Category Archives: Extant waterways

While you’ve nothing else to do …

I came across a quiz I compiled in 2004 for the Athy Water Festival. Q6 no longer applies and I can’t guarantee that all of the others are still true, but here is it anyway.

  1. What is the taste of the town where a doleful damsel laments her armless boneless chickenless egg?
  2. What armless legless Barrow man did not have to be put out with a bowl to beg but was an enlightened landlord, “a Member of Parliament, Lord Lieutenant of the County Carlow, Member of the Privy Council of Ireland, magistrate, world traveller, yachtsman, sometime dispatch rider in the East India service, crack shot, keen fisherman” and  “a terror with the ladies”?
  3. What are the names of the aqueducts immediately above and below Vicarstown?
  4. What is the only Barrow lock with no corresponding weir?
  5. Where did the now-derelict canal branch from Monasterevan go to?
  6. What beer is named after a Barrow saint? [Carlow Brewing Company used to have a red ale named St Moling’s]
  7. How many bollards are there on each side of Lock 28 on the Barrow Line? [Maybe the number has changed since 2004]
  8. What is the name of the double lock on the Barrow?
  9. “A swan goes by head low with many apologies
    Fantastic light looks through the eyes of bridges
    And look! a barge comes bringing from Athy
    And other far-flung towns mythologies.” Said who?
  10. What two rivers enter the Barrow between Maganey and Bestfield Locks?

Tie-breaker: (a) Who composed “Five Locks on the Barrow”? (b) What are the five locks?

Leave your answers in the Comments below (if you like).

New header photo March 2020

Gandalows on the Cashen, which enters the sea south of Ballybunion in Co Kerry. The photo was taken from the bridge on the R551 in 2015.

Walking on water

Marine Pedestrianism

Mr Kent, whose surprising exploits have attracted so much attention in Liverpool and other places where he has appeared before the public, arrived here on Sunday evening by the Steam Packet Waterloo.

On the packet reaching Ringsend, he launched and mounted his marine velocipede, and proceeded before the packet up to Sir John Rogerson’s-quay, where he was loudly cheered by the spectators on shore.

We understand it is his intention to exhibit his apparatus here, should he meet with public encouragement previously to his departure for London.

Saunders’s News-Letter 24 July 1821

Walking on water

On Friday a prodigious crowd, upwards of 30000 people, assembled on the banks of the Clyde, to witness the performance of Mt Keat [sic], who had announced his intention of riding on his aquatic velocipede, from Rutherglen-bridge to the Wooden-bridge. He started precisely at a quarter before three o’clock, and reached the Wooden-bridge at a quarter past three. He amused himself with loading and discharging a fowling-piece as he sailed along. Several porters were stationed at the different entrances of the Green with subscription-boxes. The machine consists of three oval tin cases united by iron rods to support a sort of saddle, upon which the artist sits, at such a height as is suitable for using his feet to give the requisite impulse. The weight of the whole does not exceed 14 lbs.

Salisbury and Winchester Journal 21 May 1821

Here’s a later version.

Shannon water levels

Just a reminder about the ESB’s useful page of hydrometric information here.

As of yesterday morning (23 February 2020), the discharge through Parteen Villa Weir was 659 cubic metres per second [cumec]. That’s the total discharge from the Shannon, covering both what goes through Ardnacrusha and what goes down the original course of the river [which in summer gets 10 cumec].

Of that 659, Ardnacrusha was getting 381 cumec, which means that 278 was going down the river’s original course.

The ESB’s Shannon forecast says

It is expected that a discharge ranging between 315 [cumec] and 370 [cumec] will be necessary at Parteen Weir over the next 5 days based on current weather forecast.

Those figures are well below the current combined discharge of 659 and more rain is expected, so I presume that the forecast refers to discharge down the original course of the river, which is to increase by between 13% and 33%. Water levels below Parteen Villa Weir are already high, though not at 2009 levels, so an investment in wellies might be advisable.

Shannon floods 2009 here.

Here’s an old page of mine about why the Shannon floods. I’ve removed some links that no longer work. The link to the ESB’s infographic does still work.

Shinners to the right of them …

… Shinners to the left of them. The local resident Shinners, having done well in a recent election, may end up forming part of a government while, across the water, the British Shinners (formerly known as the Conservative Party) are well ensconced and about to start dispensing benefits to their supporters.

No, no, not those ex-Labour idiots who voted for them: how much did any of those voters contribute to party funds? Very little, I imagine, so they can’t expect to be rewarded with anything other than the drippings from the pan.

One of the things uniting Irish and British Shinners is a devotion to useless vanity projects, usually costing the public purse a fortune in return for little or no benefit. The Irish Shinners have been pushing the Clones Sheugh for years and they also support the Narrow Water Bridge, which would be built in the middle of nowhere and be far less useful than the Newry Bypass. The British Shinners, however, have an even more idiotic bridge in mind, to be built across a munitions dump.

Her Majesty’s Chief Nitwit, the appalling Johnson, has a string of idiotic proposals behind him, some of which even got built. And now he’s at it again, proposing both a railway line and a bridge to distract attention from his cluelessness, ignorance and stupidity. But there is probably more to it than that, as the admirable Richard Murphy points out today. The bridge (and, I suggest, the railway) will benefit the modern courtiers who finance such projects.

 

New header pic February 2020

The Liffey in 1846, cropped from a panorama published in the Illustrated London News on 6 June 1846.

