Tag Archives: Galway

The Steam Carriage and Waggon Company of Ireland

In a piece about developments in steam propulsion in 1829, I mentioned Sir James Anderson’s contract with the Irish Post Office to carry the mails on the roads of Ireland in “coaches impelled by steam”.

The Farmer’s Magazine July–December 1838

The Farmer’s Magazine for July to December 1838 reproduced, on pages 201–211, an article from the Cork Southern Reporter headed “A visit to Sir James Anderson’s Steam Carriage”. Amidst outpourings of national pride at this Irish invention, the “Steam Drag, or Carriage for Common Roads”, praise for Sir James and his father John [who was a Scot], maunderings about the plight of the horse and admiration for Sir James’s Buttevant Castle, we learn that Sir James

[…] spent two apprenticeships and a fortune in building 29 unsuccessful carriages to succeed in the 30th.

There is even a small amount of information about the machine itself:

The “Drag”, or steam engine, is not like those hitherto attempted; it is a machine to do the work now done by horses. The vehicle by which the passengers are conveyed is to be attached to it […].

If the drag broke down, horses could pull the passengers the rest of the way. Fuel to haul 30 passengers and their luggage at 15 mph was expected to cost not more than 4d a mile. The drag’s “broad cylindrical wheels” would act as rollers, helping to preserve rather than damage the roads. Travellers could look forward to breakfasting in Cork and dining in Dublin.

We understand the Irish Company is now forming, and all arrangements making for a commencement in this county as soon as carriages can be made.

The Dublin Monitor 7 October 1841

STEAM CARRIAGE AND WAGGON COMPANY,
FOR THE CONVEYANCE OF
GOODS AND PASSENGERS ON THE MAIL
COACH ROADS OF IRELAND

APPLICATION for Shares to be made by letter (post-paid), addressed to the Directors, at the Temporary Office of the Company, 47, Lower Sackville-street, Dublin, where Prospectuses and every information may be obtained.

J GREY PORTER ATTHILL, Sec

According to the 1835 Report from the Select Committee on Orange Lodges in Ireland [HC 1835 (377) XV 1; Google version here], J Grey Porter Atthill was then Master of the Lisnarric [Lisnarick] District Orange Lodge in County Fermanagh, near Castle Archdale, meeting at Ardes [Ardess?] near the post town of Resh [recte Kesh, I imagine].

The Galway Vindicator 16 October 1841

Steam Carriages on Common Roads

Extract of a letter from a gentleman who accompanied the Steam-carriage from Dublin, on its experimental trip.

Kilbeggan, Oct 11, 1841

You are aware that it was our intention to have taken our new steam carriage to Ballinasloe fair; but finding that the boiler was not sufficiently stanched for a long journey, having only just issued from the workshop, we determined to make an experimental trip along the same line with the old carriage — one intended entirely for drawing conveyances for luggage and goods, at the rate of four to six miles an hour — to enable us to see where proper stations could be established, and to try the machine in every way, and at every speed, during this extraordinary inclement weather, on this hilly road.

We certainly set forth under most inauspicious circumstances; but feeling assured of the power and efficiency of the machinery, no matter on what description of ground, we fearlessly departed, and we have tested the carriage to the very utmost, yet without even deranging or straining a single screw. We have certainly achieved a great undertaking, and incontestibly proved the superiority of the patent of Sir J C Anderson and Mr J Rogers, especially on bad roads, against heavy hills, in rains unprecedented, and without having one station for water along the entire line.

When the steam-carriage left Dublin it rained in torrents, and has never ceased to do so since our departure on Tuesday afternoon. The hill at Chapelizod was ascended with ease, without a check of any kind; and the very steep descent going into Lucan, on the old road, was descended at a walking pace, without drags of any kind, and the engine afterwards ran on and drew up short at the Percy Arms, to the utter astonishment of all the village. From thence to Maynooth the journey was in the dark, and the incessant rain rendered the water in the ditches wholly unavailing, by making it muddy — so that the supply was absolutely obtained by bucket-fulls, at a distance often of two or three hundred yards.

The rain continuing in almost a perfect deluge on the following morning, it was considered only common justice to the men not to proceed, especially as the Duke of Leinster and the gentlemen connected with the College of Maynooth were desirous of inspecting the carriage, which they subsequently did in the midst of pelting rain, and expressed themselves delighted with the machinery and various ingenious movements. Indeed, the Duke of Leinster treated us with the utmost courtesy and condescension, and in the afternoon, on meeting us in the Park, personally took us through some of the beautiful grounds, and showed us his princely mansion of Carton.

On Thursday we again set forth — again in the midst of heavy rain — and immediately on leaving Maynooth had to pass through the flood, which extended along the road for about 300 yards, and about a foot deep. This was effected gallantly, and curious and interesting in the extreme was the effect of the carriage proceeding through the water. Hundreds of persons, notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather, came down to witness this feat, and expressed their gratification at the successful issue by deafening cheers. The impression was, that the fire would be extinguished, and it is only right that I should mention that young Lord Otho Fitzgerald, who came down early to see us off, rode into every part of the water to show us the depth, and to be ready to ride back for horses, which, entirely from himself, he kindly and most considerately proposed to do, in case of the fire being put out.

The floods being out to this extent furnishes some notion of the state of the roads, but it is almost impossible to describe the trying condition of the whole line. It is, indeed, lamentable to see corn, hay, potatoes, and every description of agricultural and garden produce floating about. The residents of Maynooth say that for eighteen years they have not known the floods so high, or the country in such a saturated state.

From Maynooth the carriage proceeded to Kinnegad, through Kilcock and Seafield, passing over two bridges of a rise of one in fifteen, and one in ten feet. At the latter the mud was so deep, and the ground beneath so soft, that the carmen were unable to go on, and were compelled to put up altogether. These were surmounted without check or hindrance, although in the latter there was a very sharp turn, independent of the great rise.

