Tag Archives: Dublin

Dublin’s foreign trade 1837

Here’s an interesting extract from Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of 1837. It’s about the foreign trade of the port of Dublin.

At the time, trade was classified as either coasting or foreign: since the conclusion of the free trade area between Ireland and Britain in 1825, trade between Ireland and Britain was classed as coasting. As a result, no records were kept of that trade except for corn (from Ireland to Britain) and coals (the other way). To quote Tables of the Revenue [Tables of the Revenue, Population, Commerce, &c of The United Kingdom and its dependencies Part III from 1820 to 1833, both inclusive. Compiled from official returns; presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of His Majesty HMSO, London 1834 ]:

No general Account of the Trade between Ireland and Great Britain can be rendered for the period subsequent to 1825, the commercial intercourse between the two Countries having, from the termination of that year, been assimilated by law to a coasting traffic.

In this extract, Lewis is therefore talking about Dublin’s trade with places outside the United Kingdom. He starts with northern Europe, then moves on to the West Indies and North America, then China and South America, finishing in the Mediterranean. The indented italicised paragraphs are Lewis; the others are comments.

Northern Europe

There is very little foreign export from Dublin. The trade with the Baltic in timber, staves, &c, is greatly diminished by the high rate of duty imposed and the low rate at which Canada timber is admitted. From St. Petersburgh, Riga, Archangel, &c, there is a considerable import of tallow, hemp, and tar, with some linseed, bristles, &c.;

The Baltic had been Britain’s main source of timber and other supplies for shipping (including hemp and tar) but, during the Napoleonic Wars, timber from North America had taken over.

from Spain and Portugal the chief import is wine, with some corkwood, raisins, barilla, and bark; from France the imports are wine in wood and bottle, claret, champagne, &c, also cork-wood, prunes, dried fruits, and some brandy;

Wine, brandy and gin:

from the Netherlands the imports are bark and flax ; from Holland, tobacco pipes, bark, cloves, and flax-seed, and small quantities of gin, Burgundy pitch, Rhenish wines, madder, &c.

So far many of the imports seem to be either inputs to industrial processes (eg barilla, madder) and exotic food and drink for the more affluent consumers.

West Indies

With the West Indies the trade is chiefly in sugar from Jamaica, Demerara, and Trinidad, estates in the last-named island being owned in Dublin.

For more on Irish slave-owners, insert “Ireland” in the “Country” field of the “Address Details” section here.

Encouraging people to drink whiskey:

Coffee is imported in small quantities and also rum, but very little foreign spirits are consumed in Ireland, in consequence of the low price and encouragement given to the use of whiskey.

The Irish provision trade, which supplied (inter alia) the British navy and slave plantations, had been in decline for many years, with the livestock trade increasing to compensate.

Beef and pork in casks, and soap and candles in boxes, were formerly exported to the West Indies in large quantities, but the trade is now nearly lost in consequence of permission being given to the colonists to import these articles from Hamburgh, Bremen, &c, where they can be purchased at lower prices than in Ireland.

The West Indies could also buy from America (see below) and could buy preserved cod as an alternative to beef.

North America

The linen trade had become concentrated on Belfast; Dublin had lost its role in handling the product when Belfast opened its own Linen Hall in 1783.

To the United States of America formerly there was a very large export of linen, principally to New York, and flax-seed, staves, turpentine, clover-seed, &c, were brought back; but the bounty on the export of linen having been withdrawn, the trade between the United States and Dublin has greatly diminished. The export of linen and import of flax-seed is now chiefly confined to Belfast and other northern ports.

The growing of tobacco in Ireland had been banned in 1832.

The American tobacco which is either sold or consumed in Dublin is brought from Liverpool.

The import of American tobacco via Liverpool was part of a much wider trend. Liverpool was simply so much busier a port than any of its Irish counterparts; it dominated the Atlantic trade (to the chagrin of Bristol). It made sense to send cargoes in large vessels from the Americas to Liverpool; from there they could be distributed quickly, especially to Dublin, to which there were daily steam services. This changed the way Dublin merchants worked: instead of getting a few shiploads from the Americas per year, they could now import small quantities as required, once a week if they liked. That reduced the amount of capital tied up in stock and may have made it available for other investments.

UK port traffic 1833–1836 (derived from Tables of the Revenue 1838)

The timber trade was, in effect, the emigrant trade: emigrants provided a useful back cargo for ships that would otherwise return almost empty to the Americas.

With British America the trade is very great in timber, as a return cargo of vessels sailing thither from Dublin with emigrants.

An inland waterway connection:

With Newfoundland there is no direct trade; the cod and seal oil consumed are imported from Liverpool or brought by canal from Waterford, which has a direct trade with Newfoundland; dried codfish and ling being much used in the southern counties, but not in the northern or midland.

China

More exotica:

With China there are three vessels owned in Dublin, besides others engaged in the tea trade; the number of chests directly imported is, therefore, considerable.

