Tag Archives: Brosna

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].

Royal Canal water supply

On 26 November 2012 I noted that

The Royal Canal water supply applications have been approved by An Bord Pleanala. There were two separate applications […] but they were in effect treated as one.

There were conditions attached, but I concluded that

If I remember correctly, the amount of water available from Lough Ennell will not always provide enough (eg in a dry season) to keep the canal full. Still, this is a significant advance for Waterways Ireland and for Royal Canal enthusiasts.

So here we are, almost two years later, and the work of providing a supply from Lough Ennell to the Royal Canal, reckoned to be about a five-month job, has doubtless been long completed, no?


The work has not yet started and Waterways Ireland will be lucky if it gets done within the next year.

As I understand it — and if, Gentle Reader, you have more information, do please leave a Comment below (your name can be kept out of public view if you like) — there are three sources of delay:

  • first, I understand that there is a technical issue about one of the conditions attached to the approval; it is felt that the condition is unworkable, but that getting it changed might take some time. I presume it’s one of the conditions 2(a) to 2(d) that I quoted two years ago and, looking at the proposed orders published in the press [PDF], I suspect it might be the requirement to maintain the lake level at or above 79.325 mOD Malin Datum. However, I don’t really know
  • second, Waterways Ireland took over Clonsingle Weir, at the outlet from Lough Ennell, by Compulsory Purchase. Owners of mills, who generate electricity from the Brosna, have submitted claims for compensation. I understand that an arbitration hearing, lasting four days, is scheduled to be help in May 2015
  • third, responsibility for the scheme has moved from Westmeath County Council to Irish Water. Which may have other things on its mind.

Irish Water has published its proposed Capital Investment Programme [PDF] but Appendix 1, the Investment Plan Project Summary, is in a separate file [PDF]. Category B is headed Review Scope and Commence Construction and it includes

Mullingar Regional Water Supply Scheme (G) … Lough Ennell Abstraction.

I can’t work out what “(G)” means. A few items are so marked; a few others are marked “(H)”; most items have neither.

The Capital Investment Programme [CIP] document says:

 The CIP is dominated by contractual commitments entered into previously by Local Authorities, and which have now transitioned to Irish Water. In the 2014-2016 period, Irish Water will fund these contracts to completion and bring forward programmes and prioritised projects to commence. At the same time, it will progress a large portfolio of projects that are at the planning and design stage, reviewing their scope, budgets and, where appropriate, timing to favour maximising the performance of the existing assets through intensified capital maintenance that might allow deferral of major capital investment.

Emphasis mine. So that raises the possibility that Irish Water will decide not to fund the abstraction scheme but will rather opt to pay for continued pumping.

It is, of course, quite possible that I have misunderstood these difficult matters, so I will be glad to hear from anyone with better information.

Incidentally, reviewing Irish Water’s documents suggests to me that there are people there who know what they are doing and who have the expertise to manage large and complex operations. That differentiates them from the politicians in government and opposition, few of whom (as far as I can see) have any experience of running anything more complex than a parish social.



The Brosna: fish and mills

Two reports from Dr William O’Connor about fish on the Brosna here at Clara and here at Belmont. Both are mill sites, now generating electricity, and the difficulty lies in providing for fish to get past.

Marty Whelan, St Saran, Colonel l’Estrange and the Tessauren Ferry

Marty Whelan, a youthful disk-jockey chap with an insignificant amount of facial hair, presents a morning programme on the wireless. One day last week, discussing traffic problems with a chap from AA Roadwatch, he considered the origin of the name of L’Estrange Bridge, whose location neither he nor his collocutor knew.

L'Estrange Bridge (2003)

L’Estrange Bridge (2003)

It had been mentioned on this site as the location of a fatal motoring accident in December 2011 and it is, of course, a useful stopping place for those who, driving to Athlone, like to stop to consume the coffee (and any comestibles) they may have purchased in the award-winning Spar shop in Cloghan.

I emailed Mr Whelan, with a link to the location on the OSI map.

Tessauren 1

L’Estrange Bridge and Moystown House

I speculated that, as the nearby Moystown House was owned by the l’Estrange family (as was Huntston or Hunstanton, across the road), the Grand Canal Company might have had to buy land from them and, with the aim of keeping the cost down, have agreed to name the bridge after the landowner (a tactic that the National Roads Authority might adopt).

