Tag Archives: City of Dublin Steam Packet Company

The purity of the ladies of Limerick

The City of Dublin Steam Packet Company have kindly given the use of the Dover Castle, steamer, to the Ladies of Limerick, for Friday next, when the ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the New Docks will be performed. A band will be on board the steamer.

Limerick and Clare Examiner 4 July 1849

Immediately alongside the spot where the stone was to be placed floated the Dover Castle steamer, filled principally with ladies. The excellent Band of the 74th Highlanders was also on board, and contributed much to the delight that animated many a countenance. Several boats and barges were also provided for the accommodation of ladies. Most of the spectators were invited by Cards issued from the Office of Public Works.

Limerick Reporter 6 July 1849

Loud cheering attested the joy that pervaded every bosom at the prospect of employment, which the ceremony held out. The Dover Castle, moored within a few yards of the large platform, was, as a matter of course, the most attractive appendage. It was occupied by the ladies of Limerick. They, too, evidenced by waving their white handkerchiefs (the symbol of their purity, their virtues and sympathy for the suffering poor) how sincerely they felt the importance of the occasion. A stream of music was then poured forth by the beautiful brass band of the 74th, which was quite in keeping with the general harmony.

The proceedings of the day were then brought to a pleasing and chearful close. The military filed off; the Artillery withdrew; the masts and pinnacles became deserted; the groups, about the ground, dissolved; the Corporate functionaries retired; the mace-bearer beat a modest retreat; the ladies were led off by their attendant squires; the people wended their way homewards, the boats disappeared, and the Dock works and ground were left to the sole possession of their ordinary occupants.

May we not hope — at all events, let us pray, that yesterday was an auspicious day for Limerick.

Limerick and Clare Examiner 7 July 1849

From the British Newspaper Archive run by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited, in partnership with the British Library.

The captain and the perjurer

Mary Meehan’s was a dramatic story.

In April 1847 she had gone to the house of William Dwyer at Cuphaunhane [Cappanahanagh?]. She heard voices inside and stopped to listen. The door opened and William Dwyer ran out. She went in and saw William’s wife Mary dragging the seemingly lifeless body of Ellen Dwyer, William’s sister, into the room. Mary Dwyer then ran off and Mary Meehan raised Ellen’s head; she saw blood on the left side of the head.

She went home and told her husband about it; he told her to say nothing. About two hours later she was in the haggard and saw William and Mary Dwyer digging at the brink of the ditch. She gave a deposition to Edward J Bell RM on 8 October 1849, adding on 16 December 1849 that, if Bell were to dig in the field near the Dwyers’ house, or in the nearby quarry, he would find the remains of a human body.

Bell, with Mr Head and the Castleconnell police, dug more than forty times in the field in question, but with no success. They then drained four feet of water from the quarry and found a skull and some human bones in the mud. Constable Swan delivered them to Dr Thomas Travers Riordan at Castleconnell.

Dr Riordan thought that the skull was more likely to be that of an old woman than that of a fifteen-year-old girl. The bones had been in water or earth for much more than two years and belonged to a tall muscular person: the skull and the bones were almost certainly from two different people. The church at Abington was close to the quarry.

On 14 March 1840 Mary Meehan was indicted …

… for that she with felonious intent to injure William Dwyer …

… did swear to an untrue story. She was described as …

… a woman of about forty years of age, […] dressed in a blue cloth cloak, clean white cap, and white woollen shawl, as the wife of a farmer in comfortable circumstances. Her appearance was not unprepossessing, but there was a peculiarly sinister expression about the eyes.

Mr Bell had taken depositions from William and Mary Dwyer; they contravened Mary Meehan’s statements but she stuck to her story. No witnesses supported her.

William Dwyer said that he had sent his sister to England [en route to America?] that April: his wife had accompanied her to Killaloe and seen her aboard one of the [City of] Dublin Steam Packet Company’s boats. He had not heard from her since then.

Mary Dwyer said that she and her sister-in-law had slept at the house of Mary’s father Michael Healy, in Killaloe, the night before Ellen’s departure. The following morning they went to the house of Nancy Preston, who accompanied them to the steamer to help Ellen get a cheaper fare. Michael Healy confirmed that evidence, as did Nancy Preston. Mary Dwyer said that she was on board with her sister-in-law until the boat left.

