Category Archives: Waterways management

Quadrupling Kerry’s canals

I thought there was only one canal in Co Kerry, but there were three more at Lixnaw. They’re still to be seen and they have interesting associations.

Thanks to Ewan Duffy of Industrial Heritage Ireland for the tip-off.

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

 

A Bourne mystery

Here is an ad, from 1785, offering to let flour-mills at Portlaw, Co Waterford, and a bake-house in John Street, Waterford, to a “tenant possessed of abilities”.

The ad is interesting in several respects. First, although the location of the flour-mills is not clear, they may have preceded the iron-works, the famous Malcolmson cotton-mill and the later tannery on the site; they certainly seem to have used the water power of the Clodiagh.

Second, the ad suggests that flour could be carried from the mills by three rivers to Waterford: the Clodiagh, the Suir and St John’s Pill, which is another navigation featured on this site.

Third, the ad invites applications to be sent to either John Thomas Medlycott in Dublin or John Edwards Bourne in Mayfield, Waterford. The Post-Chaise Companion [4th ed] says

Within half a mile of Portlaw, on the L is Glen-house the seat of Mr Bourne.

At Portlaw are the extensive mills built by Edward May Esq, and about a quarter of mile beyond Portlaw on the L is a large house built by the same gentleman.

About a mile from Portlaw, on the R situated on the banks of the Suir, is Mayfield, the noble and delightful seat, with very extensive and beautiful demesnes and plantations, of William Watson Esq and on the L is Coolfin, the seat of the Rev Thomas Monck.

That puts a Mr Bourne in Portlaw, though in Glenhouse rather than Mayfield. The Glenhouse address is confirmed by Matthew Sleater in 1806.

But what interests me is whether the John Edwards Bourne mentioned in the ad is related to John Edwards Bourne of Dunkerrin, Co Offaly, formerly of Nenagh, Co Tipperary, who died in 1799 or so. The Offaly Bourne seems to have had four brothers and three sisters.

I would be glad to hear from anyone who knows anything about the Portlaw Bourne (or indeed any of the other Bournes). If you can help, please leave a Comment below.

 

 

Dublin to Limerick or Kilkenny

FRANCIS JENKINSON,
At the DROGHEDA’s ARMS, Monasterevan,
PROPRIETOR of the LIMERICK and KILKENNY
STAGE COACHES

Most respectfully informs his friends and the public, that he has removed from the Old Town of Monasterevan, to a spacious and elegant house adjoining the Canal, which he has fitted up in a stile superior to any on the road:— His coach-houses, stabling, &c are on a very extensive scale; he has gone to a great expence in fitting up stall stables, which he flatters himself will give general satisfaction; — returns his sincere thanks for the numerous favours received since his commencement in business.

His Larder is constantly well assorted, and his wines are of the first quality.

NB said Jenkinson informs the public, that his Stage from Kilkenny sets off precisely at half after four in the morning, arrives in time for the three o’clock packet which leaves Monasterevan, and on passengers coming from Dublin will arrive in Ballyroan, so as to be in Kilkenny early next day. Said coach passes through Castle Durrow coming and going.

Stage passengers for Limerick or Kilkenny not charged with beds.

Seats taken in Dublin at Mr John Goffen’s, No 7, Bolton-street, and in Kilkenny at Mr Francis Reynold’s, Wheat Sheaf.

Dublin Evening Post 17 June 1790

 

 

I would be glad to hear from anyone who can tell me where Mr Jenkinson’s Drogheda’s Arms was. Please leave a Comment below.

Grand Canal Passage Boat Horses

Proposals in writing will be received by the Court of Directors, at No 105, Grafton street, for drawing six Passage-boats, for three, four, or five years, between the city of Dublin and Monasterevan. The Contractors to be paid monthly.

Proposals to be delivered in two ways, either for the present five stages, from Dublin to Hazle-hatch, Sallins, Robertstown, Rathangan, and Monasterevan; or for four stages, viz Hazle-hatch, Digby-bridge, Elanaree, and Monasterevan. Persons proposing may send proposals either for the whole line, or any one or more of the before-mentioned stages.

Any alteration that shall hereafter be made, by increasing or decreasing the number of Passage Boats, to be mutually allowed for in proportion to the contract.

The boys to be kept in proper apparel, and the contractors to find track lines.

Stables will be found by the Company on the new stages — if they should be adopted.

Proposals will be received until the 1st day of August next, and the contracts to commence on the 1st of October ensuing.

Security in the sum of £500 must be given for the due performance of the contracts.

Signed by order,
W Browne Sec

Dublin Evening Post 17 June 1790

St John’s Pill (River) in Waterford

Brian Simpson writes from Waterford:

There’s a new bridge being built on the Waterside in Waterford City and sadly it looks like it is going to be a death blow for the Friends of St John’s River and Waterford Small Boat Owners Association’s attempts to restore navigation along this waterway.

The new bridge at high tide (Brian Simpson)

Please find attached the Facebook link for comments and attached photo of bridge at high tide.

Half our canal was taken by a humpback bridge, Wyse Bridge, being replaced at Poleberry in 1980; this effectively stopped any chance of barges navigating the other part of the waterway, which was being done up to the 1950s.

I do hope that boats will still be able to use the Pill.

Update: a link to a video.

Maps

Many thanks to the learned Eoin C Bairéad for the information that the good people at logainm.ie have scanned many old maps, and other documents, and made them available here, free of charge. They include maps of counties bordering the Shannon, Murdoch Mackenzie’s 1775 chart of the Shannon Estuary (with some soundings) and Mackenzie’s Views of the West Coast of Ireland.

Note: some of the files are very large.

 

Building Ardnacrusha

I had a page with photos of the construction of Ardnacrusha in 1930; I have expanded that page to include

  • photos taken in the 1920s by Eyre Chatterton and kindly supplied by Tony and Blair Chatterton
  • links to the ESB Archive’s reports made by Siemens during construction; h/t Carthach O’Maonaigh for drawing them to my attention.

 

Another waterways mystery

According to Ruth Delany [Ruth Delany and Ian Bath Ireland’s Royal Canal 1789–2009 The Lilliput Press, Dublin 2010], the Royal Canal’s fast passenger-carrying fly-boats had neither toilets nor cooking facilities; the slower night-boats were better equipped.

So how did the fly-boat passengers relieve themselves?

Given that the boats travelled at six Irish miles per hour (about 12 km/h), any passenger who disembarked for the purpose would have found it difficult to catch up again. Yet standing on the notoriously unstable boats might have been difficult for the gentlemen, while the problems facing the ladies are not to be contemplated.

I don’t think that the india-rubber urinal had been invented by then. So what did they do?

 

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.