Here is a piece about the Aaron Manby, the first iron steamer to make a sea voyage, and its links to Irish inland waterways transport.
The piece was first published in the rally magazine of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland Lough Derg Branch in July 2017.
Posted in Charles Wye Williams, Economic activities, Engineering and construction, Extant waterways, Foreign parts, Historical matters, Industrial heritage, Ireland, Irish inland waterways vessels, Operations, Passenger traffic, People, Sea, Shannon, shannon estuary, Sources, Steamers, The cattle trade, Tourism, waterways, Waterways management
Tagged Aaron Manby, Charles Napier, Charles Wye Williams, Irish Sea, iron, John Grantham, John Oldham, Liverpool, Shannon, steam
Seventeenth-century transport on the Nore from Castletown to Ross and Waterford.
Posted in Economic activities, Engineering and construction, Extant waterways, Forgotten navigations, Historical matters, Industrial heritage, Ireland, Irish inland waterways vessels, Operations, People, Politics, Sources, waterways
Tagged Castletown, Coote, cot, Cromwell, iron, Mountrath, Nore, Ross, Waterford
Carthach O’Maonaigh very kindly drew my attention to an item in The Schools’ Collection, “a collection of folklore compiled by schoolchildren in Ireland in the 1930s” made available on Dúchas.ie. The item in question, which has been scanned and transcribed, is what Patrick McLoughlin, aged 59, told Mary Josephine reynolds of Cormongan, Co Leitrim; it can be seen here but Dr Críostóir Mac Cárthaigh, Interim Director of the National Folklore Collection at UCD, has very kindly given me permission to reproduce the text here.
Slieve Anierin Canal and Cornashamsoge Furnace
About the year 1650, there was a furnace for smelting Iron ore in the townland of Cornashamsogue, situated on the east side of Lough Allen. The ore had to be conveyed to the furnace for a distance of about 3 miles.
For this purpose a canal was made. The canal ran by the foot of the mountain. Several rivers flow westward from the mountain into Lough Allen. The largest of these is the Stoney river, a river that becomes a roaring torrent in times of heavy rain, often overflowing its banks, and causing great destruction, to lands, crops and houses.
At the time mentioned above, about the year 1650, the water of the Stoney river was diverted into the canal. The canal then was fed principally by this river, and in a lesser degree by the other smaller rivers that ran in the same direction. All the rivers ran at right angles to the canal.
The water also supplied the power that worked the furnace. The site of the furnace can still be pointed out, and the field in which it is situated has got the name of the Furnace Meadow. This furnace was in operation about the same time as, and may have some connection with the furnace, or furnaces, at Drumshanbo, which would be about 3 miles away.
Iron ore was conveyed to the Drumshanbo furnaces by boat, on Lough Allen. The sources of supply, were, the Slieven an Iern, Ballinaglera, Arigna mountains, all situated around Lough Allen. It is thought that the town of Drumshanbo had its origin in these industries. As to the Slieve an Iern canal, there are but very meagre traces of it at the present time.
A canal built in 1650 would be a very early canal and I would be grateful for any information anyone can provide about it; please leave a Comment below if you can help. I can’t see any trace of either canal or furnace on the OSI 6″ and 25″ maps but I may not be looking for the right shapes.
Posted in Ashore, Canals, Economic activities, Engineering and construction, Forgotten navigations, Historical matters, Industrial heritage, Operations, Shannon, waterways
Tagged canal, Drumshanbo, furnace, iron, Lough Allen, ore, Slieve Anierin
Here is the second page of the saga. This one gives background information about the passage boat service, the boats and the crew of the Longford. The shock-horror stuff will be in later pages.
Posted in Canals, Economic activities, Extant waterways, Historical matters, Ireland, Irish inland waterways vessels, Operations, Passenger traffic, People, Safety, Sources, Tourism, waterways, Waterways management
Tagged 1845, boats, bridge, canal, Clonsilla, deep sinking, Dublin, Ireland, iron, Longford, Operations, passage boat, Porterstown, Royal Canal
Drainage and Navigation Works: Construction of dredging machinery
The Commissioners having authorized the purchase of one of the iron dredgers used in the execution of the Shannon works, and then on that river at Athlone, the operation of removing her to Galway was commenced on 1st of March.
