Category Archives: Forgotten navigations

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.

Is Brendan Smith a disguised Theresa May?

Theresa May, who is Prime Minister of Unicornia, is renowned for her inability to take “No”, or indeed “Definitely not”, or “What part of NO do you not understand?”, or “FOAD”, for an answer.

The same may be said of Brendan Smith, a Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan (in a region where mental health is a big issue). For many years, Mr Smith has been asking when a navigation (first proposed as one of W T Mulvany’s insane drainage-cum-navigation projects in the 1840s) is to be constructed between Belturbet and Lough Oughter. And, year after year, he is told, in the politest possible terms, that it’s a non-runner.

Here’s the latest example, where the unfortunate Minister for Fairytales devotes a lot of effort to telling him to FOAD. Waterways Ireland has the right idea:

There is already extensive existing underused navigation for example at Belturbet and Waterways Ireland has reiterated the potential in the waters of the Lough Oughter area being promoted as a distinct Blueway. The national context is that Blueways Ireland (National Trails Office, Canoeing Ireland and other state bodies) is currently considering the establishment of Blueways beyond the Waterways Ireland network of inland waterways.

To this end, Waterways Ireland has met with the Chief Executive of Cavan County Council, other council officials and elected representatives concerning Blueways developed successfully on the Waterways Ireland network to advise on possible ways forward. Waterways Ireland is happy to support Cavan County Council should it decide to develop a Blueway on the River Erne from Belturbet to Killykeen and Killeshandra but as the area is officially outside of their remit, this offer extends to advice and support only.

It would be nice if Mr Smith would stop wasting parliamentary time on the pursuit of unicorns. If he doesn’t, I’ll be forced to conclude that he and Mrs May are somehow related.

From the Oireachtas

Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement: Challenges Facing Cross-Border Authorities: Irish Central Border Area Network. 14 February 2019

From the evidence of Mr Eoin Doyle of ICBAN, Irish Central Border Area Network, who is a director of service with Cavan County Council:

The Ulster Canal could be a fantastic project, and has been long advocated for in our region. We have no doubt that if it achieved the required investment it could be a huge success. […]

Mental health is a big issue in our region […].

 

 

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.

 

Problems on the Rhine

No, not the one in Co Clare.

No German officers

Ballinlaw Ferry: much more info

For many people, the first thing to look out for on a Friday morning is Andrew Doherty’s weekly posting on his Waterford Harbour Tides and Tales blog. Today’s subject is the Ballinlaw ferry on the Barrow: I had a bit of information  here (and a question here) but for the full story read Andrew’s account.

The power of the wind

The fly-boat from Ballinasloe was much retarded in its progress on Monday by the storm. The horses which pulled it were twice driven into the canal by the force of the wind between that town and Shannon Harbour.

Limerick Chronicle 21 November 1840

They killed Kenny!

Annabeg, Annaghbeg, Plassy or Plassey Lock on the Limerick Navigation (OSI 6″ ~1840)

 

Last Sunday a young man of the name of Kenny, bathing in one of the locks of the Canal, near Annabeg, was unfortunately drowned; the sluices of the gates happened to be open, through which the poor lad was drawn from the great suction, and his head very much shattered.

Saunders’s News-Letter 30 July 1803

Talbot’s Canal, Malahide

Hat-tip to Carthach Ó Maonaigh for pointing me to this article about a [proposed?] canal I had not heard of before: Richard Talbot’s Canal in Malahide. Talbot intended to build a canal to carry heavy goods inland from Malahide harbour via Swords to join the Broadmeadow River at Fieldstown.

This is yet another example of [proposed] eighteenth century investment and improvement by estate owners. Most of the canals I’ve covered were inland, and often associated with bogs for reclamation and turf extraction; this one shows that improvers could have other aims in mind.

Incidentally, the articles on the Old Yellow Walls site seem to be carefully researched and referenced.

