Tag Archives: cattle

The cows of death

On Wednesday, a melancholy accident, attended with the loss of nine lives, occurred on Lough Derg, on the Upper [ie non-tidal] Shannon, by the upsetting of a boat in its passage across the lake from Williamstown to Dromineer. The nine men were jobbers, six of them belonging to Nenagh, and three to Cork, and were returning from a fair in the county Galway.

The accident is said to have been owing to their having carried two cows with them yoked to the boat, one of which, having burst the ties that confined it, became unmanageable, and in a few minutes the boat being upset, all on board were engulphed in the deep.

The Warder and Dublin Weekly Mail 3 March 1849, quoting Limerick Reporter

Drawbacks of canals

There was a proposal in the 1830s for a ship canal along the coast, outside the railway embankment, from Dublin to the asylum harbour at Kingstown. A preliminary report was provided by William Cubitt after the House of Commons Select Committee on the Dublin and Kingstown Ship Canal had reported in July 1833.

Henry E Flynn was opposed to the idea and, in his A Glance at the Question of a Ship Canal connecting the asylum harbour at Kingstown with the river Anne Liffey at Dublin &c &c &c [George Folds, Dublin 1834], dedicated to Daniel O’Connell, he wrote eloquently of the drawbacks of the proposal, which included this:

Be it remembered, that the whole coast from Ringsend to Merrion is the bathing ground for the less affluent classes of the Citizens; and hundreds get their bread by attending on and bathing the females who frequent it.

And are the patriotic Would-be’s who support a Ship Canal equally reckless of the health, the morality, and the existence of those persons? Would they have no objection to expose their mothers, wives, sisters and daughters to the immediate wanton gaze, the scoffs, the jeers, the immodest jest, the filthy exposure and indecent exhibitions which the most abandoned race of men [ie sailors] could find in their dissolute minds to perpetrate in their view, and within their hearing? And yet, all this must be the consequence of a Ship Canal in the immediate vicinity of the female baths and bathing ground along the line.

Happily, the canal was never built.

Royal Canal traffic in 1844

Royal Canal traffic in 1844 (Salt)

That table is extracted from Samuel Salt’s Statistics and Calculations essentially necessary to persons connected with railways or canals; containing a variety of information not to be found elsewhere 2nd ed Effingham Wilson and Bradshaw & Blacklock, London 1846, available from Messrs Google here.

The interesting point is how little of the Royal’s traffic travelled the whole way from the Shannon to Dublin or vice versa: only about 5% of the Dublin-bound traffic and less than 3% of the traffic westward.

Another point of interest is that traffic to Dublin was three times the traffic from Dublin.

Amongst the livestock, pigs were the dominant animals: they lost too much condition if they were walked long distances, which was the only alternative to canal transport before the railways came. Even there, I suspect that much of the tonnage described as “from Longford and the Shannon” was actually from west of the river, in Counties Mayo and Roscommon.

Pue’s Occurrences

I’ve had an article accepted at the history blog. It’s about the capstan at O’Briensbridge on the old Limerick Navigation and the trade it facilitated. There is more information about the technicalities on my own page about O’Briensbridge.

Crovraghan continuity

The cattle-carrying lighters and other interesting boats at Crovraghan.


Rosscliff is a cattle port on the Fergus estuary. It is not clear whether this is the location of the quay referred to by Lewis and the Parliamentary Gazetteer in their entries for Ballinacally (Ballynacally).

Wooden working boats

Could this be the largest wooden cargo-carrying boat in use in Ireland?

Wooden cattle-carrying boat Fergus Estuary February 2011

It’s the largest of three parked side by side. I presume they’re used for ferrying cattle to and from the islands of the Fergus estuary.

Three boats