This was effected by first clearing her of all machinery, and then cutting up the hull or shell into pieces suited for carriage by land, in which manner every portion of her was removed to Galway.
In reconstructing this boat, considerable improvement and thorough repairs have been effected. A flat iron plate, three-fourths of an inch thick, has been substituted for the hollow iron keel, which lightens her draft of water five inches without any diminution of her steadiness, and an alteration of the position of the steam-pipes has been judiciously arranged. The keelsons were pieced, and whenever any materials were unsound they have been replaced.
The time occupied in the breaking up, transfer, and reconstruction of this dreder, weighing 200 tons, was five months and eleven days, and the whole work was executed at a cost of £803/8/11.
Four scows or decked barges have been constructed for the conveyance of the material raised by the dredger to spoil. Two of these boats are capable of carrying 30 tons, and the other two 45 tons.
Extract from the Annual Report of Mr S U Roberts CE, District Engineer for the year 1851 in Twentieth Report of the Commissioners of Public Works 1852
Posted in Economic activities, Engineering and construction, Extant waterways, Industrial heritage, Ireland, Irish inland waterways vessels, Operations, People, Shannon, Sources, Steamers, Waterways management
Tagged Athlone, barge, Board of Works, boats, Commissioners of Public Works, Corrib, Galway, Ireland, iron, Operations, S U Roberts, scow, Shannon, steam dredger, waterways, workboat
Four news items, all in the Varieties section of the Hampshire Chronicle on 19 October 1829.
The trial of the locomotive carriages near Liverpool was continued on Saturday, when Mr Stephenson’s engine, the Rocket, disencumbered of every weight, shot along the road at the almost incredible rate of 32 miles in the hour! So astonishing was the celerity with which the engine, without its apparatus, darted past the spectators, that it could be compared to nothing but the rapidity with which the swallow darts through the air.
Mr Gurney’s steam carriage can be stopped dead within the space of two yards, though going at the rate of from 18 to 20 miles an hour, and this without any inconvenient shock to the machinery or passengers. It is capable of dragging a carriage, weighing three tons and containing 100 passengers, over a level road, at the rate of eight, nine, or ten miles an hour: will drag the same carriage, containing 25 passengers, up the steepest road in England, at the same rate. On ascending hills, for every cwt that is shifted from the front to the hind wheels, the carriage requires an additional drawing power of 4 cwt and on level ground an additional power of half a ton. The contrivance by which the carriage may be retarded at pleasure on descending hills, acts independently of the wheels, so that the sliding and cutting effect of the ordinary drags is entirely avoided.
Sir James Anderson has entered into a contract with the Irish Post Office, by which he undertakes to convey the mails throughout Ireland at the rate of 12 miles an hour, in coaches impelled by steam, calculated to carry two or three passengers, in addition to the coachman and guard. This invention of Sir James Anderson, for which he has obtained a patent, has seldom been exhibited out of the yard in which it was constructed; but it is said to bear very little resemblance to the drag-coach of Mr Gurney. The contract is understood to be for 14 years, and the only pecuniary stipulation made by Sir James is, that he shall receive half the money which the Government shall save by adopting his system. He will shortly commence carrying the mails between Howth and Dublin. The road is level and good, and the distance not more than nine or ten miles.
[Note: an 1841 proposal by Sir James Anderson is covered here. And here is a longer piece about Sir James and the Steam Carriage and Waggon Company of Ireland.]
An iron steam boat of a peculiar construction, and having the paddles in the centre, has been built at Liverpool, by Messrs Fawcell and Co for the Irish Inland Steam Navigation Company. This vessel was tried in the Mersey on Monday, and the result was highly satisfactory. Another iron vessel, of 60 tons burden, was launched on Tuesday from Messrs Wm Laird and Son’s yard, on the banks of Wallasey Pool.
[Note: the Fawcett steamer and the 60-ton barge were destined for the Shannon. The barge was the first iron vessel built by Lairds.]
