Category Archives: Unbuilt canals

Lough Allen to Limerick 1786

The hopes of a gentleman of Limerick ….

Nitwitted navigation proposals

The tradition of lobbying for ridiculous, uneconomic, unnecessary and expensive navigations has a long history in Ireland. Here is another nineteenth-century example, which also features local government in its usual role as a forum for lunatics (a role which could now be delegated to Twitter).

Navigation of the Liffey from Dublin to Leixlip

At the last meeting of the Town Council of Dublin, the Lord Mayor in the chair, the following proceedings took place on the subject of opening the navigation of the Liffey, through the Valley, on the engineering plan of our friend, Mr Steele.

Alderman Keshan moved the following resolution:

“Resolved: That the Lord Mayor be respectfully requested to write to the Chief Secretary, soliciting that his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant will be pleased to order a section and some transverse sections of the Valley of the Liffey, from Dublin to Leixlip, to be made by the Board of Public Works for the guidance of this Corporation, in a matter of deep public interest to the inhabitants of the metropolis of Ireland (hear, hear).”

He trusted that this motion would not encounter any opposition. He made it with a view to promote Mr Steele’s project for the improvement of the Valley of the Liffey (hear). Large sums of money had been taken out of this country for the improvement of London (hear, hear), and he did not see why a portion of the national revenues should not be devoted to the improvement of Ireland (hear, hear).

The citizens of London had their water trip to Richmond (hear). Why should not the citizens of Dublin have theirs to Leixlip? This would be accomplished if the Valley of the Liffey were made navigable (hear).

Alderman O’Brien seconded the motion, which was carried.

Dublin Evening Post 14 June 1845, from the British Newspaper Archive.

From the BNA

 

Mr Monks’s plan for inland navigation

According to Mr Monks‘s plan for the intended northern line of navigation, great accommodation and advantages would be afforded to the inhabitants of that part of the kingdom that lies north of the city of Dublin, particularly to those of the province of Ulster, who are so numerous — for all the sea ports, all the considerable towns and villages would have a cheap and secure interchangeable communication with each other, and the metropolis, in peace or war, safe from enemies and storms, most desirable objects to that extensive manufacturing country.

The design is to run a canal from Dublin to Blackwater-town (about 68 miles); the river Blackwater is navigable from thence to Lough Neagh — and with very little expence afterwards the following great general navigable canal communication would be opened:

  • to the east coast of Ireland by the river Liffey to the bay of Dublin
  • by the Boyne Navigation (which the northern line would intersect near Navan) to the bay of Drogheda
  • from Lough Neagh, by the Newry Navigation to Carlingford bay
  • to the north east coast from Lough Neagh by the Belfast canal to Belfast lough, or Carrickfergus bay
  • to the north coast from Lough Neagh by the river Bann to Colerain
  • and by off-branching along the Ballyhays river about 10 miles, to the east end of Lough Erne, which is nearly navigable to the town of Ballyshannon, would open a communication with the bay of Donegall to the west
  • and by the Grand Canal and Barrow Navigation to the south to Waterford harbour
  • by the western branch of the Grand Canal, which will be shortly completed, to the Shannon, and the Limerick Navigation to the south west of Ireland.

And we understand (in order that the inland towns and villages should reap every advantage by this general plan) he proposes that canals of very small dimensions (which are made at very little expence) should be extended from the great lines to them for boats of only four tuns burden, where water cannot be obtained to answer canals of a larger scale; and wastage of locks, in place of which he would substitute machinery on a plain simple construction, to raise and lower them on inclined planes at the rate of 100 feet in four minutes, and which would also answer instead of aqueducts and embanking across wide valleys, one horse would be sufficient to draw, and one man to attend ten of these boats chained together, the whole carrying forty tons with great ease.

Thus not only the wealthy merchant and manufacturer, but the most inferior tradesman would have an opportunity of attending and disposing of his goods at the best market (let the quantity be ever so small) on equal terms, which would be a great means to defeat and put down forestalling — a most destructive species of dealing in a manufacturing country,

Dublin Evening Post 19 January 1797

From the BNA

 

Building Ireland

There is a television series called Building Ireland, about “Ireland’s building and engineering heritage”. A series of six programmes will begin on Friday 30 September 2016 at 8.30pm on RTÉ One, which is a television station.

The third programme, on 14 October, covers Ardnacrusha and the sixth, on 4 November, is entitled “Galway’s Corrib Canal” and covers canals in Galway and, I believe, may have some material about the Cong Canal.

