Tag Archives: Abbey River

A gale at Limerick

Doubtless there must have been a pretty considerable storm at Limerick on Thursday week; though the following Hibernian account of it, in the Limerick Chronicle, goes somewhat beyond our sober and humble notions of the style proper for narrative.

That comment was made by the Spectator of 7 December 1833. Odd that a mag later edited by Boris Johnson should once have been devoted to “sober and humble” narratives. O tempora o mores.

Here is the Chronicle report as the Spectator quoted it:

A violent gale of wind set in at WNW, accompanied by occasional heavy showers of rain; and on the same evening, the gale assumed all the appalling characteristics of a most furious hurricane.

Throughout the night, the scene was terrific in the extreme, and the streets presented a most desolate aspect. Nearly all the public gas-lights were extinguished; and the howling of the storm, as it swept in pitiless squalls through every street, lane, and alley, struck terror to the hearts of every inmate of those mansions which suffered more or less from its destructive power.

A spring-tide, raised by the storm beyond its usual boundaries, dashed with desperate force against the quays, rolling a vast mass of water over the docks, etc and presenting one continuous sheet of liquid foam, at either side of the river for two miles. Several boats were thrown out of the docks upon the quay, where they were left high and dry at low tide. The vessels of the Shannon Yacht Club, laid up for the winter season at anchorage in the Abbey river, were driven against the salmon-weir bank, but received no material injury.

The strong banks enclosing the Abbey river (island and salmon-weir) were broken up, and the waters rushed in, deluging the fields on both sides to a wide extent. The cattle grazing there, cows and sheep, were saved with great difficulty. The long-pavement, or causeway, from Quinpool to the Thomond Gate Distillery, was inundated, and the fields around flooded.

The yards of the city gaol were full of water, and the tide came up to its very gates, as it did also to the verge of the flagging on Arthur’s Quay. The underground kitchens in houses adjacent to the river were from one to two feet deep in water. It is worthy of remark, that a few hours before this dreadful commotion, the quicksilver fell rapidly to a degree so low as we scarce ever remember.

The horses of the Ennis coach had to wade knee-deep several miles of the road, especially about Cratloe, without a vestige of the usual landmarks. The salmon weir received considerable damage, a great portion of the large timber-work having been torn up and sent adrift. Some of the strongest houses in the city literally rocked in the blast like a cradle. A house building off William Street, which wanted merely the roofing to complete it, was hurled to the ground, and became a pile of rubbish.

 

Horse under water

The horse’s journey (OSI 6″ ~1840)

A horse and car fell in at the lower lock of the Canal this day — passed rapidly down by the flood-gates, under Baal’s Bridge, between the Malls, under the new Bridge, by the Custom-house, where a row boat came to the rescue, and the poor struggling animal was secured by the boatmen, who cut the harness, and brought him safe to shore to Arthur’s-quay, where hundreds were assembled to behold the horse again on terra firma.

Limerick Chronicle 13 December 1845

Gabbett and Frawley

Sunday last, as a small boat, in which were four boys, was passing between Baal’s Bridge and the New Bridge, it suddenly upset, and the boys were in imminent danger, struggling in the water; two of them clung to the wooden pillars of the temporary bridge, and held on until a boat, belonging to Poole Gabbett Esq, came to their assistance, and picked them up. The others would have been carried off by the tide but for a man named Frawley, who rushed into the riber with his clothes on, and at the risk of his life, succeeded in bringing them safe on shore.

Limerick Chronicle 18 June 1845

The Limerick Navigation: lock sizes

Here is a table showing the sizes of the locks on the (now abandoned) Limerick Navigation.

The fear of Baal’s Bridge

In May 1895 the fear induced by the prospect of a passage under Baal’s Bridge, on the Abbey River in Limerick, as revealed in the commercial court in London before Mr Justice Mathew and reported by the Freeman’s Journal of 20 May 1895.

Arthur George Mumford of Colchester, Essex, was described as an agent, but was actually a marine engineer and manufacturer of steam engines. He owned a 25-ton steam yacht called Gipsy, which he decided to sell through Messrs Cox & King, the well-known yachting agents (their 1913 catalogue is here).

The buyer was Ambrose Hall, the man responsible for the statue of Patrick Sarsfield. A former mayor of Limerick, he was an alderman and a “house and land commission agent”; his address was given as Mignon House, Limerick, which I have not so far found.

Hall bought the boat for £500; it was to be delivered to him at Limerick. The original plan was to sail it around the coast of Ireland and up the Shannon estuary, but bad weather in late 1894 caused Cox & King to suggest taking it to Dublin and then down the Grand Canal and the Shannon to Limerick. Hall agreed; the boat left Dublin in January 1895. It reached Killaloe on 19 January and Limerick “a day or two afterwards”, where it was moored in the canal harbour.

25 Grand Canal Harbour Limerick March 2007 01_resize

Canal harbour, Limerick in March 2007

Hall refused to accept the boat in the canal, saying that it should have been delivered to Limerick dock, a short distance downstream. Mumford and Cox & King sued him and the National Bank.

Hall and Baal

Ordnance Survey ~1900

Hall, an alderman and a former mayor, who had lived at North Strand, presumably knew the river and its difficulties.

Baal's Bridge 20091128 1_resize

Baal’s Bridge looking upstream towards the canal harbour in the floods of 2009

Navigation arch at Mathew Bridge 20091122_resize

The navigation arch at Mathew Bridge looking downstream in the floods of 2009

It was contended by the defendant that to get the vessel from the canal into the estuary of the Shannon there was a considerable risk involved. The passage was only a few hundred yards, but it was stated it could only be effected at certain states of the tide when it would be possible to get through Ballsbridge.

The judge sensibly suggested that it should be possible to insure the boat for the journey; the plaintiffs agreed to deliver it; Hall agreed to accept delivery and to pay £15 for the cost of the caretaker who had been looking after the boat since 23 January; the case was settled.

Clearly Ambrose Hall didn’t know Pat Lysaght.

My OSI logo and permit number for website

Abbey River

I don’t think I’d leave it there ….

Boat on the Abbey River, December 2011