Tag Archives: Kerry

Kerrygold

It is, no doubt, well known that the first transatlantic steam shipping company was founded by a Kerryman and was to be based in his home county: indeed on his own estate at Valentia Island. The transatlantic steamers would run thence to Halifax, Nova Scotia: that was amongst the shortest possible ocean crossing, which was important in the early days of steam navigation, when inefficient engines required prodigious quantities of coal. There were to be feeder services at both ends of the route, thus linking London with New York, and a second line from Valentia to the West Indies.

The Kerryman was Sir Maurice Fitzgerald MP, the 18th Knight of Kerry.  A meeting of supporters was held in London in June 1824 and, a year later, an Act of Parliament permitted the formation of a joint stock company with limited liability for its shareholders. However, the American and Colonial Steam Navigation Company did not last long: it softly and suddenly vanished away in 1828, its single steamer, the Calpé, sold to the Dutch government before completing a single voyage (although, under her new ownership, she ran a successful transatlantic mail service to Surinam and Curacao).

The prospectus, published before the meeting in June 1824, said of Valentia:

Ballast cargoes may be obtained there in slates, butter, and coarse linen, for the American markets.

However, Alexander Nimmo, writing to Fitzgerald, said

Remember, your whole peninsula only affords 100 tons of butter per annum, and all Kerry would not provide for a constant trade.

The gallant knight would therefore, I am sure, be delighted with the news from the Americas that “Irish Butter Kerrygold Has Conquered America’s Kitchens“. I hope he would have known enough to realise that “[…] Ireland’s landscape and economy, which both remain dominated by agriculture” may be true of the landscape but is not true of the economy.

Sources

John Armstong and David M Williams “The Perception and Understanding of New Technology: A Failed Attempt to Establish Transatlantic Steamship Liner Services 1824-1828” in The Northern Mariner/le marin du nord XVII no 4 [October 2007]

Letters and papers of Maurice FitzGerald in Public Record Office for Northern Ireland ref MIC639/6

Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser 28 June 1824

New locomotive power

Mr Mullins, MP for Kerry, has made a very important discovery in the scientific world, that of applying galvanism, instead of steam, for propelling vessels and carriages. He is now building a carriage upon this principle, and several of the first engineers, who have seen it, say there is every prospect of success, and that it will supersede steam. — Limerick Star. The Dublin Evening Post claims the merit of this invention for the Rev J W M’Gawley, one of the clergymen of the Roman Catholic Cathedral in that city, who, that Journal says, explained it at the meeting of the British Association of Science there last August. “The discovery,” proceeds our Dublin contemporary, “has excited considerable interest amongst the savans of Germany by Mr M’Gawley’s interesting and important invention, which is to form one of the most attractive features of the proceedings of the British Association at its approaching meeting in Bristol.”

Berkshire Chronicle 13 August 1836

How nice to know that a current MP TD for Kerry, noted for his scientific knowledge, is continuing a great tradition.

 

Quadrupling Kerry’s canals

I thought there was only one canal in Co Kerry, but there were three more at Lixnaw. They’re still to be seen and they have interesting associations.

Thanks to Ewan Duffy of Industrial Heritage Ireland for the tip-off.

Fish in canal shock

I see from the blatts (or at least from the Cork Examiner) that there is much free food to be had in the Tralee Ship Canal, which has, it is said, “Literally millions of sprat and mackerel” as well as eels, baby ray and shrimp. According to the story,

Kerry County Council said engineers were meeting yesterday to find a resolution and to organise a clean up.

Perhaps a call to Captain Birdseye?

Lartigue in motion

I’ve just noticed a 3½-minute video of the original Lartigue on the British Pathé website. Here is my page about the modern recreation, which is well worth a visit. The other monorail by the Shannon River is covered here.

Horace Kitchener and the peat briquette

I commented recently on the posthumous honour awarded to Kerryman Horace Kitchener, born at Ballylongford near Saleen Quay on the Shannon estuary. Part of the cost of building Saleen was paid by the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth neare Dublin (whose present gaffer wants to change its name to something more snappy and brand-like, probably with an exclamation mark or a number in it (maybe he would like something modern: L33T or D00dz!, perhaps). The College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth neare Dublin owned large bogs in the area and sent turf to Limerick by boat.

Another turf connection has just come to my notice. Donal Clarke, in Brown Gold: a history of Bord na Móna and the Irish peat industry (Gill and Macmillan, Dublin 2010, but it is no longer on their website), says that in the 1850s Horace’s father experimented at Ballycarbery [which seems to be a long way from Ballylongford] “with the production of peat charcoal for se in the manufacture of gunpowder” and, in the process, discovered a way of making peat briquettes.

Not a lot of people (apart from Donal Clarke’s readers) know that.

Incidentally, Kitchener appears in this trip around the world with Irish waterways.

A threat to an existing navigation

I have a page here about the River Maigue, one of Ireland’s oldest improved navigations. Incidentally, the river’s name is locally pronounced Mag, to rhyme with bag.

In 2009 I wrote to the Powers That Be to suggest that the (much to be desired) bypass of Adare, a major bottleneck on the N21 Limerick–Tralee/Killarney road, should pass to the south of the town, thus avoiding the interference with the navigation that would undoubtedly have resulted from a northern bypass. It was no doubt the strength of my case, and a recognition of the importance of the navigation, that caused the Powers to opt for a southern bypass. A proposed link to a proposed M20 Limerick–Cork motorway may have been a minor factor in their decision: as nobody was going to build a motorway to Kerry, Adare would piggyback on the motorway to Cork.

