Category Archives: Waterways management

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.

Blanchardstown Mills

County Dublin: a bleach and flour mill

To be sold or let for such term as may be agreed upon, a Plot of Ground, on the north side of the Royal Canal, adjoining the 12th Lock, containing 1 acre 1 rood [illegible] on which a considerable sum of Money has been expended in erecting a Bleach and Flour Mill, together with the waste and superfluous water at the 12th Lock on the Royal Canal, which gives an inexhaustible supply of water in the dryest season to the Mill, which, in every respect, is well circumstanced for a Manufactory or Flour Mill.

These Concerns lie immediately adjoining the Canal Bridge, on the new road leading to Blanchers-town [sic] at the 12th Lock, about three miles from the City of Dublin.

There is a person on the premises who will show them, and proposals in writing will be received by Henry Cosgrave, Esq, No 64, Eccles street.

Dublin Mercantile Advertiser, and Weekly Price Current 31 July 1826

Mills on the Barrow

Mill sites — Ireland

The Directors of the Barrow Navigation Company will receive Proposals for the several unoccupied Falls on their line of Navigation. These falls are from five to ten feet, with a constant and powerful supply of water; and, from some of the large Establishments now on the line of Navigation, a fair estimate may be formed of their value.

The River Barrow joins the Grand Canal at Athy, 32 miles from Dublin, from whence there is a navigation to Dublin capable of carrying Boats of 50 tons burden, and the River Barrow is navigable from Athy to the Sea-ports of Ross and Waterford, between which places there is a constant and extensive communication for 20 miles of its length.

The River Barrow is not above 10 miles of its length from any part of the extensive Collieries, known by the name of the Kilkenny Collieries, and only three miles from some parts of them, and the country intersected with good Roads. There are several Towns situated on the River adjoining the Falls, `with a superabundant well-disposed Population, only wanting employment. The country is well inhabited, the soil fertile, the climate mild, the River not being frozen over once in ten years.

Any further particulars may be learned by application to the Company’s Acting Secretary, E S Hunt; and Messrs Latouche, Dublin, if by letter, post paid.

Dublin Mercantile Advertiser, and Weekly Price Current 13 June 1825

Killaloe eels

A new export from Ireland

The banks of the Shannon, says the Limerick Chronicle, are inexhaustible in providing sustenance, not only for the natives, but our constant customer, John Bull. Salmon has for some time been an article of profitable export to the English market; but what will the public think of that cheaper and more abundant dainty — eels?

There are 10 tons of this prolific fish now in tanks at Killaloe, awaiting a conveyance to London; and a vessel adapted for the trade will take on board from this port in the ensuing week 40 tons of eels for the London Market.

Ipswich Journal 26 October 1844

Shannon water levels

Just a reminder about the ESB’s useful page of hydrometric information here.

As of yesterday morning (23 February 2020), the discharge through Parteen Villa Weir was 659 cubic metres per second [cumec]. That’s the total discharge from the Shannon, covering both what goes through Ardnacrusha and what goes down the original course of the river [which in summer gets 10 cumec].

Of that 659, Ardnacrusha was getting 381 cumec, which means that 278 was going down the river’s original course.

The ESB’s Shannon forecast says

It is expected that a discharge ranging between 315 [cumec] and 370 [cumec] will be necessary at Parteen Weir over the next 5 days based on current weather forecast.

Those figures are well below the current combined discharge of 659 and more rain is expected, so I presume that the forecast refers to discharge down the original course of the river, which is to increase by between 13% and 33%. Water levels below Parteen Villa Weir are already high, though not at 2009 levels, so an investment in wellies might be advisable.

Shannon floods 2009 here.

Here’s an old page of mine about why the Shannon floods. I’ve removed some links that no longer work. The link to the ESB’s infographic does still work.

Limerick Navigation

This week’s Clare Champion [7 February 2020] has an article about the Limerick Navigation on the front page  of the Living section. It’s not available online, unless (I suppose) you subscribe to the digital edition.

Makes a change from the election, I suppose.

Steam, Kilrush and trade

Appendix D

Letter from Mr O’Brien, Agent to the Inland Steam Navigation Company
Kilrush Steam Packet Office, December, 1837

Gentlemen — I beg to inclose the Return which you requested; I also send a Statement of our Exports and Imports for the last ten years.

It affords me much pleasure in being able to state, that the trade and conditions of the people in this district appear much improved since the introduction of Steamers on the Lower Shannon.

I recollect when first Mr Williams commenced on the Lower Shannon, Kilrush was a very insignificant little place, quite deserted, without trade or commerce; it is now a rising town, with a number of respectable inhabitants and merchants; and the corn market, which was formerly rated at 2d per stone under Limerick, is now fully equal, and, in some cases, better than the latter.

This improvement, so important to the farmer, was certainly caused by the cheap and expeditious conveyance between this port and Limerick; because the country farmer at once saw the absurdity of selling his corn in Kilrush, at 6d per stone, when he could get it conveyed to Limerick by steam, for one farthing per stone, where the price was 8d per stone. This soon created a competition in the price, and soon broke down the old monoply [sic], so injurious to the public.

The facility of conveyance between Kilrush and Limerick had also a tendency to bring competitors into the field; and now, instead of one corn merchant, as was the case formerly, we have eleven; and instead of two grocers, we have fifteen; and instead of two woollen drapers, we have twelve, and so on.

