Tag Archives: Athy

Canal fecundity

Mrs M’Cann, of Castlecomer, gave birth to two infant boys and a girl, in the canal fly boat from Athy to Dublin, on Monday.

Limerick Chronicle 3 March 1838

Just as well they were infants: giving birth to three teenagers would have been difficult.

The habits of the papists

On 15 February 1833 the Earl of Roden presented to the House of Lords petitions from various places “praying for the better observance of the Sabbath”. Some of the petitioners seemed to be shopkeepers who liked to take Sundays off and didn’t want anyone else taking their custom while they were closed.

Lord Cloncurry, however, pointed to the problems such observance might cause in Ireland, where there were different understandings of what should be done on Sundays. He felt that

[…] care should be taken, in enforcing the law, not to create discord, and do mischief to the people.

Not that creating discord would have bothered Roden, one of the nineteenth century’s prize nitwits.

Cloncurry, of Lyons House, Ardclough, Co Kildare, near where a brewer is buried, was a director of the Grand Canal Company — or rather

He was engaged in the Canal Navigation of Ireland, which afforded valuable commercial opportunities to private individuals, and to those of the middling classes the means of maintaining their families in decency and comfort.

He pointed out to his noble colleagues that canal boatmen treated Sunday like any other day: boats left Limerick and other places on Saturdays and kept going throughout the weekend, probably stopping for mass on Sunday morning:

Noble Lords, perhaps, were not aware, that in the Catholic Church, the rule was to attend mass in the forenoon, and it was then deemed allowable to spend the remainder of the day in amusement or business.

However, two magistrates had “at no distant period” ordered the police to stop boats from travelling on Sundays. These were probably the magistrates in Athy and Monasterevan, as described by Nicholas Fanning of the Grand Canal Company in 1830. The result of the magistrates’ action was that the boatmen went to the pub and their cargoes were plundered. The same magistrates had stopped cargoes of cattle from Clare and Galway en route to Dublin port [although it is difficult to see why they would have gone through Athy or Monasterevan].

The act of the Magistrates already alluded to was in violation of law; for the proper course was to have summoned the boatmen for the offence, instead of stopping the boat. It was not, therefore, surprising that law should be held cheap in Ireland, when it was broken by those who ought to uphold it.

Roden said that Cloncurry should name the magistrates so that there could be an inquiry — Cloncurry refused as he didn’t want to bring odium on them — but he reckoned that they were probably only enforcing the law. Roden said

As to the opinions of Roman Catholics relative to the Sabbath, he would say, without meaning them any offence, that Parliament ought to legislate according to its own religious feelings.

He didn’t foresee the rise of the shopping centre.

 

Barrow Passage Boat

Will, from the 1st of October, depart every morning from Athy at eight o’clock, and arrive at Carlow at or before eleven o’clock, and again on each day leave Carlow at two o’clock, and arrive at Athy by five o’clock in the evening. To continue at these hours until further notice – and it is intended very shortly to run a boat to Leighlin bridge.

27th Sept 1799

Saunders’s News-Letter, and Daily Advertiser 23 December 1799

From the British Newspaper Archive run by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited, in partnership with the British Library.

The passage boats were not a success, nor were the hotels at Carlow and Graiguenamanagh, and the last passage boats from Carlow to Athy ceased to operate in 1809.

V T H & D R Delany The Canals of the South of Ireland David & Charles, Newton Abbot 1966

Barrow cot

The Kildare Nationalist tells us that folk in Athy intend to build replicas of a cot formerly owned by Cassidy’s of Monasterevin.

They say that

The whiskey and beer was transported to Dublin on canal boats and the Barrow Cot Boat would have been used to keep the river and canal clear for the bigger boats.

I don’t understand that. First, the bigger boats wouldn’t have needed to enter the river en route from the distillery to Dublin. Second, keeping the canal clear was the job of the Grand Canal Company, not of carriers or traders on the canal. I would be grateful for more information about this.

Cassidy’s actually operated until around 1921, early twentieth rather than early nineteenth century. Perhaps the Edgar Holmes who owns the cot is related to the Samual Edgar Holmes of the engineering firm said to have taken over the premises in 1934.

