The Carrick-on-Suir creamery chimney (Shannon Scheme electrification)
The Carrick-on-Suir creamery chimney (Shannon Scheme electrification)
Lowtown is at the western end of the summit level of the Grand Canal; it thus has some claim to be the highest point on the canal. It is close to the village of Robertstown in County Kildare.
Lowtown is also the site of the junction between the main (Dublin to Shannon) line of the Grand Canal and its most important branch, the Barrow Line.
The main line from Dublin comes in from near the bottom right and exits near the top left. The two cuts leaving near the bottom left are the Old and New Barrow Lines, which join together just off the map. The Barrow Line runs to Athy, in south County Kildare, from which the Barrow [river] Navigation runs to the tidal lock at St Mullins, downstream of Graiguenamanagh.
The River Nore joins the Barrow a litle further downstream; the Nore is navigable on the tide upstream to Inistiogue. The combined rivers flow south through the port of New Ross and eventually join the estuary of the River Suir. Turning right at that point takes you up the Suir to Waterford, Carrick-on-Suir and Clonmel. Thus the Barrow Line, from Lowtown, forms an inland waterway link between Dublin and some towns along the Barrow, Nore and Suir.
Isaac Slater’s Directory[i] of 1846 lists those carrying goods on inland waterways. There is a long list for Dublin; entries for other towns list those providing local services. There are some conflicts between the lists (see below).
The map below shows those carrying on the Barrow Line of the Grand Canal and on the rivers Barrow, Nore and Suir. Each carrier is assigned a colour, which is used to frame the name of each place served by that carrier. Some towns (Mountmellick, Carrick-on-Suir, Clonmel) are off the map, further to the west. Note that the map is from the 25″ Ordnance Survey map of around 1900 rather than the 6″ of around 1840: I used it because it was clearer, but it shows features (eg railway lines) that were not present in 1846.
Click on the map to get a slightly larger version.
All but one of the carriers are shown as having Dublin premises at Grand Canal Harbour, James Street. The exception is Gaven & Co, which is mentioned only in the Mountmellick entry.
I have not included the Grand Canal Company’s passenger-carrying boats, which carried parcels but not goods.
The City of Dublin Steam Packet Company entry for Dublin does not include Portarlington and Mountmellick amongst the towns served but the entry for Mountmellick says that the company’s boats leave for Dublin every Tuesday and Friday (its agent being John White) while that for Portarlington says they leave weekly. Boats from Mountmellick had to pass through Portarlington as well as Monastereven and other towns en route to Dublin.
Similarly, the entry for Mountmellick says that the Hylands boats leave there every other day while that for Portarlington says that they pass through weekly.
There is a page missing from the electronic copy of the directory that I consulted so the entry for Monastereven is incomplete.
The entry for Carlow says
To DUBLIN, and also to [New] ROSS, Boats depart, at uncertain periods, from the Wharfs of Lawrence and James Kelly, the Quay.
It does not say whether Lawrence and James Kelly owned any boats. They may have had boats but used them only for their own goods.
The entry for Mountmellick says “Bryan Hyland” rather than “B Hylands”.
The entry for Mountmellick includes the only mention I have found of Gaven & Co’s boats (James Waldron, agent).
The entry for Rathangan says
There are Boats for the conveyance of Goods, but no fixed period of departure.
Thomas Berry & Co, the most important carrier on the Grand Canal, did not venture south of Lowtown.
[i] I Slater’s National Commercial Directory of Ireland: including, in addition to the trades’ lists, alphabetical directories of Dublin, Belfast, Cork and Limerick. To which are added, classified directories of the important English towns of Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Leeds and Bristol; and, in Scotland, those of Glasgow and Paisley. Embellished with a large new map of Ireland, faithfully depicting the lines of railways in operation or in progress, engraved on steel. I Slater, Manchester, 1846
Some chap from Limerick has been quoted in the Nationalist (Clonmel) as supporting South Tipperary County Council’s proposed taking in charge of the towing-path between Carrick-on-Suir and Clonmel.
And Carrick-on-Suir River Rescue needs help raising funds to buy a premises.