Here is a PDF describing the series.

building-ireland-series-info-and-billings

 

And the prize goes to …

… Niall Galway, who identified the Cong Canal. bjg

A Steam-ship Canal from Kilkenny to Inistiogue

A gentleman has mooted the propriety of forming a steam-ship canal from Kilkenny to the tidal water of Innistiogue,  and he has lodged £400 in the Provincial Bank as a beginning, and as an earnest of his good faith. His name is not given, why we cannot say; but of the fact that the money is actually lodged, we have been assured by the respectable manager of the bank, Andrew M’Kean Esq.

This half anonymous character is to be regretted; and we trust the promoter will not hesitate to announce his name at once, and set the project fairly before the public. Men do business now-a-days with their eyes well open. It is computed that £320000 would be sufficient for the completion of the undertaking. The distance is only thirteen miles. The promoter calls upon eight hundred men in the counties of Kilkenny, Waterford, and Wexford to come forward with £400 each, or else raise the money in £5 shares.

Dublin Evening Packet and Correspondent 27 August 1850 quoting the Kilkenny Journal. From the British Newspaper Archive run by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited, in partnership with the British Library.

[NB I have not been able to find any later notice of the development of this proposal. Further information will be welcomed]

News from the Windsor and Eton Express

A memorial to the lord lieutenant from the gentry and landed proprietors of Sligo, Leitrim, Fermanagh, and Cavan, lies in Enniskillen for signatures. It prays that a canal may be formed which will connect Lough Earne [sic] with Lough Allen, and that again with Lough Gill, which is navigable to Sligo. This, with the canal already sanctioned between Lough Erne and Neagh, will open a communication across the kingdom, from Sligo to the ports of Newry and Belfast. In a commercial point of view, this undertaking is of the greatest importance to Ireland.

Windsor and Eton Express Saturday 28 May 1825

The Liffey link lottery

In The Grand Canal of Ireland [David & Charles, Newton Abbot 1973], Ruth Delany says

In 1784 the construction of a link with the River Liffey had been discussed.

John Brownrigg had suggested a link from the Grand Canal Company’s harbour at James’s Street, but the plan eventually adopted was that of the Circular Line, the four-mile canal we have today, joining the Liffey via the Grand Canal Docks at Ringsend.

However, I have found a piece of evidence showing that the company considered the Liffey link ten years earlier, in 1774. Delany says that there are no board minutes for two years between 1773 and 1775, which would explain why this earlier plan has not hitherto been noticed. The evidence is from the Hibernian Journal; or, Chronicle of Liberty 19 October 1774.

The Trustees for executing the Canal of Communication between the Canal and the Harbour of Dublin, Toll free, confiding in the Favour of the Public for the Support of a Work of so great national Utility, have unanimously resolved upon the following Scheme, grafted upon the State Lottery for this present Year, for raising a Fund for that Purpose.

The Necessity of this Application to the Public at present, will appear from a Report of the Committee of Works of the Canal Company, certifying that the Works contracted for by Mr Traill between the Liffey at or near Sallins and the City Bason, are in such Forwardness as to render it absolutely necessary to proceed in making the above mentioned Communication early in the next Year; the said Report is in the Hands of the Secretary to the Canal Company.

2 prizes of                      £2000          is £4000
4 prizes of                         £750          is £3000
5 prizes of                         £150          is   £750
10 prizes of                          £50          is   £500
20 prizes of                          £40         is   £400 *
40 prizes of                             £5        is   £200
180 prizes of                            £1/10   is   £270
600 prizes of                           £1         is   £600
19150 prizes of                          £0/6     is £5740 *
First drawn first three days £40          is   £120
Last drawn                          £200          is   £200
£15780

NB Not quite two Blanks to a Prize; and the Publick will take notice, that £35 is accounted for more than the Tickets will amount to.

Ten per Cent to be deducted from the Prizes for the Use of the Scheme.

15000 Tickets, 4 Numbers each, at £1 1s each to Subscribers for a Lot not less than 50 Tickets.

Price to Non-subscribers, one Guinea each Ticket.

Subscriptions are now receiving, and Tickets delivering out at the Navagation-house [sic] in Grafton-street, where the Prizes will be paid immediately after the Arrival of the Numerical Book from London. The Securities required from the Subscribers, viz Bankers Notes, Government and Fire-office Insurance Debentures, and City of Dublin Bonds, are to be lodged in the Bank of Thomas Finlay, Esq, and Company.

