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Have you bought yours?

A Christmas present idea for you or a friend. Alison Alderton kindly reviewed Waterways and Means in Inland Waterways News recently.

We’d love to hear your comments if you have bought or read the book.

In Ireland it can be bought via the Inland Waterways Association at; in O’Mahony’s bookshop in Limerick or online at; and at in Sallins. Contact Anne directly if in UK, at

Invitation to book launch, and remembering Brian

Readers of this site will be aware that in the final months of his life Brian brought together a collection of his writing to be published posthumously. That book – Waterways and Means – is now finished, and we, his family, would love you to join us for its launch and to remember Brian.

When: Thursday 2nd June 2022, 5.30pm

Where: Flanagan’s on the Lake, Ballina, Co Tipperary

Please come, and spread the word to anyone who may like to join us. 


Waterways and Means is a selection of writings mainly on the late 18th and 19th century, a boom period for Irish waterways.  HM Treasury had cash to burn and influential Irish MPs were keen to bring that money home in the form of infrastructure investment.

As navigation by water became faster and easier, new possibilities opened up: fresh eggs and bacon to Liverpool for breakfast, a ready supply of turf to Limerick to fuel the distillery, bogs drained for arable land, and fast, comfortable trips to Kilkee to take the sea air.

Based on a collection of Brian’s extensive research and writings on Irish waterways, this book tells the story of those improvements and of many diversions along the way: waterways which were never completed, debauchery in the canals of Dublin, cargoes stolen, workers on strike and boats sunk.

It is a selection of what his family hope you will find to be interesting articles, rather than a comprehensive history of Ireland’s waterways.


The book will be available for purchase at the event at a special price of €30, and on the IWAI website after launch.  The event will be about remembering him, as much as launching the book.

Other launch events:

Waterways Ireland will be hosting a launch event on 1st June in Dublin for both the book and the archival materials that have been donated to them by Brian’s family.  As numbers will be limited at this event, please let me know if you would like to attend it and I’ll send details.

The Heritage Boat Association is hosting a launch of the book on Sunday 5th June at their 21st anniversary gathering in Ballinasloe.  If you are not attending the gathering and wish to attend this, please let me know as the HBA would like an indication of numbers.

Contact can be made by leaving a comment in response to this post. The comment won’t be published unless relevant to a wider audience.

Exciting news

The final proof of Brian’s book, “Waterways and Means – Power, money and folly in Irish Waterways History”, has just gone to the publisher. Watch out for more news here as we arrange for launch, and celebrations of Brian’s life, on 1st to 5th June in Dublin, Killaloe and Ballinasloe.

National Library archive news

This website has now been preserved for many generations to come by the National Library of Ireland as part of the National Collection.  You can access it directly at
and it will also be made accessible through the NLI's catalogue.

We, Brian's family, intend to keep the Irishwaterwayshistory domain for the foreseeable future, but Brian's work is now futureproofed.

We are working hard on the publication of Brian's book and intend to have it ready for a celebration of his life in the autumn.  In the meantime, stay safe.


Space cadets

HMG’s world-beating rival to Galileo (global navigation satellite system). A laugh a minute.

New header photo 20 June 2020


Grand Canal 1829

Grand Canal Lumber and Parcel Boats

Safe and expeditious carriage by land and water in four days

5, Grand Canal Harbour, James’s-street

Messrs Maher and Adamson beg leave to inform their Friends and the Public, that they have now made arrangements for plying Two Boats a Week to and from Dublin and Ballinasloe; they pledge themselves for the safe arrival of every article committed to their care.

Gillen Bridge

They have stores at Dublin, Tullamore, Gillen, and Ballinasloe, where careful Agents attend to receive and to forward Goods to their respective destinations. Their Boats are new, and drawn by two horses each, their own property; they retain no person in their establishment but men of tried honesty, sobriety, and diligence.

The Proprietors, for the satisfaction and accommodation of their Customers, have provided drays with large tarpaulen covers, and will insure the safe delivery of any goods committed to their care, at the regular price charged in each place per mile or per cwt. Loughrea, Gort, Galway, Eyrecourt, Birr, Banagher, Tuam, Moate, Kilbeggan, or any of the neighbouring places.

A Boat will leave Dublin on Wednesdays and Saturdays at Ten o’clock, AM: loaded or not the Proprietors pledge themselves to be punctual to the day and hour.

Dublin Evening Post 17 March 1829

Some interesting points

We don’t have much information about canal carriers in the early years of the Grand Canal, so this is a useful snippet. The use of two horses is interesting: I wonder whether the extra cost paid off. And here is more evidence of the former glory of Gillan or Gallen, which was also a stop on the coach-routes. What is now the R437, from Frankford/Kilcormac north through the bogs to Ferbane, seems to have been more important than what is now the N62.

On the Beach

I am reminded of the 1957 novel [and there was also a film].

Of course the author was a hero of the Irish republican struggle: he was in the GPO in 1916.

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A heartfelt musical tribute to Boris Johnson.