Tag Archives: free state

Aw sheughs

On 6 November 2015 there was a meeting of the Inland Waterways flavour of the North South Ministerial Council, whereat the Minister for Fairytales (RoI) and the Minister for Marching Bands (NI), each with a sidekick, discussed waterways matters. The joint communiqué, artfully written to provide outsiders with as little information as possible, is available here [PDF], but here’s a summary:

  • WI’s “capital expenditure focused on infrastructure repairs”, presumably because it has no money for any improvements or extensions, except a bit of dredging in or near the constituency of the Minister for Fairytales
  • yes, that means the River Finn, Saunderson’s Sheugh, which we’re pretending is or was part of the Clones Sheugh or Ulster Canal
  • WI has managed to get “third party funding” of over €1 million for waterside developments, which is good: much better than transferring WI money to other bodies. WI is trying to nab euroloot but, as there were no announcements of success, we must assume that this is work in progress. Mind you, the ministers would probably claim the success (and the photoshoots) anyway
  • WI may sell some unspecified property
  • the important one:


The Council approved the determination made by Waterways Ireland regarding legacy scale linkages for northern based staff.

I knew you’d want to know about that. Whatever it means.

On 17 November 2015 the latest attempt to get the boys and girls of the Northern Ireland Assembly to be nice to other reached some sort of conclusion, which you can read about in the Irish Times (until it disappears behind a paywall) and the Manchester Guardian. But of course the important question is whether we southron loons have to buy sweeties (sheugher candies) for our northern brethren to persuade them to be polite. For that, gentle reader, you must turn to the inspiringly-titled A fresh start — the Stormont Agreement and implementation plan, available here [PDF].

You will not, of course, want to bother reading most of it, so we can skip straight to Section E Irish Government Financial Support on page 30. New readers may wish to know that, many NI disagreements ago, the Irish government, led at the time by a group of leprechauns who believed they possessed a pot of gold, resolved to impress the poor benighted northerners with a display of southern wealth and power. Accordingly, it promised to pay for all sorts of transport infrastructure, provided that it could be claimed to have some sort of cross-borderality and preferably looked iconic. Whether there was any point to any of the schemes was a matter omitted from consideration.

The three main proposals, IIRC, were

  • the A5, a road in Northern Ireland
  • the Narrow Water Bridge, which would cross the Newry River in the middle of nowhere (whereas a south-eastern bypass of Newry might actually be useful). And it would have an opening span for the many vessels that visit Newry by the Ship Canal
  • the Clones Sheugh, a short section of the Ulster Canal.

Unfortunately the hardheaded northerners have long memories and they keep looking for their three sweeties long after the Free State realised that it couldn’t afford them. So has this latest throwing of their toys out of the pram forced the Free Staters to give in and buy them the A5, the iconic bridge and the Clones Sheugh?

Up to a point, Lord Copper.

The Irish government says it’s all in favour of, er, “investing” in infrastructure “to support North-South co-operation to help unlock the full potential of the island economy”, where no doubt eighteenth century transport methods will prove to as important as they were in the time of Grattan’s Parliament. But with that, and all the other waffle and irrelevancies shoved in at the start of the section, it is clear that the Irish government is trying to big up a small contribution. It drags in the European Union, the Dublin to Belfast railway, flood relief, energy, communications and health, which have nothing to do with the case, but which between them fill almost the whole of the first page.

From there, though, it has to get specific, or at least look as if it’s doing so. Accordingly, each of the three white elephants gets a subsection to itself, with numbered paragraphs, from which we learn that:

  • the Free State government “remains supportive of the commitment under the St Andrews Agreement” to co-fund the A5. It’s going to pay more (I think): £25 million a year in the years 2017–2019, up from a total of £50 million
  • the Free State government “remains committed to the concept of the Narrow Water Bridge”, which has “potential to provide jobs” [how?]; it will review the plans with the NI Executive and think about it by June 2016. It says nothing about the disappearance of funding
  • the Free State government does not say that it “remains supportive of the commitment under the St Andrews Agreement” to fund the Clones Sheugh. Nor does it say that it “remains committed to the concept”. What it does say about the sheugh is that it is funding Saunderson’s Sheugh (see above), it will think about more cross-border greenways and blueways including the Ulster Canal and it and the NI Exec will identify “options for jointly developing future phases of the Ulster Canal restoration project”, which I take to mean that the southron taxpayer won’t be stuck with the entire bill. Oh, and it’s going to think about funding a bleeding sail training vessel, another exercise in pointlessness and nitwittery.

That’s almost it: there is something about a north-west thingie, senior officials will meet and there will be progress reports.