The Names of the Trustees for carrying the above Scheme into Execution, may be seen at the Navigation-House [sic], in Grafton-street.

There’s an idea for DAHG.

 

 

* sic

Canals conference 7 March 2015

Information posted at the request of the organisers


Inland Navigations of Ireland Historical Society
in partnership with
The Heritage Boat Association

The Canals of Ireland

Saturday 7 March 2015

Hugh Lynch’s Function Room, Tullamore, Co Offaly

Programme

Memorial Slides Conor Nolan 09.30
Welcome Gerard Bayly 09.55
Session 1 Chairperson Judie Lambert
The Canals of Europe Mike & Rosaleen Miller 10.00
The Canals of Ireland Colin Becker 10.20
Coffee break 10.40
Saving the Royal Niall Galway 11.00
Fighting for the Grand Mick Kinahan 11.20
Living on a Canal Eric Kemp 11.40
Morning Question Time 12.00
Lunch break 12.30
Session 2 Chairperson Kristina Baker Kenny
Newry Canal Geraldine Foley 13.30
Limerick Navigation Raymie O’Halloran 13.50
John’s River Brian Simpson 14.10
Grand Canal Kilbeggan Branch James Scully 14.30
Boyne Navigation Seamus Costello 14.50
Coffee break 15.10
The Future Joe Treacy 15.25
The Future Brian J Goggin 15.45
The Future Nigel Russell 16.05
Evening Question Time 16.25

 

Details

Admission:                          €12
Breaks:                                Tea/coffee included
Lunch in room:                   Soup and sandwiches included
Music:                                 Live music session during lunch
HBA:                                   Merchandise for sale
IWAI:                                  Merchandise for sale
Authors:                              Books for sale

Directions

Hugh Lynch’s Pub, Kilbride Street, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

087 250 5422

 

The madness of Daniel O’Connell

In 1828 Daniel O’Connell was elected to the House of Commons for County Clare. As a Roman Catholic, he could not take the Oath of Supremacy [Frizzell, the illustrator, seems to have got his date wrong] and so could not take his seat, but the Emancipation Act 1829 removed that obstacle. However, it was not retrospective, so O’Connell had to stand again in County Clare; he was elected unopposed in July 1829.

On Sunday 31 January 1830 “The Patriotic member for Clare, Daniel O’Connell Esq, sailed from Howth […] at 8 o’clock, for England, to attend his Parliamentary duties” [Tipperary Free Press 3 February 1830] and when Parliament resumed on Thursday 4 February 1830

Daniel O’Connell Esq took the oaths prescribed by the Catholic Relief Bill, and his seat as a member for the county of Clare. The honourable member seated himself on the third row of the opposition side of the house, and exactly opposite to Mr Peel.

[London] Standard 5 February 1830

O’Connell’s letter

Before he left Ireland, O’Connell issued a letter to “the people of the County of Clare”; according to the Morning Post of 20 January 1830 it was issued from the Parliamentary Intelligence Office, 26 Stephen-street, on 15 January 1830. It began

MY FRIENDS AND BRETHREN — I take up the pledges which I made to you when I called on you to repose in me the high and awful trust of being your Representative. I will endeavour honestly to redeem those pledges.

For this purpose I propose to leave Dublin on the 26th of this month. I go off at the commencement of Term, and I shall be absent for two, if not three, entire Terms. Men will sneer at me for talking of these sacrifices to public duty, who, themselves, seek their own individual advantage in all their political exertions. I readily consent, and will proceed to do my duty to you with alacrity, zeal, and perseverance.

There was more along those lines, and then he said

My Parliamentary duties will naturally divide themselves into two distinct branches: the first relates to your local concerns; the second, to those mighty interests in which your prosperity is involved with that of all Ireland.

There were four local concerns: two about canals and two about ports.

An asylum harbour

West Clare [OSI ~1900]

West Clare [OSI ~1900]

The first port proposal was to build an “asylum harbour” on the west coast. An asylum harbour was a port that provided refuge in storms: Kingstown [Dun Laoghaire] was an asylum harbour (amongst other things). O’Connell thought an asylum harbour on the west coast would provide a safe haven for vessels coming across the Atlantic, feeling the force of the Gulf Stream and the prevailing westerly winds: they risked being “embayed on the iron-bound coast between Loop Head and Hag’s Head” where the Cliffs of Moher are. It is not clear how vessels could safely enter such a harbour, given that it would require them to come close to the lee shore, but O’Connell said

The existence of an asylum harbour on Malbay would be of the greatest value to the trade of the British Isles. I do hope to be able to realise this project, in the execution of which the talents of my most valued friend THOMAS STEELE would be found to be most highly beneficial to that county which he adorns by his abilities and patriotism.