Steam, Kilrush and trade

Appendix D

Letter from Mr O’Brien, Agent to the Inland Steam Navigation Company
Kilrush Steam Packet Office, December, 1837

Gentlemen — I beg to inclose the Return which you requested; I also send a Statement of our Exports and Imports for the last ten years.

It affords me much pleasure in being able to state, that the trade and conditions of the people in this district appear much improved since the introduction of Steamers on the Lower Shannon.

I recollect when first Mr Williams commenced on the Lower Shannon, Kilrush was a very insignificant little place, quite deserted, without trade or commerce; it is now a rising town, with a number of respectable inhabitants and merchants; and the corn market, which was formerly rated at 2d per stone under Limerick, is now fully equal, and, in some cases, better than the latter.

This improvement, so important to the farmer, was certainly caused by the cheap and expeditious conveyance between this port and Limerick; because the country farmer at once saw the absurdity of selling his corn in Kilrush, at 6d per stone, when he could get it conveyed to Limerick by steam, for one farthing per stone, where the price was 8d per stone. This soon created a competition in the price, and soon broke down the old monoply [sic], so injurious to the public.

The facility of conveyance between Kilrush and Limerick had also a tendency to bring competitors into the field; and now, instead of one corn merchant, as was the case formerly, we have eleven; and instead of two grocers, we have fifteen; and instead of two woollen drapers, we have twelve, and so on.

Kilkee and Miltown, on the Clare side, and Ballybunion, on the Kerry side, have been equally benefited. Previous to the introduction of Steamers on the Lower Shannon, these places were scarcely known; they are now rising towns, and will, I trust, after a little time, compete with some of your English favourite watering places.

At Kilkee there are 305 very fine lodges, some of which brought £30 per month, last season; at Miltown there are 204, and at Ballybunion there are 96, with excellent hotels and boarding houses.

Persons leaving Limerick in the morning, are now enabled to breakfast at Kilkee — thus performing a journey of 60 miles in the short space of five hours.

This Company has rendered invaluable services to this part of the country, which are not generally known, but for which the people seem much indebted. A great deal still remains to be done to perfect our trade in this quarter; our pier is quite unequal to the trade, which is every day increasing.

At present there are nine vessels at the pier, and so crowded are we, that the steamer is put completely out of berth, and is obliged to anchor in the stream, and land her cargoes and passengers in open boats — a very dangerous process at this season of the year.

I am, Gentlemen, with great respect, your obedient Servant, P B O’Brien

To the Commissioners for the Improvement of the River Shannon

Statement of the Number of Vessels frequenting the Kilrush Pier for the last Three Years

Vessels at Kilrush [y/e 1 November]

This Statement does not comprise the Steamers which ply daily, but which, I fear, will be obliged to stop for want of a berth for discharging or taking in.

Abstract of the Imports and Exports of Kilrush, for the last Ten Years

Imports

Sundries (1835 only)

5 tons of Fish, 1 bale of Coffee, 1 bag of Rice, 1 cask of Indigo, Paints, Oil, Pitch, Tar, and Cordage.

Observations

This market does not embrace the foreign trade, which is blended in the Limerick accounts, and consists of timber from the British colonies, with a variety of wrecked goods in the winter season. Nor does it give more than a few of the principal articles imported from Great Britain, several being exempt from coast regulation; and owing to the facility of steam navigation, the greater part of the goods are imported to Limerick, and by canal from Dublin.

Exports. This account does not include the shipments made by small traders to Limerick, Cork, &c.

[Note: the quantity exported in 1836 was given as 87 firkins. Peter M Solar (“The Irish Butter Trade in the Nineteenth Century: New Estimates and Their Implications” in Studia Hibernica No 25 1990) suggests an average weight of 67.6 lb per firkin at Limerick in the early 1820s. Applying that figure gives a weight of 5881.2 lb or 52.5 long UK hundredweight, rounded to 53 cwt. There is nothing to say whether any of the amounts for Kilrush exports are gross or net weight; Solar says that “Earlier in the nineteenth century the weight of the cask was generally taken to be a fifth of the weight of butter it contained.”]

Sundries

1826: —
1827: —
1828: 2 boxes [contents unspecified]
1829: 29 bales [nature unspecified]
1830: 4 sacks of Sea Moss
1831: 94 Marble blocks
1832: —
1833: 19 cwt 3 qrs 9 lb of Staves
1834: 40 packages of Bacon
1835: 140 tons of Hides
1836: 20 bags of dried Leaves; 14 puncheons

Source

Second Report of the Commissioners appointed pursuant to the Act 5 & 6 William IV cap 67 for the improvement of the navigation of the River Shannon; with maps, plans, and estimates HMSO, Dublin 1837

Limerick Navigation

Last week’s talk at the Killaloe Ballina Local History Society, on the subject of the Limerick Navigation, was recorded by Scariff Bay Community Radio; a podcast (1 hr 13 min 11 sec) is available here.

New header pic January 2020

The lower end of the Abbey River in Limerick

Cotts on the Broad Lough

There is very little traffic on this fine lake [Lower Lough Erne]; the only boats upon it, called cotts, are, like our coal-barges on the Thames, square at each end, flat-bottomed, drawing little water, and rigged with one large gaff-sail; and seldom exceed the burden of ten or twelve tons.

The natives who manage them are miserable sailors, who, with the least breeze that blows, may be seen skulking under the lee of one of the islands. Their chief employment is carrying turf from one of the bogs near the shores of the lake to Enniskillen, stones and sand for building, and slates and coal from Beleek, which have been imported at Ballyshannon.

John Barrow A Tour round Ireland, through the sea-coast counties, in the autumn of 1835 John Murray, London 1836