From Kinnegad to Tyrelspass was the most difficult part of the line, from the softness of the roads (newly macadamised) and continuous rise, independent of the great hill of Gillabonine, about three quarters of a mile long, with a rise in parts of one in ten, one in fifteen, and averaging one in twenty-two feet. On the summit hundreds of persons assembled to witness what could be done, and fully impressed with a belief that the carriage could never get up. To their evident astonishment, however, the carriage ran up at about four or five miles an hour, taking a direct line from bottom to top. It was received at the summit with immense cheering, and commenced the descent — which is even more precipitate than the rise on the other side — in a quiet walk, to show the power of withholding the speed at pleasure, no matter how sudden the fall may be.

Below the middle of the hill the speed was increased, and we ran into Tyrelspass at the rate of twenty-five miles an hour, and drew up short at the inn door. Coming down the hill an incident occurred which may be mentioned as showing the command of the conductor over the carriage: when at the greatest speed, a pig dashed across the road. Mr Rogers, who was conducting, instantaneously checked the speed, and, altering the direction of the carriage, avoided the animal with the utmost ease. This astonished the people above all things.

A similar circumstance occurred at Rochfort Bridge, where a greyhound ran close to the wheel. Mr Rogers immediately stopped, and the whole population (for every body was out) expressed their astonishment and admiration by an unanimous cheer.

A letter

The following letter, from Mr Rogers, has been received since the above was in type:—

The rain continued incessantly the next day, we were stormstaid at Kinnegad, but ceased the following; we started for Tyrelspass, having to ascend the famed hill of Guineabawn, a mile long, and varying from one in twenty to one in ten. As usual, this hill was also crowded by the inhabitants, who cheered us as we passed it, at a speed of four to five miles per hour, descending the opposite side at a walk, and subsequently entering the town on its flat and firm road, at a speed of at least fifteen miles an hour.

Here the excitement was so considerable that we were obliged to remain some time to gratify the people, and in consequence darkness came on before we reached Kilbeggan, at the entrance of which the steersman, not seeing his way, ran one of the wheels off the road, when the wheels sunk, but after some little delay, the carriage was backed out and steamed into the town, accompanied by almost all the inhabitants. Every window was illuminated to welcome us in, and, amidst the most joyous cheers, we reached the yard of Messrs Mullins, brewers, who kindly came to offer it for our use, and to whom our entire party are much indebted for their warm-hearted hospitality and attention.

But here I fear my narrative must end, for here we found the first supply of Ballinasloe coke. Being desirous to show the powers and command of the engine to the inhabitants who had so kindly received us, we delayed a day, but on getting in our fire, found at once its total inefficiency. We, however, ran through the town at a slow speed, proving the management and power up a stiff hill in the Main-street, but it was impossible to proceed on our journey.

Steam can no more be had from bad fuel, than condition and mettle from bad oats. A steam-carriage may as well attempt a journey to Galway and keep time, without relays of coke and pure water on the road, as a mail-coach attempt it without relays of horses, oats, and pure water too; but still I may, perhaps not too proudly, say, that more has been done to prove the undoubted capability and durability of steam carriages than ever has yet been accomplished.

We have journeyed here amidst incessant rain — the roads saturated till the carriers’ traffic was stopped — the whole line to this, covered so much with broken stones, that one wheel of the carriage was rarely, if ever off it, while the other ploughed its way through mud some inches deep; hills met us at elevations pronounced impossible of ascent, and which in the present age may be considered barbarisms; barbarisms, indeed, where horses are made I may say, to pant out their very lives in ascending them.

“Pure water” we had none, for the elements conspired to give us mud; and I need scarcely say in this enlightened age that pure water is an essential to the proper working of the locomotive engine — at least every engineer well knows that without it the most injurious effects arise. Since we started we have not had it half a dozen times; and yet our engine and boiler are at this hour as perfect as the day we set out.

It has been said of common road locomotives, “they come out with the butterflies and go in with them”. We have come out in the storm, and passed over the heaviest and worst roads in the country, when not a vehicle was to be met — and yet we are uninjured one particle, and are “driven in” alone by want of proper fuel.

Pardon the length of what I have called “a short narrative”; but I think I am not wrong in believing that the advancement of any science will find amongst your readers an interest sufficient to excuse my perhaps too minute description. Let me add, that, although the weather would have driven most men to their houses, the party of directors &c who accompanied our expedition, remained to prove and test the carriage to the last moment, suffering every hardship from the weather. If, in naming Messrs Mansell, Reardon, and Williams; also Mr Maunsell, the Company’s solicitor, and Mr Motley, an English engineer, who accompanied them, I may be thought to have needlessly eulogised what I believe they considered to be their duty, they will, I think, excuse it, when I give their names also as witnesses of what I have thus stated for the information of the public.

I have the honour to be, sir, your faithful servant,

Jasper W Rogers

Dublin University Magazine November 1841

I outlined the company’s November 1841 Plan [Jasper W Rogers Plan proposed by Sir James C Anderson Bart and Jasper W Rogers CE for establishing Steam Carriages for the conveyance of goods and passengers on the mail coach roads of Ireland; also a proposed system for repair of the roads by means of a Road Police, and for telegraphing Nicholas Walsh, Dublin 1841] here. In the same month the Dublin University Magazine had a two-page ad for the new company, headed

Steam Carriage and Waggon Company,
for the conveyance of goods and passengers
on the mail-coach roads of Ireland.