O’Connell no doubt had in mind Thomas Steele’s talents as a urinator.

Carrigaholt and Kilrush

O’Connell also wanted

[…] the construction of two suitable piers, with other works, completely to protect shipping; the one on the Bay of Carrigaholt, the other on Scattery or Kilrush Harbour.

The commerce of Kerry, Clare, and Limerick, are interested in these works. We shall certainly obtain the powerful assistance of the patriotic Member for Limerick. His assiduity, information, and public spirit, render him a model which Irish representatives should imitate.

He wasn’t quite as complimentary about Thomas Spring Rice a few years later, when O’Connell’s five-hour speech in favour of the repeal of the Acts of Union was topped by Spring Rice’s six-hour contribution.

Here is a page about Kilrush. I haven’t done a page about Carrigaholt so there follows some information to fill the gap until I get around to doing it properly.

The earlier pier at Carrigaholt was built by Alexander Nimmo and was more successful than his harbour down the road at Kilbaha. Despite the description on the DIA site, I assume that it is the one shown on the 6″ OSI map.

Carrigaholt map 1

The old quay at Carrigaholt (OSI ~1840)

Here’s a photo.

Carrigaholt August 2011 7_resize

The old quay at Carrigaholt as extended

Commander James Wolfe’s Sailing Directions [PDF], compiled some time before 1848, say

Round Kilcradan, to the northward, and protected by it, is the anchorage or Road of Carrigaholt. It is a very fine secure anchorage with all winds from the westward, but from the ENE to S much sea prevails, though not heavy enough to endanger a vessel well found in ground tackling. With SW gales, a long rolling swell sets in round Kilcradan Point, which renders riding here at those times very uneasy. These roads have the advantage of being free from any great strength of tide.

The ground is level all over the road, but from six fathoms it shoals gradually towards the shores; the bottom, of sand over clay and mud, is generally considered good holding ground. The best anchorage for a large ship is with the top of Ray Hill in one with the Coast-guard Watchhouse W ¾ N, and Moyarta Lodge, just open of the point on which Carrigaholt Castle stands, nearly N ½ W in 5½ to 6 fathoms low-water springs.

The shore forms two smaller bays, the northern of which takes its name from the village which stands on its shores, and the southern is called Kilcradan. Both are very flat and shallow; in the latter there is a coast-guard station, but it is not a boarding station. The village is a poor miserable place, and does not afford supplies of any sort, nor can a ship complete water here. At the village is a small pier, accessible only (to loaded boats) at high water. It is used by the turf-boats, though most of these load on the beach.

Carrigaholt Castle, a high square tower on the point, and the chapel, a cruciform building, with its belfry, are very conspicuous objects.

As those directions were written some years ago, I suggest that you should not use them for navigating nowadays. You can tell that they are out of date because the village does now afford most excellent supplies, chiefly in the Long Dock. The Long Dock does not, alas, seem to have updated its website since 2006, having gone over to the Dark Side of FaceTweet which, at least to me, is impossible to search, so I can’t point you to a list of the interesting beers the Long Dock stocks in addition to its excellent food.

My spies tell me that, if you happen to be driving a barge from, say, Donegal to Limerick — not that I’m encouraging you to do anything of the sort — Mr Luke Aston of the Carrigaholt Sea Angling Centre will be able to advise on moorings. He’s got a Lochin, so he must be sound. You can have a day’s sea angling with him or a day watching dolphins with Geoff Magee (to whom I owe a glass of sherry), followed by a meal at the Long Dock: what more could you want?

Carrigaholt new harbour 24

Luke Aston’s Lochin [I assume] and Geoff Magee’s Draíocht

Well, if you were Daniel O’Connell, you’d want a new pier or quay.

Carrigaholt map 2

Carrigaholt old and new quays [OSI ~1900]

The old quay was extended at some stage and a new quay was built at the castle. I don’t know have dates for either of those, but I think the new quay was built as a fisheries pier in the 1890s. If, Gentle Reader, you know the dates, and can save me from having to plough through years of Board of Works reports, do please leave a Comment below.

