Category Archives: Waterways management

Ballycuirke Canal photos

Declan Maher has very kindly sent me five photos of the Ballycuirke Canal. I have put one of them on the canal’s main page and the others on the page of notes on navigating from Lough Corrib to Ross Lake.

Willie Leech interview

This article, about the last of the Royal Canal boatmen, was based on an interview, arranged by Niall Galway, with Willie Leech of Killucan. Niall has now made the original interview available on YouTube, in two parts [Part 1, Part 2], with apologies for the sound.

Big it up for Banagher

Banagher: the old canal (OSI 6″ map ~1830s)

I was in Banagher yesterday, visiting the site of the old (pre-Shannon Commissioners) canal on the north (virtual west) bank. The area is a park operated by a community group [I would welcome details and a link] and includes a pitch-and-putt course, an outdoor swimming pool in the river and storage for canoes (a group of young people was about to get afloat as I left).

It is also, as the map above shows, rich in waterways and military artefacts. Much of the waterways material can still be seen and a series of signs shows old drawings and provides useful information (though the lock, surprisingly, has no sign). I think I am right in deducing that the signs reflect the work of historian James Scully, one of those who gave an extremely enlightening and entertaining talk about Banagher Bridge a few years ago.

The park is well used by local people but it should also attract many tourists to take the short walk from their boats on the far side of the bridge. It is an excellent example of local initiative drawing on local expertise to illuminate local history and create a sense of place and it could be emulated at many other waterways sites along the Shannon.

Furthermore, added to Banagher’s other historic and literary associations, it shows the wealth of interesting material offered in this town. It is not, unfortunately, on the main tourist routes by road, but it should be possible to attract the interest (and the spending) of water-borne visitors.

I hope that will work for the community; in the meantime, I applaud their initiative.

 

Royal Canal water supply

Midland great western railway of ireland
notice to contractors
tenders for water tanks &c

The Directors of this Company will receive Tenders for providing and erecting (exclusive of masonry) two Wrought Iron Water Tanks, each to contain, when full, 6000 gallons of water, and each to be connected with two swing water cranes, with proper valves, &c. Also, for two Water Cranes, connected by pipes, 6 diameter [sic], with the water in the Royal Canal. Tenders to quote price per 100 feet, length of pipes, and to be sent in with a drawing and short specification, addressed to the Chairman at 23 College-green, Dublin, and endorsed, “Tender for Water Tanks and Cranes”, on or before Noon of 9th November, 1846. The whole to be completed on or before the 20th January, 1847, under a penalty of £2 per day. If further information is required apply to G W Hemans Esq, Engineer to the Company, at 53 Upper Sackville-street, Dublin; and the Directors do not bind themselves to take the lowest tender.

By order, Henry Beausire, Sec, Dublin, 23 College-green, 26th Oct, 1846

Saunders’s News-Letter 3 November 1846

Leave no trace? It’s rubbish

More folk believe that the Shannon is the great dividing line in Ireland: civilisation and a modern economy to the east, primitive tribalism to the west. Of course that isn’t true — except in one respect: rubbish bins on the lower Shannon.

There, counties Offaly and Tipperary, on the east side, provide rubbish bins for boaters at harbours; on the west side, counties Clare and Galway do not, save for a dog-poo bin at Portumna Castle Harbour.

Waterways Ireland has signs in some places saying that it has a “Leave no trace” policy: that is, I presume, intended to excuse it from providing bins, and paying for rubbish collection, at its own harbours. I guess — I am open to correction on this — that the local authorities on the civilised side of the Shannon are happy to bear the cost of providing for boaters, while those on the wilder side are not. It’s not just boaters, though: the new camper-van park at Portumna Castle Harbour, admirable in so many ways, has no bin service.

Now, having to take your rubbish home after a one-day picnic is not a particularly great problem. Doing so after a full week on a boat or in a camper is rather more difficult, especially if your rubbish includes the dog-poo that you have nobly and civil-spiritedly picked up. [Incidentally, I felt like an idiot in Ballinasloe, picking up a small dog-poo beside a vast pile of steaming horse-shit.]

Those boaters and camper-vanners who have cracked the code — worked out the distribution of bins — can of course hold on to their rubbish until they reach civilisation, but I met several folk (natives and visitors) who hadn’t worked it out. I didn’t meet anyone who thought the absence of bins was a good idea. And most people don’t have space on board their boats or vans for a week’s or two weeks’ worth of rubbish, never mind airtight storage to keep smells in and flies and rodents out.

