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- Waterways & past uses
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- The Ulster Canal 14: my search for truth
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- Waterways & past uses
Tag Archives: ferry
The steam ferry barge, the property of Messrs J R Russell and Sons, which plies across the Shannon from Russell’s-quay to Lansdowne spinning mills, and which was got up for the convenience and conveyance of the factory operatives in the employ of the firm, was boarded during last night (Sunday) as she lay at the north side of the river, by some person or persons unknown, and maliciously injured to a considerable extent. She was not only scuttled, but the machinery was broken and some of the gear removed and taken away, so that the barge has become temporarily disabled. Portions of the machinery are said to have been found in the river, where they were thrown by the miscreants. This is the second attempt that has been made to damage this ferry since she was put on the river.
Cork Examiner 27 April 1869
I see from the blatts that there are
Fears over future of Narrow Water bridge project
Planning permission for development at Carlingford Lough due to expire in October.
This is encouraging: I hope that the planning permission will be allowed to expire, unmourned by anyone, and that the project will be buried at the crossroads with a stake through its heart.
Like the Clones Sheugh, this scheme put symbolism over practicality and usefulness. It would require motorists from the south to drive to the middle of nowhere to cross the Newry River, when what is needed is an eastern bypass of Newry. Those living towards the eastern end of Carlingford Lough would be better served by a ferry, and I see that such a service is now proposed, to run between Greenore and Greencastle.
The only possible justification for the proposed bridge would be to build it without access roads, name it Garvaghy Road and allow — nay, sentence — Orange Order members to march up and down it in perpetuity.
This post was originally entitled “The avarice of the ferryman” but, as more information has been added, it seemed best to name the post for the remarkable Float Bridge itself, which links road, rail and waterway transport.
The avarice of the ferryman
Castlepollard, Sept 11. Last Week the following Accident happened at the Ferry, or Float, plying for Passengers over the River Inny, in the County of Westmeath: — A Post-Chaise and Four, with a Lady and Gentleman, were imprudently put upon this dangerous Conveyance, without separating the Cattle from the Carriage; unfortunately a Car and Horse had been put in before them, which, with the Post-Chaise and Horses, occupied the full Length of the Float.
On the Passage, the Car Horse grew very uneasy, and going back, the Car annoyed the Post-Chaise Horses, which occasioned them to back in like Manner, until the Post-Chaise fell into the River, and dragged the Horses after it; three of the Horses were drowned, being entangled with the Harness; the other broke through his Harness, and swam over to a boggy Place, but could not get upon Land; one of the men followed him in a small Boat, to lead him to a proper landing Place, but not being able alone to guide the Horse and row the Boat, the Horse got too near it, and striking it with one of his Feet, overset and sank it, by which the Man was drowned; the Horse then swam, and was saved.
It was very lucky for the Lady and Gentleman that they alighted from the Chaise at going into the Float. The Carriage, which belonged to the Gentleman, was got out with much difficulty; the Horses were Hacks. The Avarice of the Ferryman occasioned this melancholy Accident.
Hibernian Journal; or, Chronicle of Liberty
18 September 1775
That report came just about a year after this next one.
Good shot wanted
FERRY-BRIDGE, over the River Inny, between the County of Westmeath and Longford, 3 miles from Castlepollard, 12 miles from Mullingar and Longford, Sept 1st, 1774. Complaint having been made, that the Smallness of the Float rendered it inconvenient, and occasioned timorous People to drive or ride many Miles round to avoid the Ferry, the Proprietor therefore has undertaken to build a Bridge at his own Expence, which will be finished with all convenient Speed; in the mean Time, a Part of the intended Bridge, above 30 Feet long, Battlements fixed on each Side, properly gravelled over &c, will be made Use of to ferry over Carriages, &c. A Coach and four may now pass with the utmost Safety, without taking off the Horses, or 20 Head of Cattle, &c in less than 2 Minutes; and, to accommodate Graziers and others, as soon as said Bridge is compleated, Droves of large Cattle, above 30 in Number, will be passed over at the Rate of a British Shilling per Score, private Soldiers with Furlows from their Commanding Officers, in Time, gratis, all other Passengers, Cattle, &c at the usual Rates taken above these 20 Years.
