Category Archives: Politics

Mineral Oil Tax

Here is a list showing the number of returns for Mineral Oil Tax, the number of litres declared and the tax paid. Everyone in Ireland who owns a diesel-powered boat, and fuels it with green diesel, should be making a return; clearly very few are, and I suspect most of the litres (and the money) come from the hire firms. If that is so, their business is improving again.

Year Payers Litres Amount
2010 for 2009 38 n/a n/a
2011 for 2010 41 n/a n/a
2012 for 2011 22 141,503.29 €53,398.58
2013 for 2012 23 301,674 €113,841.45
2014 for 2013 20 279,842.4 €105,561.74
2015 for 2014 26 289,151 €108,934.80
2016 for 2015 18 371,666 €140,021.51
2017 for 2016 21 384,150 €144,724.65

As far as I can make out, in the nine months ending 30 September 2015 (the latest figures I can find here) the Irish Sailing Association [PDF] received €899,000 and individual sailing persons a further €114,000 from the taxpayer. Furthermore, pretty well the entire cost of the inland waterways is met by the taxpayer.

 

The origins of the Royal Canal

The Royal Canal’s origins have never been satisfactorily explained: a later legend even seeks to explain its origins in an obscure dispute between a retired shoemaker and other members of the Grand Canal Company. But in fact its origins were political. As the Grand Canal Company was taken over by the conservative La Touche clique, the opposition launched a new venture: its patron was the duke of Leinster; businessmen and opposition politicians rallied to it; and Gleadowes, rivals of the La Touches, were bankers to the company. In other words, there was to be a left-wing as well as a right-wing way to reach the Shannon. Almost symbolically on its more northerly route to the Shannon, it passed through the duke of Leinster’s land.

L M Cullen “Politics and Institutions, 1731–1835” in Economy, Trade and Irish Merchants at home and abroad, 1600–1988 Four Courts Press, Dublin 2012

The opening of the Royal Canal

On 27 May 2017 the Royal Canal Amenity Group and Waterways Ireland are to commemorate the fact that

In May 1817 the Royal Canal was officially opened from Dublin to the Shannon ….

[Unfortunately I am unable to find anything about the commemorative event on WI’s website, although they did send me some information about it.]

I wondered how the opening might have been celebrated in 1817, but I haven’t been able to find out anything about it. I am hoping that some more knowledgeable person might be able to provide information: please leave a Comment below if you can help.

Ruth Delany gives 26 May 1817 as the date on which the contractors said that the western end of the canal (to the Shannon at Richmond Harbour) would be ready to hand over to the Directors General of Inland Navigation, who were running the show after the Royal Canal Company collapsed under the weight of its debts.

However, as far as I can see, the British Newspaper Archive contains no mention of any opening ceremony at any time in 1817. The Lanesborough Trader, the first boat to travel from the Shannon to Dublin did so in January 1818 [Saunders’s News-Letter 2 February 1818] and in May Mr Peel moved that a further £15000 be granted for completion of the navigation, where “shoals were
found to interfere” [Dublin Evening Post 23 May 1818].

Traffic increased later in 1818: in October the directors of the New Royal Canal Company went by boat

… from Dublin to Tarmonbury, and thence to the termination of the Canal, near the river Shannon, to inspect the works and give every necessary direction for the entire completion of that great and important undertaking ….
[Dublin Evening Post 20 October 1818]

The same newspaper reported that several boats of coal, found on the banks of the canal near Tarmonbury, had arrived in Dublin. It seems, therefore, that the canal was usable even if not entirely finished.

Later that month Christopher Dillon of Athlone, who had been trading on the Grand Canal and the Shannon, announced that he was moving his boats to the Royal Canal — but the western terminus for his boats was at Ballymahon, from which (although he did not say so) goods could be carried by road to Athlone: just the situation the Grand Canal Company had feared. [Dublin Evening Post 27 October 1818]

I have found no evidence of an opening ceremony in 1817; nor have I found evidence that the canal was actually open from the Shannon to the Liffey (or the Broadstone) in 1817, in that no boat seems to have travelled between the Shannon and the Liffey. At least one boat did so in 1818, but again I have no evidence of any opening ceremony.

There is one further mystery. The Royal Canal harbour at the junction with the Shannon is called Richmond Harbour. I presume that that is a compliment to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, His Grace Charles Lennox, 4th Duke of Richmond, 4th Duke of Lennox, 4th Duke of Aubigny, KG, PC. But he had ceased to be Lord Lieutenant in 1813 and was presumably unable to dispense favours after that, so why was the harbour named after him? I don’t know when the construction of the harbour was begun or finished.

I have not visited the National Archives in Dublin to look at the papers of the Directors General of Inland Navigation, which may have something on the events of 1817 and 1818. Perhaps WI’s archive has something relevant too. I would therefore be glad to hear from anyone who has searched those archives or found other evidence about the period.

Newspapers cited here were accessed through the British Newspaper Archive.

 

Waterways History Conference

The ninth Waterways History Conference will be held at the University of Birmingham, UK, on Saturday 24 June 2017. The programme and other details are available here. The theme is Waterways Research? and one of the topics is the Cong Canal.

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]