The Barrow

Back in September 1998, I trundled over to the Lord Bagenal at Leighlinbridge, where a young chap called Dick Warner was launching a brochure about boating on the River Barrow.


I wrote afterwards:

At the launch of the Pleasure Cruising on the River Barrow brochure, Dick Warner said that the Barrow urgently needed more users. He suggested some practical steps:

  • making the Barrow easier with landing-stages below locks
  • creating safe havens where people can leave their boats
  • providing cheaper waterways activities: canoeing and walking might attract younger holiday-makers
  • encouraging “outfitters” to rent out canoes, tents and other equipment for that market
  • setting up camp-grounds every 15 km or so, perhaps using the land that the state owns on one bank all the way down the Barrow
  • allowing house-boats at designated, serviced sites. Their presence would provide security for visiting boats
  • allowing mountain-biking and horse-traffic along the banks. Why should horses, for whom the towpaths had been built, be banned from them?
  • promoting commercial traffic, perhaps by subsidising a joint venture between a boat-operator, a manufacturer (one with a tradition of using the waterways) and a PR company. Dick said that there is undersubscribed EU funding available for such ventures.

Many of those ideas are applicable to waterways other than the Barrow. And anything that gets people using, and valuing, the waterways is to be welcomed.

Now, thirteen and a bit years later, comes The Barrow Corridor Recreational, Tourism and Commercial Product Identification Study prepared by URS [note that on “9 December 2011, URS Scott Wilson became URS in the UK and Ireland”]  and Judith A Annett Countryside Consultancy for Waterways Ireland and Fáilte Ireland in conjunction with Carlow County Development Partnership, Kilkenny LEADER Partnership and Carlow, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Wexford County Councils. The study is available here in twelve separate files; see “Barrow Corridor Study” under the heading “Development Studies”.

Internal evidence suggests that at least some of the report, which was launched in February 2012, was written in October 2010: for example, the Year of the Barrow 2011 is referred to as a future event. There is nothing to explain why it was not completed (or at least published) for sixteen months.

I often get the impression that newspapers and other media don’t actually read studies or reports like this one. They get a pre-cooked press release and a photo of happy smiling people, perhaps including a local politician, so they stick all that in and don’t have to read (much less think about) the contents of the study or report. The news they report is that a report has been produced; what it actually says is ignored. I think that’s insulting to the authors, and anyway I like reading reports, so I’ve commented in some detail on aspects that interested me.

But there is a more important reason for doing so: some organisations are already initiating studies or projects based on the outcomes of the Product Identification Study. If there are problems with that study, resources (public or private) may be misallocated.

Here are some comments about the head and tail material.

A page about the definition of the Barrow: Celtic, English or Norman?


2 responses to “The Barrow

  1. Dear Sir.
    your comments and observations on the Barrow study are thankfull. I agree with all of them, one thing i found after spending a rather large amount of €s i found the report fit for the bin. most of it was copy and paste material by rss.I would love to meet you to discuss in detail as i am the chairman of this project i feel there is a struggle to make things happen on river related matters.

  2. I’ll email you direct. bjg

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