Tag Archives: Banagher

The vast utility of internal navigation

As a manifest proof of the vast utility and advantage of internal navigation, the present price of land carriage to Banagher, which is that particular part which the Canal is to extend to in its Westerly progress, is 2s 4d per hundred weight, or 2l 6s 8d the ton, but the freightage and tonnage by the Canal cannot exceed thirteen shillings, which in some articles, either sent to or from the capital, must reduce the price upwards of forty per cent.

From this calculation we suppose the tonnage to be three halfpence a mile and the freightage a penny, but there will be many loadings that will not be rated or charged at so high a price; as for instance, lime, stones, flag and slate, which are to pay but a halfpenny, fuel a farthing, and dung, marl, and gravel for manure, entirely exempt from any charge.

Of what infinite use it will be to the manufactures of this kingdom in the article of fuel only, may be evinced by the price of Kilkenny coal being reduced more than one-half, and corn, flour, with an infinite variety of other matters, being sent much cheaper to this city. The profits resulting will enable this useful design to be still extended, by forming collateral branches, with all the navigable rivers in the central counties, and perhaps making communication with the remotest part of this kingdom.

Saunders’s News-Letter 24 October 1785

Big it up for Banagher

Banagher: the old canal (OSI 6″ map ~1830s)

I was in Banagher yesterday, visiting the site of the old (pre-Shannon Commissioners) canal on the north (virtual west) bank. The area is a park operated by a community group [I would welcome details and a link] and includes a pitch-and-putt course, an outdoor swimming pool in the river and storage for canoes (a group of young people was about to get afloat as I left).

It is also, as the map above shows, rich in waterways and military artefacts. Much of the waterways material can still be seen and a series of signs shows old drawings and provides useful information (though the lock, surprisingly, has no sign). I think I am right in deducing that the signs reflect the work of historian James Scully, one of those who gave an extremely enlightening and entertaining talk about Banagher Bridge a few years ago.

The park is well used by local people but it should also attract many tourists to take the short walk from their boats on the far side of the bridge. It is an excellent example of local initiative drawing on local expertise to illuminate local history and create a sense of place and it could be emulated at many other waterways sites along the Shannon.

Furthermore, added to Banagher’s other historic and literary associations, it shows the wealth of interesting material offered in this town. It is not, unfortunately, on the main tourist routes by road, but it should be possible to attract the interest (and the spending) of water-borne visitors.

I hope that will work for the community; in the meantime, I applaud their initiative.

 

A distinguished visitor to the Shannon

Dwarkanauth Tagore, of Calcutta, the distinguished and princely East Indian, who is making a tour of the United Kingdom, arrived in this city, on Tuesday evening with his suit [sic], in an elegant drag with four horses, and he put up at Cruise’s hotel.

The native Prince merchant partook of a dejeune at Killaloe on Tuesday. The City of Dublin Steam Company placed all their vessels on the Upper Shannon, at his command, and they were gaily decorated with flags, in compliment to the distinguished stranger, who left Limerick this day on a visit to Killarney Lakes, and is expected to call at Derrynane, the seat of Mr O’Connell.

Dwarkanauth Tagore dined and slept at Lord Rosse’s, on Monday night, where he examined the prodigious telescope — drove to Banagher, on Tuesday morning, and embarked on board the Lansdown [sic] steamer, proceeded through Victoria Locks Meelick, accompanied by Colonel Jones, and Mr Rhodes CE, also by Mr Howell, Secretary to the Dublin Steam Company. He was much pleased with the new works at Meelick, and also with the operations of a diver in a helmet, who exhibited the mode of using that apparatus.

The dejeune on board the Lansdown was provided by the Steam Company. Several ladies and gentlemen came up by the Lady Burgoyne to join the party of [at?] Portumna in the Lansdown. After partaking of the good cheer, they had dancing and music on deck till they reached Killaloe, much to the amusement of the stranger guest, who felt edlighted, not only with the scenery of the lake, but also with the company of the ladies.

Limerick Reporter 5 September 1845

From the BNA

Gunboats at Banagher

The gun boats — extraordinary affair

From our own correspondent, Dublin, Dec 11

You may remember a statement I sent last week, respecting the arrival of the Penelope war steamer, with six gun-boats of formidable calibre, which were sent down by the Grand Canal to Banagher, in order to guard the pass across the Shannon between Leinster and Connaught. A letter which I have seen this morning, from that place, announced that the gun-boats reached their destination, but, strange to say, no one can be induced to come forward and take charge of them. All persons in authority, who had been applied to, disavowed all responsibility regarding them; and an application has been made to the Castle on the subject, to ascertain what is to be done with these formidable gun-boats. The wisest course would be to take them back to the dock-yard from whence they have been imported.