 

The Bishop of Killaloe and the bridge at Moys

That would be the Bishop of the United Church of England and Ireland, as established by the fifth article of the Acts of Union of 1800, of course.

Cussane lock (OSI 25″ ~1900)

Cussane (or Coosaun, as above) Lock was the furthest downstream of the three locks on the Killaloe Canal. It was submerged by the “Flooded Area” created by Parteen Villa Weir as part of the Ardnacrusha hydroelectric scheme.

The middle lock on the Killaloe Canal is at Moys and its remains are visible, just above the water, in normal non-flood conditions. It is (or was until recently) still possible to go through it by (small) boat, though of course without needing to use the lock mechanisms.

Approaching Moys Lock from upstream

However, although the lock itself survives, the bridge that crossed it is no longer there. It was shown on the 6″ (~1840) and 25″ (~1900) Ordnance Survey maps; I would guess that it was removed as part of the Ardnacrusha works, but I don’t know and would welcome information.

The lock and bridge at Moys (OSI 6″ ~1840)

The other thing I don’t know about the bridge is why it was built in the first place. Hely Dutton [Statistical Survey of the County of Clare, with observations on the means of improvement; drawn up for the consideration, and by direction of the Dublin Society The Dublin Society, Dublin 1808] wrote that

It seems to be the general opinion in Killaloe, that the canal has been cut in the most improper direction; they think it should have been brought in a valley between Killaloe and Dr. Parker’s, and to the north of the Bishop’s house, and not parallel to the Shannon as at present. Bishop Bernard offered several thousand pounds, if this line had been pursued; for, instead of cutting his demesne off from the Shannon, as at present it does, it would have gone at the back of his house; if this was the only objection, I think the engineer acted very impartially, as all public officers should, but very seldom do.

That suggests that the bishop was not best pleased to have a canal in front of his house; if he was willing to pay “several thousand pounds” to have the canal put somewhere else, the Limerick Navigation’s promoters must have been able to deploy considerable firepower (political and financial) to overcome his opposition. I wonder whether promotion to Limerick might have helped: according to a later estimate [Dublin Weekly Register 21 September 1822], promotion from Killaloe to Limerick would have increased a bishop’s income from £7000 to £8000 a year.

Charlotte Murphy [“The Limerick Navigation Company 1697–1836” in North Munster Archaeological Society Journal Vol 22 1980], describing John Brownrigg’s report on the navigation in 1801, said

This latter [Moys] lock had a bridge over the tail to accommodate the Bishop of Killaloe, whose demesne was served by the canal.

But what accommodation did the bishop need? A small strip of land downstream of the lock was insulated by the canal; perhaps the bridge provided access for cattle.

Another possibility is that the bridge provided access to the episcopal eel weirs. According to Mr Blackburne QC, addressing the Shannon Commissioners in 1837 on behalf of the Bishop of Killaloe and Sir Gilbert King Bart of Jamestown [Saunders’s News-Letter 29 December 1837],

The bishop, his tenants, and his predecessors had from time immemorial been in the habit of using twenty-five eel weirs, extending from the tail of Lough Dearg down the whole line of the rapids of Killaloe, which place, from natural impediments, could never be made navigable.

I think I have read somewhere that the eel weirs were worth £75 a year to the bishop, but I can’t remember where I saw that so I haven’t been able to check it.

The bishop’s house, the lock and the bridge (OSI 6″ ~1840)

 

 

There is one other aspect. The bridge was used by the horses towing boats on the canal and, of course, by the men leading them. We know that because the towing-path changed sides at Moys Lock. It was on the west side of the canal from Cussaun to Moys but on the east from Moys to Killaloe: it is marked on the 6″ OSI map and named on the 25″.

That forced horses and men to walk on a narrow embankment rather than on the shore. But it kept them out of the bishop’s garden and a little further from his house. Might that have been the intention?

I would be glad to hear from anyone who knows more about Moys.