The final witness was the steamer’s captain, Captain Winder. He said he remembered the circumstances perfectly and had charged Ellen only 4s 3d for the passage to Dublin.

His Lordship charged, expatiating on the enormity of the prisoner’s offence, and the revolting exhibition of the remains of the skull and bones of a human being on the table, and adding that from the evidence they could hardly hesitate in finding a verdict of guilty.

The Jury returned a verdict of Guilty accordingly.

The Limerick Reporter and Tipperary Vindicator 15 March 1850

Grace’s Guide and the Brunswick Dockyard

William Watson, of the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company, held patents for a double canal boat, capable of being shortened to pass through locks, and for a form of composite construction for boats, with iron ribs and wooden planking. I found recently that at least one composite boat was built for the CoDSPCo at the Brunswick boatyard in Ringsend, Dublin.

The invaluable Grace’s Guide had no entry for the Brunswick boatyard/dockyard but, when I mentioned the matter, undertook some research and produced a page about it. Grace’s and I would welcome any more information about that yard; as the Guide says:

The precise location of the dockyard has yet to be identified.

Pat Sweeney’s Liffey Ships and Shipbuilding (Mercier 2010) just mentions Henry Teal [sic]; Irish Maritime History’s list is light on early nineteenth century construction.

I would welcome information about other yards that might have built vessels for the CoDSPCo.

 

Composite construction on Irish inland waterways

I wrote here about Watson’s Double Canal Boat, saying inter alia that, in 1839, William Watson, manager of the inland department of the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company, patented:

an improvement in the construction of ships, and which improvement is also applicable to all kinds of sea-going vessels; and also certain improvements in the construction of boats and other vessels intended to be used on canals and inland navigations. [1]

I quoted the Mechanics’ Magazine of December 1839, which said that:

Three canal barges have already been built upon Mr Watson’s plan of construction, of 60 tons burthen each, and with eminent success.[2]

I said that the size suggested that these canal barges were for the CoDSPCo’s Irish inland operations, but that I had no information about where they were built.  I have now found information about one builder.

SHIP BUILDING

On Thursday, the 22nd instant, a fine new trade boat, built with iron ribs, according to the patent of William Watson, Esq., and belonging to the City of Dublin Steam company, also a new smack, 50 tons measurement, were launched from the Brunswick dock-yard, Ringsend Docks.[3]

I would be grateful for more information.


[1] “List of patents granted for Scotland from 18th March to 18th June 1839” in The Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal , exhibiting a view of the progressive discoveries and improvements in the sciences and the arts Vol XXVII No LIII — July 1839; “List of English patents granted between the 25th of May and the 25th of June, 1839” in The Mechanics’ Magazine No 829, Saturday, June 29, 1839

[2] The Mechanics’ Magazine Vol XXXII No 855 28 December 1839

[3] The Freeman’s Journal Saturday 24 July 1841. An almost identical note appeared in the Dublin Evening Mail of Monday 26 July 1841.

Canal carrying 1846: the Grand Canal

Isaac Slater’s Directory[i] of 1846 lists those carrying goods on inland waterways. Most of the carriers on the Grand Canal, which runs from Dublin to the River Shannon with various branches, claim to serve a modest number of places, but Thomas Berry & Co have a very lengthy list. So long is their list that it will require two maps to show all the places they served, with a third map for the rest of the carriers.

Note that the maps are 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.

There may be some cases where I have misidentified a destination; I would be grateful to have my attention drawn to such cases.

Click on a map to get a slightly larger version.

Thomas Berry & Co

Thomas Berry & Co midland and south routes

Thomas Berry & Co midland and southern destinations (OSI)

The canal runs from Dublin, at the top right, left (roughly west) through Tullamore to Shannon Harbour, where it meets the river; there was an extension to Ballinasloe on the far side of the Shannon. Berrys served places along the canal and several others fairly close to it, but it looks to me as if there were three routes by road beyond that:

  • via Banagher (which has a bridge across the Shannon) to Eyrecourt and Killimor
  • from Ballinasloe to Loughrea and district and then south-west to Ennis in Co Clare
  • perhaps from Tullamore to Birr [Parsonstown], Roscrea (including Shinrone, Cloughjordan and Borrisokane) and Templemore.

There are also two outliers for which I can think of no plausible explanation: Baltinglass and Wexford. Perhaps their inclusion was a mistake. Certainly Berrys, like John M’Cann & Sons on the Royal Canal, seem to have had extensive road networks (perhaps using car-owning subcontractors?) to supplement their water-borne routes, but I don’t see why they would take on a route no part of which could sensibly have been conducted by inland navigation.