There were ten Patrons and Honorary Directors: four marquises [Downshire, Donegal, Sligo, Ely, all KPs], two earls [Mountcashell, Bandon] and four barons [Arden, Muskerry, Riversdale, Cremorne]. The Directors were:

  • the Hon Major Massy, Upper Fitzwilliam Street
  • the Hon Robert Le Poer Trench RN, Garbally
  • Sir Valentine Blake Bart MP DL, Menlo Castle
  • Sir William Chatterton Bart DL, Castle Mahon
  • Sir James C Anderson Bart, Buttevant Castle
  • Colonel Richard England KH
  • Captain Hamilton T Johnston JP, Holly Park
  • Captain John Irvine DL, Rockfield and Fitzgibbon Street
  • Captain Fitzgerald Higgins JP, Westport
  • Arthur Hume Esq, Dawson Street
  • Crofton Moore Vandaleur Esq DL, Kilrush House and Rutland Square
  • H K Grogan Morgan Esq DL, Johnstown Castle
  • Robert Guinness Esq, South Frederick Street
  • William H Reardan Esq, Cor Mem Council Coll C En
  • George Newton Esq, Upper Buckingham Street
  • Henry Williams Esq, Essex Bridge
  • William W Mansell Esq FSA, Kildare Street Club.

The Managing Director was John Jemison Esq, Drumcondra Hill, and the Directing Engineer Jasper W Rogers Esq CE, Nottingham Street. The auditors were George Hatchell Esq, The Priory, Rathfarnham, and Henry Dwyer Esq, Upper Mount Street. Counsel were Richard Wilson Green, Christopher Copinger and Charles Granby Burke; solicitor was Robert Maunsell, London law Agent W Mosson Kearns, Secretary J Grey Porter Atthill (Barrister) and bankers Messrs Ball & Co in Dublin and Messrs Coutts & Co in London. The company had local directors and agents in Cork, Limerick, Galway, Waterford, Wexford, Belfast, Londonderry, Enniskillen, Dundalk, Athlone, Westport and Ennis.

The ad said:

The practicability of running Steam Carriages upon common roads, with a degree of rapidity far beyond the utmost speed of horses in draught, and at one-half to a third less cost, has long since been made evident by the report of a Committee of the House of Commons, after a most minute and searching inquiry; and has now been confirmed by the Carriage built at Manchester by Sir James C Anderson Bart, for the Steam Carriage and Waggon Company of England, and those built at Newcomen Bridge Works, upon the same principle for this Company, by Jasper W Rogers Esq, the partner of Sir James Anderson, which for some time past have been publicly shown and tested in every way in the streets and neighbourhood of Dublin, as well as by the late experimental trip of about sixty English miles along the Galway road, against heavy hills, through even floods, in rains unprecedented.

It quoted from the account given in the Galway Vindicator and from that paper’s laudatory comment, concluding with an invitation to buy shares.

The company’s report November 1841

On 2 November 1841 the company issued its Report of the Steam Carriage and Waggon Company of Ireland, another short document. This showed William W Mansell as Managing Director and John Jemison as an ordinary director. It also listed 32 local agents.

It is a report from Mansell about the setting up of the company. It said that two drags had been built and tested: one was for goods and luggage, the other for passenger carriages. It reported the favourable impressions of Mr Motley, the Liverpool engineer, and described the trip to Tyrrellspass. Some additional information:

From the time we left Dublin not a single horse took fright, nor did any accident even of the most trivial nature occur […].

Independent of the unusually severe and unseasonable weather, about 76,000 sheep, 13,300 horned cattle, besides a great number of horses, independent of the regular traffic, have passed over this line of road, going and returning from the [Ballinasloe] fair, which it is needless to say tended greatly to render the roads more difficult for the Steam Carriage.

None of the persons in charge of turnpikes asked us to pay any thing excepting at Kilbeggan; but when we begged to know what we were drawn by, the man soon shrunk back.

Mansell recommended opening the Galway road as soon as possible, with enough vehicles “to supply the wants of communication”. He had been corresponding with people along the line and, with Mr Reardon, had inspected it as far as Ballinasloe, to which a new, shorter and more level road from Athlone was planned; a new road of 1½ miles had already been made between Horseleap and Moate. Thomas Bermingham, who had favoured a railway to Galway, now supported the company’s plans and had agreed to become a director.

Mansell gave an interesting sidelight on the reaction of the mail-coach operators:

The Nenagh Guardian is the only paper which has attacked us; but the nature of its remarks is strong evidence indeed of the manner this undertaking is making way, and arise wholly from interested persons. A gentleman from Nenagh voluntarily wrote to our Secretary on this subject, saying: ‘It so happens that the only Reporter and chief Editor the Guardian has, is the Stage Coach Agent of Messrs Bourne, the owners of the turnpikes and coaches on the Limerick and Dublin line of road; and as the Messrs Bourne have already been most illiberal monopolists, and as they apprehend serious consequences to themselves, and advantage to the public, from the success of the Company — after, I presume, trying their feelers elsewhere — they could not succeed in enlisting any Journal in their dirty work but an obscure venal publication.’

I should mention that the writer who thus apprises us of the management of the Messrs Bourne is not a Shareholder, nor, indeed, acquainted with any person connected with the Company, further than being a gentleman of standing and high character. The monopoly of Messrs Bourne expires in about three years and a-half.

[Note: Bournes had been partners with John Anderson [Sir James’s father] on the Dublin to Cork mail coaches.]

Various nobles and gentlemen had supported the idea. Coach-operators wanted to buy or lease steam carriages; they included Mr W Staunton of Killiney, who

[…] is desirous of having a Carriage to draw ten tons for supplying Limerick with pure water.

There had been applications for 5179 shares, but few from Galway, Cork or Limerick, all of which would benefit from the operation.

Mansell said that six steam carriages would be enough to work 100 miles of road, whereas on a railway the same distance would require 100 engines: there were over 40 on the 32 miles between Liverpool and Manchester and over 120 on the 110 miles between London and Birmingham.

The Company had expected to sell 3000 shares and to supply 7 carriages for the Dublin to Limerick route and the same for each of the lines from Dublin to Galway, Sligo and Londonderry; 2,500 shares and 6 carriages would serve Dublin to Belfast and 2000 shares and five carriages each for Dublin to Waterford and Dublin to Wexford. It had not yet issued its prospectus in England but expected extensive support there.