These documents are not necessarily constructed to provide information to outsiders, but my sense is that the Clones Sheugh danger to the southron taxpayer has receded for the moment, although the Narrow Water Bridge and the sail-training nitwittwery need to be blown out of the water (or into it). The A5 road is to go ahead: I don’t know much about it but it might be the least objectionable of the lot.


The [non-]Royal Lough Ree Yacht Club

Devoted as this site is to the memory of Her late Majesty Victoria, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India, we are always gratified to find evidence of Loyalty to Crown and Empire. Along the Shannon, we are never surprised to find such evidence around Lough Derg (at least in North Tipperary), but we had not realised how well-affected the good people of Lough Ree were towards Royalty, even after the foundation of the Irish Free State and its succession by the state of Ireland.

On 28 October 1947 the Lough Ree Yacht Club wrote to Her Majesty’s Under Secretary of State at the Home Office in London SW1:


I have been looking over some old papers belonging to this Club.

There was some discussion among members about trying to get it raised to the status of “Royal”.

I should be greatly obliged if you would let me know what would have to be undertaken and what cost would be involved. Also would a club in this country be eligible.

This Club which was founded prior to 1836 is the second oldest in Ireland.

A Home Office Minute of 6 November 1947 said:

The whole of Lough Ree is in Eire and it would seem desirable in the first place to refer the letter to the Commonwealth Relations Office on the question of procedure.

In this country freshwater Yacht Clubs are not now granted the title Royal.

Send a copy semi-officially to the Commonwealth Relations Office for observations regarding procedure.

That was done on 13 November 1947. The covering letter said (amongst other things):

There has been no grant of the Royal Title to a fresh water sailing club in England since 1887 when the practice relating to the grant of the Title Royal was not stabilised.

I wonder whether you could let us have particulars about this club; its membership, reputation, and the number of yachts it owns with their tonnage. We should also welcome any suggestions relating to procedure on the assumption that the application will be pursued.

The Commonwealth Relations Office replied to the Home Office on 6 December 1947 with these (amongst other) paragraphs:

I enclose a copy of a note, prepared in July last year, on the general principles covering the grant of the title “Royal” in the various Commonwealth countries.

You will no doubt appreciate that in the case of Eire, difficulty would arise in the application of these principles. It would appear, however, from paragraph III of the enclosed note that consideration would only be given to applications from institutions similar to the Club in question if exceptional circumstances exist.

We feel that in this particular case no indication should be given in any reply which you may make to the Club of the likelihood or otherwise of any application meeting with success, and that they should only be informed that, being in Eire, the matter should be raised through the appropriate authorities in Eire.

On 17 December 1947 the Home Office wrote to the Club saying:

With reference to your letter of the 28th October last regarding the procedure and the cost involved in making an application for the grant of the title Royal to the Lough Ree Yacht Club, I am directed by the Secretary of State to say that as the Club is in Eire, the matter should be raised through the appropriate authorities in Eire.

Ireland at the time had a Fianna Fáil government, led by George de Valero Éamon de Valera, who was not known for being well-affected towards Crown and Empire.

On 29 April 1948 the Club responded to the Home Office:


Referring to your letter of 17th December 1947.

We have been in communication with the Irish Government + I enclose their reply, from which I understand that they will not interfere either for or against. I sent their letter to the UK Representative + enclose his letter also.

As the Irish Government has not refused permission for the Club to be raised to the status of Royal would His Majesty therefore be gracious enough to confer on the Club the Title of Royal.

On 10 May 1948 the Home Office replied:

With reference to your letter of the 29th April as to the application for the grant of the title Royal to the Lough Ree Yacht Club, I am directed by the Secretary of State to say that as the Club is situated in Eire, the Secretary of State for the Home Department has no jurisdiction in the matter, and can add nothing to the letter addressed to you on the 21st April, by the United Kingdom representative to Eire.

The enclosures to your letter are returned herewith.

The return of the enclosures has deprived us of the opportunity to see exactly what the Irish government and the UK representative said to the Club.

By then, the Irish general election of 4 February 1948 had returned the First Inter-Party government, led by John A Costello and with Seán MacBride, leader of Clann na Poblachta, as Minister for External Affairs. The Republic of Ireland Act was signed into law on 21 December 1948, depriving the King of Ireland of his last functions in the former Free State — and depriving the Lough Ree Yacht Club of its last chance to acquire the Title Royal.

It would be interesting to know what Seán MacBride, who had been boating on Lough Ree since the 1930s, thought of the Club’s application.

The story is not included in the brief history on the Club’s website or in the more extensive history included in the booklet produced for the LRYC/Waterways Ireland Classic Boats Regatta in 2007, but I have not seen Lough Ree Yacht Club: a memoir, published in 1970.