Category Archives: Tourism

Alors! Il est arrivé un courriel de M Thibault

Assuming that Messrs Google Translate know what they’re at, that means that an email has arrived from Monsieur Thibault.

I commented here, a little over four years ago, on what seemed to be the gradual disappearance of the Emerald Star brand within the Le Boat section of the TUI Travel empire. However, an emeraldstarian noticed my piece recently and sent a friendly email to say that the brand is still going and that the address was reactivated in 2015. Derek Dann would be pleased, I’m sure, especially as (I have heard) more boats have been made available for hire in Ireland.

I had a look at the site, where I learned that

Emerald Star (for holidays in Ireland) is a trading name of Emerald Star Limited, a member Travelopia. Emerald Star Limited Registered in Ireland No 29035. Registered office: One Spencer Dock, North Wall Quay, Dublin 1.

Le Boat (for holidays outside of Ireland) is a trading name of Crown Travel Limited, a member of Travelopia Group. Crown Travel Limited Registered in England No: 02095375. Registered office: Origin One, 108 High Street, Crawley, West Sussex, RH10 1BD.

So what’s this Travelopia, then? What has happened to the cuddly TUI Travel empire?

You can read lots of marketing bollocks here, but the important bit is this:

The brands in our portfolio specialise in a certain type of travel or tap into particular passions. Each one started life as a small, independent business, before forming Specialist Group, part of TUI Group, the world’s largest leisure travel company.

In May 2016, TUI Group announced the rebranding of Specialist Group to Travelopia and it’s [sic] intention to sell the businesses.

In February 2017, KKR, a leading global investment firm purchased Travelopia Holdings Limited and in June 2017 the sale of Travelopia was finalised.

This, of course, was excellent news for everyone, it says here, as KKR are just wonderful:

KKR & Co. L.P. (formerly known as Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.) is a global investment firm that manages multiple alternative asset classes, including private equity, energy, infrastructure, real estate, credit, and, through its strategic partners, hedge funds. The firm is a recognized leader in the private equity industry, having completed more than 280 private equity investments in portfolio companies with approximately $545 billion of total enterprise value as of June 30, 2017. As of September 30, 2017, Assets Under Management (“AUM”) and Fee Paying Assets Under Management (“FPAUM”) were $153 billion and $114 billion, respectively.

Some other aspects of KKR’s activities are mentioned here.


Killaloe/Ballina talk on steamers

Wednesday 28 February 2018, Wood & Bell café, Killaloe, 7.00pm; details here.

Shannon Princess

The African Queen, formerly the Shannon Princess (1), is for sale.

Killaloe Bridge

A new bridge for Killaloe:

We may here state that in the projected improvements of the Shannon, the rapids will be lowered, a new bridge erected, and the navigation of the river between Killaloe and Limerick materially altered.

James Fraser, Landscape Gardener and Designer of Rural Improvements A Hand Book for Travellers in Ireland, descriptive of its scenery, towns, seats, antiquities, etc with various statistical tables. Also an outline of its mineral structure, a brief view of its botany, and information for anglers William Curry, Jun and Company, Dublin; Longman and Company, London; Fraser and Co, Edinburgh 1844

It took a while, but the new bridge seems to be on its way. The old bridge — which has been altered in many ways over the years — has done enough and deserves to be relieved of the volume of traffic crossing it daily.

Anyone intending to create any further delays to the bypass should be invited to go and boil his or her head.


Lough Derg Regatta 1834 (b)

Yesterday I posted a notice from the Limerick Chronicle of 20 August 1834, outlining the schedule of events for the regatta to be held on Lough Derg later that month.

In a comment, Vincent Delany M.A. (Hist.) said

Lough Derg YC was founded c. 1836 but regattas to approx the same format existed on Lough Derg before the formalising of the yacht club.

My thesis ‘yachting and yachtsmen on the Shannon 1830s to 1930s’ discussed the issues extensively.

I have not seen the thesis, alas, but I thought I’d see what else the invaluable British Newspaper Archive had on the subject. The first result was that there was no mention, in any newspaper, of a Lough Derg regatta before 1834. I have not attempted to search for all possible terms involving sailing boats, races, yachts and so on; I think I can say that the 1834 event was the first on Lough Derg to be designated a regatta.

There had been similar events on the estuary before then: the Limerick Chronicle of 30 July 1834 reported the early events of the Royal Western Yacht Club’s regatta at Kilrush. Just below that it said

The Committee of the Lough Derg Regatta met at Killaloe on Friday, when a Commodore, Stewards, Secretary, and Treasurer, were appointed.

The 1834 regatta was covered by The Pilot on 29 August 1834. At the time, the term “upper Shannon” distinguished the freshwater from the tidewater: “lower Shannon” meant the estuary.


