Irish waterway bogs

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 …

Service block at Portrunny 2009

Service block at Portrunny 2009

… or this new, but alas as yet unopened, block at Shannon Harbour.

Service block at Shannon Harbour (2009)

Service block at Shannon Harbour (2009)

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:

Blue loo at Monasterevan (Barrow Line of the Grand Canal) 2009

Blue loo at Monasterevan (Barrow Line of the Grand Canal) 2009

That one is hiding coyly behind a container, but the next one is out and proud.

Blue loo at Shannonbridge (2003)

Blue loo at Shannonbridge (2003)

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 at Ballylynch, on the edge of the quay (2009)

The loo at Ballylynch, on the edge of the quay (2009)

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.

Ferrous sulphate

Ferrous sulphate

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.

Classic lines

Classic lines

The blend of traditional materials marks it out as a valuable heritage artefact …

Traditional materials

Traditional materials

… while the interior matches form and function in a timeless style.

The interior

The interior

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.

The Shannon Harbour loo

The Shannon Harbour loo

This loo is not, of course, to be confused with the modern, but unopened, building shown earlier.

The entrance

The entrance

The building allows two persons to commune with nature at the same time, each in a separate stall.

Room for one

Room for one

Room for another. Note the wooden edge to the seating area

Room for another. Note the wooden edge to the seating area

A flash in the pan

A flash in the pan

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.

Stop me and buy one?

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 ….

Form an orderly queue

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.

Hire-a-loo in Killaloe

It hasn’t offloaded the cubicle, so folk must be expected to climb aboard.

Very elaborate, er, hosiery.

Give me my yellow hose again

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.

Blue loo too

3 responses to “Irish waterway bogs

  1. Keep on the job Brian! ;-)
    It made me chuckle…

  2. Keep looking for clues, Brian. You might find something more to go on.

  3. Thanks, Martin. If I do, I’ll be flushed with success.

    bjg

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