Tag Archives: Guinness

Henn, cheese, pickles and Guinness

An Affecting Charge

The following case lately came for trial before Mr Henn QC, the new Recorder of Galway:— George Hamilton, who for twenty-five years had been in the employment of the Midland Great Western Railway Company as station-master, was indicted for stealing from a hamper some goods, the property of Sir Arthur Guinness, which were addressed to Cong, in the county Mayo. For some time a course of pilfering had been carried on, and the directors, in order to find out who were the guilty parties, employed two Dublin detectives, named Stookman and Healy, who arrived in Galway on Aug 31st, and, concealing themselves in the goods-store in empty barrels, remained on the watch all night. About one o’clock next morning they heard a noise, and observed the prisoner entering the place. Having satisfied himself that he was unseen, he took out his penknife and proceeded deliberately to cut the cords of the hamper and extract some of its contents. The detectives waited until he had taken out a bottle of vinegar, a bottle of pickles, and some cheeses, and then tied up the hamper again. They then issued from their hiding-place and seized him. He begged them for God’s sake to have mercy on his wife and family, and to leave the matter between himself and the manager, but they refused to do so, and, having called the police, gave him into custody. About twenty witnesses were examined for the prosecution, and among them the clerk of the goods store, who swore that it had been locked and the key left with the prisoner.

Mr M’Laughlin QC appealed to the sympathies of the jury, and, pointing out some alleged discrepancies in the evidence, pressed them, if they had a doubt that the prisoner took the articles with a guilty intent, to give him the benefit of it.

The Recorder, in his charge, showed that the discrepancies only proved the truth of the charge, and expressed the deep pain he felt at seeing in such a position a man who had held a respectable position, with a salary of £300 a year, and had young ladies whom he saw in court dependent upon him. He finally burst into tears.

The jury retired, and after three hours’ deliberation returned into court and stated that there was no chance of an agreement. His worship sent them back to their room, and, after being absent for another hour, they brought in a verdict of not guilty, which the Recorder stated he could not endorse, but characterised as monstrous.

The Leeds Times 12 October 1878

The Recorder, Mr Henn, was the father of T R Henn and later lived in Paradise. Sir Arthur Guinness, a stout fellow, was a descendant of this chap and had a small holiday house at Cong on Lough Corrib, where his family had many boats.

Canal boat sunk on the Liffey

In a comment here I wondered what a canal boat was doing as far up the Liffey as Grattan Bridge in 1873. Here is a report from the Freeman’s Journal of 10 March 1875 that may provide a possible explanation.

THE LATE WRECK IN THE RIVER LIFFEY:— The porter-laden canal boat which was swamped on Monday by being borne by the flood in the river against the southern abutments, at the western side of Grattan-bridge, still remains in the place where she sank. Though she came with great force against the structure, she did not inflict the slightest injury upon it. Measures will be at once taken for floating the sunken vessel, which does not in any way interfere with the river traffic, as the centre arches are quite clear. All the porter which was on board the canal boat when she went down has been secured.

Remember that Guinness built its wharf on the Liffey in 1873 but did not start building its own fleet of barges for the Liffey until 1877. It did, however, have “a few small tugs” that were used to draw laden boats.

Guinness had easy access to the Grand Canal Harbour at James’s Street, so it seems unlikely to me that Grand Canal boats would risk the Liffey passage to supply pubs along the Grand, the Barrow and the lower Shannon. It therefore seems more likely that the boats were either Royal Canal boats or were being used to supply ships in the port.


Dublin City Public Libraries have some nice photos available online. The section on the Port of Dublin includes 1926 aerial photos of the Guinness wharf and of Spencer Dock (not busy) and Grand Canal Dock (including the section beyond the railway line, now filled in). There is also a photo of a steam barge at the Guinness wharf. In the Commercial Dublin section, I saw two businesses beside the Grand Canal, Ever Ready Batteries at Portobello and Gordon’s Fuels at Harold’s Cross.

The Park Canal

I wrote here about the Park Canal and why it should not be restored. I did not include, because I had not then seen it, a link to this report in the Limerick Post. It shows why the gates on the second lock were not replaced. The core problem is that the banks in the upper section of the canal slope too steeply to be stable.

The slope of the banks above the railway bridge (from a boat)

Happily, this deficiency in the original construction has saved us from another foolish restoration.


For the record

The Limerick Leader article about a proposed Limerick river bus has some statements that do not accord with my understanding.

The venture will see the river bus depart Guinness Pier – across from Athlunkard Boat Club at O’Dwyer Bridge – every two hours, bound for the power station […].

