Tag Archives: Dublin

Bang

The inhabitants of this city [Dublin] were greatly alarmed yesterday evening, between the hours of four and five, by a most violent concussion of the air, which broke several panes of glass, cracked others, and shook houses to the foundation in an unusual manner, accompanied by a very loud explosion. In the country parts adjacent to the city, the fears of the people led them to imagine that there had been a shock of an earthquake — but the cause proves to have been the explosion of two boats, that were coming down the Grand Canal, freighted with gunpowder from Counsellor Caldbeck’s powder-mills at Clondalklin.

Many lives it was reported were lost; but we can assure the public, from the best authority, that no more than two men were killed, and five or six slightly wounded. The loss from the gunpowder is not estimated to be very great.

It is not as yet ascertained through what manner the fire was suffered to communicate to the powder. It was said that it was from one of the hands having dropped some blazing tobacco from a pipe which he was smoking, but for that there appears no foundation.

Dublin Evening Post 24 April 1787

The Air-Balloon

Having justly excited the public attention of Europe, as a phaenomenon the most wonderful, and likely to reach the summit of perfection and general utility, Mr RIDDICK, pupil to Mr DINWIDDIE, and lately with him at the construction of those exhibited in London, will, on Monday and Tuesday next, between one and three, at the Rotunda, float an AIR-BALLOON, upwards of Six Feet diameter.

Admittance 2s 2d — when a Ticket will also be delivered gratis, for admission to the Gardens, the day it shall be LAUNCHED, notice of which will be given in this paper.

Dublin Evening Post 22 January 1784

From the BNA

Clonsilla again

I have added a thought to my post about stonework at Clonsilla. To save readers from having to open that page, here is the text.

Peter Clarke, in The Royal Canal: the complete story Elo Publications, Dublin 1992, points out that, in 1807, there was a passenger service from Dublin to Clonsilla: the six miles cost 1/7½ in first and 1/1 in second class.

Could it be that the passenger station was under the bridge, with access controlled by gates at either end? Horses could have been changed too, with the ramp providing access for horses to the road. Passengers too could use the ramps, but horses could not use steps. And, as modern canal users will attest, it is always easier to embark and disembark passengers under bridges, where there is deep water at the edge and where the boat does not have to go off its course.

If that is so, there might be similar stonework at the other passenger stations that were located at bridges rather than at harbours. There would be traces of gate pillars at either side of a bridge. Ramps would be required only where the canal bank’s level was significantly above or below that of the road.

 

Nitwitted navigation proposals

The tradition of lobbying for ridiculous, uneconomic, unnecessary and expensive navigations has a long history in Ireland. Here is another nineteenth-century example, which also features local government in its usual role as a forum for lunatics (a role which could now be delegated to Twitter).

Navigation of the Liffey from Dublin to Leixlip

At the last meeting of the Town Council of Dublin, the Lord Mayor in the chair, the following proceedings took place on the subject of opening the navigation of the Liffey, through the Valley, on the engineering plan of our friend, Mr Steele.

Alderman Keshan moved the following resolution:

“Resolved: That the Lord Mayor be respectfully requested to write to the Chief Secretary, soliciting that his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant will be pleased to order a section and some transverse sections of the Valley of the Liffey, from Dublin to Leixlip, to be made by the Board of Public Works for the guidance of this Corporation, in a matter of deep public interest to the inhabitants of the metropolis of Ireland (hear, hear).”

He trusted that this motion would not encounter any opposition. He made it with a view to promote Mr Steele’s project for the improvement of the Valley of the Liffey (hear). Large sums of money had been taken out of this country for the improvement of London (hear, hear), and he did not see why a portion of the national revenues should not be devoted to the improvement of Ireland (hear, hear).

The citizens of London had their water trip to Richmond (hear). Why should not the citizens of Dublin have theirs to Leixlip? This would be accomplished if the Valley of the Liffey were made navigable (hear).

Alderman O’Brien seconded the motion, which was carried.

Dublin Evening Post 14 June 1845, from the British Newspaper Archive.

From the BNA

 

GCC inspection launch

Under the heading

GRAND CANAL COMPANY’S ENTERPRISE

the Irish Times reported, on 21 December 1909, on the trials of a launch newly built by the Grand Canal Company in their own docks at James’s Street Harbour.

The launch was 40′ long and 6½’ wide, screw propelled and driven by a Daimler 12-15 hp petrol engine. This engine was placed in the forward part of the launch

… and is worked in the manner which is usual with road motor cars: the driver or steersman sitting at the wheel having a clear view ahead.

That part of the launch was open; in the centre was a “deck-house or saloon, constructed principally of teak wood”. Aft of that was another open area. The launch could carry 20 people.

