Category Archives: Built heritage

Lacy and the canal

I have a short page about Lacy’s Canal, which runs from the south of the town of Mullingar to Lough Ennell (or vice versa).

Some folk say that the canal was named after Hugh de Lacy, a twelfth-century Lord of Meath, even though it was built in the eighteenth century. I have to say that that sounds improbable to me: I see no reason why the builders (or excavators) should thus summon the ghost of a long-dead lord, and I know of no evidence for the assertion. I accept, of course, that it may exist and, if so, I would be glad to hear about it.

However, it seems to me to be more likely that the canal was named after the eighteenth-century person who built it, who owned the land or who ran a business selling turf. I was therefore interested to read this advertisement in Saunders’s News-Letter of 29 April 1829:

COUNTY WESTMEATH

To be sold, the interest in a lease for three young lives or 26 years unexpired, of about 50 acres of the lands of Grange, adjoining the Royal Canal, and the Great Barrack now building, and within half a mile of Mullingar: the lands are of prime quality, and one of the best situations in Westmeath for a lodge, dwelling, farm house, or dairy, there being the materials of a mansion upon the premises which would build it upon a site commanding an extensive prospect of the beautiful lake and improvements of Belvedere and Rochfort.

The crops of oats and potatoes can be had at a valuation. A purchaser of this interest will acquire many other advantages; immediate possession can be given when the value is offered. Apply to Edward Lacy, Mullingar, or Mr Charles Crampton, No 45, Clarendon-street, Dublin.

Grange and Mullingar (OSI ~1840)

Thus it seems that there were folk (or was at least one person) called Lacy living near Mullingar in the early nineteenth century. Unfortunately the Landed Estates Database does not cover Leinster, so I have no more information about them (or him).

This month’s header

Bartlett drawing of turf boats below Wellesley (now Sarsfield) Bridge, Limerick.

P J G Ransom

P J G Ransom died on 27 March 2019.

I don’t know anything about his work on railways, but he gave generous coverage to Irish history in his waterways books. His Holiday Cruising in Ireland (David & Charles 1971) was carefully researched; if memory serves, his is still one of the few accounts of cruising on the Corrib. Finally, it was he who found the drawing of William Watson’s 120-foot canal passenger boat, developed for the Limerick Navigation; the drawing is now in the Canal & River Trust Museum & Archive at Ellesmere Port.

Meelick

Sinn Féin has a TD called Martin Kenny who, in the Dáil on 29 May 2019, asked about repairs to a walkway across Meelick Weir. He said that

The weir is a crossing point on the Shannon on an important walkway, the Beara-Breifne Way, which runs from Breifne in Leitrim to the Beara Peninsula, straight through Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands.

I’m not sure that he’s got the direction of travel right, but let that pass. He also said

The problem is that people using the walkway have not been informed it is closed. Many businesses, particularly tourism businesses, are directing people up the walkway as far as the bridge but they cannot cross it. Over the past several days, some tourists could not cross the river at the point.

One Seán Kyne, a mini-minister, said in reply that

In 2009, during an extreme weather event, the weir and its walkway from which the weir boards are placed and removed were extensively damaged. In the 2015-16 severe weather event, the last remnants of the walkway were destroyed.

If the “many businesses, particularly tourism businesses” have not noticed that the walkway has been out of action for almost ten years, it suggests that the Beara-Breifne Way is used by very few people and that its reinstatement is not important, or at least not urgent. On the other hand, it might suggest that the operators of the tourism businesses in question have not paid as much attention to the route as they might have.

The minister, by the way, said

Meelick weir was originally built in the 1790s as part of the Shannon navigation.

I thought it was built by the Shannon Commissioners in the 1840s.

The latest header

The Pierhead in Liverpool (not to be confused with the Pierhead in Killaloe), seen from the Ferry ‘cross the Mersey. I recommend the round trip.  And they don’t play the entire song.

Another Kerry canal

A short piece about the canal at Ross on one of the lakes of Killarney. I have little information about its origins and current use and would welcome more.

Canal views and house prices

A view of a canal is worth money.

h/t the ever-reliable Jonathan Calder

A lake museum?

Nah, it’d never work.

Limerick and Newport

Newport in South Wales, that is. If you’ve taken a ferry from Rosslare Harbour to Fishguard or Pembroke, and you’re driving across South Wales, you might like to stop at Newport. It’s got a transporter bridge, and not a lot of places can say that.

It also has the Cefn Flight of Fourteen Locks, which raises an interesting question about the Limerick Navigation.

Newry: canal, steam railways, ships …

Thanks to Andrew Waldron for the link to this film, The Clanrye Connection, about Newry and its transport systems: the inland canal, the ship canal and the railways. The film was made by the BBC in 1996 and is about 50 minutes long.

There is even an electric tram.