As far as I know, the pier in question was the Ranks jetty and was not used by Messrs Guinness. The Eclipse Flower, and other vessels owned by Ranks and their predecessors, sailed up the Shannon from there rather than attempt the stretch from Baal’s Bridge to Custom House Quay.

The boat will follow the route taken by barges of old – both passenger and commercial – some of which historically transported Guinness to the city up until the mid-1960s.

“It is a tried and tested route,” said Mr Flynn, stressing the viability and safety of the route, which passes Long Pavement – the edges of which have been repaired and grassed over – and finishes at the hydro-electric plant.

“Every passenger and commercial barge that came to Limerick for 50 years used that stretch of water. It is very safe. It was navigated by all the barges,” he said.

The route to Limerick through Ardnacrusha came into use only after the construction of the power station in the 1920s and was used for a little over thirty years. To the best of my knowledge, there were no passenger services in those years: passenger carrying stopped in the first half of the nineteenth century, when traffic was still using the old Limerick Navigation. There have been some trip-boats in recent years, but they did not (and do not) use “barges of old”. Some old barges, now converted and with more powerful engines, have safely navigated that stretch, but they do it when conditions are right.

During the final phases of Ardnacrusha’s construction, both old and new navigations were closed; the Grand Canal Company (GCC), the main commercial carrying company, ran to Killaloe and had its cargoes carried onward by rail to Limerick. When the new route through Ardnacrusha was opened, the GCC thought it was so dangerous that it refused to use it for about a year. It resumed operations only when a boom was put across the river above Baal’s Bridge and posts were provided upstream of O’Dwyer Bridge to which barges could tie while waiting for suitable states of the tide.

I accept that the proposed river bus will not be going downstream as far as Baal’s Bridge, but it will still be navigating on a stretch of water where Waterways Ireland advises that boats should not navigate when more than one turbine is running at Ardnacrusha. The ESB can run up to four turbines, each of which is said to add a knot to the current, and it can switch them on immediately, with no warning to any boat using the river.

Other pages on this site make it clear that I share the promoters’ enthusiasm for Ardnacrusha and the canal and river thence to Limerick. I do not say that the difficulties of that stretch cannot be overcome, but I do not think that they should be dismissed.


Arthur’s Day

There is quite a modern branch of trade risen up in Ireland — I mean the exportation of Dublin porter. I am not a proprietor in the brewery, and, in praising the beverage, which I consider most excellent, I cannot be considered to be actuated by interested motives. But, it is a curious fact, that, a few years ago, Ireland was an importing country of porter, while, at the present moment, a very considerable export trade is growing up in Dublin.

In this point, and, perhaps, in this point only, I fully expect the learned member for Dublin [Daniel O’Connell MP] to concur with me. I only venture to entreat hon. Members opposite, who wish to give some activity to the trade of their country, to encourage the fermentation of the vat, rather than the fermentation of politics. By so doing, they may greatly improve our trade and our internal condition; and, if they will but take my advice, I, for one, shall be ready, most heartily, to drink their healths in their own porter.

Thomas Spring Rice, MP for Cambridge (and previously for Limerick), Joint Secretary of the Treasury, in a House of Commons debate on the repeal of the Act of Union on 23 April 1834. On this site, you’ll find more on Daniel O’Connell here and on Uncle Arthur here.

Guinness Liffey quay 1902

A photo and some info here,

Grand Canal harbour

The curved building in March 2011 …

… and in May 2012

No sign of any improvement or of anything done to protect the building.


Pollardstown Fen

Pollardstown Fen is the source (via the Milltown Feeder) of much of the Grand Canal’s water supply. Here is a BBC programme about the sounds of the Fen (h/t John McCormack) and other aspects of the magical area close to Robertstown, Lowtown and the Hill of Allen.

Lock your door, turn off your telephone and spend half an hour listening. Shoot anyone who interrupts.

Since the programme was made, the sound recordist Tom Lawrence has died. His website is still up here.

Unhappy new year

The curved building at the north end of the former Grand Canal Harbour in Dublin continues to deteriorate. Photos taken on 1 January 2012.

Missing slates

This is a protected structure (whatever that means)

Another breach in the slates

My communication to the City Council went unanswered. Laing O’Rourke, the developers, did at least reply in November 2011:

Thank you very much for your email regarding the development at Canal Harbour and indeed the restoration of the old Ryans Building or curved building towards the northern end of the site.

We too share your concern in the deterioration of the building, and instructed our site manager to review the building and propose some alternatives in securing and preserving the building until such time as construction across the site. I will continue to press them on this
matter with a view to getting a solution delivered ASAP.

If you have any specific recommendations in relation to this preservation, I would be interested to hear these.

Kind Regards […]

I don’t know anything about preserving buildings, and replied to say so, but if any concerned reader has suggestions I’ll pass them on.