South America

As well as timber, one of the things that industrialising countries were running out of was hides for leather. Argentina and Uruguay both had extensive exports; they were also able to export salted beef to the Americas and the Caribbean.

With South America there is no direct trade, the Dublin tanners being abundantly supplied with native hides, and any foreign hides required being brought from Liverpool, whence also is imported the cotton wool consumed in the Dublin factories.

Mediterranean

And finally …

With Turkey the trade is confined to the importation from Smyrna of valonia, figs, raisins, and small quantities of other articles: madder-roots and emery-stone being always transhipped for Liverpool.

With Leghorn there is a considerable trade for cork-tree bark, and small quantities of hemp in bales, oil, marble, &c, are also imported, but very little communication is kept up with Trieste or other Italian ports.

With Sicily the trade is in shumac and brimstone ; the latter article in considerable quantities for the consumption of vitriol and other chymical works.


Source: Samuel Lewis A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, comprising the several counties, cities, boroughs, corporate, market, and post towns, parishes, and villages, with historical and statistical descriptions; embellished with engravings of the arms of the cities, bishopricks, corporate towns, and boroughs; and of the seals of the several municipal corporations: with an Appendix, describing the electoral boundaries of the several boroughs, as defined by the Act of the 2d and 3d of William IV S Lewis & Co, London 1837

New header pic February 2020

The Liffey in 1846, cropped from a panorama published in the Illustrated London News on 6 June 1846.

Alexandra Hope’s voyage to London

I have mentioned Isaac Weld before., in the context of his sailing the Lakes of Killarney in a boat made of brown paper. He was also one of the first people, at least in Europe, to take a long sea voyage in one of the newfangled steamboats as a passenger rather than a crew member. Even better, he left an account of his journey.

One George Dodd was taking a steamer, originally called the Argyle, from the Clyde (where steamers came from) to the Thames, after which he renamed the boat. This was in 1815, only three years after Henry Bell‘s Comet began the first commercially successful steamboat service in Europe. [The first such service in America was inaugurated in 1807 by Robert Fulton, who was mentioned here the other day.]

Dodd took the steamer into Dublin en route to London and Isaac Weld, greatly interested, decided to travel on board for the rest of the trip. Weld’s wife, née Alexandra Hope, decided to accompany him; she may have been the first woman, at least in Europe, to take a long sea trip on a steam boat.

Here is a version of Weld’s account of his trip, as published in the Belfast Commercial Chronicle on 24 April 1816. It may have been translated from English to French and back again.

Better duffers than drowned

We are happy in being informed, that the young man (son of the Rev T Cooper, of Leeds street, Liverpool) who was suspected of having been drowned whilst bathing at Liverpool, and for whose body a reward was last week offered, was picked up alive by one of the Dublin Packets outward bound, having been carried away by the rapidity of the current, and after a voyage to Ireland, was on Saturday last restored to his disconsolate friends, having thus been most providentially rescued from a watery and untimely grave.

Lancaster Gazette 25 May 1816

Grand Canal carrying 1816

GRAND CANAL

Reduction of Freights etc

B Hyland and Sons return their most grateful Thanks to their Friends and the Public, for the very flattering Encouragement they have received since their commencement in Business, above 20 years, and hope, that by their constant care and attention to merit a continuance thereof. They now take the opportunity of acquainting the Friends of their Trade, that all goods committed to their care, will be forwarded as usual, with the utmost expedition. Three of their Boats leave Dublin every week, for the conveyance of all kinds of Building Materials; Wines, Spirits, Porter, Tea, Sugar, Cotton Goods, and all kinds of Merchandize &c, at tge following reduced Prices, viz:

Dublin to Rathangan                                        8s 10d per Ton
Do. to Monastereven                                      10s    6d do.
Do. to Vicarstown                                            12s    4d do.
Do. to Athy                                                        14s    2d do,

They beg leave to state to their Friends and the Public that they have got each of their Boats Hatched (so that it is impossible for Goods to meet with the slightest injury) and each Hatch is properly iron barred, with cross bars of Iron, in the most secure manner, and the moment the Goods are put into each Boat, the Hatches are put on, and locked down with brass-warded Locks of the best description, and then sealed. Each of their Agents at the above-named Stages have counter keys to open the Boats to get out the necessary Goods that is for each place. They have also provided excellent Stores at each of the above Harbours, for the general accommodation of all those who are pleased to favour them with the carriage of their Goods.

They return their best thanks to the Grand Canal Company, for their having so kindly reduced their Tolls, by which means they are thus enabled to carry Goods at the above Rates, and also to carry all kinds of Goods, Flour, Meal, Malt, Corn, &c at the under-mentioned rate of Freight to Dublin, where three of their regular fast-sailing Boats arrive each week from the country.

Athy to Dublin                                                 12s   6d per Ton
Vicarstown to do.                                            11s    6d do.
Monastereven to do.                                      10s    6d do.
Rathangan to do.                                              8s  10d do.

