Category Archives: Modern matters

Navigating Ardnacrusha

The Western Mail & South Wales News of 19 April 1929 had an article by M Franklin Thomas about “Ireland’s Big Engineering Scheme”. The article was illustrated with a map and three photographs were reproduced on the newspaper’s “picture page”. It had a couple of interesting points about the headrace and tailrace considered as navigations; I can’t recall seeing these points made elsewhere.

Current

This [headrace] canal is level, but a flow of about 3½ miles per hour will be maintained owing to the water released through the turbines and navigation locks.

I don’t recall seeing a figure for the current. I presume that that is with three turbines running flat out.

There is an interesting account of the laying of the concrete apron that protects the banks against the “wave action set up by navigation, and the flow of the stream, wind, &c”. And the lock was to have an “ingenious arrangement by which the entering streams of water neutralise each other’s effect”.

Tailrace

Mr Thomas says

The tail race is one mile and a half long, cut from the solid blue limestone, and one of the most interesting points was the method adopted to permit barges to ascend the tail race against the enormous scour from the turbine discharges.

A special navigation channel is cut from the locks to a point some 200 yards below the outfall, and the bed of the tail race rises 20ft in the mile and a half, so that the depth of water will be 35ft at the outfall from the turbines and 15ft at the junction with the Shannon.

This will give a cushioning effect, and the rate of flow will be thus reduced to enable barges to navigate upstream. A bend is also provided where the special navigation channel joins the tail race and the rate of flow is estimated to be the same as that of the head race — 1.5 metres per second, or about 3½ miles per hour.

I would be glad to hear from anyone who can cast further light on this, and especially on whether the rising bed does have the intended effect.

The level of the Shannon

I want to see these 16 pinch points dealt with because in removing them we will drop the levels of the Shannon downstream of Athlone right down to where Deputy Harty lives. We are talking about dropping the level of the Shannon a foot and a half. The number of people who would benefit from this – the local farmer, the local business, BirdWatch Ireland – is enormous. The Government is committed to putting huge money into this.

Kevin Moran TD (Ind, Longford-Westmeath), minister for draining the Shannon,  in a Dáil Topical Issue Debate on Flood Risk Management on 16 October 2019.

I wonder which level he’s talking about.

Royal Canal greenway

Big it up, says Sarah Carey in the Indo.

Beeb Brexit border boating

Here

Kilteery

The current header photo shows Kilteery Pier on the Shannon Estuary. Here is a page about the building of the pier.

What Éanna Rowe might say

In the minor arrangements made by us, and the rates fixed for small boats, we have been influenced by the same general principles already mentioned, and have been guided by the further principle of making every class of traffic or boat, however small, liable to some rate of toll, in order to establish a useful and beneficial control over the navigation.

Second Report of the Commissioners for improving the Navigation of the Shannon; with an appendix Ordered, by The House of Commons, to be Printed, 26 February 1841 [88]

Shannon water levels

According to the Indo, which may or may not know anything about the matter itself but probably got a press release from someone [to whom the same qualification may apply], farmers along the Shannon Callows are concerned about rising water levels at Clonown, an area on the west bank below Athlone.

The level in that area is held up by the weir at Meelick. But according to Waterways Ireland today,

[…]  low water levels exist on the upstream approaches to Meelick and Victoria Lock. Water levels are currently below Summer levels.

According to the OPW gauges at Athlone, the water level is below the 50th percentile and is falling. The same applies at Banagher, although it did exceed the 50th percentile for some days.

Three lessons suggest themselves:

  • farmers might need to get used to the idea that, when it rains, it gets wet — and that, if they choose to farm on a floodplain, their land might get wet too
  • politicians might refrain from issuing nonsensical panic-laden press releases to gain free publicity [but I suppose that’s too much to ask for]
  • journalists might like to check stuff for themselves instead of reprinting press releases unquestioningly [but that too is probably too much to ask for].

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.

Looking after Fido

I have today sent this email to both Waterways Ireland and Clare County Council.

This email is being sent to Waterways Ireland (Scarriff office) and Clare County Council.

Let us suppose that, during the summer season (15 May to 15 September), I set  off on my boat, with my dogs, from somewhere at the northern end of Lough Derg; I moor in Mountshannon at 11.15am.

Under Clare County Council’s beach bye-laws (number 16), I may not take my dogs ashore until 6.00pm: they will be confined to Waterways Ireland’s piers and pontoons. The entire area of the car park, the access from the piers to the roads, is off limits to dogs between 11.00am and 6.00pm.

Perhaps you might, for the convenience of visiting dog-owners, designate a corridor through which dogs (on leads) might be taken to land. After all, the area in question is not actually a beach: it is a car park.