Anderson and Rogers had spent over £60,000 perfecting Locomotive Carriages.

The Galway Vindicator 8 December 1841

The Galway Vindicator had two relevant items on 8 December 1841: both of them written by the indefatigable Thomas Bermingham of Caramana, Kilconnel, Co Galway. The shorter was a letter to the editor; it permitted him to print the longer, a letter to the Guardians of the [Poor Law] Unions of Galway, Loughrea, Tuam, Athlone and Ballinasloe and to the other inhabitants of counties Roscommon and Galway.

It seems that Bermingham was less than completely convinced of the virtues of the Steam Carriage and Waggon Company’s locomotive carriages. He felt that they should run on a line of their own, a level road from Athlone via Ballinasloe to Galway, with branches to Tuam and Loughrea. Then, if the venture failed, the line could be converted to a railway, using either horse or steam power. The building of the road would provide employment to the poor and its completion would assist the prosperity of the port of Galway.

Bermingham reckoned the cost of the road at £1000 a mile for 80 miles; he allowed £6000 to connect Mutton Island to the mainland and rounded it up to £100000 to provide for station-houses. He thought that the Board of Works should provide 40% of the cost as a free grant and the rest as a loan at 5%.

What good came of it at last?

Canal, road and rail were, it seems, vying for Ballinasloe’s traffic. The canal got there first but the railway took over from 1851 (and the line to Galway passed just south of Thomas Bermingham’s house). Did road-going locomotive carriages ever successfully serve that, or any other, town?

In 1902 Rhys Jenkins, in Motor cars and the application of mechanical power to road vehicles [T Fisher Unwin, London; J Pott & Company, New York], wrote [pp68–69]:

Anderson, however, nine years later [1838], came out as an inventor himself with a new boiler. The Steam Carriage and Waggon Company was formed to build carriages on his plans, and a number were made in the years 1839 and 1840 in Dublin and Manchester, and carriages were to be seen at work in both places. There are glowing accounts of the success obtained at experimental runs, but the scheme very soon fell through.

I would be glad to hear from anyone who can fill in the details or point to a source that does so.

Remarkable case of abduction

At the Nenagh Petty Sessions, on Thursday last, information was sworn by Catherine M’Namara against John Creighton, Martin Creighton, and others, for abduction and assault; a warrant was consequently issued by the Bench of Magistrates.

Margaret M’Namara, a very pretty country girl, is the only unmarried daughter of a comfortable farmer of that name, residing in the parish of Island, in Galway.* John Creighton, a hamlet rake and village debauchee, living in the same neighbourhood, took it into his head, by one bold stroke, to secure himself in a pretty wife and handsome fortune, which would enable him to give larger and longer scope to his abandoned career.

Confederating with a few of his associates (among whom was his brother Martin) at a public-house, he there revealed to them his adventurous project, and it was unanimously agreed that their leader should have a wife and fortune. Accordingly, at dead of night, they sallied forth, and soon arrived at the cottage-home of the devoted girl.

A solitary and startling knock at the door was the first intimation that the unconscious inmates had of their danger. “Who comes there?” — “A friend, open the door!” — “What is wanted at this unseasonable hour?” — “No matter — open the door.” Old M’Namara rose, and the maiden cowered behind her mother in the bed. A dead silence of some moments elapsed — a murmur of whispering voices was heard, and, in another instant, in tumbled the door with a crashing noise.

All then was uproar and confusion — resistance was useless. Old M’Namara was felled to the ground, others of the family were unmercifully beaten, the mother’s arm broken, and the maiden herself was dragged from her bed out into the bawn in almost a state of nudity!

Her clothes were then brought out, and she was compelled to huddle them on her. Fearful lest powerful assistance might be brought to the spot, and that they might be deprived of their prize, the heartless wretches dragged her along the verge of the Shannon, and alike regardless of the forlornness of her condition and the delicacy of her sex, they flung her into a boat and splashed to the opposite shore.

After landing she was literally dragged for the distance of five miles across a lonely and cheerless tract of country; and as the dawn was breaking, she was secreted, in a state of exhaustion, in a friend’s house of Creighton’s, on the lands of Carighatogher, near Nenagh. During the journey, Creighton’s brothers frequently said to him — “Glory to you, John, you can now drink and smoke enough.”

The next morning M’Namara’s friends were indefatigable, though unsuccessful, in their efforts to find Creighton and his party. Mr Reed, a neighbouring magistrate, granted a search warrant; and himself in person, with an escort of police, scoured the country, but their exertions were equally uncrowned with success.

Mr Reed having received intelligence that the offenders were in the neighbourhood of Castle Lough, sent a note by express to Mr Anthony Parker, a gentleman of high respectability, a magistrate, and a deputy lieutenant of the county of Tipperary. Mr Parker, with his usual promptitude, instituted a general search throughout Castle Lough and the surrounding country.

During this lapse of time, Catherine M’Namara was removed to a cabin belonging to an individual named Reedy, the local position of which was the centre of a dreary bog. While there, deploring her unfortunate condition,she was alarmed by the cry of “Police! police!” “fly, fly!” She lifted her head, and saw Creighton running out of the back door, while a middle-sized, sandy-complexioned man and five country-fellows, who were well armed, darkened the front entrance at almost the same moment. An involuntary shuddering seized her when she saw the men staring inquisitively in her face.

Reedy, the lord of the “mud edifice,” demanded “by what authority they dared to enter his mansion?” The man who seemed to be the leader, heedless of Reedy’s questions, approached the shivering girl, and asked her in a northern accent, “if she were detained against her inclination, or if she needed protection?” Her humid eyes met his, and in mute eloquence implored protection. “Child, do you need protection?”the game voice again repeated in a hurried cadence.She grasped his arm, and almost breathlessly exclaimed, “I want nothing else!”

