Tag Archives: coal

Lough Allen to Limerick 1786

The hopes of a gentleman of Limerick ….

Carrick-on-Shannon in 1949

T W Freeman “The town and district of Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim” in Irish Geography (Bulletin of the Geographical Society of Ireland) Vol II No 1 1949:

There is no mill in use now, though flour is sent from Rank’s in Limerick by barge to Carrick, but no farther. Before the 1939–1945 war general cargo was also brought to the town by barges which could convey 50 tons of coal; other goods included timber and galvanised iron for builders. At present, stout is the only commodity brought by barge to the solidly-built stone warehouse of the early nineteenth century, whence it is distributed for some twenty miles in every direction.

 

More reading material

A bit of a break from the politicking ….

First,  the long-awaited second edition of David Walsh’s extraordinary book Oileáin is now available from Pesda Press. It’s an exhaustive guide to the islands around Ireland, seen from a sea-kayaker’s perspective. It tells you where they are, how you get there, what the tides and currents and hazards are, whether you might be able to camp …. A lot of this is, of course, aimed mainly at folk rather more athletically minded than I am, but I got it for its information about the islands in the Shannon and Fergus estuaries. David’s website keeps an electronic version updated, so that you can check the latest information before you set off, but even if you’re unlikely to start paddling to the Skelligs yourself you may find the information and the photos of interest.

Shannon enthusiasts will be familiar with Richard Hayward’s Where the River Shannon Flows, written as Hitler’s war was breaking out. It is an account of a road trip down the Shannon during which a film about the river was being made: the party was in Portumna when Hayward heard, on a wireless set through a window, that Britain was at war with Germany. I was privileged, some years ago, to be able to see the film and to match it with the scenes from the book, from which L T C Rolt drew information for his Green and Silver. Hayward was a proud Ulsterman, but one who was happy to meet, converse and exchange songs with anyone of any creed anywhere in Ireland. He was, if I remember correctly, a confectionery salesman by way of a day job, but more importantly he was an actor, a writer and a singer. His style is of its time, and perhaps rather laboured by modern standards, but he was a decent skin and I haven’t read anything of his that I didn’t enjoy. I am pleased to learn that a biography, An Unrepentant Romantic — the life and times of Richard Hayward by Paul Clements, is due to be published by Lilliput Press in May.

In the same month, UCD Press is to publish James Murphy’s Ireland’s Czar: Gladstonian government and the lord lieutenancies of the Red Earl Spencer, 1868–86. That’s this chap here, whose claim to fame is that he has a dock on the Royal in Dublin, and a harbour on Lough Allen, both called after him.

I don’t know whether I want to shell out €50 for Nigel Everett’s The Woodlands of Ireland, 700–1800 [Four Courts Press, May], but I like the idea that it

Focuses on the fundamentally pragmatic and commercial view of trees adopted by Gaelic civilisation, and the attempts of the various Anglo-Irish administrations to introduce more conservative woodland practices into Ireland.

Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan adhmaid? Why, we’ll import seacoal from Whitehaven, of course.

Finally, I am hoping that Joe Curtis’s Terenure: an illustrated history [The History Press, Ireland, March] will have more information about the remarkable Bourne family.

The information on forthcoming books comes from the magazine Books Ireland, which was until recently edited by old Shannon hand (and, if I mistake not, former Ditchcrawler) Jeremy Addis. Jeremy has now passed over the tiller and the magazine is now edited by Tony Canavan and published by Wordwell.

 

The Armagh Canal

Another unbuilt canal mentioned by the indefatigable Mr Atkinson.

A proposal for making a canal from the city of Armagh to the river Blackwater, near the town of Moy

In order to shew, that carrying into effect the annexed sketch of a line [alas not annexed to the Google scan of Atkinson’s book], for opening a navigable communication from Armagh to the river Blackwater, would be a work of public utility, the following reasons are most respectfully submitted to the Right Honourable and Honourable the Committee of the House of Commons.

From Armagh, being the most considerable market in the kingdom for the sale of brown linens, the manufacture of that staple article is carried on to a very great extent in its neighbourhood; but this manufacture is in danger of being most materially injured, from the great scarcity of fuel, which is such as to oblige the opulent inhabitants to use English coal, at a great expense of land carriage; and they have latterly, at inclement seasons, been under the necessity of subscribing large sums, to procure that article at a low price for the poor, to prevent them from perishing.

Should a navigation be opened from Lough Neagh it would give the means of a supply of turf from the extensive bogs in the neighbourhood of the lake, would open a communication with the collieries at Coal island, in the county of Tyrone, and bring English or Scotch coal at considerably under the prices at which they can now be procured.

An extensive trade in general articles of merchandise being carried on from Armagh, not only to its own neighbourhood, but to a considerable part of the counties of Monaghan and Tyrone, by opening a navigation through Lough Neagh to the ports of Belfast and Newry, this trade would be very considerably extended, to the great advantage of Armagh, and all those places to which its trade extends, and would tend much to improve the public revenue.

To the great number of bleach-greens and flour mills in the neighbourhood of Armagh, water carriage would be of the highest importance, as well for the conveyance of bleaching stuffs, coals, grain, and flour, as of timber, slates, and other heavy articles, used in erecting and repairing the necessary buildings, machinery, &c.