Posted in Ashore, Charles Wye Williams, Economic activities, Engineering and construction, Extant waterways, Foreign parts, Industrial heritage, Ireland, Irish inland waterways vessels, Non-waterway, Operations, People, Rail, Roads, Shannon, Sources, Steamers, The cattle trade, waterways
Tagged Anderson, barge, boats, drag, Dublin, Fawcett, Fermoy, Gurney, howth, Ireland, iron, Killaloe, Laird, Limerick, Liverpool, Lough Derg, mails, Operations, Rainhill trials, Rocket, Shannon, steam carriage, steamer, Stephenson, vessels, Wallasey, waterways
I don’t know how many people are aware that there were once extensive ironworks [which used water transport] along the lower western shore of Lough Derg and in the foothills of Sliabh Aughty. The existence of a townland called Furnace, near Whitegate, might be a clue, I suppose. Ger Madden had an article on “The Iron Works of Sliabh Aughty” in Sliabh Aughty: East Clare Heritage Journal No 7 ; he told me the other day that the works burned an acre of oak every day during the season. That bears out what J H Andrews said in “Notes on the Historical Geography of the Irish Iron Industry” [Irish Geography: bulletin of the Geographical Society of Ireland Vol III No 3 1956]:
[…] the Irish woods were exploited [for charcoal] with an extravagant disregard for the future supply position, although at first the conversion of woodland to permanent pasture could have been justified in many cases as a rational long-term economic decision. […] [Cpppicing was] never adopted in Ireland, even by such enlightened land owners as Sir William Petty, so that even a small forge or furnace could despoil its woods at an alarming rate.
Ger and others in Mountshannon have now organised the Sliabh Aughty Furnace Festival, to be held in Mountshannon on 20 and 21 September 2013. The leaflet says:
In the 17th and 18th century, the western shores of Lough Derg were the setting for an intensive iron industry. Although little known, it has left many traces in the landscape and various archives.
The Sliabh Aughty Furnace Project is hoping to safeguard these monuments for the future, research the history and develop the story as a touristic attraction. […]
The festival caters both for those with a deep interest in the subject and for those who might like a lighter approach. For the first group, there is a series of talks in the Mountshannon Hotel, running from 1030 to 1630 (with an hour for lunch):
1030 Paul Rondelez “Iron production in the Sliabh Aughty mountains”
1100 Mary Sleeman “Heritage and the law”
1200 Gerard Madden “The Emmerton Papers” [an archive with valuable
information about the Clare ironworks]
1230 Professor Audrey Horning “Archaeology and early industry in Ireland and
the Americas” [yes, there is a direct link]
1400 Dr Colin Rynne “Industry on the Shannon”
1430 Dr Christy Cuniffe “An elusive foundry in the Slieve Aughty foothills: the
work of T Clarke”
1530 Sean Spellissy “Expanding on Slieve Aughty”
1600 Ewelina Rondelez “The Sliabh Aughty Furnace Project”
The Aistear Iniscealtra Park [the maze] will have events including blacksmithing, charcoal production, a living history tent, sword-fighting demonstrations, 17th century games, a knitting demonstration, an exhibition on the ironworks, stalls with local produce and a barbecue.
All of that for €10 (adult rate; under-16s €5, toddlers free).
On the Sunday there is a guided tour of the remaining furnaces, leaving the harbour at 10.30am: free if you use your own transport, €20 by bus.
There is a website here with full details including information about accommodation in the area.
Posted in Ashore, Built heritage, Economic activities, Engineering and construction, Extant waterways, Forgotten navigations, Industrial heritage, Ireland, Irish inland waterways vessels, Operations, People, Politics, Restoration and rebuilding, Shannon, shannon estuary, Sources, waterways, Waterways management
Tagged boats, Clare, Ireland, iron, Limerick, Lough Derg, Mountshannon, Operations, Shannon, Sliabh Aughty, Slieve Aughty, waterways, Whitegate
There is a possible link between the Mahmoudié Canal, which ran from Alexandria to the Nile, and Irish waterways. I have not managed to establish a definite link to this Irish canal-boat but it is not ruled out either, and a few other Irish connections came up along the way: Oscar Wilde’s father, for instance, who wrote about the Boyne and the Corrib, and sent his most famous son to school on the Erne, travelled on the Mahmoudié Canal.
