Category Archives: Industrial 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.

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.

Transports of delight

I have mentioned the Newport transporter bridge, but today Jonathan Calder provides a film about the larger [Widnes to] Runcorn transporter. There are barges and cars and all sorts.

It always strikes me as odd that Liverpool has no bridges and that you have to go miles upstream to Runcorn to cross (if you want to be above water and not on a ferry, although the ferry trip is a wondrous thing in itself).

Of course Runcorn itself didn’t always have a bridge. Before that you had to cross by ferry, per tuppence per person per trip.

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.

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 Hull, Hell and Halifax good Lord deliver us

Actually, the original version seems to be

From Hull, from Halifax, from hell, ’tis thus,
From all these three, good Lord deliver us.

That’s from “A Merry-Wherry-Ferry Voyage” by John Taylor, the Water Poet, in 1622, collected in Early Prose and Poetical Works of John Taylor, The Water Poet (1580–1653) Hamilton, Adams & Co, London 1888.

I’ve been to (a few bits of) Halifax. The Piece Hall is stunning and the Calderdale Industrial Museum [Saturdays, 10.00am to 4.00pm] has not only a wonderful collection of machines but also a wonderful collection of knowledgeable volunteers who can tell you all about them: well worth a visit if you have any interest in industrial history, but allow plenty of time.

So that’s Halifax, and now I find [thanks to Caught by the River] that Hull is full of interesting stuff too, at least on the Open Bridges website, with lots of stuff about the river and barges.

So there is much to be said for visiting Hull and Halifax.

I wouldn’t bother about Hell, though: it’s full of Brexiteers, all thinking up magical solutions for getting out.

 

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.