Category Archives: Politics

New locomotive power

Mr Mullins, MP for Kerry, has made a very important discovery in the scientific world, that of applying galvanism, instead of steam, for propelling vessels and carriages. He is now building a carriage upon this principle, and several of the first engineers, who have seen it, say there is every prospect of success, and that it will supersede steam. — Limerick Star. The Dublin Evening Post claims the merit of this invention for the Rev J W M’Gawley, one of the clergymen of the Roman Catholic Cathedral in that city, who, that Journal says, explained it at the meeting of the British Association of Science there last August. “The discovery,” proceeds our Dublin contemporary, “has excited considerable interest amongst the savans of Germany by Mr M’Gawley’s interesting and important invention, which is to form one of the most attractive features of the proceedings of the British Association at its approaching meeting in Bristol.”

Berkshire Chronicle 13 August 1836

How nice to know that a current MP TD for Kerry, noted for his scientific knowledge, is continuing a great tradition.

 

The peculiar habits of Quakers

A question on the privilege of franking has arisen in the case of Mr Pease, the Quaker, returned for the county of Durham. The Duke of Richmond, as Post-master General, having been applied to on the subject, has submitted the question to the Solicitor of the Post-office. The question is, whether the Quakers peculiar manner of writing “first month instead of January is agreeable to the law, and gives him the privilege?”

Hampshire Chronicle
14 January first month 1833

Sunday travel

The Rev Mr Stavelly said that he would avail himself of the present occasion to draw the attention of the directors to a subject in which he felt much interest — namely, the propriety of the company discontinuing the plying of their passage-boats on Sundays, and he moved a resolution to that effect, which was seconded by Mr Robert Guinness.

The Chairman stated that the subject of the rev gentleman’s motion had been already, on various occasions, under the consideration of the Court of Directors, but, with any desire, on their part, to meet the views of those who objected to Sunday travelling, it had been hitherto found impracticable to reconcile the proposed change with the convenience of the public or the interests of the company. He believed it was not in his power to put the resolution from the chair, as by the laws which governed the proceedings of the company, no resolution could be put to any meeting which had not direct reference to the objects for which it was called, but that he would again draw the attention of the directors to the subject on the very earliest occasion.

The meeting then adjourned.

From the report on the stated half-yearly meeting of the Grand Canal Company held on Saturday 23 October 1841 in the Dublin Morning Register 25 October 1841

 

God bless England, now we pray

Finally, as to the want of cleanliness of which you complain — although I do not pretend to say that the Irish peasantry are as fond of order as the English, yet here also we can discover how much is owing to want of education and early training. If you visit the union workhouses, the prisons, the lunatic asylums, and other public institutions in Ireland, you will perceive that, under proper instruction and discipline, Irish men and women can be cleanly, and can keep rooms and houses as orderly and neat as any other people. The fact is, that the Celtic race appear to stand in need of training and discipline, for the acquirement of those habits which seem to come naturally to the Saxon; but with such training, and the stimulus of suitable encouragement, or even of a kind word, the Irish may be made all that their English neighbours can desire.

Edward Newenham Hoare The English Settler’s Guide through Irish Difficulties; or, a hand-book for Ireland, with reference to present and future prospects Hodges and Smith, Dublin; John W Parker, London 1850

 

Down the Nore from Castletown

Seventeenth-century transport on the Nore from Castletown to Ross and Waterford.

Buckets

And be it Enacted, That all potatoes sold in cities, towns corporate and market towns and elsewhere, shall be sold and delivered by weight, and not by measure or in any other way whatsoever, and that such weight shall be according to the avoirdupois pound, fourteen pounds whereof shall make a stone, and eight stone one hundred weight, and that such potatoes shall be weighed, without fee or reward, at the beams and scales of the several places erected and kept pursuant to law;

and if any master or owner of any ship, vessel or boat, coming into any port, harbour or town in Ireland, with potatoes, or any market man, herbman, herbwoman, huckster, or any other person selling potatoes, shall sell the same by measure or otherwise than by weight, and shall be lawfully convicted thereof, every person so offending shall for every such offence forfeit the value of all such potatoes sold otherwise than by weight, and the sum of Sixpence for every stone of such potatoes, and the sum of Sixpence for any quantity under one stone;

and every person who shall demand or take any fee or reward for weighing any such potatoes, shall forfeit the sum of Twenty shillings, provided complaint be made within Three days after any such offence shall be committed.