The saloon had “a sliding weatherproof door at the fore end, and two removable swing doors in the aft end”. It was lit by electric lamps and had cushioned seats at each side, with storage lockers underneath. A “table of novel design” was lowered from the ceiling when required, then pushed back up to leave a clear passage through the saloon. The launch, which was fitted up very tastefully, and

… the creditable manner in which the work of turning out the launch as a whole has been accomplished reflects great credit on the company’s workmen, and promises well for the future of local industries.

The trials were attended by the GCC General Manager George Tough and its Engineer Harry Wayte. The launch left James’s Street at 10.30am for Ringsend, travelled up the Liffey to Kingsbridge and back down again, before going out into Dublin Bay two miles beyond the Poolbeg lighthouse. On a measured mile in the Liffey, between the Pigeon House and the lighthouse, she managed 12 mph against the tide. She returned to James’s Street Harbour after arousing “considerable interest amongst spectators along the route”.

The launch was intended as “an officers’ inspection boat, to travel all over the company’s extensive system” of waterways routes.

The boat in every respect worked very satisfactorily, and reflected great credit on its designers. […] The success which has attended this experiment may lead to the establishment of fast or express goods boats all over the system.

I had not been aware of the existence of a GCC inspection launch later than the gondola of 1795. I would be glad of information from anyone who knows more about it: please leave a Comment below if you can help.

From the BNA

Burkism

On Saturday, a man applied at one of the Scotch sailing vessels, opposite the North Wall, Dublin, and offered a large parcel directed for Greenock. He stated that the parcel was a set of books, but the foul smell proceeding from it excited suspicion, and it was opened by the mate, who found that it contained a body, wrapt in oil-cloth, and over that a thin matting, the entire contained in a bag.

The body was that of a boy, about 13 years of age, tightly corded, and doubled up. The bones of the legs and arms were broken, and blood flowing from the mouth and nose. This gave rise to a suspicion, that the boy had met a violent death.

Many persons exclaimed “this is Burkism“, “seize the villain” &c. Such was the excitation of the multitude, that it was only by the intervention of some of the police, that the fellow who brought the parcel was saved from destruction. He and the body was taken to the Police-office, where the latter remains for inquest, and the former in custody to abide the result of the inquiry. Several of the Faculty that examined the body, have given their opinion that death came by disease, the legs being dropsical. The prisoner says his name is M’Dowell.

Drogheda Journal, or Meath & Louth Advertiser 18 February 1829

From the BNA

 

Notes

On 28 February 1829 the Leeds Patriot and Yorkshire Advertiser carried a longer report, which it said it had taken from the Dublin Morning Post; it did not give the date of the Post issue.

This report said that a boy spotted a cart coming down Eden Quay to the North Wall. He recognised the man sitting on the cart’s shafts as a resurrectionist and told the mate of the ship to “have an eye” to him. That was why the mate was suspicious enough to open the parcel.

The report added some more gruesome details about the body. It said that, although the man gave his name as M’Dowel, he was found to be John Cadwell, from Longford. After he was taken into custody by peace-officer Gilloghly and police constable Paine from the Henry-street office, he said that he had been given the body by a gentleman he met in Grafton-street and employed to put it on board the vessel. The body was taken to Tucker’s-row watch-house for inspection, identification and inquest.

The boy appears to have been somewhat about 12 or 13 years of age, soft and full countenance, with a profusion of extremely fine light-brown hair, and looking remarkably fresh.

The Tipperary Free Press of 18 February 1829 gave the man’s real name as John Caldwell; it said that he had been taken up on suspicion of murdering the boy to sell his body to the “Scotch surgeons”. However, “After an examination before the Coroner, it appears that the boy was not murdered” although Caldwell could not account for his possession of the body.

The Clonmel Herald of 25 February 1829 gave a longer report of the inquest, taken from the Dublin Morning Post “of Tuesday”. It was less information about the specifics of the case than about what seemed to be a lively trade. It said that the vessel in question was the Scotia steamer, not a sailing vessel, and there was a strong suggestion that the mate was concerned in the trade, having investigated the parcel only when it became impossible to avoid investigating the parcel.

Caldwell himself said that he had delivered two or three similar parcels to the Scotia within the past fortnight but he did not name their senders; he did not know the Grafton-street gentleman’s name and had never carried parcels for him before, but had accepted half a crown to carry this one. He did not know a “medical man named Rea”.

James Killin, a ship labourer, said that Caldwell had taken two or three similar packages down the quay on the previous Saturday; Killin seems to have known that they contained bodies:

The witness then gave an account of dead bodies that had been discovered to have been shipped on board the same vessel, by the prisoner on the Saturday week preceding.

One of the jurors said that the body looked like those prepared for dissection; another said that

[…] he had heard a gentleman say that day that he had within the present season cleared £220 by the exportation of subjects.