The next map shows the north-western destinations served by Berrys.

Thomas Berry & Co western routes

Thomas Berry & Co north-western destinations (OSI)

You can see that their network covered much of County Roscommon and went almost as far west into County Galway as it was possible to go; it also extended northwards into County Mayo.

I have not attempted to check what industries might have made these towns and villages worth serving. Berrys certainly seemed keen to take as much as possible of the traffic from west of the Shannon towards Dublin — excluding such of it as went by the Royal Canal: it is interesting to compare these maps with that for M’Cann on the Royal.

Finally, note that along the canal itself Berrys listed only destinations towards the western (Shannon Harbour) end: it seems likely that the roads took the valuable traffic from the eastern end into Dublin. There were no doubt turf boats taking fuel in from closer to Dublin, but they were not general carriers.

Other carriers

Now for the rest of the carriers.

Grand Canal carriers 1846 excl Thomas Berry

Grand Canal carriers 1846 excluding Thomas Berry (OSI)

I have included the Shannon here as well as the Grand Canal; however I have covered the Barrow Line of the Grand Canal, as well as the navigable rivers Barrow, Nore and Suir, in a separate post. Of the carriers listed here, only the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company [CoDSPCo] (which employed horses to pull its boats on canals) ventured on to the Barrow Line, serving Portarlington and Mountmellick.

Berrys and the CoDSPCo were by far the largest firms on the Grand. I don’t know the size of the Berrys fleet, but the CoDSPCo had 52 barges in addition to its Shannon (and Irish Sea) steamers. Note that only on the middle Shannon, around the junction with the Grand Canal, and at Ennis did the two firms serve the same destinations: the CoDSPCo seems to have had the lower Shannon trade to itself.

With one exception, all the carriers, including Berrys, had Dublin depots at Grand Canal Harbour, James St; the Grand Canal Docks at Ringsend, joined to the Liffey, were not mentioned.

The exception is Hugh Gallagher, whose only listed destination was Athlone. It would be interesting to know how he served Athlone: whether by road or by water and, in the latter case, whether he used a steamer. I do wonder whether Hugh Gallagher might be the same person as the Hugh Galaghan (also Gallaghan) who served Philipstown [now Daingean], Tullamore and Shannon Harbour.

George Tyrrell is another who is listed with but a single destination, Banagher, whereas James Tyrrell is listed as serving Tickneven, Philipstown, Tullamore — and Edgeworthstown, which must be a mistake as it is closer to the Royal Canal.

Finally, Cornelius Byrne is shown as serving two destinations: Philipstown and Kilbeggan (which has its own branch off the main line of the canal).

Other information

A little extra information is available from the entries for towns other than Dublin in the Directory:

  • Naas has its own branch from the main line of the canal, but the directory says that “TO DUBLIN, there are Boats, as occasion require, but they have no fixed periods of departure.”
  • Edenderry also has its own branch, short and lock-free, but there is no mention of its being served by trade boats
  • Kilbeggan, with a longer, leakier, lock-free branch, was served by the CoDSPCo’s and Thomas Byrne’s boats travelling to Dublin three times a week. Is this Thomas Byrne related to the Cornelius Byrne mentioned above? It seems that Byrne went only eastward for only the CoDSPCo’s boats went westward (to Shannon Harbour, Ballinasloe and Limerick) two or three times a week
  • at Banagher, Fleetwood Thomas Faulkner of Main Street was the CoDSPCo agent; a downstream steamer left Shannon Harbour after the [passenger] boat from Dublin arrived and called at Banagher’s Bridge Wharf; an upstream steamer from Limerick called every afternoon at 3.00pm and met the night boat travelling to Dublin by the Grand Canal. I presume that this happened on every day except Sunday.

More

As far as I know, little has been written about the carrying companies, especially those of the nineteenth century. I would be glad to hear from anyone who can correct, supplement or comment on this information.

My OSI logo and permit number for website


[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

Canal carrying 1846: Dublin to Waterford

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.

Lowtown (OSI ~1840)

Lowtown (OSI ~1840)

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.

Dublin to Waterford: inland waterway traders 1846 (OSI)

Dublin to Waterford: inland waterway carriers 1846 (OSI)

Notes

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.