Lough Dergh Regatta, Upper Shannon, commenced on Tuesday under most favourable auspices. The beautiful scenery of that romantic region will now be seen to great advantage, and many visiters [sic] have left to enjoy the treat. On Wednesday the boat races were to take place at Killaloe, and the Messrs Paterson, from Kilrush, 70 miles distant, on the Lower Shannon, have entered to contest the prize in that department. The band of the 91st Regiment, from Limerick, attended the regatta.

There were not less than ten thousand people assembled on the shores at Williamstown and Drumineer [sic] to witness the scene on Tuesday, and the Lake was literally covered with row boats, filled with ladies and gentlemen. There were five yachts started for the challenge cup, from Drumineer to Holy Island and back. The Corsair, Mr White, came in first; Ida, Mr Bailey, second; and Thomas, Lieut Tully RN, third.

There were only three minutes between those three boats — the others were not placed. Wednesday’s race was to be run by the same boats, for the Salver; and on Thursday the rowing matches take place at Killaloe. The Lady Lansdown [sic] steamer attended, and was crowded to excess, so much so that they were obliged to refuse taking more company on board.

A somewhat confused reporter there, but never mind. Interesting to note that Tom Bailey was navigating Ida around the Shannon way back then: he must be older than he looks.

The Northern Whig of 4 September 1834 added a little colour:

This Regatta commenced on Tuesday sen, as we announced, and the numerous gentry who attended from the adjoining counties, fully realized the anticipations we had formed of its attractions. The delightful scenery of the Upper Lakes, enlivened by the gay yachts, crowded with beauty and fashion, floating on their bosoms, had a most pleasing effect.

So many visiters [sic] arrived at Killaloe, to enjoy the diverting sport, that it became almost impossible to procure even ordinary entertainment. […]

In the following year, the Roscommon and Leitrim Gazette (18 July 1835) reported that

The Lough Derg Yacht Club have adopted the rules and regulations of the Royal Western Yacht Club, and the Regatta commences at Killaloe, the 23d inst; Dromineer, the 24th, and at Williamstown, the 25th instant.

Whose idea was it?

My interest in this topic is in the involvement of Lieut John Tully RN. He visited Limerick in 1829 to make arrangements for the arrival of the first City of Dublin Steam Packet Company [CoDSPCo] steamer to operate on the Shannon, the Mona. It was replaced later that year by the Kingstown, which Tully captained for some time. In 1831 he was the company’s Limerick agent (John Grantham was its acting manager) and from then on, for the rest of his working life, he seems to have been an agent or otherwise working for or with the Company; he spent much time as Agent at Killaloe and later at Athlone. The yacht he sailed in 1834, the Thomas, may have belonged to the company’s founder, Charles Wye Williams, who in 1829 had a 10-ton schooner of that name at Liverpool.

Tully was Secretary and Treasurer of the first Lough Derg Regatta. It involved the provision of special packet boat services on the Limerick Navigation (controlled by a company strongly associated with the CoDSPCo. The regatta spent one day at Killaloe, where the company owned a hotel, and another at Williamstown, its private harbour, where it likewise owned a hotel. It also used either one or two of the company’s Lough Derg steamers.

Most importantly, though, it attracted visitors to Lough Derg, and thus supported the CoDSPCo’s marketing efforts. They included sponsorship of publications, special attention to visiting writers and large-scale advertising.

None of this is evidence that the CoDSPCo invented the Lough Derg Regatta, but I would not be surprised to find that it was at least an early and enthusiastic supporter of the concept.

For an account of a later Lough Derg Regatta, that of 1849, see here.


The end of the long acre?

Waterways Ireland Marine Notice 2017/133

Shannon Navigation/Removal of objects from the River Shannon

Waterways Ireland wishes to advise masters and owners of vessels that consequent to a recent Health and Safety Audit a number of unsafe jetties, ancillary walkways, practices and services have been identified in the vicinity of the Railway Bridge on the West Bank of the River Shannon (Watergate, Accommodation Road (R446)),  on Waterways Ireland property.

As a result of the Health and Safety Audit it has been decided to remove all un-safely moored vessels, dangerous access platforms, walkways, electrical cables and any other fittings deemed to be unsafe.

Works will commence as operationally convenient after 20 December 2017.  Removed items may be stored at owner’s expense in accordance with Shannon Navigation Bye-Laws.

Shane Anderson // Assistant Inspector of Navigation // 01 December 2017


Two stories from the Westmeath Independent

A summons from the sea

Older readers may, at some stage, have been forced encouraged to read some part of In Memoriam A H H, an extraordinarily long poem [make sandwiches (preferably anchovy) and a flask of coffee before you start reading it] written by Alfred Tennyson about the early death of his friend Arthur Henry Hallam. The poem was finished sixteen years after Hallam’s death in 1833.

