour or so reading your morning newspaper. The old loo at Shannon Harbour, opposite the dry dock, on the other hand, offers an interior of almost rococo magnificence.
This loo is not, of course, to be confused with the modern, but unopened, building shown earlier.
The building allows two persons to commune with nature at the same time, each in a separate stall.
Actually, there isn’t really a pan: just a hole, and the sound of rushing water (perhaps the overflow from the dry dock) from below.
There must be more loos out there ….
The flying loo of Killaloe
Killaloe (yes, the last syllable does rhyme with loo) is a historic waterways town at the bottom end of Lough Derg. I was photographing the eel shed one day, as you do, when a truck arrived.
It stopped behind the Waterways Ireland building, and it struck me that it might be on its daily rounds, offering staff the opportunity to, er, well, you know ….
I was distracted for a while, so I didn’t see what happened next, but I got a close-up as the truck left the area.
It hasn’t offloaded the cubicle, so folk must be expected to climb aboard.
Very elaborate, er, hosiery.
On a more recent visit, however, I found that the Waterways Ireland premises had a blue loo of its own in the yard. The mystery remains.