Tag Archives: Ireland waterways rockville

Big it up for Waterways Ireland

Waterways Ireland and the National Trails Office have come together to develop a technical specification, including code of practice and risk assessment for canoe and small vessel trails in Ireland.

The National Trails Office started work on the classification of water based trails in its publication,”Classification and grading of recreational trails.” The purpose of this tender is to develop this process further and produce a technical specification, including a code of practice and risk assessment for the future development of canoe and other small water vessel trails on the rivers and waterways of Ireland.

Tender notice on the eTenders Public Procurement website here, but you may need to be registered to get the bumpy.

This is a Jolly Good Idea and much to be encouraged. There are some suggestions for possible trails (mostly not on WI waters) on this site.

Rockville navigator elected to Dáil

Ming Flanagan was the first to be elected a TD in the Roscommon South Leitrim constituency in the 2011 general election.

Ming launching himself on the Rockville Navigations

His sterling qualities were shown when, in September 2010, he kayaked down the Rockville Navigations, with a companion, to check this tourism and recreational resource (which I had brought to his attention in his capacity as Mayor of County Roscommon).

Another person on the side of righteousness is Paudie Coffey of Portlaw, mentioned favourably here; he was first home in Waterford, where he stood for Fine Gael.

Down the Rockville

Some time ago I wrote three pages about the Rockville Navigation, which is linked to Grange on the Carnadoe Waters in Co Roscommon.

I recently revisited the area. I was horrified, first, to find that the bridge — built in June 1765 — has been severely damaged, with large chunks of masonry in the cut beneath and with a crude wooden repair. How many bridges of that age are there in Co Roscommon? How many that are associated with one of the oldest navigations in the country? Please, someone, restore the bridge!

Damage to the bridge

Anyway, the more pleasant part of the day was the four hours that we spend descending, by dinghy and kayak, from the bridge to Grange. The route took us through artificial cuts, small lakes and sections of river, with very clear water and an extraordinary abundance of vegetation. This route would have been easily navigated by large wooden cots or similar boats, and it should be developed today as a canoe-and-small-boat trail. Even with very low water levels, we had no real problems, although someone has to end up with wet feet …. Here is an account of the trip.

Wading in the water

A Grand Canal lock: Belmont

To complement my page about Athlone lock on the Shannon, here’s a description of Belmont lock on the Grand Canal. As always, I welcome comments, suggestions or ideas about anything I have omitted or misunderstood.

More workboats

Here is a very long page showing working boats that are not operated by Waterways Ireland. They include hotel boats, restaurant boats, trip boats, rescue boats, police boats and sand barges.

Monasterevan, the Venice of the west

This is a considerably expanded and updated version of an article I wrote years ago, with lots of photos. There are traces of three lost waterways to be seen in Monasterevan (my favoured spelling) and lots of other interesting waterways artefacts as well. There is even an operational puzzle: in the days when boats locked down from the canal to the Barrow, and locked back up on the far side, how were they propelled (and controlled) when crossing the river?

Rockville at last

After many long days, I have finished the pages for the Rockville Navigation. The material is spread across three pages, the second of which has lots of photos. You can access the pages from the sidebar on the right or from the Lost Irish waterways page (see above for the link).

I haven’t really finished it, though, because there are many gaps in my knowledge. If you can help to fill any of them, or if you find I’ve got anything wrong, please leave a comment.

More on the Rockville Navigations

I’m going to Co Roscommon tomorrow in the hope of being able to see what remains of the Rockville Navigations. I know the lakes are still there, and so are some of the connecting channels. On the early Ordnance Survey maps, only two of the channels are marked as canals; both of them are near Rockville House itself. There are also two subsidiary canals, one of which may have fed the fish ponds. Aerial photos show that at least one further stretch was canalised after the OS map was drawn, with a curved canal replacing a zigzag river.

What I’m most keen to see is the canal bridge that was near Rockville House itself (the house is now demolished). It may be the only stone structure that shows the width of the navigation (probably a lot less than the Grand and Royal Canals!), as there were no locks. I understand that the bridge still exists and that there is a date on it; that would be interesting because I haven’t yet found any information on the construction of the system.

If you can go to this page and line up the quarry (a white scar on the landscape) in the middle of your screen, then move down to the bottom, you’ll have two small lakes on the left and a bit of one on the right. You can see the channel connecting the rightmost lake with the middle one: it starts from the right as a curve, then becomes straight. About one third of the way along the straight section, a straight road or track crosses the channel, and I think the bridge is in there.

Note that that photo does not show the whole of the navigation.

The Rockville Navigations

I’m currently investigating the Rockville Navigations. Hugh Malet, in his book In the Wake of the Gods (Chatto & Windus 1970), describes a trip in a small boat on these navigations. He and Kay, his wife, started from Grange in the Carnadoe Waters (off the Shannon above Roosky) and had to work the boat up the shallows in the river. They got into deeper water and travelled through a series of small lakes, linked by some natural and some artificial channels.

Harry Rice shows the navigations on a chart he drew in 1960; there is a copy on the Heritage Boat Association website here. And there is a brief mention in one of the early Shannon guides. But apart from that, the navigations seem to have been forgotten, although some people have boated on parts of the system.

The navigations are shown on the early Ordnance Survey maps from around 1830, and the centre seems to be at Rockville House, which was owned by a branch of the Lloyd family, owners of thousands of acres in County Roscommon. If Hugh Malet was right, the main cargo was turf.