I should make it clear that I have not researched the land purchases of the Grand Canal Company in the area, so this should not be taken as definitive. I note, from Fred Hamond’s Bridges of Offaly County: an industrial heritage review (for Offaly County Council, November 2005), that the date on the bridge is 1800, although the canal was not opened until 1804; as Fred says:

Most [bridges] were built before their respective stretches of canal opened […].

The Parliamentary Gazetteer of 1846 says:

The principal artificial features are the mutually adjacent demesnes of Moystown and Hunstanton, the residences of the Messrs L’Estrange, situated on the Brosna. “Though Moystown,” remarks Mr Fraser, “has not extensively diversified park scenery to boast of, and is environed by deep brown bog, there is, in the style of the house, in the arrangement of the plantations, and in the beautiful evergreen oaks and other ornamental trees which adorn the lawn, a character which carries us back to the gentlemen’s seats of the olden times. This demesne is watered by the Brosna, which pays its ample tribute to the Shannon at thetermination of the grounds, and where also the Grand Canal crosses the river in its progress to Ballinasloe.”

Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of 1837 says that Colonel l’Estrange was living at Moystown at the time, William l’Estrange was living at Kilcummin, a little distance north of Huntston, and Major Carlton (a relative, I think) at Huntston.

A quick search suggests that the l’Estranges did occupy land there in 1800, but I cannot claim to have carried out a thorough investigation.

What was of more interest to me was that the Parliamentary Gazetteer extract was from an item headed Tessauran, Tiseran or Kilcally:

Tessauren 2

The parish of Tisaran

TESSAURAN, TISERAN, or KILCALLY, a parish in the barony of Garrycastle, 2¼ miles north-west by west of Cloghan, King’s co., Leinster. Length, south-westward, 3¾ miles; extreme breadth, 2½; area, 7,316 acres, 2 roods, 12 perches, — of which 106 acres, 3 roods, 38 perches are in the river Shannon. Pop., in 1831, 2,032; in 1841, 2,029. Houses 346. The north-western boundary is traced by the Blackwater; the south-western boundary, by the Shannon; and the south-eastern boundary, by the Brosna. All the northern district, part of the eastern, and most of that along the Blackwater, are bog; much of that along the Shannon is lowland meadow; and most of the remainder is dry limestone land, pleasant in appearance, and possessing a considerable aggregate of embellishment.

Some time ago, I asked here about Tessauren Ferry, but had no response. I found the term in F E Prothero and W A Clark eds Cruising Club Manual: A New Oarsman’s Guide to the Rivers and Canals of Great Britain and Ireland George Philip & Son, London 1896. His entry for the Grand Canal included this at 79¼ miles from Dublin:

Entrance into the Shannon at Tessauren Ferry.

I have not seen the term used anywhere else. The ferry is of course that provided by the Shannon Commissioners to enable horse-drawn boats to cross the Shannon to the Ballinasloe Line of the Grand Canal. It would be nice to find other instances of the use of Prothero’s term.

Tessauran, Tisaran, Tiseran, Tessauren (and perhaps there are other variants) is the name of the parish north-east of the junction between the Brosna and the Shannon. It is odd that the ferry’s eastern departure point was actually outside the parish, because the Brosna was the boundary and the ferry started from the south side of the canal and the Brosna.

Tessauren 3

Tisaran parish and the ferry

The other link I had not made was that between Tessauren and St Saran, whose well I photographed some years ago, which means that I was on the grounds of Moystown House.

Tessauren 4

St Saran’s well (Tobersaran)


St Sarans Well near Shannonbridge 03_resize

St Saran’s well

St Sarans Well near Shannonbridge 04_resize

Looking into the well


So one mystery solved, as an accidental result of a remark on the wireless, but more information about the use of the term Tessauren Ferry would be welcome.

My OSI logo and permit number for website


The River Brosna has the distinction of supplying water to two Irish waterways: the Shannon, which it joins at Shannon Harbour, and, further up, the Royal, which is to get a supply of water pumped from Lough Ennell, outside Mullingar.

The Old River Shannon Research Group promises to give special attention to the Brosna this year, so we may expect to learn more about this interesting river — without having to get our own feet wet.