This Road is now in good Repair, and well known to be many Miles nearer from Dublin to the County of Longford, Leitrim, Roscommon, Sligo, Mayo, &c than any other Road; a commodious Inn, near Ferry-bridge, on the Westmeath Side, is building, and a Carriers Inn on the Longford Side, will be both soon finished, and proper People to keep them.
Wanted, to take Care of said Bridge when finished, and to collect the Toll, &c a sober, honest, careful, active, middle-aged, single Man; he must be a Protestant, write a good Hand, and if a good Shot, and understands fishing in Lakes and Rivers, and delights in those Amusements, it will be more agreeable &c. Comfortable Lodging and Board, and not less than £12 per Ann will be made good to the Person approved of, and shall be treated (as far as can be reasonably expected) agreeable to his former Manner of Life. None need apply but such as have an undeniable good Character, as to Honesty and Sobriety, from his former Employers or Neighbours. Inquire of the Printer hereof.
2, 7, 9, 12, 14 September 1774
Sir Thomas Chapman
The Dublin Evening Post of 9 August 1810 advertised part of the Meath and Westmeath estates of Sir Thomas Chapman Bart to be let. They included
The Tolls of the Float near Castlepollard
And an excellent house and fifty acres of land
Applications were to be sent to Sir Thomas at St Lucy’s, Athboy, or to Mr High Dickison at the same address.
Sir Benjamin Chapman
Sir Benjamin James Chapman was the fourth baronet. Ewan Duffy writes:
Float bridge was a privately owned toll bridge. Its owner, Sir Benjamin Chapman, offered the bridge to the Midland Great Western Railway if they would build a station at Float, for which he would also give the necessary land. He subsequently suggested a variation on the agreement that if the company were to cease using the station, the land and bridge should be re-conveyed to him!* As the bridge remained in CIE ownership up to 1971, when it was transferred to Westmeath County Council under the Transport (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1971, he clearly did not get such a deal!
The original bridge is no longer there — I paid a site visit there last year, given its railway connection, but it has been replaced sometime in the 20th Century.
* W E Shepherd “The MGWR’s Cavan Branch – 1” JIRRS Vol 16 No 104, pp 282–3
Charles Connors, of Castleconnell, cot builder, has been committed to Killaloe bridewell, for violating the person of a servant girl on Monday morning, at the Doonass side. He crossed the river in a boat, upon the pretence of ferrying her over, and then committed the offence.
Tipperary Vindicator 9 December 1859
From the British Newspaper Archive run by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited, in partnership with the British Library.
Marty Whelan, a youthful disk-jockey chap with an insignificant amount of facial hair, presents a morning programme on the wireless. One day last week, discussing traffic problems with a chap from AA Roadwatch, he considered the origin of the name of L’Estrange Bridge, whose location neither he nor his collocutor knew.
It had been mentioned on this site as the location of a fatal motoring accident in December 2011 and it is, of course, a useful stopping place for those who, driving to Athlone, like to stop to consume the coffee (and any comestibles) they may have purchased in the award-winning Spar shop in Cloghan.
I emailed Mr Whelan, with a link to the location on the OSI map.
I speculated that, as the nearby Moystown House was owned by the l’Estrange family (as was Huntston or Hunstanton, across the road), the Grand Canal Company might have had to buy land from them and, with the aim of keeping the cost down, have agreed to name the bridge after the landowner (a tactic that the National Roads Authority might adopt).
I should make it clear that I have not researched the land purchases of the Grand Canal Company in the area, so this should not be taken as definitive. I note, from Fred Hamond’s Bridges of Offaly County: an industrial heritage review (for Offaly County Council, November 2005), that the date on the bridge is 1800, although the canal was not opened until 1804; as Fred says:
Most [bridges] were built before their respective stretches of canal opened […].
The Parliamentary Gazetteer of 1846 says:
The principal artificial features are the mutually adjacent demesnes of Moystown and Hunstanton, the residences of the Messrs L’Estrange, situated on the Brosna. “Though Moystown,” remarks Mr Fraser, “has not extensively diversified park scenery to boast of, and is environed by deep brown bog, there is, in the style of the house, in the arrangement of the plantations, and in the beautiful evergreen oaks and other ornamental trees which adorn the lawn, a character which carries us back to the gentlemen’s seats of the olden times. This demesne is watered by the Brosna, which pays its ample tribute to the Shannon at thetermination of the grounds, and where also the Grand Canal crosses the river in its progress to Ballinasloe.”
Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of 1837 says that Colonel l’Estrange was living at Moystown at the time, William l’Estrange was living at Kilcummin, a little distance north of Huntston, and Major Carlton (a relative, I think) at Huntston.
A quick search suggests that the l’Estranges did occupy land there in 1800, but I cannot claim to have carried out a thorough investigation.
What was of more interest to me was that the Parliamentary Gazetteer extract was from an item headed Tessauran, Tiseran or Kilcally:
TESSAURAN, TISERAN, or KILCALLY, a parish in the barony of Garrycastle, 2¼ miles north-west by west of Cloghan, King’s co., Leinster. Length, south-westward, 3¾ miles; extreme breadth, 2½; area, 7,316 acres, 2 roods, 12 perches, — of which 106 acres, 3 roods, 38 perches are in the river Shannon. Pop., in 1831, 2,032; in 1841, 2,029. Houses 346. The north-western boundary is traced by the Blackwater; the south-western boundary, by the Shannon; and the south-eastern boundary, by the Brosna. All the northern district, part of the eastern, and most of that along the Blackwater, are bog; much of that along the Shannon is lowland meadow; and most of the remainder is dry limestone land, pleasant in appearance, and possessing a considerable aggregate of embellishment.
Some time ago, I asked here about Tessauren Ferry, but had no response. I found the term in F E Prothero and W A Clark eds Cruising Club Manual: A New Oarsman’s Guide to the Rivers and Canals of Great Britain and Ireland George Philip & Son, London 1896. His entry for the Grand Canal included this at 79¼ miles from Dublin:
Entrance into the Shannon at Tessauren Ferry.
I have not seen the term used anywhere else. The ferry is of course that provided by the Shannon Commissioners to enable horse-drawn boats to cross the Shannon to the Ballinasloe Line of the Grand Canal. It would be nice to find other instances of the use of Prothero’s term.
Tessauran, Tisaran, Tiseran, Tessauren (and perhaps there are other variants) is the name of the parish north-east of the junction between the Brosna and the Shannon. It is odd that the ferry’s eastern departure point was actually outside the parish, because the Brosna was the boundary and the ferry started from the south side of the canal and the Brosna.
So one mystery solved, as an accidental result of a remark on the wireless, but more information about the use of the term Tessauren Ferry would be welcome.
A visitor to my page on the tidal Barrow is a descendant of ferrymen at Ballinlaw on the Barrow. He would like to find a photograph (or, presumably, other illustration) of the ferry boat and I would welcome more information about the service (eg when it ended).
If anyone knows of a possible source of information or illustration, I will pass it on to the enquirer.
Update January 2019: much information about Ballinlaw Ferry from Andrew Doherty here.
Another bit of northsouthery seems to be crumbling around its proponents’ ears, according to a report in today’s Irish Times [which will disappear behind a paywall at some stage]. It seems that, in July, TPTB approved the spending of €18.3 million on a bridge at Narrowwater [or Narrow Water], upstream of Warrenpoint and downstream of Newry (and of Victoria Lock). However,
The leading bid has costed the bridge at over €30 million […].
I presume that inflation does not account for the 66% increase but I am surprised that the proponents’ estimate was so far off. Perhaps omitting the opening span (intended to cater for the small number of tall vessels that use the Ship Canal to visit Newry) would save a few quid.
It is certainly true that anyone wanting to drive from, say, Greenore or Carlingford to, say, Kilkeel or even Warrenpoint faces a long drive around Carlingford Lough. What is not clear to me is whether very many people want to do that: I haven’t investigated the matter, so I don’t know, but the main north/south traffic passes to the west and there are crossings at Newry.
A ferry service might be cheaper; it might also allow the real strength of demand to be gauged. Ferry terminals might be constructed by the local authorities and leased to an operating company.
And the service would probably be more useful than the Clones Sheugh: I see that yet another member of Sinn Féin got to ask about that in the Dáil recently, as did a Fianna Fáil chap from the area; they elicited the standard answer. The minister may be hoping that the cost estimates for the sheugh are more robust than those for the Narrowwater bridge.