He said that an Edinburgh surgeon had offered an Irish resurrectionist £10 per body plus post and packing.

There was no funding to pay a member of the profession to examine the body in such cases and the coroner said that he was unable to afford to pay for one out of his own remuneration, so the jury was unable to decide on the cause of death. The body was sent to Surgeons’ Hall for examination and Caldwell was remanded in custody.

Walking the Royal

Great walking match

A CELEBRATED MATCH is now performing by W F Simpson, a Native of Dublin, at RUSSELL-STREET, or JONES’S-BRIDGE, Royal Canal. He purposes Walking

1000 Quarter Miles in 1000 Quarter Hours!

for a Wager of £100 to £50. Such a feat has never been performed by any Pedestrian trained in England.

Admission, 2d each.

Freeman’s Journal 25 September 1850

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

Travelling

Newry steam-packet

The Waterloo will sail hence for Warren’s Point, This Day (FRIDAY) the 16th instant, at Three o’clock; on TUESDAY the 20th, and SUNDAY the 25th instant.

Dublin steam-packets

The Mountaineer, C H Townley, will sail hence for Dublin, on SUNDAY next, the 18th instant, at Three o’clock.

The Belfast will also shortly resume her station between this Port and Dublin. These being the only Steam-packets which land their Passengers AT THE CITY, by them the Public avoid the dangerous landing at Dunleary in small boats, the hazardous and expensive mode of conveyance thence to Dublin (a distance of several miles), the disagreeable disputes with boatmen, the impositions practised by the lowest order of society, with various other difficulties; against which the complaints are universal.

Days of sailing from Liverpool will be, Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

Apply at the Packet-office, bottom of Redcross-street, or to WILLIAM STEWART.

Liverpool Mercury 16 May 1823

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

Gondolas

A superb boat or gondola has been recently finished at the Grand Canal, and is painted and decorated in a most elegant manner. It is of a smaller size than the packet boats, and intended for convenience or pleasure of the directors of that great national and useful undertaking, in order to make occasional excursions therein on the different lines of that navigation — it now lies in one of the harbours near the city Bason.

Saunders’s News-Letter 20 April 1795

The elegant gondola which we mentioned to be lying at the Canal Harbour, and to be intended for the use of the Directors, we learn is not for the use of those Gentlemen, but to carry passengers from and to Portobello, to and from the first lock to meet the passage-boats (as lately advertised) and to gratify with a short voyage on the Canal, from Portobello to James’s-street Harbour, such persons as, having no call of business or pleasure towards the county of Kildare, have not otherwise an opportunity of enjoying that gratification, which latter use of the boat is now making by many persons every fine day.

Saunders’s News-Letter 23 April 1795

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

Cardboard and paper

Some folk have been sailing on the Thames in a boat made of cardboard.

Over two hundred years ago, Isaac Weld navigated the lakes of Killarney in a boat made of brown paper:

Whilst engaged in illustrating the scenery of that beautiful locality, Mr Weld derived additional pleasure from the occupation, in introducing a young and amiable wife to scenes so familiar to himself. To facilitate their rambles, and profiting by his Canadian adventures and his skill as a “voyageur“, he constructed with his own hands the model of an Indian canoe. In the absence, however, of birch bark, he had recourse to successive layers of stout brown paper, creating a sort of papier-maché boat, sufficiently roomy for two. In this paper skiff he actually had the hardihood to intrust himself and fair companion in sundry adventurous voyages on the Lakes.

That is from “Mr Foot’s Memoir of the late Isaac Weld, Esq” in The Journal of the Royal Dublin Society Volume I 1856–57 Hodges, Smith & Co, Dublin 1858. Wikipedia offers a shorter account of the life of the remarkable Mr Weld. His Statistical Survey of the County of Roscommon, Royal Dublin Society 1832, is an invaluable source of information about the Shannon and the Royal Canal, but Mr Weld is also notable for his voyage, along with his equally adventurous wife, on the steamer Thames [originally Argyle] from Dublin to London in 1815. There are brief accounts of the journey here and here; the captain, George Dodd, wrote a book An Historical and Explanatory Dissertation on Steam-Engines and Steam-Packets; with the evidence in full given by the most eminent engineers, mechanists, and manufacturers, to the Select Committees of the House of Commons; togerther with the Committees’ reports, distinguishing and defining safe and unsafe steam-engines, and their proper management: comprising particulars of the fatal explosions of boilers at Norwich, Northumberland, Wells-street, and in America: concluding with a narrative, by Isaac Weld Esq, of the interesting voyage of the Thames steam-yacht, from Glasgow, in Scotland, to Dublin and London [published for the author, London 1818] available here, and Isaac Weld’s account is available here. Mrs Weld may have been the first woman to take an extended sea voyage in a steam vessel.