Tag Archives: Grand Canal Dock

Before the Guinness Liffey barges

During the past half-year also — within the last two months — Messrs Guinness and Co have finished the very extensive stores both here [at Grand Canal Harbour] and at our docks [Grand Canal Docks, Ringsend], and have commenced to carry their whole import and export trade upon our canal between these points. They have purchased boats, and are carrying on the trade with great zeal and efficiency, and we expect it will form a very considerable addition to your revenue from the tolls.

From the address of the Chairman, William Digges La Touche Esq, to the half-yearly meeting of the Grand Canal Company on 31 August 1867, reported in the Dublin Evening Post 4 September 1867


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.



WI and the canals

Three important documents [all PDFs] available for download from WI’s site:

  • Action Plan for Grand Canal Dock and Spencer Dock​ here
  • Grand Canal (rural) Product Development Study here
  • Royal Canal (rural) Product Development Study here.

These are lengthy documents [50, 177 and 175 pages respectively] and it will be some time before I can comment on them, but I welcome their publication. I also hope to be able to comment on the presentation Ireland’s Inland Waterways – Building a Tourism Destination which WI made to the recent meeting of the NSMC; I’m told it’s on its way to me but it hasn’t arrived yet.


The (re)invention of heritage

From Google’s Ngram viewer (more here):

ngram[Sorry, Google: couldn’t get the embedding to work properly. WordPress’s whitelist omits Google, though maps seem to work OK. Here’s the original.]

The growth in the use of “Heritage” with an initial capital is particularly interesting. I can think of three possible reasons:

  • that more organisations, eg The Heritage Council, use the word in their titles
  • that the word is increasingly used as an abstract noun at the start of sentences like “Heritage is important”
  • that the word is increasingly used as an attributive adjective at the start of sentences like “Heritage apples should be preserved”.

Traditional, personal uses (like “My heritage from my ancestors …”) are, I think, less likely to require initial capital letters. That in turn might suggest that Google’s Ngram viewer is reflecting a new(ish) set of meanings for the word and might lead us to ask what that new(ish) usage is (or was) intended to achieve.

It might also lead us to ask whether an even newer concept might now be more useful: one that would dissuade well-meaning folk from preserving and displaying context-free old tat and persuade them to find and record information instead.

An investment plan for the Naomh Éanna?

In a debate about the Naomh Éanna in the Dáil on 13 February 2014, Joan Collins TD [People Before Profit Alliance, Dublin South Central] said:

I understand the National Asset Management Agency and the Irish Ship & Barge Fabrication Company have expressed an interest in stepping in with an investment plan to restore her to her former beauty.

I see nothing about the ship on NAMA’s website, so I cannot provide any information about its views.

According to the most recent modified accounts for the Irish Ship and Barge Fabrication Company Ltd, on file at the Companies Registration Office, its total assets at 28 February 2013 were €286 in cash.

The company had no fixed assets.

Its called-up share capital was shown as €100000 and the balance on its profit & loss account was -€99714.

According to its Annual Return (B1), made up to 30 November 2013, its authorised share capital was €200000, made up of 100000 €1.00 ordinary shares and 100000 €1.00 Non Cum Red Pref shares. Only 100 of the ordinary shares were issued: 1 was owned by Saul Casey and 99 were owned by Sam Field-Corbett. All 100000 Non Cum Red Pref shares were issued and were held by Printation Limited.



Scrap the damn thing

The Irish Times reports today, in an article that will probably disappear behind a paywall sooner or later, that some folk don’t want the Naomh Éanna, a decrepit former ferry cluttering up the Grand Canal Dock, to be scrapped.

There seems to be a reluctance to accept that things, like people, have a lifespan. Keeping them alive indefinitely costs a lot of money. And none of those quoted in the article has put forward any good reason for keeping the damn thing, never mind any reason that would justify the spending of very large amounts of money on it.

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.

As it is, the vessel has been hanging around for about twenty-five years, since it failed a survey in 1986 or 1988 (I have found different dates). I don’t know how much it has done since then to advance appreciation of industrial or cultural history, or whatever it is that the complainants think is being vandalised, but I would have thought that anyone who wanted to gaze on an elderly vessel has had plenty of opportunity to do so.

Addendum: it seems some folk want to draw up an investment plan.

Send for the lifeboat

I read here that some folk want to remove the retired lifeboat Mary Stanford from Grand Canal Dock (a laudable aim, especially if it saves Waterways Ireland money), transport it to Ballycotton, Co Cork, and restore it.