The house was instantly cleared of a crowd that had collected; her clothes were gathered; the little party filed around her, and proceeded silently to the road, expecting each moment to be attacked. She was afterwards conducted to the house of a respectable farmer named Quin, where she was hospitably received and entertained, and protected for the following night and day.

Mr Baxter, the leader of the little party that had rendered such signal service to the cause of humanity, then learned from the poor girl’s own lips the particulars connected with her abduction. Before he went to Reedy’s cottage, all he knew was,that a strange young woman was detained there against her inclination, and under suspicious circumstances.

Next day she was accompanied to the sessions-house of Nenagh, where Mr Parker, fortunately, was a sitting Magistrate; she was admitted into the jury-room, and her evidence taken, and a warrant was issued as before mentioned. After being examined, Mr Parker very kindly gave her money, got her a proper conveyance, and an escort of police to conduct her to the arms of her afflicted parents, where she now remains under the especial protection of Mr Reed.

Leamington Spa Courier 7 March 1835

* I have no idea where that is: Griffith, Lewis and the Parliamentary Gazetteer make no mention [that I can find] of a parish called Island or Islands in County Galway or County Clare [I checked both because the boundary changed later in the nineteenth century]. Could the author have meant Illaunmore? Or Inis Cealtra? Griffith finds McNamaras and a Creighton in the parish of Inishcaltra.

The agency model

I have been told that, until recent years, travel agents in Germany and elsewhere would buy packages of weeks on Irish hire-boatsa and then sell them on to their own clients. I have also been told that this “agency model” ceased to be used [or became less used], perhaps because of the growth of internet booking. And it has been suggested that this was one of the factors in the decline of the Shannon hire-boat trade, to which I have repeatedly drawn attention [most recently here].

I do not know whether this phenomenon has been documented or formally studied. If it has, I would be grateful if any reader can point me to the documents or studies. I would also welcome other Comments on the proposition.

Packaging and marketing

I mention it now because, when launching the Shannon Blueway project, the waterways minister Heather Humphreys said:

The launch of the Blueway will allow local businesses [to] capitalise on an increase in demand for transport, equipment hire, accommodation and entertainment.

I think that the Blueway is an excellent idea, but I am concerned about whether small local companies will be able to package and market it effectively to overseas tourists. If the long-established cruiser-hire-firms were or are finding effective marketing difficult, why would (say) a canoe- or bicycle-hire-firm in Drumshanbo find it any easier?

Marketing to anglers

There was an interesting discussion at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications about “Depletion of Inland Fish Stocks and Impact of Estuary Poaching: Inland Fisheries Ireland” on 22 October 2014. Note in particular the contributions of Dr Ciaran Byrne from 10:25 onwards about how Inland Fisheries Ireland markets Irish angling to overseas anglers.

What struck me was not that IFI uses any particularly magical marketing methods but that it is dealing with a well-defined interest group: people who are committed to a particular activity and have invested heavily in it (buying rods and stools and nets and umbrellas and maggots and whatever else anglers use).

Identifying potential customers

Anglers form one segment of the market for inland waterways holidays, but the task of selling to other segments is harder if they lack a single compelling interest. Hence, no doubt, those rather demented attempts by Fáilte Ireland or Tourism Ireland to categorise potential customers as ‘Sightseers and Culture Seekers’, ‘Family & Loved Ones’, ‘Relaxers’ and ‘Outdoor Actives’. None of their interests strikes me as being exactly compelling: there are several countries where you can relax, engage in outdoor activities or look at sights.

What you really need is obsessive customers: folk, with money to spare, who are really interested in one thing. Then you entice them to your area and take their money from them: not, as Brian Ború would have done, by hitting them over the head and stealing it, but by selling them overpriced goods and services.

Lough Derg

If you don’t have obsessive customers, who are compelled by their inner urges to dangle maggots in your waters (or whatever else turns them on), then you might try offering a compelling attraction: something that is so interesting that folk put it on their to-do lists. Unfortunately, as Fáilte Ireland’s Lakelands Lough Derg Roadmap [PDF, 6.7MB; well worth reading] admits,

Lough Derg does not have suffient key attractions that act as a draw to the area.

The same thought has often struck me. As you drive around the lake, you see signs pointing towards it. But suppose you’re a casual tourist who hasn’t already booked an activity. When you get to the lake, about the only thing you can do is look at the water (which becomes less interesting after a while) or at the jolly people enjoying themselves on boats (ditto).

You can, in some places, go to a pub or eatery, but you don’t need to come to Ireland to do that. Or you can paddle. If you fish, you can fish, but I’m trying to think of things for non-anglers. In Killaloe, you can take a boat trip; in Dromineer, you can hire a sailing boat; in Mountshannon, you can visit Holy Island. But there is nothing you would come to Ireland for: nothing you can’t do in other places.

Roadmap remedies

The Roadmap proposes these remedies:

The following three key tourism products are proposed:

  • A Discovery Point and Trailhead at the Portroe lookout
  • A Lough Derg Canoe/Kayak trail
  • An enhanced offering and facilities at University of Limerick Activities Centre (ULAC).

Two additional tourism products are proposed:

  • Portumna eco-park (masterplanning required)
  • Publications to promote and support active enjoyment of Lough Derg and surrounds.

There is, alas, another set of categories of potential visitors:

The three market segments identified with the best potential for delivering international visitors to Lough Derg have been identified as Curiously Cultural, Great Escapers and Nature Lovers.

Other, less exploitable, market segments are identified too, but I can’t bring myself even to name them.

Finding the punters

I’d hate it to be thought that I was a marketing expert, but it seems to me that this segmentalisation is coming at things from the wrong end. In effect, it’s saying “We have these things; what sort of person might be induced to buy them?” Then you give each of those sorts of person a category and say that you’ve found your market.

But compare that with what the fisheries folk do. They can identify magazines that anglers read, maybe (for aught I know) television programmes they watch, trade shows they visit. Identification is easy: the titles will include words like “fishing” or “angling”.