Kilkee and Miltown, on the Clare side, and Ballybunion, on the Kerry side, have been equally benefited. Previous to the introduction of Steamers on the Lower Shannon, these places were scarcely known; they are now rising towns, and will, I trust, after a little time, compete with some of your English favourite watering places.

At Kilkee there are 305 very fine lodges, some of which brought £30 per month, last season; at Miltown there are 204, and at Ballybunion there are 96, with excellent hotels and boarding houses.

Persons leaving Limerick in the morning, are now enabled to breakfast at Kilkee — thus performing a journey of 60 miles in the short space of five hours.

This Company has rendered invaluable services to this part of the country, which are not generally known, but for which the people seem much indebted. A great deal still remains to be done to perfect our trade in this quarter; our pier is quite unequal to the trade, which is every day increasing.

At present there are nine vessels at the pier, and so crowded are we, that the steamer is put completely out of berth, and is obliged to anchor in the stream, and land her cargoes and passengers in open boats — a very dangerous process at this season of the year.

I am, Gentlemen, with great respect, your obedient Servant, P B O’Brien

To the Commissioners for the Improvement of the River Shannon

Statement of the Number of Vessels frequenting the Kilrush Pier for the last Three Years

Vessels at Kilrush [y/e 1 November]

This Statement does not comprise the Steamers which ply daily, but which, I fear, will be obliged to stop for want of a berth for discharging or taking in.

Abstract of the Imports and Exports of Kilrush, for the last Ten Years

Imports

Sundries (1835 only)

5 tons of Fish, 1 bale of Coffee, 1 bag of Rice, 1 cask of Indigo, Paints, Oil, Pitch, Tar, and Cordage.

Observations

This market does not embrace the foreign trade, which is blended in the Limerick accounts, and consists of timber from the British colonies, with a variety of wrecked goods in the winter season. Nor does it give more than a few of the principal articles imported from Great Britain, several being exempt from coast regulation; and owing to the facility of steam navigation, the greater part of the goods are imported to Limerick, and by canal from Dublin.

Exports. This account does not include the shipments made by small traders to Limerick, Cork, &c.

[Note: the quantity exported in 1836 was given as 87 firkins. Peter M Solar (“The Irish Butter Trade in the Nineteenth Century: New Estimates and Their Implications” in Studia Hibernica No 25 1990) suggests an average weight of 67.6 lb per firkin at Limerick in the early 1820s. Applying that figure gives a weight of 5881.2 lb or 52.5 long UK hundredweight, rounded to 53 cwt. There is nothing to say whether any of the amounts for Kilrush exports are gross or net weight; Solar says that “Earlier in the nineteenth century the weight of the cask was generally taken to be a fifth of the weight of butter it contained.”]

Sundries

1826: —
1827: —
1828: 2 boxes [contents unspecified]
1829: 29 bales [nature unspecified]
1830: 4 sacks of Sea Moss
1831: 94 Marble blocks
1832: —
1833: 19 cwt 3 qrs 9 lb of Staves
1834: 40 packages of Bacon
1835: 140 tons of Hides
1836: 20 bags of dried Leaves; 14 puncheons

Source

Second Report of the Commissioners appointed pursuant to the Act 5 & 6 William IV cap 67 for the improvement of the navigation of the River Shannon; with maps, plans, and estimates HMSO, Dublin 1837

Limerick Navigation

Last week’s talk at the Killaloe Ballina Local History Society, on the subject of the Limerick Navigation, was recorded by Scariff Bay Community Radio; a podcast (1 hr 13 min 11 sec) is available here.

Navigating Ardnacrusha

The Western Mail & South Wales News of 19 April 1929 had an article by M Franklin Thomas about “Ireland’s Big Engineering Scheme”. The article was illustrated with a map and three photographs were reproduced on the newspaper’s “picture page”. It had a couple of interesting points about the headrace and tailrace considered as navigations; I can’t recall seeing these points made elsewhere.

Current

This [headrace] canal is level, but a flow of about 3½ miles per hour will be maintained owing to the water released through the turbines and navigation locks.

I don’t recall seeing a figure for the current. I presume that that is with three turbines running flat out.

There is an interesting account of the laying of the concrete apron that protects the banks against the “wave action set up by navigation, and the flow of the stream, wind, &c”. And the lock was to have an “ingenious arrangement by which the entering streams of water neutralise each other’s effect”.

Tailrace

Mr Thomas says

The tail race is one mile and a half long, cut from the solid blue limestone, and one of the most interesting points was the method adopted to permit barges to ascend the tail race against the enormous scour from the turbine discharges.

A special navigation channel is cut from the locks to a point some 200 yards below the outfall, and the bed of the tail race rises 20ft in the mile and a half, so that the depth of water will be 35ft at the outfall from the turbines and 15ft at the junction with the Shannon.

This will give a cushioning effect, and the rate of flow will be thus reduced to enable barges to navigate upstream. A bend is also provided where the special navigation channel joins the tail race and the rate of flow is estimated to be the same as that of the head race — 1.5 metres per second, or about 3½ miles per hour.

I would be glad to hear from anyone who can cast further light on this, and especially on whether the rising bed does have the intended effect.

Royal Canal greenway

Big it up, says Sarah Carey in the Indo.