Bill to consolidate and amend Laws respecting Customs, Tolls and Duties in Markets and Fairs in Ireland HC 183 HMSO 1830

Buckets

Buckets

If the clause for enforcing the weighing of potatoes shall be passed into a Law and strictly enforced I apprehend it may be productive of much public inconvenience here where the use of Buckets as a measure for sale of potato’s is so general, and I can hardly conceive how such a number of Scales could be got up or attended to as would be necessary to accommodate the population of this City frequenting the Potatoe market.

John Carroll, Secretary to Limerick Chamber of Commerce, to Thomas Spring Rice MP, 2 April 1830, in Letter book 19 January 1826–15 September 1840 [P1/26 p120] [DjVu]

 

 

Tories on the Barrow and the Shannon

I read here that Olivia O’Leary, who chairs a Save the Barrow Line committee, says that the Barrow Line (trackway or towing-path)

[…] is a natural amenity and should be maintained as it is.

It isn’t. It is an entirely artificial creation, built to enable the use of horses to tow boats. Any geraniums, beetles, butterflies or tweetie-birds using it are interlopers, squatters and trespassers and should be paying rent; at the very least they should take second place to humans.

The Grand Canal Company often complained about the poor quality of the Barrow trackway: the surface was not up to the job. If it is to cater for more users, it may well need to be improved. That is an engineering decision on which I am not competent to pronounce but, as the Barrow is pretty well a dead loss for long-distance cruising by larger boats, it needs to be redesigned for walkers, cyclists and canoeists.

But at least the Barrow NIMBYs are prepared to accept more boats. Dr William O’Connor of the Old River Shannon Research Group writes about the Shannon here, complaining about the small number of “garish canoes” that occasionally travel downstream from Castleconnell to Clareville. Dr O’Connor asks

[…] why has it become a free-for-all for canoeists?

The answer is that there is a right to navigate, as I pointed out here (with an addendum here): I have had no response from the ESB so, while being open to correction, I maintain my position. Anglers may believe that their interests are paramount on that stretch of the Shannon: I disagree. Of course I would be all in favour of discussions between anglers, kayakers, dog-walkers and other users (even environmentalists), but such discussions cannot be based on a presumption that one group has all the rights, or that one activity is of supreme importance, and that the rest are secondary.

For some reason, canoes operated by commercial providers are particularly to be condemned, although it is not clear how salmon and lampreys can distinguish between public-sector, private-sector and voluntary-sector canoes — or whether they would be bothered anyway: Dr William O’Connor says

It is noted that there has been little scientific research on the ecological impact of canoeing.

In other words, there is no reason to believe that there is any basis for the concerns expressed by Dr O’Connor or by various anglers.

More broadly, though, the common factor on the Shannon and the Barrow is that existing users of public facilities are resisting new or expanded uses and seeking to protect their privileges. Irish Toryism is alive and well.

Addendum: this is probably the solution to the salmon problem.

Alice is at it again

Learned readers are no doubt familiar with Dame Felicity Lott‘s interpretation of the song Alice is at it again, wherein the nature of what Alice was actually at is left to the imagination of the listeners.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh [SF, Dublin South Central] and the Minister for Fairytales [FG, Drumlins/Stony Fields] have been performing a duet to something the same effect:

[AOS] To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the steps she is taking in conjunction with Waterways Ireland to bring to an end an issue that is occurring with increasing frequency (details supplied).

[MfF] I have been informed that Waterways Ireland technical staff recently visited the location in question to assess the situation referred to by the Deputy and to determine the options available to try to make the location referred to by the Deputy less attractive to such activities. Waterways Ireland is currently assessing these options and, subject to available funding, hope to be in a position to implement measures to improve matters, while ensuring that any changes do not negatively impact on the general public.

