Tag Archives: Barrow

Grand Canal: early plans

This page has a map of the planned route of the Grand Canal from Dublin to the Shannon via the Brosna, with branches to the Barrow and the Boyne, as proposed in 1779.

Note that I know nothing about the site displaying the map and I do not know whether it might endanger your computer’s security in any way. Mine seems to be OK [so far] [touch wood].

Tories on the Barrow and the Shannon

I read here that Olivia O’Leary, who chairs a Save the Barrow Line committee, says that the Barrow Line (trackway or towing-path)

[…] is a natural amenity and should be maintained as it is.

It isn’t. It is an entirely artificial creation, built to enable the use of horses to tow boats. Any geraniums, beetles, butterflies or tweetie-birds using it are interlopers, squatters and trespassers and should be paying rent; at the very least they should take second place to humans.

The Grand Canal Company often complained about the poor quality of the Barrow trackway: the surface was not up to the job. If it is to cater for more users, it may well need to be improved. That is an engineering decision on which I am not competent to pronounce but, as the Barrow is pretty well a dead loss for long-distance cruising by larger boats, it needs to be redesigned for walkers, cyclists and canoeists.

But at least the Barrow NIMBYs are prepared to accept more boats. Dr William O’Connor of the Old River Shannon Research Group writes about the Shannon here, complaining about the small number of “garish canoes” that occasionally travel downstream from Castleconnell to Clareville. Dr O’Connor asks

[…] why has it become a free-for-all for canoeists?

The answer is that there is a right to navigate, as I pointed out here (with an addendum here): I have had no response from the ESB so, while being open to correction, I maintain my position. Anglers may believe that their interests are paramount on that stretch of the Shannon: I disagree. Of course I would be all in favour of discussions between anglers, kayakers, dog-walkers and other users (even environmentalists), but such discussions cannot be based on a presumption that one group has all the rights, or that one activity is of supreme importance, and that the rest are secondary.

For some reason, canoes operated by commercial providers are particularly to be condemned, although it is not clear how salmon and lampreys can distinguish between public-sector, private-sector and voluntary-sector canoes — or whether they would be bothered anyway: Dr William O’Connor says

It is noted that there has been little scientific research on the ecological impact of canoeing.

In other words, there is no reason to believe that there is any basis for the concerns expressed by Dr O’Connor or by various anglers.

More broadly, though, the common factor on the Shannon and the Barrow is that existing users of public facilities are resisting new or expanded uses and seeking to protect their privileges. Irish Toryism is alive and well.

Addendum: this is probably the solution to the salmon problem.

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

The Barrow Navigation Company’s fleet

Here is an account of the October 1871 half-yearly meeting of the Barrow Navigation Company. It is interesting for the information it provides about the company’s finances and in particular about the size of its fleet and the number of horses required.

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.

 

Carlow Distillery

THOMAS HAUGHTON and CO., (being about to withdraw from the Trade,) are ready to receive proposals to Let with a fine, or Sell the Interest in their Concern, consisting of Distillery, Water-mill, Malt-house, Corn-stores, extensive Vaults for bonding Stores, with an excellent Dwelling-house; the whole situate at Carlow, on the bank of the navigable river Barrow.

The Copper Works and Utensils having been lately erected are all in perfect order, and there being a home Sale at the door for the entire produce, renders this Concern a most eligible investment for any competent person (or Company,) with a moderate capital.

The Dublin Mercantile Advertiser, and Weekly Price Current 16 December 1833

From the BNA

Interesting info from Waterways Ireland

Two interesting PDF documents available on this page:

No mention of Saunderson’s Sheugh, but I suppose dredging of the River Finn is proceeding.

Hurrah for the red, white and orange

Colour discrimination seems to be rampant in Ireland. Of the sets of colours [red, white and blue] and [green, white and orange], there is Official Endorsement of two, green and blue, while red, white and orange are ignored. Even the North/South Ministerial Council has got in on the act, with a whole page on its website about greenways and blueways. They must have been overdosing on the Erne flag. Their page is a list of links, sort of plonked there without context or explanation, but there’s probably some hands-across-the-borderism or something going on.

I read in the Guardian today of a proposal for a greenway on the former railway line between Roscrea and Portumna via Birr. And a jolly good thing too, but how many greenways and blueways can one small island accommodate? How thinly will the tourists be spread? And what about those of us who hate walking, cycling, kayaking and other such energetic pursuits?

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.

Crossing the Barrow

The trackway [towing-path] on the River Barrow changes from the east {left) bank to the west at Leighlinbridge and back again at Graiguecullen/Carlow.

It seems to me that there may have been some difficulties in getting horse-drawn boats from one side of the river to the other and I have found no evidence on how it was done, so here is some speculation instead.