Tag Archives: Kilrush

Limerick 1850

For extent and population it is now the fourth town in Ireland. The shipping at the quays was not numerous. There are but two small steamers which ply from the port, and both are employed only in the summer, one being laid up during winter, as the other is found sufficient for the trade. These steamers ply down the river to Kilrush, calling off the ports on each side on their way. […]

Dung, in any quantity, may be got in Limerick, for 1s per load of 20 to 30 cwt.

James Caird, Farmer, Baldoon The Plantation Scheme; or, the West of Ireland as a field for investment William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh and London 1850

Boarding in Limerick

On the morning of the day on which I left Limerick, a truly melancholy and fatal accident occurred. Just as the steamer which starts every morning for Kilrush and Kilkee, was in the act of leaving the quay, a car was seen to approach very rapidly to the station, from which the vessel had just begun to move. Planks are not used at these quays, the water being sufficiently deep to admit of the steamer lying so close as to enable the passengers to step off from the quay on board the vessel.

A fine young man jumped off the car, and took a female who was on the opposite side in his arms, and ran with her to the packet, and had just succeeded in placing her feet in the side of the boat. In order to get her safely aboard he had to push her forward, and by this means accomplished the object he had in view. But alas! in achieving so much for her, he lost himself; for at this moment the packet moved off, and it became impossible for him to reach her; while the efforts he had previously made to get the lady on board occasioned him to stretch so far forward that it was equally impossible for him to recover his upright position on the quay. The consequence was that he fell between the quay and the steamer, and, as it was supposed, was struck by a revolution of the paddle, for he never rose.

What must have been the feelings of the poor female in witnessing the sudden and melancholy death of her gallant preserver? She was in delicate health, and was about to proceed to Kilkee for the benefit of sea-bathing, when this awfully heartrending event took place, which deprived her of him who was her darling and her pride; for alas! he was her son.

Thomas Lacy Home Sketches, on both sides of the channel, being a diary Hamilton, Adams, & Co, London; W H Smith & Co, London; McGlashan, Dublin, 1852

Date of event (deduced) Wednesday 28 August 1850

Foynes

The Shannon Commissioners built or improved seven piers and quays on the Shannon Estuary in the 1840s. In their eleventh and final report, the Commissioners gave the total income at six of them, for quayage, wharfage and cranage, for the year 1849. [Eleventh and Final Report of the Commissioners, Under the Act 2 & 3 Vict c61, for the Improvement of the Navigation of the River Shannon, Ireland; with an Appendix Ordered, by The House of Commons, to be Printed, 3 June 1850 407]

Kilteery                                   £0   4s 10d
Kildysart [Inishmurry]      £0  17s  8d
Querrin                                  £7  15s  4d
Saleen                                 £24    0s 10d
Clare [Clarecastle]          £67  14s   7d
Kilrush                             £105   5s  10d

The Shannon Commissioners quay at Querrin

The Shannon Commissioners quay at Querrin

 

The only two with any significant traffic were the existing ports of Kilrush [which was the only one to have a crane] and Clare. The other four were a waste of money [but are nowadays delightful places to visit].

Shannon Estuary (OSI ~1900)

Approximate positions of Commissioners’ quays on the Shannon Estuary (OSI ~1900)

The seventh quay, at Foynes, was not included because work had not been completed: the original plans were replaced by a more elaborate scheme, with a landing wharf, a pier, a slip and a harbour, towards which the proprietor, Lord Monteagle, had subscribed £4250, the largest amount paid by any landowner on the estuary. The Commissioners said:

Foynes Harbour, when complete, will consequently give secure quayage to sea-going vessels at all times of tides, and in fact will be the only port on the Shannon possessing that advantage; all the others, including the quays of Limerick, being dry, or nearly so, at low-water.

Foynes undeveloped (OSI ~1840)

Foynes undeveloped (OSI ~1840)

And so indeed it proved to be. Foynes, sheltered by its island to the north, grew as a result of the development of the quays.

Foynes (OSI ~1900)

Foynes (OSI ~1900)

But Foynes never became quite as important as some folk hoped, in the 1850s, that it would become.

The Irish packet station Commissioners

On 30 August 1850, C E Trevelyan, Assistant Secretary to HM Treasury [who is perhaps best known as the author, with Stafford H Northcote, of the Northcote-Trevelyan Report on the reform of Her Majesty’s Civil Service], wrote a Treasury Minute:

My Lords [of the Treasury] have before them a letter from the Secretary to the Admiralty, dated the 23rd instant, enclosing copies of a letter from the Board of Trade, dated the 8th instant, and an extract from a petition signed by a large number of landed proprietors in Ireland, praying for an inquiry with a view to the adoption as a Packet Station of one of the harbours in Ireland, and suggesting the appointment of a Commission for the above purpose.