In a large tract of country, from Blackwater town to Lough Neagh, and from thence up the river Bann, and along the canal to Newry (an extent of nearly 30 miles), there is no limestone whatever; so that lime can only be procured by land carriage from a distance of several miles, which prevents its being at all used in that important national object — agriculture.

Was a canal opened from Armagh, it must necessarily go through the lands in that vicinity, containing inexhaustible quantities of limestone, which could be conveyed by boats returning from Armagh, at a very inconsiderable expense, to all that part of the county above mentioned.

The cut, as laid down in the plan, would extend about five and a half miles; and according to the estimate, would, when completed, cost from £18,000 to £20,000, about one-third of which could be raised by subscription.

To keep the works in repair, and pay interest to the subscribers, would require a toll of about sixpence per ton on all boats carrying coals, or any other species of merchandise; but boats laden merely with turf or limestone might be charged only twopence per ton.

The number of horses constantly employed in bringing coals, turf, and other necessaries, to Armagh, amount to some hundreds; two-thirds of these would, from a canal, become unnecessary, and consequently make a saving to the country of their keeping, attendance, &c to a very large amount.

Should the Armagh navigation be carried into execution, it would be necessary to give the commissioners of it a power of laying on a very small toll on vessels coming into the Blackwater from Lough Neagh, to enable them to clear, and keep in order, a cut which was made many years ago (as marked in the plan), to avoid a sand bank in the mouth of the river Blackwater.

 

Armagh, Moy and Lough Neagh

Armagh, Moy and Lough Neagh

A Atkinson Esq (late of Dublin) Ireland exhibited to England, in a political and moral survey of her population, and in a statistical and scenographic tour of certain districts; comprehending specimens of her colonisation, natural history and antiquities, arts, sciences, and commerce, customs, character, and manners, seats, scenes and sea views. Violent inequalities in her political and social system, the true source of her disorders. Plan for softening down those inequalities, and for uniting all classes of the people in one civil association for the improvement of their country. With a letter to the members of His Majesty’s Government on the state of Ireland Vol II Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, London 1823.

The Armagh canal document, bearing a date of June 20th 1800, is also included in Rev John Dubourdieu Statistical Survey of the County of Antrim, with observations on the means of improvement; drawn up for the consideration, and by direction of The Dublin Society Dublin 1812 [Google scan, again sketchless] but is not, oddly, mentioned in Sir Charles Coote Bart Statistical survey of the County of Armagh: with observations on the means of improvement; drawn up in the years 1802, and 1803, for the consideration, and under the direction of the Dublin Society Dublin 1804 [at archive.org here], although Coote does say of Newry

A canal has been in contemplation, to be cut from this town to Armagh, and an iron road is also talked of, but there has been no decision in either cases.

My OSI logo and permit number for website

Fracking Leitrim

This morning, on the wireless, I heard two people opposing the use of fracking to find gas around Lough Allen in Co Leitrim. Neither of them was convincing. One started by objecting to big multinationals being given licences to investigate the resources available; it is not clear that there was any ban on small native companies or workers’ cooperatives (or soviets of workers, peasants and soldiers) applying for licences, and presumably they could use traditional Irish implements like sleans if they wanted to.

The general line of argument adopted by the objectors was that anything that could go wrong would go wrong, probably all at the same time, wiping out the whole of Irish agriculture (some of which is not in Leitrim) and, er, eco-tourism. There would, the objectors seemed to suggest, be no preventive or mitigating measures and no insurance and the full cost of every accident would be borne by the residents of the area.

Remains of a pier at the brickworks, Spencer Harbour, Lough Allen

 

But the bit that really annoyed me was the depiction of the area as one of rural seclusion. Yet Lough Allen had canals, railways, coal mines, dams, iron works and brick works.

Spencer Harbour on Lough Allen

 

The very canal linking Lough Allen to the
rest of the Shannon Navigation owes its very existence to the desire
to carry coal from around Lough Allen to Dublin. And one of the most best tourism initiatives in the area, the Arigna Mining Experience, recognises that heritage.

Part of a brick

 

Insist on proper assessment and management of risk by all means, but don’t exaggerate it — and don’t ignore Leitrim’s industrial heritage.

 

The West Clare Railway and the Slieve Callan

Because L T C Rolt took a trip on the West Clare Railway at the end of his Irish waterways trip, I felt justified in putting up a page about the project. I have now been back to Moyasta Junction, where the restored 117-year-old Slieve Callan steam locomotive is now running on a small length of track. I took many, many photos of the loco (inside the cab and outside, moving and at rest), the carriages and other items of interest; you can see them here.

Back in the USSR

I’ve added some photos of Moscow to my page South of Moscow, north of Geneva about the Grand Canal Company’s collieries.

South of Moscow, north of Geneva

Here’s a new page about some canals that were never built: several proposals for canals to the Grand Canal Company’s collieries in Co Laois.

The Lombardstown to Mallow Canal

New page up, linked off the Lost Irish Waterways page.

Dry hurries on Dukart’s Canal

Dukart’s inclined planes, on the canal from Coalisland to the Drumglass colliery, are known as dry hurries. It may be that the term derives from coal-mining; I’ve published some extracts from Richard Griffin’s 1814 report on the Leinster coalfield.