However, An Bord Pleanála overturned the decision [PDFs available here] because the M20 proposal was withdrawn. The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association is pleased because it wanted a northern bypass of Adare, to be linked to a new road from Limerick to the port of Foynes; its submission on the matter is here [PDF]. A Limerick ICSA chap has a letter to the editor about the Foynes link in the current issue of the Limerick Leader, although it’s not yet available online.

Now, this proposal has the drawback that it might actually be slightly sensible: a better road to Foynes might stop people agitating for a restoration of the railway line and enable a speedy ending of port activities in Limerick, thus removing large piles of scrap from the riverside. But have the ICSA not considered the damage to the turf-boat traffic to Adare if a road bridge is added to the railway bridge downstream of Adare?

Ballylongford man’s posthumous honour

Herbert Kitchener, born in Ballylongford near Saleen in 1850, shortly after the Shannon Commissioners completed their work, is to appear on a new UK £2 coin.

Ballylongford (and Inishmurray/Cahircon)

SHANNON-RIVER. This is by far the most considerable river in Ireland, or perhaps in any known island, not only on account of its rolling 200 miles, but also of its great depth in most places, and the gentleness of its current, by which it might be made exceedingly serviceable to the improvement of the country, the communication of its inhabitants, and consequently the promoting inland trade, through the greater part of its long course, being navigable to a considerable distance, with a few interruptions only of rocks and shallows, to avoid which there are in general small canals cut, to preserve and continue the navigation.

Thus Wm Wenman Seward, Esq [correspondent of Thomas Jefferson], in his Topographica Hibernica; or the topography of Ireland, antient and modern. Giving a complete view of the civil and ecclesiastical state of that kingdom, with its antiquities, natural curiosities, trade, manufactures, extent and population. Its counties, baronies, cities, boroughs, parliamentary representation and patronage; antient districts and their original proprietors. Post, market, and fair towns; bishopricks, ecclesiastical benefices, abbies, monasteries, castles, ruins, private-seats, and remarkable buildings. Mountains, rivers, lakes, mineral-springs, bays and harbours, with the latitude and longitude of the principal places, and their distances from the metropolis, and from each other. Historical anecdotes, and remarkable events. The whole alphabetically arranged and carefully collected. With an appendix, containing some additional places and remarks, and several useful tables printed by Alex Stewart, Dublin, 1795. [Google it if you want a copy.]

Seward was one of many people who saw the Shannon as a valuable resource, even if they were vague on how it was to yield a return. I was reminded of that on reading the Strategic Integrated Framework Plan for the Shannon Estuary 2013–2020: an inter-jurisdictional land and marine based framework to guide the future development and management of the Shannon Estuary. The Introduction includes this:

The Shannon Estuary is an immensely important asset and one of the most valuable natural resources in Ireland and the Mid-West Region in particular — the fringe lands and the marine area both provide space and location for development, activities and opportunities to progress economic, social and environmental growth within the Region.

This report is an attempt to show how the estuary could deliver a return. The core point seems to be that a small number of areas are designated as “Strategic Development Locations for marine related industry and large scale industrial development”, thus protecting them from the attentions of the environmentalists: the whole of the estuary is a Special Area of Conservation and a Special Protection Area.

Almost all the Strategic Development Locations are already industrialied in some way:

  • Limerick Docks (in Limerick city)
  • Ballylongford (of which more below)
  • Tarbert (power station)
  • Aughinish Island (alumina)
  • Askeaton (Nestlé)
  • Foynes Island and land to the rear of Foynes (main port on the estuary)
  • Moneypoint (power station).

There is one more, Inishmurry/Cahircon (which is not boring), which is even more interesting because there is no industry there at present. It was used as a resting place for certain vessels, but it was also proposed as the site for an explosives factory. Perhaps the designation as a Strategic Development Location suggests that that proposal is not dead but merely sleeping.

Ballylongford is equally lacking in industry, despite activity at Saleen in the early nineteenth century. However, Shannon Development assembled a large landbank nearby; the report’s Executive Summary says:

The Ballylongford Landbank benefits from a significant deepwater asset and extant permission for a major LNG bank.

Here is the area in question. Note that the red oval is just to indicate the rough location; it does not show the boundaries of the landbank.

Ballylongford (OSI ~1840)

Ballylongford (OSI ~1840)

You can see a proper map and a marked-up aerial photo in Volume 1 of the report [PDF] on page 73 (77/174).

Shannon Development agreed to give a purchase option on a little uder half of the site to Shannon LNG Ltd, which proposed to build a liquefied natural gas terminal there, to be supplied by ship; much information is available here.

The Commission for Energy Regulation decided to introduce charges that would have increased Shannon LNG’s costs; the company took the matter to court but, yesterday, lost its case. The Irish Times report here will probably disappear behind a paywall at some stage; the Irish Independent report is here and the Limerick Leader‘s here (its photo shows Tarbert and Moneypoint; the Ballylongford site is off to the left).

If the Ballylongford development does not proceed, plans for economic growth on the Shannon estuary may prove to be for the birds.

My OSI logo and permit number for website

Kerry nitwits

See the Irish Times and the Guardian.

Download your copy of Kerry County Council’s road safety calendar here [PDF].

Not that this piece of idiocy will ever be passed but, if it is, tourists should avoid Co Kerry, lest they be mangled by a Kerry farmer, pissed as a newt, wobbling around the roads in his tractor.

What qualities — apart from being a publican — do you need to be elected in Co Kerry?