Write to the Secretary to the Admiralty, and desire that he will state to the Lords Commissioners that my Lords are pleased to appoint a Commission as recommended by them, consisting of the following gentlemen:—

The Right Hon the Earl Granville, Chairman
The Hon William Cowper, MP and one of the Lords of the Admiralty
Sir James Alexander Gordon KCB, Rear Admiral of the Red, and Lieutenant-Governor of Greenwich Hospital
Sir John Fox Burgoyne KCB, Major-General, and Inspector-General of Fortifications
Captain Stephen Ellerby, one of the Elder Brethren of the Trinity House.

And my Lords desire that three of the said Commissioners form a quorum,

My Lords also concur with the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty that the above-mentioned petition should be referred to the Commissioners, and that they be instructed to make inquiry —

1st. As to the harbours in Ireland best suited for a Packet Station.
2nd. The advantages and disadvantages of adopting a harbour in Ireland for a Packet Station, so far as regards the trade and other interests of the empire, and to report the evidence to the Admiralty, with such observations as may enable Her Majesty’s Government to form a judgment on the premises.

My Lords request that the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty will give such further directions as may be required for the meeting of the Commissioners, and for the conduct of their proceedings.

(Signed) C E Trevelyan

[Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire as to the proposal for an Irish Packet Station. Presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of Her Majesty. HMSO, London 1851]

The background to this was the transatlantic mail service, for which the UK contract was won by Samuel Cunard in 1839. Steamers left Liverpool every Saturday in summer (April to November) and every second Saturday in winter “alternately via Halifax to Boston and direct to New York”, with return services on Wednesdays: a packet ship was one providing a regular scheduled service, often but not necessarily carring mails. Cunard’s was not the only north Atlantic packet service: the US government had contracts with

  • Collins and Brown of New York, for a Liverpool–New York service, fortnightly in summer and monthly in winter
  • a line serving Bremen and New York, calling at Southampton
  • a third line serving Havre and New York, also calling at Southampton.

The Irish petition, which was concerned only with the UK mails contract, claimed that the total time required, from Liverpool to Halifax or New York, would be shorter if the mails went

  • by train from Liverpool to Holyhead [which the Commissioners reckoned would take 4 hours]
  • by steamer from Holyhead to Kingstown [6 hours]
  • from Dublin by rail to one of several Irish ports
  • thence by steamer across the Atlantic.

The Commissioners allowed for time on transits between steamers and railways; they assumed that the railways could operate at 30 miles per hour, which was 5 mph faster than the average at the time. They considered nine possible Irish ports: Cork, Long Island Sound, Berehaven, Crookhaven, Dunmanus Bay, Valentia, Galway and, in the Shannon Estuary, Foynes and Tarbert. Most of those had no rail connection to Dublin, but the Commissioners gave them the benefit of the doubt, assuming that a line would be built to wherever the packet station might be located.

The Commissioners took their job seriously. They circulated queries and received responses from 83 individuals and institutions including shipping firms, naval and coastguard officers, government departments, chambers of commerce, local politicians and officials. They interviewed 32 individuals and deputations, some of them more than once. They considered 36 items of “further documentary evidence” and 53 “further papers, reports &c” and wrote up the whole lot, including two plans (maps).

The Commissioners were not keen on using any port in the west of Ireland:

It appears, from the evidence of the majority of the naval officers to whom we have referred, that the navigation of the west coast of Ireland is dangerous, particularly in the winter. The coast from Mizen Head round to Galway Bay is, in nautical language, “steep-to”; there being 100 fathoms water at 18 to 29 miles off its outlying dangers. It is also subject to fogs and hazy weather, and to frequent heavy gales of wind blowing towards a lee-shore, with high Atlantic seas and very uncertain soundings.

Balancing the time to be saved on the transatlantic crossing and the “nautical qualifications” and resources of each port, the Commissioners said that the two best options were Foynes and Galway. However, the Commissioners did not think any Irish packet station would be a good idea:

We find no reason to conclude that the local and particular advantages resulting from the proposed measure would be so great, or the saving of time so important, as to counterbalance the large additional expense which would be entailed upon the Imperial Revenue, and the evils and inconvenience which would be inflicted on the great body of the mercantile and travelling portion of the community by removing the packets from the place where they were originally established, as being the focus of the commercial transactions of the United Kingdom with the North American continent.

None of the suggested locations for an Irish packet station would save more than 12 hours in a voyage of about 11 days, so the benefit to be gained for the mail service was small. But the principal problem was the effect on the passenger service (and the small amounts of high-value, low-bulk freight which could be sent by steamer). The steamer owners needed the income from both passengers and mails to make their operations pay, and the Irish proposal would have imposed great inconvenience on passengers. Instead of loading themselves and their luggage on the steamer in Liverpool, and unloading in Halifax or New York, passengers would have had to change

  • from steamer to railway at Kingstown
  • from railway to carriage in Dublin
  • from carriage to railway at Kingsbridge or Broadstone
  • from railway to carriage at or near the Irish packet station
  • possibly from carriage to a small steamer acting as tender
  • from tender to transatlantic steamer.

