Tag Archives: Dublin

Launch at Messrs Bewley and Webb’s yard

The first of two new steel canal boats which the above firm are building for the Grand Canal Company was successfully launched on Wednesday.  These boats are 60 ft long by 13 ft 2 in beam, and 5 ft 9 in depth of hold, and are designed to carry forty tons on a light draught of water. They are of improved design and construction, and expected to tow very easily. The Canal Company have expressed themselves well pleased with the time of delivery and workmanship, and it is to be hoped no more orders of this kind will go across the water in future. The firm appear to us to be well able to deal with the work of the port. The ss Magnet, of the Tedcastle Line, which had an extensive overhaul at this yard, we believe, gave every satisfaction, and had a most successful trial trip a few days ago. It is to be hoped that more of our local steamship companies will follow the lead of Messrs Tedcastle, and have their work done in Dublin.

The Freeman’s Journal 1 September 1893. From the British Newspaper Archive run by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited, in partnership with the British Library.

Some context here.

Blessington Street basin

Blessington Street Basin (Michael Geraghty) November 2015 01_resize

Blessington Street Basin (Michael Geraghty 2015)

One of North Dublin’s less-well-known treasures, this is Blessington Street Basin, off the (former) Broadstone Line of the Royal Canal. Thanks to Michael Geraghty for the photo, taken in November 2015.

The sinking of the Longford 6

Here is the sixth and final page on the sinking of the passage boat Longford on the Royal Canal on 25 November 1845. This page is about who was steering the boat and why the steerer was unable to avoid the accident.

The price of fifteen lives was 1p.


The sinking of the Longford 4 and 5

Here are the fourth and fifth pages [I split one long page] in the sequence of articles about the sinking of the passage boat Longford on the Royal Canal in 1845. They discuss some of the evidence of corporate incompetence and farcical laxity that may have persuaded the inquest jury to award a deodand against the vessel (and thus against the Royal Canal Company).

Amongst other gems, the footnotes explain what a crapper is.

The sinking of the Longford 2

Here is the second page of the saga. This one gives background information about the passage boat service, the boats and the crew of the Longford. The shock-horror stuff will be in later pages.

The Groody turnpike

The River Groody flows into the Shannon downstream of Plassey, where the University of Limerick is located.

Groody 04_resize

Groody and Plassey (OSI ~1840)

The river itself may be hard to see, but the green wriggly line follows the course of the Groody except just north of Groody Bridge, where the river takes a more direct course towards the Shannon.

The road crossing Groody Bridge was the main road from Dublin to Limerick and the route followed by the mail-coaches. And, just to the west of the bridge, the 6″ Ordnance Survey map (of about 1840) shows a Turnpike, presumably controlling access to the road to Dublin. The road between Naas and Limerick, in other words most of the way to Dublin, was controlled by the Bourne family, who also ran the Dublin to Limerick mail coaches (which were amongst the few in Ireland to achieve an average of eight miles an hour).

Groody turnpike 03_resize

Groody bridge and turnpike (OSI ~1840)

I met a man who told me that his family owned this building, which is opposite the Aldi shop on the Dublin Road, Limerick.

Groody turnpike 01_resize

The building 1

It had been a shop at some stage and had had an extra window inserted, but he said it was originally a toll cottage. I don’t think it was for collecting the Limerick tolls [I don’t know where they were collected on the “Groody approach”, but I suspect it may have been near Pennywell]; I think it was for collecting the turnpike charges. Its position seems to match that of the turnpike building shown on the map.

However, I haven’t been able to find evidence on the matter one way or the other. I can’t find the building on the Griffith Valuation, perhaps because its value was too low to be recorded. And the Land Registry’s information doesn’t go back beyond 1982.

Groody turnpike 02_resize

The building 2

I would therefore be grateful to anyone who can provide evidence on whether this building was the turnpike cottage for the road to Naas.

My OSI logo and permit number for website


Swimming in the Naller

On 22 September 2015 Eric Byrne [Labour, Dublin South Central] put a written question to the Minister for Fairytales:

To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans to review the no swimming in locks and harbours under the by-law within the Canals Act by-laws of 1988 in view of the fact that there is no penalty for ignoring such signs; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

The minister replied:

I have been informed by Waterways Ireland that while it has not determined a need for an associated penalty with this by-law at this time, the matter is being kept under review. I am advised also that the locks, docks and harbours are manned and/or frequently visited by Waterways Ireland Operations and Inspectorate Authorised Officers. Where swimmers are encountered, they are made aware of the by-law provision and the dangers of swimming in or near canal infrastructure and they are requested to remove themselves from the navigation. Such requests are normally acceded to. In the event of persistent offender(s) unwilling to obey direction from Waterways Ireland Authorised Officers, the assistance of An Garda Síochána is sought to remedy the situation.

Sometimes I wonder whether politicians have any grasp on reality. Swimmers in the Naller are a force of nature and are as far beyond the control of Waterways Ireland, the police and indeed politicians as hurricanes, the economy or Mick Wallace. People have been swimming in the canals, in Dublin and no doubt elsewhere, for generations, and nothing or nobody has been able to stop them.

