Category Archives: Waterways management

WI GOs

Waterways Ireland’s General Operatives are to have their jobs profiled.

Irish slobs

The word “slob” is a provincial term, and applied to banks of mud in the same way that the word “warp” is used to signify similar formations in the River Humber.

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

Staffing the Shannon

According to the eleventh and final report of the Shannon Commissioners, published in 1850 but covering the year 1849, each of the quays built by the commissioners on the Shannon Estuary had an officer stationed at it to collect tolls and other charges. Five of the six — Querrin, Saleen, Kilteery, Kildysart [aka Cahircon] and Clare [now Clarecastle] — had Second Class Collectors; Kilrush, being busier, had a First Class Collector.

Cappa [Kilrush] pier

Moving upriver, Limerick was one of only two places on the Shannon to have an Inspector; it also had a First Class Collector and a Lock-keeper. Park, the next lock up on the Limerick Navigation, also had a keeper, as did five of the six locks on the Plassey–Errina Canal — Plassey [aka Annaghbeg], Gillogue, Newtown, Cloonlara [so spelt] and Errina. Presumably the Cloonlara keeper also locked after the nearby Monaskeha Lock. Preusmably, too, the keepers collected any tolls or charges due at the locks: there were no separate collectors, yet from other evidence we know that tolls and wharfage were collected at Plassey [Annaghbeg] and Errina.

O’Briensbridge modern [ie 1830s] navigation arch

Back on the river, O’Briensbridge had a Second Class Collector. On the Killaloe Canal, each of the three locks — Cussane, Moyse [sic] and Killaloe — had a keeper; the Cussane keeper must have collected tolls and wharfage. Killaloe had a First Class Collector.

On Lough Derg, Scarriff and Portumna each had a Second Class Collector. Portumna, like several places upstream, had an opening bridge, but the Shannon Commissioners did not employ a bridge-keeper: the bridge was not built, owned or operated by the Shannon Commissioners.

Back on the river, on what used to be called the Middle Shannon, the commissioners employed both a Second Class Collector and a lock-keeper at Victoria Lock (Meelick). There was another Second Class Collector, and a bridge-keeper, at Banagher. At Wooden Bridge, the crossing of the Shannon from the Grand Canal’s main line to its Ballinasloe line, the commissioners employed two ferry boatmen: by that stage the bridge no longer existed and the commissioners had installed a ferry to carry horses and tow boats between the canals.

Shannon Bridge had a Second Class Collector and a bridge-keeper; Athlone had a bridge-keeper but earned itself a First Class Collector. On Lough Ree, Lecarrow and Lanesborough each had a Second Class Collector but Tarmonbarry had nobody: a First Class Collector was assigned to Cloondragh [so spelt] but presumably had to look after Clondra and Tarmonbarry locks, the weir, Tarmonbarry bridge and the collection of tolls. Mighty men they had back then.

The second Inspector was based at Rooskey, along with a lock-keeper who presumably also operated the bridge and did anything that needed doing on the weir. Albert Lock on the Jamestown Canal had a lock-keeper but Kilbride, the quay at the upper end of the canal, had a wharfinger, the only one on the Shannon.

Fermate at Kilbride Quay

The collection of tolls (presumably by the wharfinger) did not begin at Kilbride until March 1849 but in that year it took in £6 in tolls and £1 in wharfage, compared with £1 + £2 at Drumsna and £0 + £0 at Jamestown. Perhaps the road beside the quay made it a suitable place for cargoes from Roscommon to transfer from road to water transport.

Carrick-on-Shannon, not an important station on the Shannon, had just a Second Class Collector; there was a lock-keeper at Knockvicar for the Boyle Water and another at Battle Bridge who presumably looked after all the locks on the Lough Allen Canal.

Cranes were provided at several places but there is no mention of designated crane-operators.

Source: Eleventh and Final Report of the Commissioners under the Act 2 & 3 Vict c61 for the improvement of the Navigation of the River Shannon, Ireland; with an appendix Ordered, by The House of Commons, to be Printed, 3 June 1850 [407]

 

Kilteery

The current header photo shows Kilteery Pier on the Shannon Estuary. Here is a page about the building of the pier.

What Éanna Rowe might say

In the minor arrangements made by us, and the rates fixed for small boats, we have been influenced by the same general principles already mentioned, and have been guided by the further principle of making every class of traffic or boat, however small, liable to some rate of toll, in order to establish a useful and beneficial control over the navigation.

Second Report of the Commissioners for improving the Navigation of the Shannon; with an appendix Ordered, by The House of Commons, to be Printed, 26 February 1841 [88]

The Boundary of Jurisdiction

The Shannon Navigation Act of 1839 required the Shannon Commissioners to define the boundaries of the navigation. They did so, describing the limits in a manuscript with illustrations and showing the Shannon and all structures therein in a series of 45 maps. Here is a brief piece about the undertaking.

Shannon water levels

According to the Indo, which may or may not know anything about the matter itself but probably got a press release from someone [to whom the same qualification may apply], farmers along the Shannon Callows are concerned about rising water levels at Clonown, an area on the west bank below Athlone.