But what magazines — other than those on the top shelf — have “Curiously Cultural” or “Nature Lovers” in the title? How do you track down “Great Escapers”? It seems to me that these categories might help you to tailor a message that is broadcast to large audiences through mass media: in such cases it doesn’t matter if you appeal to only 1% of the audience, provided that that audience is large enough. However, that’s not an option available to those with small budgets: they need cheaper marketing through channels that will provide much higher returns.

Small operators

And that’s where we come back to the fact that most of the potential tourism operators around Lough Derg are pretty small. Who is going to put together packages of activities that will appeal to the curiously cultural? I’m interested only in filling my B&B and you’re interested in hiring out bicycles. I’m happy to refer customers to you and vice versa, but are we going to get together to provide packages and to share our marketing budgets? There is a Lough Derg Marketing and Strategy Group, but it seems to be dominated by representatives of public sector bodies, and there is a limit to what they can do.

To compete on a European scale, what’s really needed is a large commercial organisation. I suggest, therefore, that the best thing to do would be to get Goldman Sachs to advise on how Lough Derg might be privatised.

Second-best would be the formation of a tourism cooperative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If we had eggs …

… we could cook bacon and eggs, if we had bacon.

What with one thing and another, I haven’t recently been paying much attention to the campaign to keep the decayed former Aran Islands ferry Naomh Éanna from being scrapped. I gather that there is a proposal for spending €1.86 million on the vessel but I found little information online, especially about the proposed sources of capital or the expected return on investment; if the full plan is available anywhere online, I’d welcome a link.

None of the proposed onboard activities seem to require a floating home, none seems to have anything much to add to the heritage or historic value (if any) of the vessel and the only purpose of the heritage tag seems to be to enable the proposed tourism complex to get a berth from Galway Port Company. There is a cheaper floating hotel available elsewhere, which might require less expense; it could be renamed Naomh Éanna II.

I see that the fans of the existing vessel are trying to raise €15000 to have it surveyed. As far as I can gather from a Facebook page, the total raised so far is €1965: €1835 by 16 April and €139 at a beer-tasting. There seems to have been an update on 23 April but, as far as I can see, access is confined to Facebook subscribers.

Of the €1835, €500 came from the Dublin Branch of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland. I do hope that such a donation is not ultra vires: the preservation of old seagoing vessels does not seem to be within the objectives set out in IWAI’s Memorandum of Association, at least as described under “Goals of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland” on the IWAI website. Perhaps the page needs updating?

I note that folk have been sending in photos of and other information about the vessel. Now, my interest in this vessel is not in possible uses as a floating brewery or as a tourist attraction in Galway.

First, I want this albatross to be lifted from Waterways Ireland’s neck and, if Galway Port wants to house it, that’s fine by me, as long as they get it out of the inland waterways (and the taxpayer doesn’t have to pay for it).

Second, I want to counter the notion that, because the vessel is old, it is worth preserving. As I wrote here:

Yes, it had some interesting (if minor) historical associations, but the best way of recording them would be to write a book, or create a website, or even make a movie, about the ship’s history. Money spent that way would be a far better investment than money spent on keeping the Naomh Éanna afloat. Its heritage or historical value lies in the associated information, not in the steel.

National Historic Ships UK says:

As with all man-made structures, ships and boats were not built to last forever. However, the issue of dilapidation is especially acute for vessels. Unlike buildings, the accepted working life for most vessels is only some 30 years: they were not and still are not built for the long term. For many vessels of intrinsic historical importance, there will come a time when the cost of conserving or even simply repairing them becomes unaffordable. Unless the burden can be passed to another willing organisation, such vessels have no sustainable future.

That’s from one of the three volumes of its series Understanding Historic Vessels. The first two volumes are published as free PDF downloads from this page:

  • Recording Historic Vessels
  • Deconstructing Historic Vessels [from which I quoted].

Both are well worth reading and the first, in particular, might guide anyone who is actually interested in the heritage or historic value of the Naomh Éanna; it suggests that recording should be done before deconstruction [aka scrapping] but further information can be recorded during the latter process.

The authors suggest drawing up, for each vessel, a two-page Statement of Significance. I note that I have not seen such a statement, or any equivalent, for the Naomh Éanna, which makes me sceptical about the vessel’s value. And, using the National Historic Ships Criteria and Scoring System (which is included in both documents), I fear that the Naomh Éanna would not score highly.

I accept, though, that I do not have complete information about the vessel. It may be that some of the Naomh Éanna enthusiasts are engaged in a structured recording of information about the vessel and that they are building a case — the equivalent of a Statement of Significance — for its preservation on heritage or historic grounds. However, I haven’t yet come across their work; if it exists, I would welcome a link. As it is, though, the preservation campaign seems to me to be based more on sentiment rather than on fact or logic.

Finally, the third volume of Understanding Historic Vessels, called Conserving Historic Vessels, has now been published on dead trees and can be bought through the Royal Museums Greenwich online shop at STG £30; P&P to Ireland is STG £15. Other reference sources are listed here. And here is information about the Dunleary lifeboat.

 

 

Eglinton update

I have updated my page on the Eglinton Canal in Galway, adding some map extracts and some information about Parkavera Lock, kindly provided y Colin Becker.

Lough Derg Regatta 1849

The Dublin Evening Mail of 19 September 1849 has come to hand.

LOUGH DERG REGATTA

The Regatta on the above-named beautiful lake came off last week. Monday, the 10th of September commenced the annual aquatic sports: the day was tolerably fine, and at two o’clock, PM, the Commodore, the Right Hon Lord Viscount Avonmore, started four yachts for a 30 Guinea Challenge Cup, with £12 added. After a drifting match (for it fell flat calm shortly after three o’clock), they came in as under:—

Gem, 12 tons, James Spaight, Esq
Hero, 8 tons, Dash Gainor, Esq
Iris, 19 tons, Wills C Gason, Esq
Foam, 24 tons, Lord Avonmore.