If O’Connell had any role in having the old pier extended, that would have been the only one of his four local concerns on which he had any success, although he could also claim a minor supporting role in having the pier at Cappa, Kilrush, extended in the 1840s.

Carrigaholt new harbour 30_resize

Carrigaholt new quay seen from the old quay

The canal to Ennis

Daniel O’Connell’s third local concern was

The opening of the navigation of the Fergus to Ennis, so as to make that town a sea-port. The tide rises about half a mile beyond that town; and if there were a short canal cut near the village of Clare, of about 300 yards, vessels of burden could deliver their cargoes at Ennis, and carry away the produce of the country to the most remote markets.

This was a proposal that came up several times, but it was never implemented. The Shannon Commissioners built a fine quay at Clare [now Clarecastle] in the 1840s, but they left it as the head of the navigation.

Wolfe’s Sailing Directions made it clear that the passage of the Fergus estuary was not to be undertaken lightly:

A mile to the eastward of the Beeves is the principal and only navigable entrance to the River Fergus, which comes from the NNE amid vast banks of mud, and numerous islets and rocks. Having passed the Beeves, steer up for Feenish Island till you bring the tall square tower of an old castle (called Court Brown) in one with the north point of Low Island, WNW¼W, which is studded with white houses.

You must then keep rather more to the northward for the round hill of Coney Island, until Cannon Castle is in one with the peak of Grady Island, W¼S, when you must bear away for the east point of Coney Island; you will then shortly come into five and six fathoms, where you must anchor with the sharp peak of Coney Island bearing N by E and Cannon Castle WSW1/3W in about six fathoms soft muddy bottom.

Grady's and Cannon Islands from off Innish Corker [Admiralty Surveyors 1841 by kind permission of the UK National Archives]

Grady’s and Cannon Islands from off Innish Corker [Admiralty Surveyors 1841 by kind permission of the UK National Archives]

Beyond this it would be impossible to proceed without a pilot. The river beyond Coney Island winds through vast banks of mud, extending from 1 to 1½ miles from the shore, decreasing gradually in width from 600 yards, and varying in depth from nine to three feet up to the town of Clare, nearly seven miles in a direct line, and nine following the channel.

At Clare the bed of the river is dry at low water, but there is a quay, alongside of which vessels load. Clare is a miserable place, though the shipping port of Ennis. It is a military station.

Pilots may be had at Low Island, but no vessel above 150 tons should go up to Clare.

Clare_resize

The bridge at Clare[castle] [OSI ~1840]

As well as a lock, some opening mechanism would have been required for vessels to get though the bridge, which was not the current flat structure; here is a photo of the old bridge.

Clarecastle Fergus Navigation June 2007 07_resize

Looking from the Shannon Commissioners 1840s quay at Clare towards the bridge

Clarecastle November 2014 16_resize

Clarecastle gandalows at the quay

Clarecastle old quay from far side 03_resize

The quay from across the river

Very low water at Clarecastle 5_resize

Low water at Clarecastle

The interesting thing is that, even though a boat could not pass through Clarecastle to the estuary, there must have been some navigation on the Fergus; I would like to know more about what and how much was carried when. There was a quay, Parson’s Quay, in Ennis …

Ennis_resize

Parson’s Quay in Ennis [OSI ~1840]

… and another quay further downstream. I put the next map in black and white to make it easier to see things; it’s scaled down from the Ennis map.

Quays_resize

Ennis and district [OSI ~1840]

The map also shows that O’Connell was right about the tide: it did flow well above Ennis.

The other canal

Although the first three proposals were not implemented, and probably would have been either uneconomic or unsuccessful, they weren’t absolutely bonkers. His fourth idea, though, was nuts.

The fourth local concern relates to a communication by a canal from the bay of Galway to Limerick. The point of junction should be somewhere in the neighbourhood of Killaloe. The entire of the western and midland counties of Ireland would derive great advantage from such a canal.

Getting through the hills above Killaloe would have been fun. But the real problem with the proposal is that O’Connell fundamentally misunderstood the nature of the Irish economy. Each Irish port served its own hinterland, shipping out its produce and shipping in coal, timber and other overseas goods. But the ports did not need to trade with each other, as each performed the same function.

The exception to that was created by the application of steam on the inland Shannon, which allowed perishable produce from the Limerick area to be carried across Ireland for export through Dublin to Britain. That role was soon taken over by the railways.

But there was no point in connecting two westward-facing ports by canal: if they needed to trade with each other, they could do so by sea.

My OSI logo and permit number for website