The western local authorities are free-riding on the ratepayers of the eastern counties, and at some point the easterners may get fed up. A bank holiday weekend produced overflowing bins at Banagher: they were emptied very promptly on the Tuesday morning, so well done Offaly County Council. But I suspect that some of the rubbish should have been disposed of west of the Shannon. At what point will the eastern local authorities cry “enough!”?

Rational economic man, faced with the absence of bins at harbours in Clare and Galway, would adopt a simple solution: if on a boat, put everything into a bag with a large stone and throw it overboard in the middle of the river; if in a camper, sling it into a ditch somewhere. The policy of the western local authorities is designed to encourage littering.

And there’s no point in telling me about Leave No Trace Ireland, which strikes me as yet another Irish solution to an Irish problem:

Leave No Trace is an outdoor ethics programme designed to promote and inspire responsible outdoor recreation through education, research and partnerships.

Who thinks up this rubbish? There are many responsible boat- and camper-users who want to be able to dispose of their rubbish properly during their holidays. We need bins, not propaganda.

 

Brexit and imported boats

Several people in Ireland have imported secondhand boats from Foreign Parts, often from the Netherlands or the United Kingdom. After Brexit, importation of a boat from the UK is likely to become more difficult.

Dr Richard North, an erudite Brexiteer, has highlighted the problem today. Within the European Economic Area (which includes the European Union)

Basically, a huge range of products, before they can be placed on the market, must be approved in a manner specified in the relevant legislation. Conformity then guarantees access to the markets of the EEA members (EU members plus the three Efta/EEA members). […]

In the first instance – intra-Union trade – the responsibility for ensuring that products conform with the legislation rests with the manufacturers. And, where the legislation requires it (as it does with a wide range of goods), it must be tested by an independent third party, known as a “notified body”. And, with certain exceptions, that notified body must be established in the EU and be recognised the European Commission.

Currently, of course, the UK is able to benefit from the intra-Union trade rules but, on leaving the EU, it will no longer enjoy what amounts to a simplified procedure. It is then that the UK becomes a “third country” and the legal responsibilities accruing to those placing products on the market move from the manufacturers to the “importer“, defined as “any natural or legal person established within the Community who places a product from a third country on the Community market”. (For “Community” you can now read “Union”.)

When products from third counties arrive at EU Member State ports, it is then for the importer to satisfy the customs and any other authorities that the products comply with EU law, and have the necessary approvals or certification – including type-approvals from notified bodies, where necessary.

Currently, there are over 25 categories of goods to which the CE marking system applies, for which a Notified Body certificate may be required. These include: […] recreational craft […].

For the UK on and after Brexit day, this gets quite interesting. Where the product relies on certification from a UK notified body (approved prior to Brexit), that notified body will no longer be approved. Arguably (and it is arguable), the certificates (on which the importer will rely) will no longer be valid.

The requirements of the 2013 Recreational Craft Directive are set out here [PDF]. Section 3.6, on page 21, says:

The private importer is a concept that did not exist under the previous Directive and that was added to ensure that private individuals importing a boat, a personal watercraft, an engine or any other product covered by the Directive are granted the same level of protection and obligation as commercial importers. The private importer is defined as any natural or legal person established in the European Union who imports in the course of a non-commercial activity a product from a third country into the EU with the intention of putting it into service for his own use.

A private importer, who imports a product for his own use in European waters, must also ensure the craft, engine or components are compliant with the EU Directive.

Article 12 provides the detailed list of the private importer’s obligations. As a start, we recommend that private importers favour products for which the original manufacturer has fulfilled his responsibilities for the conformity of the product with the EU Directive. Not only will it save a lot of time and hassle for the private importer, it guarantees he/she will acquire a safe and compliant product, thereby ensuring a higher resale value in Europe.

In the event that the original manufacturer located outside of the EU has not fulfilled his responsibilities nor carried out the conformity assessment procedures, the private importer must ensure, before putting the product into service, i.e. using it, that:

• The product has been designed and manufactured in a way that meets the essential requirements of the EU Directive
• The following requirements for manufacturers have been carried out: the technical documentation has been drawn out and must be kept for 10 years; the product is accompanied by instructions and safety information in the owner’s manual in a language or languages which can be easily understood by consumers and other end users, as determined by the Member State concerned (i.e. the country of residence)
• The private importer must cooperate with the competent national authority and provide all information and documentation necessary to demonstrate the product’s conformity.