This was a time race.

While the yachts were absent several cot races came off.

On Tuesday, the 11th, the yachts sailed down in fleet to Killaloe, but the following day it blew a whole gale of wind, and the match that was to have been sailed for on that day was put off till the next; however, in the evening there were some well contested cot races.

The course was as usual — start from the Jetty, over the diagonal wall (built by the Shannon Commissioners to keep the water to a proper level in summer), under the bridge, round Friar’s Island, and back: to a stranger, it is astonishing to see a boat go down an incline nearly four feet high, which they are obliged to do in the race, and what is more extraordinary, any cot that is not rowed at it pretty fast, is almost certain of being upset.

Thursday, the 12th, at the Commodore’s signal, all the yachts got under weigh, and came to anchor off Derry, and at two o’clock, PM, five yachts started for a Silver Cup, valued at £15, witn £5 added. This was a time race for yachts under twelve tons. The wind was WNW, and blew a fine gaff-topsail breeze; at half-past four o’clock the yachts came in as under:—

Hero, 8 tons, Dash Gainor, Esq
Gem, 12 tons, James Spaight, Esq
Willy Wa, 9 tons, Captain Hon F Yelverton
Vampire, 9 tons, Arthur Vincent, Esq
Midge, 7 tons, Bassett W Holmes, Esq.

This was a beautiful race, all the yachts coming in almost together: the Hero only winning by 27 seconds — indeed she may thank the Midge for winning the prize, as going free the first round she got the Gem under her lee, and kept her back some minutes. Shortly after the signal was given to weigh anchor, and start for Portumna, where the fleet arrived at a late hour. In passing Scilly Island the Foam carried away her rudder head, and was near going ashore.

Next day, Friday the 14th, the yachts assembled off Portumna Castle, and at three o’clock, PM, the Commodore started the following boats for a 40 Guinea Challenge Cup, with a purse of Sovereigns added, for all yachts. A handicap race.

Novice, 4 tons, Dash Ryan, Esq
Midge, 7 tons, Bassett W Holmes, Esq
Vampire, 9 tons, Arthur Vincent, Esq
Gem, 12 tons, James Spaight, Esq
Foam, 24 tons, Lord Avonmore
Iris, 18 tons, Wills C Gason, Esq.

This was a most exciting race, and during the first hour it was difficult to tell which would be the winner. Before rounding the second flag boat the Novice put about and gave up the race, and off Church Island, the Midge carried away the jaws of her gaff, and was obliged to give up the race, which she was almost sure of winning — having gained two minutes the first round. The course was a long one, and the race was not over till after eight o’clock, when the four boats came in as follows:—

Iris
Foam
Gem
Vampire.

During each day of the Regatta, the City of Dublin Steam Company placed one of their fine steamers at the disposal of the Sailing Committee, who took out all their friends, and accompanied the yachts each day during the race.

In the evening, after several cot races and other amusements too numerous to relate. The ladies and gentlemen present were entertained at Belle Isle, the beautiful seat and hospitable mansion of Lord Avonmore; and at a later hour assembled some 120 of the elite of Tipperary, Galway, and King’s County, at the Clanricarde Arms, Portumna, where dancing was kept up with spirit until morning.

The population of the Portumna DED declined by 30.46% between 1841 and 1851.

Canal carrying 1846: the Grand Canal

Isaac Slater’s Directory[i] of 1846 lists those carrying goods on inland waterways. Most of the carriers on the Grand Canal, which runs from Dublin to the River Shannon with various branches, claim to serve a modest number of places, but Thomas Berry & Co have a very lengthy list. So long is their list that it will require two maps to show all the places they served, with a third map for the rest of the carriers.

Note that the maps are from the 25″ Ordnance Survey map of around 1900 rather than the 6″ of around 1840: I used it because it was clearer, but it shows features (eg railway lines) that were not present in 1846.

There may be some cases where I have misidentified a destination; I would be grateful to have my attention drawn to such cases.

Click on a map to get a slightly larger version.

Thomas Berry & Co

Thomas Berry & Co midland and south routes

Thomas Berry & Co midland and southern destinations (OSI)

The canal runs from Dublin, at the top right, left (roughly west) through Tullamore to Shannon Harbour, where it meets the river; there was an extension to Ballinasloe on the far side of the Shannon. Berrys served places along the canal and several others fairly close to it, but it looks to me as if there were three routes by road beyond that:

  • via Banagher (which has a bridge across the Shannon) to Eyrecourt and Killimor
  • from Ballinasloe to Loughrea and district and then south-west to Ennis in Co Clare
  • perhaps from Tullamore to Birr [Parsonstown], Roscrea (including Shinrone, Cloughjordan and Borrisokane) and Templemore.

There are also two outliers for which I can think of no plausible explanation: Baltinglass and Wexford. Perhaps their inclusion was a mistake. Certainly Berrys, like John M’Cann & Sons on the Royal Canal, seem to have had extensive road networks (perhaps using car-owning subcontractors?) to supplement their water-borne routes, but I don’t see why they would take on a route no part of which could sensibly have been conducted by inland navigation.

The next map shows the north-western destinations served by Berrys.

Thomas Berry & Co western routes

Thomas Berry & Co north-western destinations (OSI)

You can see that their network covered much of County Roscommon and went almost as far west into County Galway as it was possible to go; it also extended northwards into County Mayo.

I have not attempted to check what industries might have made these towns and villages worth serving. Berrys certainly seemed keen to take as much as possible of the traffic from west of the Shannon towards Dublin — excluding such of it as went by the Royal Canal: it is interesting to compare these maps with that for M’Cann on the Royal.

Finally, note that along the canal itself Berrys listed only destinations towards the western (Shannon Harbour) end: it seems likely that the roads took the valuable traffic from the eastern end into Dublin. There were no doubt turf boats taking fuel in from closer to Dublin, but they were not general carriers.