His late Most Excellent Majesty Henry the Eighth, by the Grace of God, King of England and France, Defender of the Faith, Lord of Ireland and of the Church of England and also of Ireland in Earth Supreme Head, has many claims to fame, but the greatest is undoubtedly his Act for the Weares upon the Barrow, and other Waters in the County of Killkenny of 1537, which begins thus:
Prayen the commons of this present Parliament assembled, That where at all times necessarie boates, scowts, wherries, clarans, cottes, and other vessels, loden and bestowed with goods, merchandizes, and other stuffe, have beene used to passe and repasse thorough and in the King’s most excellent Majesty’s rivers and waters of the Barrow, the Noyre, the Suyr, and the Rie, within this land, which Rie is in the county of Kilkenny, to and from the King’s citie of Waterford, and the townes of Kilkenny, Rosse, and Clomel [sic], to and from diverse borrowe and corporate townes, and other places, being sitiated in the counties of Kyldare, Catherlagh, Wexford, Kilkenny, Waterford, and Tipperary, through which great commoditie and profit hath growen and might grow to the said citie, townes, noroughes, and other places, and to all and every the King’s true subjects adjoyning to the same waters and rivers: […]
We resume a couple of pages later:
[…] and that the said owners, their servants, marryners, boatmen, and other rulers and conveyers, and all other persons coming in ayd and help of them and every of them, at all such times as the said mariners, boatemen, and other rulers and conveyers shall thinke the same necessarie and needfull, shall have and occupie at every of their wills and pleasures, the space and breadth of seven foote or more, as need require, of plain ground, upon every part of the land, of every side of every the said rivers and waters, next adjoyning to the said rivers and waters, and that to bee where they must needs draw the said boats and other vessels afore named, with strength of horses or men, by land […].
So His late Most Excellent Majesty provided that those drawing boats, using manpower or horsepower, could use a space seven foot wide on either side of the river. From the 1750s onwards, work was done on building a towing-path along the Suir between Carrick and Clonmel; work seems to have been finished before 1789 and the towing-path continued in use until the early years of the twentieth century.
Much, but not all, of the towing-path is accessible, and maintainted by South Tipperary County Council; as well as providing a walking route, it allows anglers, boaters and other leisure users to get to the river. However, some sections are impassable, so that it is not possible to walk the whole length of this extremely scenic route between Clonmel and Carrick.
South Tipperary County Council is now considering declaring public roads on the towing-path and thus taking it in charge.
The Council’s documents are here. I think that this is a good idea and I have written to the Council (and to local newspapers) to declare my support.
A new study from WI and others is mentioned here. It doesn’t seem to be available on the WI website yet, but I haven’t yet finished reading the Erne and Lough Ree/Mid-Shannon studies that are available on the same page.
I might disagree with some of the conclusions of some of these studies, but I very much welcome the fact that they are being done and that WI is developing and promoting the waterways “product”. If only I could convince it not to waste money on the Clones Canal ….
Update: WI have a press release up, with a photo of a chap who has come out in a very fetching garment.
Niall O’Brien, author of the history of the Blackwater and Bride, has set up a Facebook page about sailing merchant vessels of Ireland and Britain. Many of these used the Irish estuaries — including the Shannon, Blackwater, Barrow and Suir — and thus overlapped with inland navigation.
Tuesday 31st January, Carrig Hotel, Carrick-on-Suir. Time: 3-7pm
Do you have an interest in or love for the River Suir? If so, you are invited to come along to this first River Suir Showcase seminar in Carrick-on-Suir. As well as short talks on a range of river-related topics, there will be specialists from the various bodies that have responsibility for different aspects of the river on hand to answer any queries. Topics include inland waterways, boating on the Suir, fisheries, water quality, water safety, wildlife, the river navigation, invasive species, community and voluntary activities, and heritage survey projects on the Suir and the Nore.
Everyone is welcome to attend the entire seminar or to drop in for a short time. So come along and meet other river people and find out what activities are going on along the river.
This event is a follow up to requests from local people during the Suir River Cafe during Clonmel Junction Festival and community workshops in Ardfinnan, Cahir, Clonmel and Carrick-on-Suir over the summer undertaken as part of the Waterways Forward project.
It is an opportunity to share river information or just to hear about all the projects that are underway.
To book a free place: please contact: Margo Hayes, Tel: 051 642109 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For further details on River Suir projects see [the website]: http://www.southtippheritage.ie/riversuir or contact Labhaoise McKenna, Heritage Officer, South Tipperary County Council email@example.com
News reaches us that the fisheries folk, who were threatening to block the Suir (Carrick to Clonmel) navigation with a weir so that they could count fish, have removed the material they had put on site without planning permission. Let joy be unconfined (but let not vigilance be relaxed).
Members of the Heritage Boat Association have, in recent weeks, visited Piltown (Co Kilkenny) and Portlaw (Co Waterford) by barge, the first time in many years that large vessels have been up those rivers.
Many of the published accounts of Portlaw, including the Heritage Council’s Heritage Conservation Plan, pay inadequate attention to the navigation of the Clodiagh; it may have been even richer than we thought.
The HBA has a press release about some significant finds at Portlaw.
The owners of the barge Hawthorn joined other boats for the trips and wrote about them here:
Here is my own article (in need of updating) about Portlaw and the Clodiagh.
Incidentally, I contend that the OSI maps are wrong in describing the gates on the canal as flood gates: they would open to, rather than close against, an incoming flood, and would prevent the discharge of an outgoing flood.