Morning Chronicle 13 December 1843

From the BNA

Holiday tours in Ireland VII

On Lough Derg

There are two Lough Dergs in Ireland. One is in the County of Donegal, within four and a half miles of Pettigoe, and is celebrated for its St Patrick’s Purgatory. The lake is but six miles long and four miles broad, and can hardly vie for scenery with its namesake in the south.

In order to reach this, probably one of the most exquisitely beautiful loughs in Ireland, it is necessary to make for the town of Killaloe. This can be done by leaving Euston at a quarter-past ten at night, when Killaloe is reached by 3.10 the following afternoon; or should the tourist prefer the Irish mail, he can leave at a quarter to nine in the evening and arrive at Killaloe at half-past eleven the following morning.

Few Irish towns contain so many antiquarian relics, combined with such beautiful scenery, for Killaloe stands on a hillside tufted with wood and surrounded by mountains. The old cathedral occupies the site of a church founded by St Dalua, in the sixth century. The present building dates from the twelfth century, with a central square tower whose effect is somewhat spoiled by a  modern crown. Its gem is a Hiberno-Romanesque doorway, which has, unfortunately, been blocked into the south wall of the nave. The precincts also contain a small stone-roofed church, said to date as far back as the sixth century.

The fishing is generally extremely good, though many prefer Castleconnell, some five miles to the south on the road to Limerick. In any case few portions of the United Kingdom furnish better salmon fishing than that reach of the river Shannon that lies between Killaloe and Castleconnell.

Lough Derg must, however, remain the greatest attraction of the district. It is twenty-three miles in length, and varies in breadth from two to six miles. Nothing can surpass the loveliness of the scene, especially on a fine summer’s day. On the one side the well-wooded and smiling hills of Limerick and Tipperary, where Thomthimia, with its slate quarries, slopes down to the water’s edge; while on the other the darker and more rugged mountains of Slieve Bernagh, Ballycuggeren, and the Crag form the most effective contrast.

Kincora was once the residence of Brian Boroimbh, King of Munster, and its magnificence was long the main theme of the ancient bards. But little now remains of the ancient palace beyond a long circular earthen fort, with a single vallum some twenty feet in height.

Inishcaltra or the Holy Island is, however, well worth a visit, and for this purpose it would be better to utilize the local service from either Scariff or Killaloe to Mountshannon, which faces the island. It possesses a round tower some eighty feet high, and seven churches, or cells, and oratories, the most remarkable of which is that of St Caimin, originally erected by him in the seventh, but subsequently rebuilt by Brian Borombh in the tenth century.

Scariff may this year be approached by steamer, and is a very prettily situated village, within access by road of Woodford, in County Galway, and Ennis in County Clare. The steamer then crosses the lake to Dromineer, at the mouth of the Nenagh river, where the ruins of the castle stand out with such picturesque effect. The bay is one of the most popular resorts, both of the angler and of the yachtsman; for to the latter it has earned a well-deserved reputation for its annual regatta.

The steamer then stops at Williamstown while a boat from Kilgarvan occasionally lands passengers and conveys them to the steamer. As soon as the new jetty has been constructed by the Board of Works, Woodford will be equally accessible; but there is no doubt that the approach to Portumna pier at the head of the Lough, lying as it does between the well-wooded demesnes of Portumna Castle on the one side and Belleisle and Slevoir on the other, presents one of the finest pictures that the lake discloses, for there we see the most striking contrast between the tame verdure of the river Shannon and the bold mountain scenery of Lough Derg.

It would be tedious to dwell on the varied beauties of those innumerable seats that dot the shores of the lake on all sides; suffice it to say that few parts of the United Kingdom present as many diverse attractions as this wide expanse of water. Much as one may appreciate Loch Lomond, Loch Maree, or the Caledonian Canal, this Irish lough certainly surpasses them; and much gratitude is due to the Shannon Development Company for bringing within such easy access of the average tourist a wealth of scenery that certainly equals, if it is not finer, the finest spots that either Scotland, Norway, or Switzerland can offer.

This is, however, but half the trip from Killaloe to Athlone. Portumna is chiefly remarkable for the ruins of a Dominican priory founded in the thirteenth century, as well as for the Castle, the property of Lord Clanricarde, in which he has not resided since his succession to the estate. The village of Lorrha, three miles further up, also contains the ruins of a Dominican abbey, an oblong pile 120 ft long, as well as a castle and two old ecclesiastical buildings called by the peasantry the English churches, owing to their having been built by Norman settlers.