It is to be hoped that their efforts will be more successful than those of the group that intended to restore the Clogherhead lifeboat Charles Whitton.

Goodbye Naomh Éanna?

See Fergal.b’s post today on boards.ie. Scrapping sounds like a good idea to me, but it would be nice (if it hasn’t already been done) to take as many photos as possible of the vessel.

Floating faithful

An entry in J W de Courcy’s The Liffey in Dublin (Gill & Macmillan, Dublin 1996) alerted me to the existence of the Port of Dublin Society for the Religious Instruction of Seamen. It bought, he tells us, the hull of the appropriately named Danish vessel the Prince Christian, and used it as a floating chapel.

The National Library has an engraving of the vessel. I haven’t seen it, but de Courcy says it shows the chapel moored at the corner of Hanover Quay and Grand Canal Quay in the Grand Canal Dock, Ringsend.

In 1833 the Society moved ashore to the new Mariners’ Chapel in Forbes Street. That was sold to the Gas Company in 1889; the 25″ Ordnance Survey map shows tanks on the site.

The Mariners' Church, Forbes Street, Dublin (OSI ~1838)

The Mariners’ Church, Forbes Street, Dublin (OSI ~1838)

In The Picture of Dublin or Stranger’s Guide to the Irish Metropolis. Containing an account of every object and institution worthy of notice, together with a brief description of the surrounding country and of its geology. New Edition. With a plan of the city and thirteen views (William Curry, Jun and Company, Dublin 1835) we read this:

MARINER’S CHURCH — In the year 1822, the Episcopal Floating Chapel, for the especial use of seamen, was fitted up and opened under the sanction of the late Archbishop of Dublin, and a Chaplain appointed, whose duty is not only to perform divine service, but to visit the vessels frequenting this port, and otherwise to attend to the spiritual wants of seafaring persons.

The Floating Chapel being old and decayed, and requiring frequent and expensive repairs, it was at length determined to substitute for it a Chapel on shore, to be built in the immediate neighbourhood. The first stone of the Mariner’s Church was accordingly laid by Vice-Admiral Oliver, July 18, 1832, in Forbes-street, Sir John Rogerson’s Quay.

This neat and commodious edifice, capable of containing 500 persons, cost, including school-rooms, &c, about £2000. It was opened for divine service, Sept 15, 1833. Hours of service on the Sunday, half-past ten AM, four PM; Lectures on the evenings of Wednesday and Friday, at seven o’clock. In winter there is a daily evening school for seamen, and a Sunday-school throughout the year.

It is in contemplation to erect another Mariner’s Church at Kingstown, immediately.

The National Archives have the society’s regulations, from October 1822, amongst the Chief Secretary’s papers [Record 3435]; the National Library has a report of proceedings from 1824 and another for the years 1837 to 1842. I found various items, mostly ads seeking funds, in Dublin newspapers of the 1860s; I found none for earlier years, which may suggest that a different variant of the name was used — or that the society was in less need of assistance.

In Britain, the Boaters Christian Fellowship keeps the faith afloat on the inland waterways; some of the Canal Ministries boats are pictured here. I am not aware of any similar organisation or activity in Ireland.

My OSI logo and permit number for website

Drawbacks of canals

There was a proposal in the 1830s for a ship canal along the coast, outside the railway embankment, from Dublin to the asylum harbour at Kingstown. A preliminary report was provided by William Cubitt after the House of Commons Select Committee on the Dublin and Kingstown Ship Canal had reported in July 1833.

Henry E Flynn was opposed to the idea and, in his A Glance at the Question of a Ship Canal connecting the asylum harbour at Kingstown with the river Anne Liffey at Dublin &c &c &c [George Folds, Dublin 1834], dedicated to Daniel O’Connell, he wrote eloquently of the drawbacks of the proposal, which included this:

Be it remembered, that the whole coast from Ringsend to Merrion is the bathing ground for the less affluent classes of the Citizens; and hundreds get their bread by attending on and bathing the females who frequent it.

And are the patriotic Would-be’s who support a Ship Canal equally reckless of the health, the morality, and the existence of those persons? Would they have no objection to expose their mothers, wives, sisters and daughters to the immediate wanton gaze, the scoffs, the jeers, the immodest jest, the filthy exposure and indecent exhibitions which the most abandoned race of men [ie sailors] could find in their dissolute minds to perpetrate in their view, and within their hearing? And yet, all this must be the consequence of a Ship Canal in the immediate vicinity of the female baths and bathing ground along the line.

Happily, the canal was never built.