Tag Archives: Dublin

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

 

More houseboats

From the Indo

h/t Redmond O’Brien

Canal oats

The Freeman’s Journal of 25 July 1832 included a report on the Dublin markets of the previous day. The report from the Dublin Corn Exchange said

We had a moderate supply in market, and prices may be quoted same as last.

The grains traded included wheat (prime red and prime white), grinding barley, malting barley, bere, new oats, new bere, oatmeal, M’Cann’s and First Flour, as well as

Prime Feeding Oats, 14 st [stone] to the brl [barrel], 11s 6d to 12s 0d

Canal ditto, 9s 6d to 9s 9d

Usage

The term “canal oats” is used in a report from New York in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1843 and another in  The Economist in 1847; the Central New-York Farmer has it in 1844 and Walt Whitman used the term in 1846. More from that side of the Atlantic anon.

The earliest occurrence I have found in the British Newspaper Archive is in the Dublin Evening Post of 11 March 1819:

Dublin Corn Exchange, March 10. — Our Market was but poorly supplied this day, particularly with Farmers’ Grains, owing to their being so much occupied at field work. — Canal Oats were more abundant than the demand warranted, and they were heavy sale from 16s to 17s 6d; prime, and for feeding, could not be got under 20s to 21s, and seed from 22s to 30s. — Wheat and Barley steady. — Malt, Flour and Oatmeal without variation, and in but indifferent demand.

There are other Irish instances in 1824, 1825 and 1826; in all cases the price of canal oats is below that of feeding oats.

The only British examples from this period, in Gore’s Liverpool General Advertiser on 23 February 1826 and in the Glasgow Herald on 21 April 1826, are from reports on the Dublin market.

I have not checked every occurrence, but my impression is that, to the end of 1840 (I looked no further), the term “canal oats” was used frequently in Irish newspapers from all parts of the island. However, the term was used only about the Dublin and Belfast corn markets; canals served both conurbations. British newspapers used the term only in reports from the Irish markets.

Meaning

I have found no definition of the term. Here, though, are some comments on possible connotations.

First, I presume that “canal oats” were oats that travelled [part of the way] to market by canal. It is likely that most oats came by road, probably on Scotch carts; that would have required packaging, no doubt in barrels of one kind or another. Some oats did arrive by non-canal boats: on 17 December 1838 the Dublin Mercantile Advertiser, and Weekly Price Current said

Limerick, Dec 15. — […] Oats since Wednesday in good supply by land carriage, prices declined ¼d to ½d per stone, to-day 11¾d is the highest down to 11d; by boat, 10d to 11d; barley, 12d to 15d. The depression of the London market on Wednesday accounts for the fall here.

Second, “canal oats” seems to have referred to oats of an inferior quality, or at least to oats that commanded lower prices. The Belfast Commercial Chronicle of 23 March 1839 referred to canal oats as “generally arriving out of condition”, proving difficult to sell and “going to warehouse for want of buyers”. The Pilot of 11 December 1839 referred to canal oats as “soft”; it is not clear whether that applies to their market or to their physical condition. On 16 February 1839 the Belfast Commercial Chronicle referred to canal oats as “unkilndried”: did that apply only to that batch or to all canal oats?

Third, the Limerick market report, above, suggests that lower prices may have applied to all oats arriving by water rather than by land. It is possible that the prices reflected something about the nature of the transport method rather than the inherent quality of the oats; alternatively, it is possible that water transport (which, where it was available, was probably cheaper than land transport) was chosen for the oats that would sell for less.

The first possibility has, I think, two sub-possibilities: that oats travelling by water might have been more at risk of damage or that their packaging might have been inferior: specifically, that they might have been a bulk cargo, poured loose into the hold, rather than packed in barrels. The Belfast Commercial Chronicle of 16 February 1839 might be taken to suggest that: “cargoes”, not barrels, were being sold, and by the ton rather than any lesser quantity:

Oats maintain their value, and cargoes have been sold from £8 5s [presumably per ton] to £8 7s 6d for unkilndried Canal Oats.

However, that is the only such example that my quick survey found.

Fourth, it is possible that canal oats were not used for human or equine consumption. The Dublin Morning Register of 3 November 1838 reported that

The supply of oats from the neighbouring farmers was short, and brought at the opening 13s to 13s 6d per barrel. Canal oats, of which rather a good quantity appeared, was taken off at 12s 6d to 13s per 196lbs. The distillers, anxious to get into stock, gave these prices freely. The advance is fully 1s 6d a barrel since Friday.

Again, that is an isolated example; it may be that the distillers did not always use oats.

Fifth, a case heard in the New York Court of Appeals in 1851, and reported in Henry R Selden Reports of Cases argued and determined in the Court of Appeals of the State of New York; with notes, references, and an index Vol I Little & Company, Albany 1853, concerned a contract for the sale of canal oats. The appeal was against the verdict in a case in which Messrs Vail and Adams sued Mr Rice

[…] in the court of common pleas of the city of New York for the breach of a contract dated New York April 28th 1847 for the sale of “a lot of canal oats, say about four thousand bushels, more or less, at forty seven cents per bushel, deliverable in all the month of May next, from boats at or near the foot of Broad street in this city, cash on delivery”.

The ultimate decision turned on other issues, but the relevant part is that Vail and Adams had called a witness who was in the grain trade and who said

[…] that oats sent by the canal vary about five per cent when they arrive from what they were when shipped. They generally overrun or fall short about five per cent. This is always expressed by the words ‘more or less’. We always make our contracts in that way and we mean by ‘more or less’ to provide for an excess or a diminution not over or under five per cent. We use the word ‘about’ to express the same thing. It is generally customary among us that the purchaser takes whatever it is, and gets the benefit or suffers the loss, not exceeding five per cent. On his cross examination the witness stated ‘The custom is a general custom. I have never known any particular instance. All the grain dealers do. SS & Co have such a custom. I can’t mention a particular instance. I can’t give any other instance. I have sold grain to M & D this way.’

If Irish usage was the same as American, this might strengthen the suggestion that canal oats were a bulk cargo, not measured before shipment, and thus with some uncertainty about the exact amount being shipped, bought or sold. That uncertainty might account for a lower price.

Envoi

None of that amounts to conclusive evidence, and I would be glad to hear from anyone [please leave a Comment below] who knows more than I do about canal oats.