In case the technical documentation is not available from the manufacturer, the private importer will have to draw it up using the appropriate expertise. Annex V of the Directive provides the details of the postconstruction assessment (PCA). This module is the procedure to assess the equivalent conformity of a product for which the manufacturer has not assumed the responsibility but also in cases where the importer or the distributor places a product on the market under his name or trademark, or modifies a product already placed on the market in such a way that compliance with the Directive’s requirements may be affected. The private importer must ensure that the name and address of the notified body which has carried out the post-construction assessment (PCA) of the product is marked on the product itself.

For more information about the PCA see the “Special Cases” section.

 

Gambling for the Grand

In the 1770s a group of trustees conducted an annual lottery to raise funds for a “canal of communication” between the Grand Canal and the River Liffey in Dublin. The intention was to go north from the area of the Grand Canal Harbour to reach the Liffey opposite the barracks. It seems that some construction work was done but no lottery was organised in 1780 or thereafter, perhaps because an Irish state lottery was instituted. The plan to build a link to the north was abandoned; the Circular Line was built instead.

Here is an incomplete account of the Grand Canal lottery. I would be glad to hear from anyone who knows more about it.

Developments in lock design

A model for a Canal Lock of a very ingenious and curious construction, has lately been presented to the Company of Undertakers of the Grand Canal, by an artist in this city [Dublin], having among some other improvements on the old locks the following remarkable ones:

  1. That of raising or falling a boat from a level of sixty feet by a single lock.
  2. That of obviating, by a single contrivance, the waste of water, so that at the passage of any boat through it, more than nine-tenths of the water will be retained for the next occasion: this lock will therefore not require a sixth part of the water now expended in the smallest lock on the navigation.

The model is now in complete order at the Navigation House, and was particularly intended by the inventor to answer the great fall from the level of the Canal at James’s-street to the river Liffey; an object not yet fully determined upon by the Company, which Company has, however, as a token of its approbation of so very ingenious a contrivance, presented the inventor with twenty guineas, and should his plan be ever executed by them, there is no doubt but he will be rewarded according to his merit.

Saunders’s News-Letter
12 September 1787

The Lough Neagh sand trade

A few months ago I mentioned Paul Whittle’s history of the UK marine aggregate dredging industry, which includes a chapter on the Lough Neagh sand dredging industry.

Sand barge William James at Scotts sand quay

I did not realise at the time that the industry was the subject of legal action by Friends of the Earth. Their objections are outlined here; there are several news reports of the progress of their case, eg here and here; this is an account, from June 2017, of the appeal court case; here is the BBC report of the decision and this is FOE’s reaction, which includes this:

Yesterday the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal ruled that the Northern Ireland government acted unlawfully by not stopping dredging for sand at one of Europe’s most important wetlands.

The only legal option now open to the government is to stop the sand dredging.

Dredging has been taking place on a huge scale at Lough Neagh without planning permission and other authorisations.

Friends of the Earth brought the legal challenge over the Northern Ireland government’s failure to stop the extraction.

Up to 2 million tons of sand is suction dredged from the bed of the lough every year. This is the biggest unauthorised development in the history of Northern Ireland. Yet this vitally important wildlife site is supposed to be protected under local and international law. In fact there is no bigger unlawful mine anywhere in Europe in a Special Protection Area.

Lough Neagh is Europe’s biggest wild eel fishery […].

I suspect that the decision will increase the DUP’s enthusiasm for Brexit.

 

Grand Canal announcements

The Grand Canal Company do hereby give Notice, that they are ready to receive Proposals for supplying Ashler Stones for repairing the Locks upon the Grand Canal; the Stretching Stones to be twelve Inches Bond, and the Heading Stones two Feet Bond. All Persons willing to furnish the same, are desired to apply to Captain Charles Tarrant, No 45, Cuffe street, who will inform them where the same are to be layed down. —

Proposals will be received for Building, by Contract, two Boats on the Canal (the Size and Dimentions to be known upon Application as above), the Contractor finding Timber and every Article requisite.

Also for furnishing Lime per Hogshead, in the Neighbourhood of Ballyfermott Bridge.

June 18, 1777. Signed by Order, R BAGGS, Sec

WHEREAS the Sluice erected upon the Canal in the Barrenrath Level, has been wantonly and feloniously broken down, a Reward of Twenty Guineas shall be paid for discovering and prosecuting to Conviction the Person or Persons who have committed the said Offence.

By Order of the Grand Canal Company, June 7, 1777, R BAGGS, Sec

Saunders’s News-Letter 23 June 1777