Other carriers

Now for the rest of the carriers.

Grand Canal carriers 1846 excl Thomas Berry

Grand Canal carriers 1846 excluding Thomas Berry (OSI)

I have included the Shannon here as well as the Grand Canal; however I have covered the Barrow Line of the Grand Canal, as well as the navigable rivers Barrow, Nore and Suir, in a separate post. Of the carriers listed here, only the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company [CoDSPCo] (which employed horses to pull its boats on canals) ventured on to the Barrow Line, serving Portarlington and Mountmellick.

Berrys and the CoDSPCo were by far the largest firms on the Grand. I don’t know the size of the Berrys fleet, but the CoDSPCo had 52 barges in addition to its Shannon (and Irish Sea) steamers. Note that only on the middle Shannon, around the junction with the Grand Canal, and at Ennis did the two firms serve the same destinations: the CoDSPCo seems to have had the lower Shannon trade to itself.

With one exception, all the carriers, including Berrys, had Dublin depots at Grand Canal Harbour, James St; the Grand Canal Docks at Ringsend, joined to the Liffey, were not mentioned.

The exception is Hugh Gallagher, whose only listed destination was Athlone. It would be interesting to know how he served Athlone: whether by road or by water and, in the latter case, whether he used a steamer. I do wonder whether Hugh Gallagher might be the same person as the Hugh Galaghan (also Gallaghan) who served Philipstown [now Daingean], Tullamore and Shannon Harbour.

George Tyrrell is another who is listed with but a single destination, Banagher, whereas James Tyrrell is listed as serving Tickneven, Philipstown, Tullamore — and Edgeworthstown, which must be a mistake as it is closer to the Royal Canal.

Finally, Cornelius Byrne is shown as serving two destinations: Philipstown and Kilbeggan (which has its own branch off the main line of the canal).

Other information

A little extra information is available from the entries for towns other than Dublin in the Directory:

  • Naas has its own branch from the main line of the canal, but the directory says that “TO DUBLIN, there are Boats, as occasion require, but they have no fixed periods of departure.”
  • Edenderry also has its own branch, short and lock-free, but there is no mention of its being served by trade boats
  • Kilbeggan, with a longer, leakier, lock-free branch, was served by the CoDSPCo’s and Thomas Byrne’s boats travelling to Dublin three times a week. Is this Thomas Byrne related to the Cornelius Byrne mentioned above? It seems that Byrne went only eastward for only the CoDSPCo’s boats went westward (to Shannon Harbour, Ballinasloe and Limerick) two or three times a week
  • at Banagher, Fleetwood Thomas Faulkner of Main Street was the CoDSPCo agent; a downstream steamer left Shannon Harbour after the [passenger] boat from Dublin arrived and called at Banagher’s Bridge Wharf; an upstream steamer from Limerick called every afternoon at 3.00pm and met the night boat travelling to Dublin by the Grand Canal. I presume that this happened on every day except Sunday.

More

As far as I know, little has been written about the carrying companies, especially those of the nineteenth century. I would be glad to hear from anyone who can correct, supplement or comment on this information.

My OSI logo and permit number for website


[i] I Slater’s National Commercial Directory of Ireland: including, in addition to the trades’ lists, alphabetical directories of Dublin, Belfast, Cork and Limerick. To which are added, classified directories of the important English towns of Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Leeds and Bristol; and, in Scotland, those of Glasgow and Paisley. Embellished with a large new map of Ireland, faithfully depicting the lines of railways in operation or in progress, engraved on steel. I Slater, Manchester, 1846

The Dublin to Galway ship canal

Another h/t to Ewan Duffy for the link to this Galway Independent article about the proposed Dublin to Galway ship canal. I was impressed to note that it covers Edward Watkin‘s late nineteenth century for a Dublin to Galway ship canal, which would save transatlantic steamers from having to go north or south of Ireland when travelling between Britain and America. It was, of course, a completely insane proposal; as some folk pointed out at the time, only Liverpool steamers found Ireland an obstacle and, being capable of 20 knots or so, might actually lose time by having to travel at 3 knots and through locks on a canal instead of steaming north or south about.

Incidentally, the article mentions the Panama Canal, which joins the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. So which ocean is at its western end?

Where is this?

Paul Gauci's 1831 drawing of a Shannon steamer

Paul Gauci’s 1831 drawing of a Shannon steamer

This drawing of a steamer is from an 1831 book called Select Views of Lough Derg and the River Shannon by Paul Gauci. I haven’t seen the book myself, but this illustration is used in a couple of places, including Ruth Delany’s book The Shannon Navigation [The Lilliput Press Ltd, Dublin 2008]. Andrew Bowcock, in his article “Early iron ships on the River Shannon” in The Mariner’s Mirror Vol 92 No 3 August 2006, says of the steamer shown that

The funnel looks to be almost over the paddle shaft, which is artistic license.

But my question is not about the vessel but about the house in the background. If it is drawn without artistic licence, where is it?

It is a very large house, seven bays by three storeys, quite close to the water. Using the Historic 6″ Ordnance Survey map [~1840], I have followed the banks of the Shannon from Shannon Harbour down Lough Derg to Killaloe, then from Limerick down the estuary as far as Tarbert, across the estuary to Doonaha and back up on the Clare side to Limerick, then from Killaloe up the Clare and Galway shores back to Shannon Harbour. Anywhere I found a large house within what seemed the right distance of the shore, I looked it up in the Landed Estates Database and in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, with some supplementary googling.

I haven’t been able to find images of all the houses marked on the OSI map, but I found enough to show that houses of the size shown by Gauci were very rare. Within those few, I ruled out some (like Tervoe) because they didn’t seem to match Gauci’s drawing (although alterations could have accounted for that). I ended up with only one house that looked at all like Gauci’s, but the background may not match.

If you can identify the house, I would be glad if you could leave a Comment below.

Water levels

Meelick Weir today

Meelick Weir today

Almost level.