Tag Archives: canoe

Issalon kwahi *

Watery news from the Guardian.

That is, of course, the Nenagh Guardian, not that other provincial stalwart the Manchester Guardian.

Four items in the issue of 2 June 2012 caught my eye.

First, the members of the Nenagh Canoe Club have been cleaning up … the Nenagh River, a laudable endeavour.

Second, a community project in Ballina (Killaloe’s oppo) “will see a new jetty with a thirty-year lease built on the site of the old Lakeside Marina”. The paper says that …

[…] Jim Watkins, Eoin Little and Cllr Phyll Bugler of “The Friends of the Lake” have now initiated a project, which will be funded by Leader.

I have no idea what it’s for; I would welcome more information about the project and about the Friends of the Lake, whereof I know nothing.

Third, the Lough Derg Marketing Strategy Group (which god preserve), which is coordinated by the  Mid West Regional Authority (who knew?), is holding meetings about signposts. What would be really nice, though, would be if the MWRA took down the pic in its header showing adults and children in an open boat without lifejackets.

Finally, there’s a story about a proposed “fountain auditorium” planned for Birdhill [which was on the old N7, between Nenagh and Limerick, being chiefly famous for winning Tidy Towns competitions and being home to Matt the Threshers pub and eatery]. The “fountain auditorium” was, for reasons that are not entirely clear, to be a temporary operation, running until the end of 2016. It was to be located in a warehouse on the Shannonside Business Park (which is some miles from the Shannon).

The fountain auditorium was to have a pool 20m X 8m and “fountains capable of pumping water 9m into the air through more than 150 rotating nozzles”. The article says that

The proposed development is to serve as a tourist attraction centring on a fountain auditorium, in which audiences would be treated to pre-recorded shows marrying features of water, sound and synchronised lighting. The shows would have a “welcome to Lough Derg” theme, and the centre would provide visitors with information on the likes of walking and cycling routes, accommodation options, and food establishments, together with information on the history of Lough Derg.

It is not clear whether the words “fountain auditorium, in which” mean that the audience would be sitting in the pool or around it. The site was to have a “gift shop and café”. It expected to have 25,000 visitors in 2012 and 40,000 by 2016, after which it would move to permanent purpose-built premises with “a more comprehensive exhibition on Lough Derg”.

Alas! The proposed widening of the R494 road from Birdhill to Ballina, to serve the new bridge over the Shannon, would mean the loss of the space on which visitors’ coaches were to be parked. So, although the project received conditional planning permission on 16 May 2012, the promoters, Glance Promotions Ltd, withdrew their application shortly afterwards. However, that does at least suggest that they were not having any problem in providing the funding, which is good to hear in these difficult times.

* The relevance of the title of this piece will be clear to the many admirers of the oeuvre of the 4th Baron St Oswald.


On the occasion of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee …

… (that is, of course, Her Late Victorian Majesty), F E Prothero suspended his explorations of Irish waterways after he had descended the Nore, from Abbeyleix to New Ross, in May 1897. Here is his account of that trip.

DCAL disclosures

You will be pleased to learn that, on 28 May 2010, Arthur Scott (Director of the Culture Division) and Rosalie Flanagan (Permanent Secretary) of the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure each received from Waterways Ireland a waterways mug and a book on the Royal Canal, total value £20 each. Later in the year, however, Rosalie Flanagan declined an invitation, estimated to be worth £8, to the opening of the Royal Canal on 1 October 2010.

Mrs Flanagan and husband are members of the Belfast Boat Club but do not hold any position on the Club’s Committees or Council. Orla Bateson, Head of DCAL’s Research & Statistics Branch, is a committee member of Intercity Paddlers, a Belfast canoe club.



Prothero on the Armagh Blackwater and the Ulster Canal

Another extract from F E Prothero and W A Clark eds A New Oarsman’s Guide to the Rivers and Canals of Great Britain and Ireland: Cruising Club Manual, George Philip & Son, London 1896. The lack of detail suggests to me that Prothero did not travel this route himself.

From the Corrib

Padhraic Conneally left a comment on my third page about the Rockville Navigation. He made an interesting suggestion that caused me to look at the OSI maps around the Corrib. It seems that there might be another small navigation to the west of Lough Corrib and, because further information would be welcome, I reproduce Padhraic’s comment and my response here.

There is supposed a similar [ie similar to the Rockville] navigation on the Corrib from the old river to Ross lake via Moycullen lake.