In 1830 Tennyson and Hallam visited France and returned from Bordeaux by steamer. The steamer was the SS Leeds, owned by the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company, which had been operating on the route from Belfast to Dublin and Bordeaux, in the summer months, since 1827. Passengers from England were given free transport from Liverpool to Dublin [Saunders’s News-Letter 11 June 1827 via the British Newspaper Archive].

CoDSPCo ad from the Dublin Evening Mail of 8 August 1827. Image © The British Library Board. All rights reserved.



On their homeward journey, Tennyson and Hallam met the Tipperary-born landowner John Harden and his family. Harden lived in the English Lake District; he and his wife were “talented amateur artists”. The shipboard meeting is described in this extract from Leonee Ormond’s Alfred Tennyson: a literary life [Macmillan Press, Basingstoke 1993]. Harden sketched the group on deck`; here it is.

Tennyson, Hallam and the Harden family on board SS Leeds 1830

I cannot remember where I got that image. I presume that Harden’s copyright is long expired but it may be that a publisher or someone owns rights to the image. If I am in breach of copyright, leave a message below and I’ll remove the image.




Co Offaly: too dangerous to visit?

One Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, a Fine Gael TD in Co Offaly, has been issuing press releases (I presume) to get her name in the local blatts. It seems that there is a major crime wave in Co Offaly and that armed Gardaí are required to counter it, as well as Garda stations every couple of hundred yards. Perhaps tourists should be advised to avoid the county.

Anyway, the blatt’s account ends with this:

I intend also to support An Garda Síochána with their proposal to have Shannonbridge Garda Station re-opened due to its strategic location on the Shannon River.

Shannonbridge is strategically located if you want to be able to repel a French invasion force that landed on the west coast. It is also strategically located if you want to protest against Ireland’s unwillingness to slow global warming. Otherwise it is hard to see any strategic value, unless the Gardaí are reviving their nonsensical idea about smuggling by boats along the Shannon.


Killaloe in the age of steam

That’s November’s talk at the Killaloe-Ballina historical society; details here and an account of Sandra Lefroy’s talk about the Phoenix here.

Canal restoration: Strabane and Broharris

Alas, the Derry Journal [h/t Industrial Heritage Ireland, the indispensable source of IH news] tells us that

STEVE BRADLEY believes Derry’s forgotten canal heritage could boost the region’s economic fortunes

No, it couldn’t.

Mr Bradley’s article is extremely interesting. He describes the history of the Strabane and the Broharris canals and, in the process, shows me that my page about the Broharris was entirely wrong. I am about to update that page but I am grateful to him for the information he provided. I hope he will forgive me, then, if I disagree with him about the economic potential of canal restoration.

He makes no exaggerated claims about the potential of the Broharris as anything other than a walking route; it could not be used by boats larger than canoes or kayaks and, even for them, there are no obvious launching or recovery sites.

But he wants more for the Strabane. He says that digging up the canal basin in the town, and restoring the navigable link to the Foyle, would provide a new Canal Quarter to attract investment even though it would, he concedes, be an expensive project.

But it is on the navigation aspects that he goes seriously astray:

Restoring the canal would hopefully also kick-start the use of the Foyle for leisure, recreation and tourism purposes. And restoring the 200 years old link between Strabane and the Foyle would be a great flagship project for a new council district with Derry and Strabane as its two main population centres.

Towns elsewhere have shown how restored canals can help bring new life and prosperity to the districts they flow through, yet locally we have neglected our water assets. It is time to give serious consideration to the role that our forgotten canal heritage could make towards improving the economic fortunes of our area.

I wrote about the Strabane Canal here and here. Sinn Féin, always keen on eighteenth century economics, tried to get Waterways Ireland to waste some of its money on the thing but, happily, failed.

The real problem with this is that there seem to be very few boats on the Foyle; I suspect that many of them are sailing boats that are not terribly suitable for use on canals, while others are fast seagoing vessels that would damage the banks. And boats will not come from Britain or Ireland or anywhere else to visit Strabane by canal: a boat suitable for the sea passage to the Foyle would be inherently unsuitable for the canal, even assuming that the delights of Strabane were sufficient to entice boaters to make the journey.

Irish waterways promoters have operated for years on the principle that, if the government gives them the money to build the canal, the traffic will come. Anyone who believes that should visit Tralee, where a similar canal, short and isolated, linking a town to the sea, is not used other than by walkers and the local rowing club. Seagoing boats go to Fenit instead.

And, on “how restored canals can help bring new life and prosperity to the districts they flow through”, I recommend a visit to the Royal Canal, which is very nice but has very little traffic. As, indeed, does the Grand Canal. English experience with a large connected network of canals is not relevant to Irish conditions, whether on geographic or on economic grounds.