 

Backtracking the Barrow trackway

Some time ago I put up a page about the Barrow trackway [towing-path]. For some reason, the page disappeared shortly afterwards. I have now recreated it; unless or until it disappears again, it is here.

Athy dry dock

I have been sent some photos of Athy dry dock and have added them to this page under the heading Grand Canal Barrow Line.

Dublin’s canals in 1801

Grand Canal

The formation of canals was scarcely known in Ireland until the year 1765, when the Grand Canal was begun by a company of enterprising men, who were incorporated in 1772 by an act of parliament; boats began to ply to Sallins in 1783, to Athy in 1791; it is a cheap and pleasant mode of travelling, at the rate of 3½ miles an hour. This Canal is carrying on to Philipstown, Banagher, and Birr. From the first lock at Kilmainham, a cut has been made to the river Liffey at Rings-end, extending 3 miles, having 12 neat bridges to accommodate the different roads to Dublin. At the seventh lock on this line, the great basons and docks are, 4000 feet long, and 330 feet average breadth, capable of containing 400 sail of square-rigged vessels. On the 23rd of April 1796, it was opened at high tide; when his excellency Earl Camden in the Dorset yacht, commanded by Sir A. Schomberg, with a number of barges from the canal, cutters, and boats highly decorated, were admitted under a discharge of 21 pieces of cannon, and had room to sail in various directions. There were 60,000 people present; it was the best aquatic fête ever seen in this kingdom. John Macartney Esq addressed his Excellency, and was knighted.

Royal Canal

The Royal Canal is another proof of national spirit and national industry. The subscribers were incorporated in 1789; it is now finished beyond Kilcock, 14 miles, and is proceeding rapidly to Kinnegad. On Sunday the 20th of December 1795, the first excursion was made in a barge to Kilcock, with the Duke of Leinster and Marquis of Kildare, amidst the acclamations of the people.

J S Dodd, MD The Traveller’s Director through Ireland; being a topographical description not only of all the roads but of the several cities, towns, villages, parishes, cathedrals, churches, abbeys, castles, rivers, lakes, mountains, harbours, the seats of noblemen and gentlemen on those roads: their antiquities and present state respecting parliamentary representation, patronage, trade, manufactures. commerce, markets, fairs, distances from each other, and natural curiosities; with an account of their foundations, vicissitudes, battles, sieges, and other remarkable events that have occurred at them — insomuch, that this work comprehends in itself, an accurate Irish itinerary, an extensive Irish gazetteer, an Irish chronological remebrancer [sic], and an epitome of the ecclesiastical, civil, military and natural history of Ireland, from the earliest accounts to the present year, and every information necessary for the resident, or the stranger. Embellished with  two elegant maps; one of the roads and post towns in Ireland, the other of the city of Dublin, compiled from the most authentic authorities Dublin 1801

Grand water

Here is a page about the feeders that supplied water to the Grand Canal. There will soon be a page about the Royal Canal feeders; these will lead to an examination of the current and proposed supply of water to the Royal.

Buggering up the Barrow

Have you ever wondered, as you grounded on a sand bar or fought a current upstream, quite why the River Barrow is so challenging?

Here is a confession (with photos) from the man wot done it — in 1931 ….

Canals and labour history

The building and the use of Irish inland waterways, by navvies and boatmen respectively, will be discussed at the May Day Labour History School, to be held at Athy Community Arts Centre on Saturday 30 April 2011. The events of the day (copied from here):

12pm-4.00pm: photographic exhibition commemorating the workers who built the canals and the boatmen who transported the goods throughout the canal network.

2pm-2.15pm: Official Opening of the Festival by the Mayor of Athy

2.15pm-4.00pm: series of talks examining the socio-economic and cultural impact that the opening of the canals had on provincial life. The typical life of the early navvies and boatmen will be brought to life, and the struggle for improvement in conditions leading to early Trade Union formation will also be explored.

8.00pm: A concert of Labour and Workers’ songs, featuring two of Dublin’s well-known balladeers, Tom Crean and Jimmy Kelly. The concert will be preceded by a Wine Reception at 7.30pm.

More details of the weekend here or here (PDF). I wouldn’t bother trying the SIPTU site: I couldn’t find the info there.