Apart from the inconvenience, the process would have introduced several opportunities for delays.

The Galway and Shannon ports Committee

The Commissioners, then, rejected both Foynes and Galway. But several people in Ireland rejected the Commissioners’ findings, mostly on grounds that were entirely irrelevant. There was a particularly colourful diatribe in the Galway Mercury, and Weekly Connaught Advertiser of 8 May 1852, which lauded Galway’s “glorious expanse of water, deep, and capacious and sheltered as it is, and pronounced by the most competent naval authorities to be one of the finest ports in the whole world”. The decision not to base the packet station there was “a fair specimen of Saxon justice to Ireland”: basing the packet station in Galway would “have the effect, in the course of a few years, of destroying in a great measure the commercial pre-eminence of that country [England, rather than Great Britain or the United Kingdom, it seems], and transferring much of its wealth and its greatness to this island which it hates so cordially, and which for six centuries it has ceased not to plunder and oppress”.

The editor did not, alas, have space to consider such mundane matters as the inconvenience to British passengers of being forced to travel to America via Galway. But the focus of the promoters of an Irish packet station, and especially of the vociferous Galway gang, turned to communication between Ireland and the USA. There were unsuccessful attempts to set up steamship companies; Packet Station Committees were set up [eg Tipperary Free Press 28 January 1852 on Mr Wagstaff and on the Dublin Packet Station Committee;  Galway Mercury, and Connaught Weekly Advertiser 31 January 1852 on the Irish and American Steamship Company]; the merchants of Belfast were persuaded that, with a packet station in Galway, American merchants and buyers would visit Ireland and (once a railway link was provided) especially Belfast before visiting England and Scotland [Northern Whig 12 February 1852; Morning Post 16 February 1852; Belfast News-Letter 23 February 1852]. Also in February, the Limerick Packet Station Committee was forced to publish a pained refutation of the recommendations of one James Whiteside, a member of the Dublin committee who was a strong advocate of the Galway proposal [Report of the Dublin Committee Considered, and Mr Whiteside’s Statement Reviewed, with remarks on the relative advantages of the Shannon and Galway Bay published by direction of the Limerick Packet Station Cmmittee, Browne & Nolan, Dublin 1852].

Unfortunately, in the same month, Lord John Russell’s Whig government collapsed and the Earl of Derby set up a minority Conservative government — in which the same James Whiteside, MP for Enniskillen, became Solicitor-General for Ireland. The Tribes of Galway soon descended on the unfortunate Prime Minister, with a “numerous and influential deputation” led by that turbulent priest, the Very Rev Peter Daly, a spiritual father of Monsignor James Horan, determined to wring every penny he could from the temporal power.

The Rt Hon Earl said that improving Galway’s harbour would make sense, in an imperial context, only as a packet station. And because the Irish Packet Station Commissioners had recommended two Irish ports, Foynes and Galway, the first step was to decide between the two of them. Accordingly, the government had decided to appoint three naval officers to visit the two ports, inquire into their relative advantages and report back. He could not commit himself to anything more until he had the report and he was sure that the deputation understood that [Dublin Evening Mail 10 May 1852].

That got Derby through the general election in June, after which he formed another minority government, which lasted only until December. In the meantime, though, the three naval officers — Captains F W Beechey, Henry Smith and James Crawford Caffin — visited Galway and inteviewed witnesses recommended by the Harbour Commissioners and other authorities; they also inspected the port and considered what works might be necessary. They then embarked on HM steam sloop Geyser and sailed to Limerick: they were thus able to see the approaches to both ports. They visited both Foynes and Tarbert on a small steamer and, again, interviewed witnesses. They returned to Dublin by railway.

Their focus was on whether Galway and the Shannon would be accessible at all states of the tide, at all times day or night, and in all weathers. Only with such access could the “greatest regularity and dispatch” be maintained for “steamers of the largest class”. That access was needed whether the ports were to be packet stations or harbours of refuge or both. It was appreciated that both ports would probably need engineering works to be carried out, as well as links to the railways.

On 15 September 1852 the Limerick and Clare Examiner reported Lord Monteagle [former Chancellor of the Exchequer; landlord at Foynes] as saying that the naval officers’ report had been submitted to the Admiralty and that they had preferred Foynes to Galway. However, in its issue of 25 September 1852 the Examiner carried extracts from the report itself, in which the three captains said:

  • the Shannon was better than Galway for the “safety and expedition with which a vessel when arriving can be got within the limits of her port” or clear the land on departure
  • neither location could provide the required “security and accommodation of the packets, and the convenience for landing and embarking passengers and dispatching the mails”. Facilities could be developed at Galway or at Foynes or Tarbert in the Shannon Estuary; Galway would be much more expensive
  • either Galway or the Shannon could act as a harbour of refuge for vessels that had good anchors and cables, but for those without the Shannon provided more safe options
  • the west coast of Ireland was “subject to higher seas and worse weather than other parts of the British Islands not so situated, and that weather in which no vessel would be justified in running for a port, does appear to prevail to a greater extent off the western ports of Ireland than at other ports”, which would mean that the “greatest regularity and dispatch” could not be assured
  • accordingly, neither Galway nor the Shannon was suitable as a packet station.