More

As far as I know, little has been written about the carrying companies, especially those of the nineteenth century. I would be glad to hear from anyone who can correct, supplement or comment on this information.


[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

My OSI logo and permit number for website

The Charles Wye Williams bridge campaign

Dublin City Council has published its call for proposals for naming the new bridge across the Liffey. According to RTE, various bolshies and literary types have been suggested, as though we didn’t have enough of them (and of politicians too). Accordingly, I have submitted an application suggesting that the bridge be named after a successful entrepreneur who understood technology and created employment: Charles Wye Williams, the Father of the Shannon, whose fleet of nine steamers and fifty-two barges gave us the Shannon as we know it today.

I will be happy to send a copy (PDF) of my application to anyone who is willing to support it.

CWW bridge

Paul Quinn’s photos showed the new Marlborough Street Bridge being constructed across the Liffey. Last Saturday’s Irish Times reported that Dublin City Council would soon be advertising to seek suggestions for naming the bridge; it said that a body called Labour Youth [whose members may be socialists, I fear] wanted it named after one Rosie Hackett, who went on strike  many years ago. It did not report that there is another campaign to have the bridge named after E T S Walton, a physicist.

The north-eastern corner of the bridge features the site of the offices of the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company, whose crest still adorns the walls. I suggest that the bridge be named after the company’s founder, the remarkable Irish entrepreneur Charles Wye Williams: the father of the Shannon, the master of scheduled steam shipping, the founder of the CoDSPCo and a founder director of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, godparent of the Irish livestock industry, innovator in marine safety, promoter of the turf industry, writer and experimenter on steam technology, tireless campaigner ….

Apart from his company’s crest on Eden Quay, and his name on a bridge he caused to be built in Limerick, there is no monument to this remarkable man. Name the bridge after him and move the plaque to it (and protect it adequately).

 

The 120′ Irish steam-powered narrow boat

Read about it here.

The end of a ghost

In the UK, the Statute Law Repeals Bill is working its way through the House of Lords. You can download a PDF list of the bills being repealed. In amongst the turnpikes, Indian railways, benevolent institutions and lotteries, we find Part 4: Ireland (Dublin City). Within that, Group 1 sees the repeal of these statutes:

  • 3 & 4 Will.4 c.cxv (1833) (City of Dublin Steam Packet Company Act)
  • 6 & 7 Will.4 c.c (1836) (Dublin Steam Packet Act)
  • City of Dublin Steam Packet Company’s Act 1860 (23 & 24 Vict. c.xcviii)
  • City of Dublin Steam Packet Company’s (Consolidation of Shares) Act 1861 (24 & 25 Vict. c.iii)
  • City of Dublin Steam Packet Company’s Act 1868 (31 & 32 Vict. c.xxx)
  • City of Dublin Steam Packet Company’s Act 1876 (39 & 40 Vict. c.xi)
  • City of Dublin Steam Packet Company’s Act 1884 (47 & 48 Vict. c.cxxx)
  • City of Dublin Steam Packet Company’s Act 1895 (58 & 59 Vict. c.cxxiii)
  • City of Dublin Steam Packet Company’s Act 1910 (10 Edw.7 & 1 Geo.5 c.vii)
  • City of Dublin Steam Packet Company’s Act 1916 (6 & 7 Geo.5 c.viii)
  • City of Dublin Steam Packet Company’s Act 1920 (10 & 11 Geo.5 c.i).

In a Consultation Paper published in 2008, the Law Commission explained:

The City of Dublin Steam Packet Company was founded by Charles Wye Williams in 1822. From 24 January 1839, the Post Office contracted the company to run the mail service from Dublin to Holyhead. This service was later extended such that the company ran both the day and night service.

During the First World War the company suffered heavy losses, including the sinking of its ship the R.M.S. Leinster by a German submarine on 10 October 1918, resulting in a loss of over 500 lives. A further two ships were sunk during this period. The company never fully recovered from its wartime losses and, in 1924, an order for the winding-up of the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company
was petitioned for and granted by the High Court at Dublin Castle.

In Ireland, the Statute Law Revision Act 2009 repealed the 1833 and 1836 Acts and the Statute Law Revision Act 2012 repealed all the rest — except the 1895 Act. I don’t know where to get a copy of that Act, so I don’t know why it was specifically retained. But, with that exception, it seems that the ghost of the CoDSPCo has been laid to rest.