I have been up a channel from the old river in a cruiser almost up to the realigned main road but never further. Fr O’Reilly SJ who was a companion of Maurice Semple author of the series of books on the Corrib was reputed to [have] made the trip in a canoe cutting lots of farmers’ barbed wire on the way!

My response:

Looking at it on the OSI maps, the ~1840 (or thereabouts) Historic 6″ map has a quay at the south end of Ross Lake. From there it seems to be possible to get as far as Lough Down, north of Cloghaun. A lot of the channels are straight, suggesting that they’re artificial.

The later ~1900 Historic 25″ then shows another straight channel from Lough Down, through Cloghaun to Moycullen (Ballycuirke) Lough. From the far side of the lake, an artificial-looking channel curves to the Corrib, joining it at this point. So it might be that the system was developed in the early nineteenth century but linked to the Corrib only in the later part of the century. It might have been constructed for drainage, but that wouldn’t stop it being used for navigation as well.

I hadn’t heard of Fr O’Reilly but I do have two of Maurice Semple’s books. I must have a look in them. If anyone else has information about this, it would be very welcome.

If you know anything about this, please leave a Comment below.





Deaths at Portlaw

On 7 April 2010 two canoeists were drowned at a weir in Portlaw, on the River Clodiagh. The Marine Casualty Investigation Board report on the matter has just been published. It says inter alia:

  • This weir cannot be run.
  • The design of this weir made it impassable regardless of the waterflow over it.
  • The weir at Portlaw is, by design, next to impossible to escape
    from without the use of lifebuoys and or an access ladder.

The report does not say who designed and built this weir or when it
was done. I have asked Waterford County Council for information.

According to the Irish Independent, the families of the canoeists are considering legal action.

Some news stories about weirs at Portlaw here, here and here.

Shannon hooker

No, not a rugby player, but a replica of one of the Shannon estuary workboats — the Massey Fergusons of their day — that carried turf towards Limerick and limestone back, as well as anything else that needed shifting further, or in larger quantities, than the canoes could manage.

The boat is being built at Querrin; see this article in the Irish Times.

The upper Barrow

Charlie Horan (of Go with the Flow, the canoe expedition specialists) left a comment on my post about Abbeyleix (below) saying

I have some very very interesting pictures of the Barrow near source in flood taken just two weeks ago ….

And here they are. They are indeed interesting!

White water (courtesy Eamonn and Charlie Horan)

Eek (courtesy Eamonn and Charlie Horan)

The burling Barrow brown (as Gerald Manley Hopkins called it) (courtesy Eamonn and Charlie Horan)

Even the indefatigable F E Prothero might have been put off …. He canoed down from Mountmellick to Athy in 1897, taking about eight and a half hours. Major Rowland Raven-Hart said that the Barrow had been canoed from a little above Portarlington (which is downstream of Mountmellick); there is a PDF of his book here.

New section

I have started a new section on People. So far, the top-level page links only to the first entry, which is for Major Rowland Raven-Hart OBE, whose Canoeing in Ireland, published in around 1938, is a short guide to canoeing on several of Ireland’s longer rivers, including the Shannon, the Erne, the Suir, the Barrow and the Munster Blackwater.

I have added such information about Major Raven-Hart as I have been able to find.


Up the Suir

I don’t know if you remember, but a few months ago we had sunshine, and it was warm outside. Back then, at the end of May in fact, I went on the Industrial Heritage Association of Ireland‘s tour of Carrick-on-Suir, Clonmel and areas in between.

In Carrick, Ralph O’Callaghan showed us some of the sights and addressed the group in the Heritage Centre. Here are some of the things he showed us.

Ralph O'Callaghan shows a model of a yawl (a horse-drawn boat used to carry goods between Carrick and Clonmel)

This yawl is equipped for sand-dredging

Note the large rudder

The yawl

A steel shoe for one of the 30' poles used by Suir and Barrow boatmen

A hand-made net for snap-net fishing

After lunch, I was fortunate to be one of two people who got a trip in Ralph O’Callaghan’s canoe, from Kilsheelan upstream to the Anner bridge just downstream of Sir Thomas’s Bridge, which is itself downstream of Clonmel.

I have set up a small (approx 120-photo) slide show to give an idea of the conditions on the Suir at the time. The water level was low after several dry weeks, but the previous winter’s floods may have left more silt than usual. At any event, a successful passage required Ralph’s skills and his intimate knowledge of the river and its weirs. You can see some of the weirs, and the gorgeous scenery, in the show.

I am very grateful to both Ralph O’Callaghan and Fred Hamond for facilitating the boat trip and for sharing their immense knowledge of the Suir.

If you like interesting boats, you’ll like Ralph’s canoe.