The report is Galway and Shannon Ports: Return to an Order of the Honourable The House of Commons dated 31 March 1859 for a copy of the instructions of the 11th day of June 1852 from the Admiralty to the Committee appointed to inquire into the suitableness and capabilities of the Ports of Galway and of the Shannon for a Transatlantic Packet Station, in connexion with a harbour of refuge … Ordered, by The House of Commons, to be Printed 19 April 1859 257.

Only the Cork [Cork Examiner 27 September 1852] and Belfast papers [Belfast Mercantile Register and Weekly Advertiser 28 September 1852] were pleased, seeing an opportunity … as did the Earl of Mayo, who wanted the packet station set up in Blacksod Bay.

The packet station schemes

It seems that the packet station enthusiasts wanted

  • the government to pay for whatever harbour and other works were needed
  • the government to designate the chosen port as a packet station for the mails
  • one or other of the private-sector contractors to be forced to use that station
  • the Post Office to cope with the many links in the chain from the Atlantic through Galway and Dublin to Britain, each link providing an opportunity for things to go wrong — and all of them on the critical path.

There do not seem to have been any serious attempts to quantify the likely passenger traffic: at that time, as in the early days of air travel, only small numbers of passengers could be carried and high fares were required. Furthermore, only for small, high-value or perishable freight was the extra cost of steam travel worth paying: for anything else, sail was cheaper. But the enthusiasts do not seem to have been willing or able (at least at that time) to come up with the money required to set up their own steam shipping company: the Dublin committee had decided that it would be too risky an investment given the competition from established operators at British ports.

The whole thing sounds like the mad attempt to get a canal to Clones.

The Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment

But the politicians have not yet finished with Foynes. According to the Limerick Leader of 10 November 2016,

Foynes in line to be US transit hub, says minister

Hundreds of jobs could be created at port

I can’t find any mention of this on the website of the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment, so I am unable to check the newspaper report. It begins:

FOYNES Port is poised to become a major European link with the US in the wake of Brexit, in a new Government proposal that could create hundreds of local jobs.

Now, we must immediately eliminate the exaggeration that might be the fault of the minister or the journalist: “in line to be” and “poised to become” might suggest that there is some plan or perhaps even some agreement between the USA and some undefined European body, whereas all we have, it seems, is a bright idea, the first phase of the underpants gnomes’ business plan.

It seems that there might be a demand for the use of facilities at Foynes for one or more of these reasons:

  • Brexit (which, of course, means Brexit)
  • “US pre-clearance for ships crossing the Atlantic”
  • congestion at Rotterdam
  • Foynes as a transit point for freight to and from North America.

This mishmash of unconnected ideas may or may not be the minister’s fault. Let’s see if we can make sense of it.

Brexit

According to the article

“Our second biggest export destination is the USA. From a Brexit point of view this is an opportunity to attract industries from right across Europe that are exporting into the US,” said Minister Naughten.

“The reality is that post-Brexit exports into the UK are going to be put under pressure, so this is an opportunity to make a new market and make it far more efficient for the export of goods.”

A ‘hard Brexit’ could result in EU borders, which would increase costs for freight companies shipping out of Britain into Europe. This proposal means that Foynes could become a more attractive destination for these companies to ship from.

The first paragraph is nonsense. Existing trade with the US is irrelevant to the proposal. As for the “opportunity to attract industries from right across Europe”, their ability to export to the USA is entirely unaffected by Brexit, unless that nice Mr Trump arranges something really insane with Ambassador at Large Farage. If you’re exporting widgets from Dusseldorf to the USA, why would Brexit cause you to route them through Foynes?

The second paragraph is no better.

The reality is that post-Brexit exports into the UK are going to be put under pressure, so this is an opportunity to make a new market and make it far more efficient for the export of goods.

Whose exports are we talking about? What new market? Far more efficient than what?

The third paragraph is confusing.

A ‘hard Brexit’ could result in EU borders, which would increase costs for freight companies shipping out of Britain into Europe. This proposal means that Foynes could become a more attractive destination for these companies to ship from.

There are, we are told, freight companies shipping out of Britain into Europe. I don’t know why we’re discussing freight companies rather than manufacturers or distributors [the ultimate emptors, who will pay the freight companies for the cost or inconvenience]. But anyway, these companies are shipping “out of Britain into Europe”, so we can assume that the goods start in Britain. If they are to get to Foynes, they still have to be shipped out of Britain into an EU member state, ie Ireland. So instead of going straight to Calais, say, they get shipped to the far side of Ireland and then back to the continent. How does this make the freight companies’ lives easier? Why would the UK/Ireland border be any less hard, or less bureaucratic, than the UK/France?