And did you know that, in the early 1840s, you could buy bottled Guinness and Bass in Cairo? Or that, to transport 50 people (including 12 ladies and 3 female servants) and 3 bags and 62 chests of mail across 84 miles of desert, you would have needed, in 1841,
- 130 camel men, donkey men and servants
- an escort of 17 Arab horsemen
- 145 camels
- 60 donkeys
- 12 saddle horses
- 12 carriage horses
- 7 carriage camels
- 12 donkey chairs: “for invalids, or ladies, the donkey-chair forms as easy a conveyance as a palanquin or sedan”
- 3 two-wheeled carriages
- 1 four-wheeled carriage?
Or that, to reduce the number of rats and insects on a cangia (sailing boat) on the Nile, you should sink it for two or three days before boarding?
You can read about all of that and more in this PDF. However, it’s not for the faint-hearted: it’s 51 pages, with over 300 endnotes (which you don’t have to read) and lots of links for those who are really interested. There are illustrations in some of the linked materials.
The Mahmoudié mystery v04 iwh [PDF]
Posted in Ashore, Canals, Charles Wye Williams, Drainage, Economic activities, Engineering and construction, Extant waterways, Foreign parts, Forgotten navigations, Industrial heritage, Ireland, Irish inland waterways vessels, Natural heritage, Operations, People, Politics, Restoration and rebuilding, Scenery, Sea, Shannon, Sources, Steamers, Tourism, waterways, Waterways management
Tagged Alexandria, Atfé, barge, boats, bridge, Cairo, camels, canal, Charles Wye Williams, Dublin, East India Company, Egypt, Grand Canal, India, Ireland, iron, lock, Mahmoudié, mails, Muhammad Ali, Napier, Nile, Operations, P&O, Pasha, Royal Canal, Shannon, steamer, Suez, trackboat, vessels, Waghorn, waterways, William Watson
I wrote here about Watson’s Double Canal Boat, saying inter alia that, in 1839, William Watson, manager of the inland department of the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company, patented:
an improvement in the construction of ships, and which improvement is also applicable to all kinds of sea-going vessels; and also certain improvements in the construction of boats and other vessels intended to be used on canals and inland navigations. 
I quoted the Mechanics’ Magazine of December 1839, which said that:
Three canal barges have already been built upon Mr Watson’s plan of construction, of 60 tons burthen each, and with eminent success.
I said that the size suggested that these canal barges were for the CoDSPCo’s Irish inland operations, but that I had no information about where they were built. I have now found information about one builder.
On Thursday, the 22nd instant, a fine new trade boat, built with iron ribs, according to the patent of William Watson, Esq., and belonging to the City of Dublin Steam company, also a new smack, 50 tons measurement, were launched from the Brunswick dock-yard, Ringsend Docks.
I would be grateful for more information.
 “List of patents granted for Scotland from 18th March to 18th June 1839” in The Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal , exhibiting a view of the progressive discoveries and improvements in the sciences and the arts Vol XXVII No LIII — July 1839; “List of English patents granted between the 25th of May and the 25th of June, 1839” in The Mechanics’ Magazine No 829, Saturday, June 29, 1839
 The Mechanics’ Magazine Vol XXXII No 855 28 December 1839
 The Freeman’s Journal Saturday 24 July 1841. An almost identical note appeared in the Dublin Evening Mail of Monday 26 July 1841.
Posted in Built heritage, Charles Wye Williams, Economic activities, Engineering and construction, Extant waterways, Industrial heritage, Ireland, Irish inland waterways vessels, Operations, People, Shannon, Steamers, The cattle trade, waterways
Tagged barge, boats, Brunswick Dockyard, canal, Charles Wye Williams, City of Dublin Steam Packet Company, composite construction, Dublin, Grand Canal, Ireland, iron, Operations, Ringsend, vessels, waterways, William Watson, workboat