The river now assumes a totally novel character, winding by graceful curves through low-lying but rich meadow lands. Their luxuriant appearance is largely due to the fact that they are usually submerged under the waters of the river during the winter months.

Meelick Abbey is next passed. It was founded by the Franciscans in the twelfth century, and was at one time a sumptuous structure, but is now a roofless and mouldering ruin; and a beautiful pillar which formerly supported the arches on the south side has been torn away with ruthless vandalism, in order to make headstones for the graves in the cemetery.

Banagher can boast of a fine stone bridge, opened some fifty years ago to replace the preceding structure, which displayed no less than twenty-three arches of various forms, with massive piers between, and was so narrow that only one carriage could pass at a time.

Shannon Harbour is best known from the description of its hotel in Lever’s Jack Hinton, but that building is now let in tenements. Shannon Bridge is one of the three fortified passes built to guard the Shannon, and is but four miles from Clonfert, whose cathedral, now being restored, contains one of the finest Hiberno-Romanesque doorways to be found in the three kingdoms.

Few spots, however, offer greater attractions to the antiquary than do the celebrated seven churches of Clonmacnoise. The most remarkable of these are the Diamhliag Mhor or Great Church, which dates from the fourteenth, and Fineens Church, built in the thirteenth century. The former was originally the work of Flann, King of Ireland, in 909, and contains several bits, more especially the sandstone capitals of the west doorway, that may be traced to the earlier period. Besides these churches, there is much to be seen at Clonmacnoise, which includes among its ruins the episcopal palace and castle of the O’Melaghlins, a nunnery, two round towers, Celtic crosses, and inscribed stones. The grand cross, formed of a single stone 15 ft high and elaborately carved, surpasses every other in beauty of execution and elaborate detail.

Though the tourist may gaze upon Clonmacnoise as he approaches and leaves it and enjoys a particularly fine view of its beauties as he passes by the curve of the river on whose banks it is situated, no provision has yet been made to enable him either to land or to make a closer acquaintance of its many beauties as he passes by. This is due to the refusal on the part of its proprietor to meet the proposals of the company. It is, however, to be hoped that more favourable terms may be made in the future, as the traveller must now proceed straight to Athlone and visit the ruins from there either by road or by water.

Much more might be said of Lough Derg as well as of the Shannon from Killaloe to Athlone. Fair hotel accommodation may be obtained at Killaloe, Dromineer, Portumna, and Athlone at from eight to nine shillings a day. Lodgings can also be procured at Killaloe, where the proprietors have learned to cater for the requirements of those anglers who frequent this highly-favoured spot.

Return tickets may be obtained from Euston to Killaloe by the North Wall at
£4 13s 6d first, £2 16s second, and £2 third class. Lough Derg may also be visited from Athlone by the Midland Great Western Railway from Broadstone. The fares by Kingstown and the mail are somewhat dearer.

Pall Mall Gazette 1 August 1898

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

The disappointed steamer

For one brief moment it seemed that the humble steamer Ballymurtagh might have a glittering future as a passenger vessel. Alas, it was not to be.

Shannon water levels 8 December 2015

North to south (more or less)

Floods 20151208 Shannonbridge 01_resize

Shannonbridge upstream

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Shannonbridge downstream

Floods 20151208 Shannon Harbour 04_resize

Shannon Harbour: 36th lock

Floods 20151208 Shannon Harbour 06_resize

Shannon Harbour: below the 36th

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Shannon Harbour: road to Banagher closed

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Banagher: the harbour above the bridge

Floods 20151208 Banagher 05_resize

Banagher: the harbour’s sole inhabitant

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Banagher: work goes on

Floods 20151208 Portumna bridge 01_resize

Portumna Bridge: Hawthorn moving

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Portumna Bridge

Floods 20151208 Portumna bridge 02_resize

Below Portumna Bridge

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Above Portumna Bridge

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Portumna Bridge: Waterways Ireland yard

Floods 20151208 Mountshannon 01_resize

Mountshannon

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Mountshannon: the main quay

Floods 20151208 Scarriff 01_resize

Scarriff: the river in flood

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Scarriff: the river flowing on to the road to the harbour

Floods 20151208 Scarriff 06_resize

Scarriff: sandbags blocking the road …

Floods 20151208 Scarriff 04_resize

… to the Waterways Ireland Shannon HQ. Anyone in the building must have waded there

Floods 20151208 Tuamgraney 01_resize

Tuamgraney

Floods 20151208 Killaloe 16_resize

Killaloe: the flash lock

Floods 20151208 Killaloe 26_resize

Killaloe bridge from downstream

Floods 20151208 O'Briensbridge 02_resize

O’Briensbridge

Floods 20151208 O'Briensbridge 05_resize

Water level with the quay at O’Briensbridge

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Flooded fields at O’Briensbridge

O’Briensbridge is on the original course of the Shannon, downstream of Parteen Villa Weir, which controls how much water goes via the original course and how much goes to the hydroelectric power station at Ardnacrusha.