US pre-clearance

This seems to deal with a separate set of exporters: presumably those remaining in the EU and exporting to the USA. The idea seems to be that they will send their stuff to Foynes, where

“Freight would come into Foynes, get scanned there, get certified, and land in New York and would be the same as an internal shipment.”

According to the Department, Mr Naughten met with the US Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O’Malley and asked him to support the proposal, which would involve US custom official staff being based in Foynes to give full pre-clearance.

I can see that this might create a job or two in Foynes for US customs officials, and perhaps some local admin support. But I see two possible problems. The first is that this might count as an international trade agreement, and Ireland may not be entitled to make its own agreements outside the EU system. I do not, however, know whether that it so. But the second problem seems to me to be more serious: it is that the idea cannot be copyrighted or protected. There would be nothing to stop any other port applying to set up a similar arrangement, getting the benefits of US pre-clearance without the cost and loss of time in sending ships via Foynes.

Congestion at Rotterdam

I do not know whether there is congestion at Rotterdam, but if the volume of world trade is falling that problem might solve itself. Nonetheless, it is useful to keep things in proportion. Here is a map showing the whole of the Shannon Estuary. I’ve circled Foynes.

foynes-resize

Shannon Estuary (Imagery copyright 2016 DigitalGlobe, map data copyright 2016 Google)

And here, on the same scale, is Rotterdam. All those bits that look artificial, too straight to be natural, are docks. You can fly over it yourself here [short URL].

rotterdam-resize

Rotterdam (Imagery copyright 2016 DigitalGlobe, map data copyright 2016 Google)

 

Here’s Foynes in close-up.

Shannon Estuary (Imagery copyright 2016 DigitalGlobe, map data copyright 2016 Google)

Foynes (Imagery copyright 2016 DigitalGlobe, map data copyright 2016 Google)

I don’t think much of the overflow from Rotterdam will fit at Foynes. Of course there is lots of space elsewhere in the estuary, but it can’t be used: it’s reserved for the tweetie-birds.

That may be a bit of an exaggeration, as you can read here, but the Shannon Estuary isn’t going to get to even 1% of Rotterdam’s capacity.

Foynes as a transit point

I don’t know what that means. Maybe it’s just attaching another buzzword to the pre-clearance idea. If, though, it involves any sort of transhipment, forget it.

Solutions in search of problems

The Shannon Estuary may contain more wasted public-sector investment than any other estuary in Ireland, from the Wellesley [sorry: Sarsfield] Bridge through the Shannon Commissioners’ piers to the minor railways. [As if three loss-making railway lines — to Galway, Ballybrophy and Waterford — weren’t enough, there is a campaign to restore a fourth, to Foynes.]

Both the Shannon Commissioners’ piers and the packet station campaign sought public money to build facilities in the hope that they would attract private investment. In those cases, and with this present campaign, it might be better to wait for a private-sector investor to put money on the table first.

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White flour

A few minutes past two o’clock in the evening of Wednesday, the 6th instant, the Dover Castle left Glin [that should read Limerick] for Tarbert, with between 30 and 40 persons on board, including some of the Glin police.

shannon-estuary-osi-02

The route of the Dover Castle (OSI 25″ ~1900)

When she reached the pool, she took a large brig and a schooner in tow, which she took as far as Grass Island. She then continued her course, and when about three miles west of Ring Moylan quay, a thick fog came like a wall upon her, so that it was impossible to see half the length of the deck.

Captain White immediately dropped anchor, and was obliged to remain so. The fog continuing all night and the next day.

About two o’clock on Thursday, there being no appearance of the fog clearing off, and several persons on board having eaten nothing since Wednesday morning, two women fainted, and the circumstance having been communicated to the captain, he immediately ordered the steward to open a bag of flour, and served it out in large buckets to the women, who, in a short time, had large cakes made, and baked them for the passengers.

At half-past four o’clock the fog began to clear, and at five the steamer weighed anchor, and reached Kilrush in safety.

Statesman and Dublin Christian Record
19 January 1841 quoting Limerick Standard

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From the BNA

The PS Clarences

A steamer called the Clarence served on the Shannon estuary in the 1830s. There are different accounts of when she left the Shannon. Here is an attempt at resolving the problem.

Clydebuilt

According to the Clydebuilt database of ships on www.clydesite.co.uk, a paddle steamer called the Clarence was built in 1827 and “launched on” by Robert Napier of Govan. A note to the entry says that this was presumably the same vessel as that listed for Denny.

The Denny entry says that a 70-ton wooden paddle steamer called the Clarence was “launched on” in 1827 by William Denny and A McLachlan of Dumbarton for R Napier. Its owners are listed as R Napier and, from 1829, “Inland Steam Nav Co, Limerick”; it is said to have run between Limerick and Clare Castle on the River Shannon between 1829 and 1840.