With regard to an immediate response to dealing with the specific issue raised by the Deputy, Waterways Ireland staff do not have enforcement powers to restrict this activity.

I and Waterways Ireland would encourage anyone who witnesses such activity to report the matter to An Garda Siochána.

So unspecified persons have been engaging in unspecified activities at an unspecified location.

And if we see them at it we should tell the police.

 

Seasteading

Update here from Alex Tabarrok.

Presumably the USA will be sending guided-missile destroyers to deter occupation.

Limerick gammon

Thanks to AOD for alerting me to an article by Morgan McCloskey “O’Maras of Limerick and their overseas business” [PDF] from the Old Limerick Journal summer 2001. O’Maras were bacon and ham curers: according to Frank Prendergast “The Decline of Traditional Limerick Industries” in David Lee & Debbie Jacobs, eds Made in Limerick: History of industries, trade and commerce Volume 1 [Limerick Civic Trust, Limerick 2003]

James O’Mara of Toomevara in County Tipperary had established the business in a small house on Mungret Street in 1839. He started bacon curing in the basement but it became so successful that he had to move shortly afterwards to the premises in Roches Street, which they occupied until its closure in 1987.

The waterways interest arises from McCloskey’s having drawn on Patricia Lavelle James O’Mara: a staunch Sinn Féiner Dublin 1961, republished in 2011 under a slightly different title. Lavelle’s O’Mara, her father, was also covered here and was the grandson of the original James who set up the business in 1839. We are concerned with neither of the Jameses: Stephen, son of the first and father of the second, is the man of the moment. McCloskey says that Lavelle says that Stephen preferred to go to Dublin by boat rather than by rail and that she gives this description of one such trip:

Then the boat went through the heart of Ireland; and the country, with its hills and green fields, was spread before him in all its changing beauty for the best part of a couple of days. The steamer left Limerick and made its way up the Shannon, avoiding the rapids by various canals and locks.

After Killaloe it reached the wide waters of Lough Derg. The passengers had the run of the boat and could get a snack meal if they wished. Once, when grandfather was travelling this way, terrible squalls sprang up and the lake was very rough, but usually they could stop for a moment at Holy Island and see the ancient ruins there, and pass on by the wooded heights of the Tipperary shore, past Dromineer to Portumna, crossing and re-crossing the lake until they found anchorage in Shannon Harbour, as far north as Offaly.

There was a big hotel there owned by the Grand Canal Company, where they all stayed for the night and got to know one another; and feasted on chicken and bacon and cabbage followed by apple pie, and then sat round huge turf fires swopping stories or playing cards.

Next morning the canal boat awaited them, gay with its overhead canopy to protect passengers from the heat of the sun or from inclement weather. The passengers sat in two long rows, back to back, and gazed out across the fields as the paddle lazily churned up the turbid waters and the boat made leisurely progress along the canal. The monotony was broken once in a while by the excitement of passing through a lock.

The problem with this romantic account is that, as presented, it’s rubbish.

Stephen O’Mara was born in 1844 and began work in the family business in 1860. The passenger boat service between Limerick and Killaloe ceased in 1848, when the railway reached Limerick (though there were occasional special excursions after that).

The service was by horse-drawn boat, not by steamer; though there had been some attempts at running steamers, the Limerick boats did not go beyond Killaloe, whence larger steamers ran to Portumna or, later, to Shannon Harbour and places further north.

Scheduled passenger services did not “stop for a moment” at Holy Island, which was off the main route to Portumna.

The canal hotel at Shannon Harbour effectively ceased operating as such in 1847, according to Ruth Delany The Grand Canal of Ireland David and Charles, Newton Abbot 1973.

The canal passage boats did not have canopies, the passengers sat facing each other rather than back to back and the boats were horse-drawn rather than paddle-driven. Furthermore, the service ceased in 1852.

I cannot explain the extent of the inaccuracies, but perhaps Lavelle’s account should have been attributed to the elder James rather than to his son Stephen. I would be glad to hear from anyone who can cast light on this; please leave a Comment below.