Exclusive of the above arrangement they have also commenced plying another Boat drawn by two Horses, which Boat leaves Monastereven every Friday evening at Four o’Clock, and arrives in Dublin on the Saturday night following; this same Boat leaves Dublin every Tuesday morning at Five o’Clock, and arrives in Monastereven on the Wednesday evening following.

They hereby give notice, that any Grain or Corn that may come by their Boats, in bulk, to Dublin, will not be entitled to the above reduction of Freight; but if the Owners of such Grain or Corn, put it into Sacks, they will then be only charged at the above-mentioned Rates (so regulated and ordered by the Grand Canal Company).

They have also established Drays with Covers for the accommodation of their Customers in Dublin, and also in the Country, for the purpose of delivering all kinds of Goods that may be conveyed by their Boats to their respective Owners.

Samples are taken from all Wines and Spirits sent to their care, the instant they are laid down off the cars, in the presence of the Carrier, in small Vial Bottles, sealed, one of which is sent to the Owners, the other retained as a proof; and they are in all cases accountable.

Their Boat Agents are Mr Henry Farrell, at Rathangan; Mr John Coyle, at Monastereven; Mr Thomas Doyle, at Vicarstown; and Mr Michael Commins, at Athy; each of whom are purchasers of Grain, and will give the full value for Wheat, Bere, Barley, Oats and Rapeseed.

Wanted, 800 new Hemp Sacks of the best Irish Manufacture; each Sack must weigh 7 lb exactly standing beam.

They have always a large supply of the best KILKENNY COALS, on reasonable Terms.

Dublin Evening Post 12 September 1816

Ennis to Dublin 1838

The public car from Ennis to Williamstown was quite a treat in the way of public travelling; a leather strap, and afterwards a branch of a tree, sufficed for a whip, until an innocent country lad was coaxed into an exchange pro tempore — that is to say, he very good-naturedly lent our driver his whip on a simple promise to return it, and took the branch instead. Although half an hour too late at starting, our loquacious conductor assured us that we would arrive in due time at Williamstown to meet the packet, ‘barring accidents’ — which was well put in, for the wheels were once or twice so hot and the horses so lazy that a stoppage at one time seemed inevitable.

A voyage in a large steamboat of one hundred horse power was quite a novelty to be enjoyed in an inland piece of water, and I greatly enjoyed both this and the voyage up the Shannon, in a less steamboat of twenty four horse power. I had never in my life travelled in a canal passage-boat, and the voyage therein from Shannon Harbour to Dublin was described by a Limerick attorney as a nuisance, horrible beyond endurance. I have never, however, been disposed to rely so much on the opinion of others as on my own experience, and therefore I resolved to try the voyage.

Never was I more agreeably surprised that to find, after sailing in it eighteen hours, I arrived at Dublin too soon, so far as the pleasantness of the journey was concerned. I heard the best Irish songs and recitations, and had a most interesting account of Irish scenery and superstitions from Mr Dennis Leonard, of Kilrush; besides this, I had a very comfortable night’s rest and was altogether much interested and pleased with my first journey on a canal.

From Chapter XV Ireland and the Irish 1838 of Benjamin Ward Richardson Thomas Sopwith MA CE FRS, with excerpts from his diary of fifty-seven years Longmans, Green & Co, London 1891

 

 

Canal fecundity

Mrs M’Cann, of Castlecomer, gave birth to two infant boys and a girl, in the canal fly boat from Athy to Dublin, on Monday.

Limerick Chronicle 3 March 1838

Just as well they were infants: giving birth to three teenagers would have been difficult.

Waterways update: work in progress (1759)

Here is some information about the work of Messrs Ockenden and Omer on Irish waterways up to 1759. It is extracted from a book by Henry Brooke; Ockenden had, twenty years earlier, subscribed to support Brooke’s play. It is not impossible that they were acquainted, in Ireland or in England. Apart from anything else, both were supporters of Frederick, Prince of Wales: see A N Newman “The Political Patronage of Frederick Lewis, Prince of Wales” in The Historical Journal Vol 1 No 1 1958 on Ockenden’s post in the prince’s household at £100 a year and here on Frederick’s “many attentions” to Brooke.

Brooke’s account contains some information about Ockenden’s work that I have not seen elsewhere. I found the reference to Brooke in Thomas McIlvenna This Wonder-Working Canal: a history of the Tyrone Navigation Coalisland Canal Branch IWAI 2005.

The Dublin gondola

Letter in the Irish Times here.

Before the Guinness Liffey barges

During the past half-year also — within the last two months — Messrs Guinness and Co have finished the very extensive stores both here [at Grand Canal Harbour] and at our docks [Grand Canal Docks, Ringsend], and have commenced to carry their whole import and export trade upon our canal between these points. They have purchased boats, and are carrying on the trade with great zeal and efficiency, and we expect it will form a very considerable addition to your revenue from the tolls.

From the address of the Chairman, William Digges La Touche Esq, to the half-yearly meeting of the Grand Canal Company on 31 August 1867, reported in the Dublin Evening Post 4 September 1867