The level in that area is held up by the weir at Meelick. But according to Waterways Ireland today,

[…]  low water levels exist on the upstream approaches to Meelick and Victoria Lock. Water levels are currently below Summer levels.

According to the OPW gauges at Athlone, the water level is below the 50th percentile and is falling. The same applies at Banagher, although it did exceed the 50th percentile for some days.

Three lessons suggest themselves:

  • farmers might need to get used to the idea that, when it rains, it gets wet — and that, if they choose to farm on a floodplain, their land might get wet too
  • politicians might refrain from issuing nonsensical panic-laden press releases to gain free publicity [but I suppose that’s too much to ask for]
  • journalists might like to check stuff for themselves instead of reprinting press releases unquestioningly [but that too is probably too much to ask for].

Barges

River problems in the Americas.

Grand Canal carrying 1816

GRAND CANAL

Reduction of Freights etc

B Hyland and Sons return their most grateful Thanks to their Friends and the Public, for the very flattering Encouragement they have received since their commencement in Business, above 20 years, and hope, that by their constant care and attention to merit a continuance thereof. They now take the opportunity of acquainting the Friends of their Trade, that all goods committed to their care, will be forwarded as usual, with the utmost expedition. Three of their Boats leave Dublin every week, for the conveyance of all kinds of Building Materials; Wines, Spirits, Porter, Tea, Sugar, Cotton Goods, and all kinds of Merchandize &c, at tge following reduced Prices, viz:

Dublin to Rathangan                                        8s 10d per Ton
Do. to Monastereven                                      10s    6d do.
Do. to Vicarstown                                            12s    4d do.
Do. to Athy                                                        14s    2d do,

They beg leave to state to their Friends and the Public that they have got each of their Boats Hatched (so that it is impossible for Goods to meet with the slightest injury) and each Hatch is properly iron barred, with cross bars of Iron, in the most secure manner, and the moment the Goods are put into each Boat, the Hatches are put on, and locked down with brass-warded Locks of the best description, and then sealed. Each of their Agents at the above-named Stages have counter keys to open the Boats to get out the necessary Goods that is for each place. They have also provided excellent Stores at each of the above Harbours, for the general accommodation of all those who are pleased to favour them with the carriage of their Goods.

They return their best thanks to the Grand Canal Company, for their having so kindly reduced their Tolls, by which means they are thus enabled to carry Goods at the above Rates, and also to carry all kinds of Goods, Flour, Meal, Malt, Corn, &c at the under-mentioned rate of Freight to Dublin, where three of their regular fast-sailing Boats arrive each week from the country.

Athy to Dublin                                                 12s   6d per Ton
Vicarstown to do.                                            11s    6d do.
Monastereven to do.                                      10s    6d do.
Rathangan to do.                                              8s  10d do.

Exclusive of the above arrangement they have also commenced plying another Boat drawn by two Horses, which Boat leaves Monastereven every Friday evening at Four o’Clock, and arrives in Dublin on the Saturday night following; this same Boat leaves Dublin every Tuesday morning at Five o’Clock, and arrives in Monastereven on the Wednesday evening following.

They hereby give notice, that any Grain or Corn that may come by their Boats, in bulk, to Dublin, will not be entitled to the above reduction of Freight; but if the Owners of such Grain or Corn, put it into Sacks, they will then be only charged at the above-mentioned Rates (so regulated and ordered by the Grand Canal Company).

They have also established Drays with Covers for the accommodation of their Customers in Dublin, and also in the Country, for the purpose of delivering all kinds of Goods that may be conveyed by their Boats to their respective Owners.

Samples are taken from all Wines and Spirits sent to their care, the instant they are laid down off the cars, in the presence of the Carrier, in small Vial Bottles, sealed, one of which is sent to the Owners, the other retained as a proof; and they are in all cases accountable.

Their Boat Agents are Mr Henry Farrell, at Rathangan; Mr John Coyle, at Monastereven; Mr Thomas Doyle, at Vicarstown; and Mr Michael Commins, at Athy; each of whom are purchasers of Grain, and will give the full value for Wheat, Bere, Barley, Oats and Rapeseed.

Wanted, 800 new Hemp Sacks of the best Irish Manufacture; each Sack must weigh 7 lb exactly standing beam.

They have always a large supply of the best KILKENNY COALS, on reasonable Terms.

Dublin Evening Post 12 September 1816

Looking after Fido

I have today sent this email to both Waterways Ireland and Clare County Council.

This email is being sent to Waterways Ireland (Scarriff office) and Clare County Council.

Let us suppose that, during the summer season (15 May to 15 September), I set  off on my boat, with my dogs, from somewhere at the northern end of Lough Derg; I moor in Mountshannon at 11.15am.

Under Clare County Council’s beach bye-laws (number 16), I may not take my dogs ashore until 6.00pm: they will be confined to Waterways Ireland’s piers and pontoons. The entire area of the car park, the access from the piers to the roads, is off limits to dogs between 11.00am and 6.00pm.

Perhaps you might, for the convenience of visiting dog-owners, designate a corridor through which dogs (on leads) might be taken to land. After all, the area in question is not actually a beach: it is a car park.