Clydeships

The Clydeships database has one entry for Clarence, a wood paddle steamer launched in 1827 by Messrs Lang & Denny of Dumbarton. A passenger vessel, its tonnage is given as 60 nrt, 70 om, 60 nm. Its dimensions are given as

Length 92′ 0″
Breadth 16′ 3″
Depth 8′ 0″
Draft —

Its 45hp beam engine was supplied by Robert Napier & Sons and its first owner was Robert Napier of Glasgow; it served Glasgow, Greenock and Helensburgh. It is said to have been owned by the Carlisle Canal Company (The Carlisle and Annan Steam Navigation Company) from 1839 and used for passenger tendering and for towing between Annan Water-Foot and Port Carlisle. Its dimensions in 1839 are given as 96.9 x 15.1 x 8.0 ft. It went on fire in 1846 and, after repair, was used on the Eastham Ferry service on the Mersey. The Clydeships site does not mention any service in Ireland.

McNeill

D B McNeill, in Irish Passenger Steamship Services Volume 2 South of Ireland (David & Charles, Newton Abbot 1971) says that the Clarence, built in Dumbarton in 1827, was the first steamer on the Shannon estuary [he omits the Lady of the Shannon, the Mona and the Kingstown], having been reported in 1829 as working between Limerick and Clare Castle. He says

Trade must have been bad, for in 1833 she was back on the Clyde working from Gareloch.

He agrees that Clarence was a wooden paddle steamer built in Dumbarton; he gives her dimensions as 92 ft by 16 ft, with a single-expansion steam engine; he says she was broken up around the 1840s.

McRonald

Malcolm McRonald, in his invaluable The Irish Boats Volume 1 Liverpool to Dublin [Tempus Publishing Limited, Stroud 2005], says that the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company operated the Mona on the Shannon estuary in 1829 and the Kingstown in 1830, then abandoned the estuary later in 1830 and resumed it in 1832 [the Kingstown operated on the estuary until at least the end of November 1830 and was there in April 1831]. The service was resumed, McRonald says, “using the chartered Clyde steamer Clarence“, which also operated there in 1833 and 1834.

Clarence was back on the Clyde in 1835, but returned to Limerick by 1837, to operate a service from Limerick to Clarecastle and Ennis. […] Clarence was sold to the Carlisle Canal Co in 1838, but there is conflicting evidence over her date of departure from the Shannon. She was advertised on the Clare service as late as April 1840, although the local Carlisle newspaper had expected her in service there in June 1838. [page 20]

In the fleet lists, McRonald shows the Clarence as having been 96′ 10″ X 15′ 2″ X 8′ 0″, 70 gross tons, made of wood, with a 45hp condensing steam engine. She was built, he says, in 1827 by James Lang of Dumbarton, for Robert Napier of Glasgow, who also provided the engines. She was chartered to the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company from 1832 to 1839, then sold to the Carlisle Canal Co.

One or two?

The accounts by McNeill and McRonald suggest that there was a single steamer called the Clarence, which moved to the Shannon in 1829 [McNeill] or 1832 [McRonald], then to the Clyde in 1833 [McNeill] or 1835 [McRonald], then back to the Shannon in 1837 before being sold to the Carlisle Canal Company in 1838 or 1839 [McRonald]. McRonald does note, however, that the Clarence was advertised as running on the Shannon in 1840.

Steamers did move between stations and owners or operators, and could thus serve in two areas in the same year. However, I think that the evidence of the Clarence‘s activity on the Shannon is strong enough to show that there must have been two steamers with that name: one which started on the Clyde and was bought by the Carlisle Canal Company in 1839, the other serving on the Shannon until 1841.

The years 1833 to 1837

McNeill says that the Clarence was back on the Clyde in 1833. The Morning Post of 27 August 1833 quoted the Limerick Chronicle of 21 August 1833, which said that the Clarence had carried Captain Brown’s company of the 28th Regiment from Limerick to Kilrush on the previous day; it had also carried some detachments to the forts of Tarbert and Carrig Island. There are similar reports for July and September.

McRonald says that the Clarence operated on the Clyde between 1835 and 1837. Yet she is shown operating on the Shannon in City of Dublin Steam Packet Company ads for June, July, August and October of 1835, for every month in 1836 and for every month in 1837.

From 1838 onwards

To judge by the local newspapers, it was in 1839, not 1838, that Carlisle acquired a Clarence steamer. The Carlisle Journal of 12 January 1839 said that the canal company and the two steam companies had purchased a steamer called Clarence from Robert Napier of Glasgow: 96′ X 16′ X 8′ depth of hold, with a 45 hp engine and very handsome cabins, being “fitted up entirely for passengers”, although she was intended to tow lighters too. She was having an overhaul and a new boiler and was expected in Carlisle in two or three weeks.

