Category Archives: Modern matters

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.

 

 

Header photo?

I’ve been asked what it is. Its principal claim to fame is that it is not Holyhead.

Which is just as well. You can’t drive there, unless you’re a resident: you have to walk, which will give you an appetite for a pint or two in Ty Coch.

But the inability to drive there would have made it difficult to operate car ferries.

A sign of the times

Driving through the village of Castleconnell [Co Limerick] recently, I found that it had acquired one — nay, two — of those stupid signs.

Road closed display 1

They’re stupid because, with the information spread over several displays, you can’t take it all in quickly. Unless, of course, you’re prepared to focus entirely on reading the sign, ignoring everything else on and around the road. Which in this case is passing a primary school.

I suppose you could stop and photograph it ….

Road closed display 2

The information on the first two displays could have been compressed and put on one:

8AM 13th – 6PM 14th

That still leaves two displays, but on the last one, the important one, compression has been taken too far:

Road closed display 3

 

 

Road closed at X, eh? Well, there’s a useful piece of information … or it might be, if we had Long John Silver’s map, with X marking the spot.

X is, of course, the unknown quantity, so this sign is telling us that the road will be closed at a specified time but at an unspecified place.

What dictionary are road-users to consult to find the meaning of X?

And why can’t the powers-that-be communicate clearly in English?

 

 

 

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.

Joy in heaven

I tell you that even so there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.

That’s from the Gospel according to St Wikipedia.

Revenue’s figures, though, suggest that most of us are compliant, with around 99 per cent of taxpayers willingly handing over what the State believes is due.

Assuming this is true, the best way that Revenue can ensure the habit continues is to continue enforcing the rules effectively. Not because this scares people into paying, but because it reassures the vast majority who do that those who do not stand a good chance of being caught.

That’s from the Cantillon column in the Irish Times of 5 January 2019.

And to think that, just over four years ago, Cantillon was arguing for the continuance of a tax scheme under which 99 per cent of taxpayers were evaders. We rejoice at his or her conversion to the paths of righteousness.

Give that columnist a 99, Agent 99.

 

Diesel

Now that the Department of Finance and the ISA have raised the white flag and abandoned the tax-evaders’ delight, the Mineral Oil Tax scheme for private pleasure craft, I thought I might rewrite my page on tax-dodging boat-owners. The version here is completely new.

Owners who wish to pay the tax in 2019 for 2018 will find information here. Private owners want Form PPN1; the link on that page still shows last year’s form but it may be possible to use it, changing the dates as appropriate. That’s what Revenue told me to do last year.

The ghost of William Ockenden

I see that Ramsgate is back in the news.