Normally, the original course gets the first 10 cubic metres per second (10 cumec, they say) of water and Ardnacrusha gets the next 400, 100 for each of its four turbines. In floods, any excess is sent down the original course, through O’Briensbridge, Castleconnell and Plassey. One newspaper today said that, on Monday 7 December 2015, 315 cumec had been sent down the original course and, on Tuesday 8 December, 375 cumec.

The water levels are still below the peak achieved in November 2009, but there is more to come: as the Shannon drains a very large amount of Ireland, and as it is falls very little in its upper reaches, it takes a long time for the runoff to reach Killaloe and Parteen Villa. It may be that the ESB, which controls Ardnacrusha and Parteen Villa, is now running down the level of Lough Derg to make room for the water that has yet to arrive from the upper Shannon.

 

How true these words are …

… even today:

The swivel bridges at Portumna and Banagher seem to have been badly situated with regard to the passage of vessels, both being placed in the concave bend of the river which makes it difficult, in blowing weather, and going down stream, to shoot the bridge safely.

From the BNA

That is from the Clare Journal, and Ennis Advertiser of 12 September 1850. The swivel bridges of yesterday are the navigation arches of today. The deficiencies of the Shannon Commissioners’ work were evident as soon as they had completed it.

However, although the article from which the sentence was taken is a condemnation of the Shannon Commissioners, the Journal was mistaken in blaming them for Portumna: that bridge was not built by the Shannon Commissioners.

The Shannon in winter

Downriver from Shannon Harbour to Dromineer in December 2014. It began as a bright, cold morning.

Shannon Harbour to Dromineer December 2014 01_resize

Leaving Shannon Harbour after icebreaking between the locks

Shannon Harbour to Dromineer December 2014 02_resize

Flooding to the south-east

Shannon Harbour to Dromineer December 2014 03_resize

But southward, look …

Shannon Harbour to Dromineer December 2014 06_resize

The Brosna

Shannon Harbour to Dromineer December 2014 73_resize

Heading for Banagher Bridge 1

Shannon Harbour to Dromineer December 2014 75_resize

Keeping close to the pontoons

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Heading for Banagher Bridge 2

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Heading for Banagher Bridge 3

There is a YouTube video of the shooting of the bridge here. It seems to start automatically, including sound; I don’t know how to avoid that.

Shannon Harbour to Dromineer December 2014 107_resize

Looking back at Banagher

Shannon Harbour to Dromineer December 2014 116_resize

Colours

Shannon Harbour to Dromineer December 2014 124_resize

Invernisk

Shannon Harbour to Dromineer December 2014 129_resize

Shannon Grove

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Current

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Scarpering heron

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Colours

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Marker and gauge

Shannon Harbour to Dromineer December 2014 151_resize

House

Shannon Harbour to Dromineer December 2014 169_resize

Boats at Meelick

Shannon Harbour to Dromineer December 2014 170_resize

Meelick weir

Shannon Harbour to Dromineer December 2014 174_resize

East bank

Shannon Harbour to Dromineer December 2014 176_resize

Protective boom

Shannon Harbour to Dromineer December 2014 181_resize

Sluices

Shannon Harbour to Dromineer December 2014 198_resize

Through Meelick Lock

Shannon Harbour to Dromineer December 2014 205_resize

One bird

Shannon Harbour to Dromineer December 2014 213_resize

Many birds

Shannon Harbour to Dromineer December 2014 221_resize

Reeds

Shannon Harbour to Dromineer December 2014 226_resize

Architecture

Shannon Harbour to Dromineer December 2014 228_resize

Munster Harbour

Shannon Harbour to Dromineer December 2014 233_resize

Delaying Eamon Egan

Shannon Harbour to Dromineer December 2014 235_resize

Gateway to civilisation

Shannon Harbour to Dromineer December 2014 237_resize

Connacht Harbour

Shannon Harbour to Dromineer December 2014 239_resize

Lough Derg: weather has changed

Shannon Harbour to Dromineer December 2014 243_resize

Journey’s end, Dromineer

 

The monsoon is coming …

… perhaps. The water depth at Banagher has stayed at around 2.1 metres but that at Athlone has gone down to about 2.0 metres. Are TPTB lowering Lough Ree so that it can store the water from the autumnal rains? Information welcome.