On 23 February 1839 the Carlisle Patriot carried an ad seeking a master for the Clarence; it seems that Thomas Maling got the job, as the Patriot named him as master in its report, on 20 April 1839, of a collision involving the Clarence. On 1 July 1839 she took fifty gentlemen — the Managing Directors of the Carlisle and Newcastle Railway, the Commissioners of the Nith Navigation, the members of the two Carlisle and Liverpool steam navigation companies, all invited by the Commissioners of the Carlisle Canal Company — on a voyage of inspection of the buoyage of the Solway. Dinner was provided by Mr Gray of the Coffee House but, after the meal, the toasts and the speeches, several of the gentlemen were seasick on the way home. The voyage was reported in the Ayr Advertiser, or West Country Journal on 4 July 1839 and in the Carlisle Journal on 13 July 1839.

It is clear, then, that there was a Clarence on the Solway Firth in 1839. However, both during and after 1839 the Clarence continued to be advertised as serving on the Shannon. A long-running series of ads promoted “Cheap travelling between Dublin and Limerick” using the boats of the Grand Canal Company from Dublin to the Shannon and the steamers of the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company on the inland Shannon and its estuary. The estuary section began

GARRYOWEN, KINGSTOWN AND CLARENCE
Steamers on the Lower Shannon

The ads appeared in many Irish newspapers and the series ran until 13 March 1841 when it appeared in the Warder and Dublin Weekly Mail. The ads were not updated to reflect seasonal changes in the estuary steamers’ sailings, but a paragraph about the service from Limerick to the town of Clare [now Clarecastle, near Ennis] was dropped in 1840. That presumably signified the ending of the service, but the Clarence continued to be listed amongst the estuary steamers until the ad’s final appearance in March 1841.

Up to December 1840, the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company ran its own series of ads, promoting its Irish Sea as well as its inland services, and listing its vessels. The list included the Clarence and the Kingstown amongst those “Plying on the Shannon”, for instance in the ad in the Dublin Weekly Herald of 12 December 1840. That ad does not seem to have been used in 1841.

The company also advertised in local newspapers: in 1839 the Clarence was mentioned in ads in the Clare Journal, and Ennis Advertiser on 2 May, 2 September, 7 October and 16 December. The same paper mentioned the Clarence in news reports on 30 May 1839 and 7 May 1840.

In 1841 the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company bought the Dover Castle from a rival operator on the Shannon estuary; its new-built iron steamer Erin go Bragh also joined the estuary fleet. The Clarence and the Kingstown seem to have left the estuary service at or around that time, the Clarence going first: the company’s ad in the Limerick Reporter of 9 March 1841 mentions the Kingstown and the Garryowen but not the Clarence.  By 11 May 1841, ads in the same paper listed the Garryowen and the Erin go Bragh; the Kingstown was no longer mentioned.

I have not been able to find any information about the history of the Clarence before it came to the Shannon estuary or after it left the estuary service. However, because there is so much evidence that a Clarence was still in service on the estuary after a Clarence was bought by the Carlisle Canal Company, I cannot accept that the two Clarences were the same vessel. I believe that there must have been a Shannon Clarence as well as a Clyde/Carlisle Clarence.

Sources

The newspapers referred to here were found on the British Newspaper Archive, a service is owned and run by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited in partnership with the British Library.

Bedding

A pawnbroker at Kilrush, in the county of Clare, is said to hold nearly 800 feather beds, most of which he is endeavouring to sell, as the terms for which they were severally pledged have expired.

Preston Chronicle 30 June 1849

From the British Newspaper Archive run by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited, in partnership with the British Library.

[The earliest mention of this story that I have found is in Bell’s Weekly Messenger 23 June 1849, which named the pawnbroker as Dowling but cited no source. Several other newspapers repeated the item on 30 June and in the week or so following.]

[Slater’s National Commercial Directory of 1846 lists Jeremiah Dowling of 111 Moore st, Kilrush, as a pawnbroker.]

Special Agent O’Brien

Synan Meehan, who absconded from Kilrush with £76, and was apprehended in Liverpool by Mr P O’Brien, the Dublin Steam Packet Company’s [Kilrush] agent, was brought up at the Limerick Police office on Thursday, before T P Vokes Esq, who ordered him to be sent on to Kilrush for final examination, and whither he proceeded by steamer in charge of two policemen. When arrested in Liverpool, he was in a state of intoxication, and but a few shillings were found in his possession. He stated that in February last he lost £30, which he had to make good every month when closing his accounts, and fearing it would be discovered he was induced to make off. The offender was regarded in Kilrush as a strict teetotaller, but having violated his solemn pledge to Father Mathew, little confidence could be reposed in him.

Southern Reporter and Cork Commercial Courier 12 August 1845

From the British Newspaper Archive run by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited, in partnership with the British Library.