I suspect that more people have swum in the canals than have ever boated on them; swimming is therefore a legitimate topic for waterways studies. Here is a preliminary contribution to the field.

Ballinasloe again

Another account, this dated 1838, of a trip by Grand Canal Company passage-boat from Dublin to Ballinasloe.

Grand Canal passage-boat

Here is an account, published in 1862, of what it was like to travel from Portobello, in Dublin, to Ballinasloe by the Grand Canal Company’s passage-boats — and of why rail travel was much to be preferred.

From the blatts


Low wall on the right

Low wall on the right

The Irish Times reported on 24 August 2015 [may disappear behind a paywall at some stage] that a woman with “a blood alcohol level of 280mg per cent” [I am unable to make sense of that measurement] had drowned in the Grand Canal near Portobello in Dublin. The account includes no evidence that the woman tripped over the low wall that borders the canal; I do not know whether such evidence was presented. Nonetheless

Dr Farrell [the coroner] said he would write to Waterways Ireland for the matter of the height of the wall to be evaluated in the public interest.

I hope that the first step will be a cost-benefit analysis of any proposed change.

Percy Place

On 26 August 2015 [possible paywall alert] the Irish Times said that

Waterways Ireland is to sell an infill development site at 53 Percy Place, Dublin 4, which could accommodate a four-storey office block or residential scheme. CBRE is seeking more than €1.6 million for the 0.04 hectare (0.1 of an acre) site on which there is a two-storey derelict building.

53 Percy Place, Dublin

53 Percy Place, Dublin

The price is interesting. The property was valued at €1.6 million in 2008. WI’s Annual Report and Accounts for 2013 say

Surplus assets represent those assets that the Body deem are not strategic and are available for sale. Valuations of surplus assets are based on Recoverable Market Value from Internal and External valuations reports.

Plot 8 valued at €7,000,000 (2012: €7,000,000); this was valued in September 2013 by GVA Donal O’Buachella.

Percy Place was valued at €800,000 (2012: €650,000) by Felicity Fox FRICS FSCSI Auctioneers Valuers & Estate Agent in December 2013.

47 Lennox Street was valued at €270,000 (2012: €195,000) by Richard Fawcett BSc (Hons) Valuation & Estate Management Valuer, Waterways Ireland based on expected sales proceeds at December 2013. Previously valued at €380,000 by CBRE in October 2008.

The Hatch Bar valued in 2012 at €45,000 (2012: €45,000) by Richard Fawcett BSc (Hons) Valuation & Estate Management Valuer, Waterways Ireland in 2012.

The first three properties were to be sold to fund the construction of the Clones Sheugh. I have heard nothing more of the other two sites, Lennox Streeet near Portobello and Plot 8 in the Grand Canal Dock at Ringsend, and I didn’t see what WI got for the Hatch Bar. However, WI may have done very well on the sale of some other surplus assets, achieving four times what it expected:

The Barges were valued in 2013 at €51,000 based on bids received. Previously valued in 2011 by Bryan Millar, Consultant Engineer Naval Architect and Marine Engineer at €13,000.

On the basis of its asking price for Percy Place, WI seems to believe that the property collapse is over; perhaps it is even now in negotiation to develop Plot 8 and build a sheugh all the way to Clones. In the meantime, if it gets €1.6 million for Percy Place, that will help to alleviate the damage caused by the smash-and-grab raid carried out by the Department of Fairytales to pay for Saunderson’s Sheugh.

Derg Marina

The same edition of the Irish Times reports that Derg Marina in Killaloe has been sold for €1.7 million to “a local investor”. It suffered in the floods of 2009 and would need considerable investment were it to be restored to its former use. The site may contain remains of the PS Lady Lansdowne.

Greenway blues

The Weekly Observer of 26 August 2015 reports in its print edition [the story is not yet online] that Great Southern Trail Ltd, the voluntary body that manages part of the old Limerick to Tralee railway route as a greenway, is to cease doing so on 8 November 2015. GST, said to be the only voluntary group in Europe to manage a greenway, hopes that CIE and Limerick City and County Council will take over the management of the route. The newspaper account suggests that the burden of maintaining the greenway and cycleway to EU standards was too great for a voluntary group:

In particular, a very small number of farm crossings are the subject of unfavourable comment due to the difficulties encountered in keeping them clean.


The Ulster Canal Greenway has an artwork. Waterways Ireland is to be in charge of the Ulster Canal Greenway. But the Shinners haven’t gone away, you know:

[…] Sinn Féin councillor Brian McKenna voiced strong criticism of the efforts made at Government level over the past two decades to put in place the substantial funding necessary to guarantee that the reopening of the Canal – long identified as a crucial project for Co Monaghan tourism – was realised in full.

If their dedication to the Clones Sheugh is a mark of Sinn Féin’s approach to economic policy and public investment, we may expect grants for flax-growing to be reinstated immediately they’re elected. And for opening coal-mines and carrying corn to Dublin.