Shannon Regatta

The Shannon regatta commenced on Tuesday at Kilrush, which is crowded with visitors from Limerick, Tarbert, Ennis, and the sea coast frequenters at Kilkee and Malbay. In respect to the memory of the late Judge Vandeleur, it was supposed the stewards would defer the annual gala for a fortnight, but as several yachts had arrived from distant stations, a majority of the committee decided on proceeding. A stiff breeze from the North West, with occasional squalls, prevailed for the last three days. The prizes on Tuesday for the rival yachts were — Kent cup, a purse of £20, and two purses of £10 each.

The Cork Harbour Regatta will hold four days, 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th August. The highest prize is one of £60 for all yachts.

The Marquis of Waterford’s yacht, Gem, now at Cove, is a beautiful specimen of naval architecture, and it is hard to know which to admire, the beautiful symmetry of her construction, or the perfect seamanlike manner in which she is rigged and fitted up. She is a Polacca schooner, of about 110 tons, carrying 6lb brass guns, and a swivel forward. Capt Lane RN is sailing master.

Dublin Morning Register 26 June 1835

From the British Newspaper Archive run by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited, in partnership with the British Library.

Mr Paterson, General Lake and Napoleon Bonaparte

Dublin

On Tuesday sennight sailed his Majesty’s gun-boat, the General Lake, commanded by Mr James Patterson; and on Wednesday the Bishop, Lieut S Dunn, an experienced officer, who had served in the Royal Navy during the whole of the American war — these, with two others now fitting out, are to join the Kingsmill and Gen Duff gun boats at Carrigahoult bay, where they are to be stationed for the purpose of defending the entrance of the Shannon, the whole under the command of Lieut Augustus Margett, senior officer of division.

The Hon Capt Pakenham, who arrived at Limerick some time back to survey the works on the river, had the boats constructed upon his own plan, and they are found to be in every respect both capable of standing the shock of cannonading, and of annoying an enemy. There is a signal post, with a proper person to conduct it, stationed on Ray Hill, a commanding eminence near Loophead, from whence there is an extensive prospect of the offing. The gun-boats are furnished with private signals, so as to communicate with the person who conducts the signals on shore, by which means friends or enemies at sea are easily ascertained, long before they can come near the shore, and regular and certain intelligence conveyed to the commanding officer of the district.

The following is a list of the gun-boats stationed in the River Shannon, with the names of their commanders, forces, and complement of men:

Vessels                 Guns  Pounders    Men    Commanders

Pakenham              1           24           19      A Markett
Kingsmill                1           18            19     J Alexander
Gen Duff                  1           18            18     — Wing
Bishop                      1           18            18     S Dunn
Gen Lake                 1           18            18     J Patterson
The Shannon         1           18            18     Geo Perry

The whole completely equipped, with every description of small arms, ordnance stores, &c.

Dublin Evening Post 6 May 1797. From the British Newspaper Archive run by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited, in partnership with the British Library.


 

Yesterday dispatches were received at the Admiralty from Vice Admiral Kingsmill at Cork, brought over in the Waterford mail. Intelligence is received by this conveyance that the River Shannon is now rendered perfectly secure from any designs of an enemy, by the judicious stationing of several gun-boats, which wholly command the entrance and port of Limerick in every direction. The Naval Agents in Ireland, it also appears, continue, by order of Government, to purchase stout ships, which are converted into floating batteries for the defence of other harbours of the kingdom in like manner.

Hereford Journal 9 August 1797. From the British Newspaper Archive run by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited, in partnership with the British Library.


The Hon Capt T Pakenham, who shortly after went to Limerick, converted some turf-boats into gun-vessels, each of which carried a twenty-four pounder, constructed to traverse on a platform, and to fire in every direction with the same facility. We are gratified to learn that the system is to be generally adopted.

The Monthly Mirror: reflecting men and manners. With strictures on their epitome, the stage May 1798 in Vol V, Thomas Bellamy, London

 

 

 

Tepid baths

1823

KILRUSH HOTEL, AND TEPID BATHS

This Elegant Establishment is fitted up in a superior style for the accommodation of Visitors, on the reduced terms of last Season.

The House adjoining the Hotel, now occupied by Mrs Colonel Stammers, of Cahernelly, will be Let, from the 12th of June, for the remainder of the Season; it has ample accommodation for a large Family, who can be supplied with any thing they may require from the Hotel; they will also have the use of the Bathing Machines and Bathing Houses — from this House to the Tepid Baths there is a covered passage.

The Lady of the Shannon steam packet sails from Limerick for the Hotel, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and returns on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, making her passage in five hours.

Kilrush, May 15th, 1823

Dublin Evening Post 20 May 1823. From the British Newspaper Archive run by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited, in partnership with the British Library.

1829

[…] The hotel and baths, for which this Town was remarkable, have been suffered to go to decay — at least, are not occupied as such at present.

Limerick Evening Post 8 May 1829. From the British Newspaper Archive run by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited, in partnership with the British Library.