Tag Archives: Lansdowne

The Limerick steam ferry

Wanton outrage

The steam ferry barge, the property of Messrs J R Russell and Sons, which plies across the Shannon from Russell’s-quay to Lansdowne spinning mills, and which was got up for the convenience and conveyance of the factory operatives in the employ of the firm, was boarded during last night (Sunday) as she lay at the north side of the river, by some person or persons unknown, and maliciously injured to a considerable extent. She was not only scuttled, but the machinery was broken and some of the gear removed and taken away, so that the barge has become temporarily disabled. Portions of the machinery are said to have been found in the river, where they were thrown by the miscreants. This is the second attempt that has been made to damage this ferry since she was put on the river.

Cork Examiner 27 April 1869

A one-act history of a bridge

The Limerick Harbour (Bridge) Act 1963 No 1/1963 (Private), in its preamble, gives the history of the swivelling section of the Wellesley (now Sarsfield) Bridge in Limerick.


Skipping some of the formalities …

WHEREAS by a local and personal Act of 1823 entitled “An Act for the erection of a bridge across the River Shannon and of a floating dock to accommodate sharp vessels frequenting the port of Limerick” the Limerick Bridge Commissioners were incorporated for the purpose of erecting such bridge and floating dock;

A swivel bridge was required …

AND WHEREAS to the intent that the navigation of the River Shannon might receive no prejudice it was provided by the said Act of 1823 that the bridge so to be erected or built under the authority of the said Act should be so constructed and built as that there should remain a free and open passage for ships and vessels to pass up and down the said river on the south side or end of the said bridge through, at, or near the said bridge; and that for such purpose there should be on the said bridge so to be built or on the bank immediately adjoining the south end thereof one or more swivel bridge or drawbridge or bridges so as to admit of vessels passing up and down the said river near the south bank thereof from the parts thereof above the said bridge to the parts thereof below the said bridge and the contrary;

Wellesley Bridge (OSI ~1840)

Wellesley Bridge (OSI ~1840)

AND WHEREAS the said bridge (then known by the name of “the Wellesley Bridge” and now known as “Sarsfield Bridge”) and a swivel bridge in connection therewith were in pursuance of the said Act erected in or about the year 1825;

Control passed to the Harbour Commissioners in 1883

AND WHEREAS by virtue of an order of the Commissioners of Public Works bearing the date the 22nd day of March 1883 and made in pursuance of the provisions of the Wellesley Bridge (Limerick) Act, 1882 and of such provisions the said swivel bridge and the approaches thereto by water were vested in the Limerick Harbour Commissioners (in this Act called the Commissioners) for the use of the public and it was the duty of the Commissioners to maintain the same in good repair and condition and to work the same in such manner as to afford adequate accommodation to shipping and persons using the said bridge;

AND WHEREAS by an Act entitled “The Limerick Harbour (Bridge) Act, 1913” the Commissioners were authorised to make and maintain a new swivel bridge and approaches for vehicular and pedestrian traffic across the River Shannon in substitution for the said swivel bridge and the said Act provided that all powers rights duties and liabilities enjoyed by or imposed on the Commissioners at the date of the passing of the Act in connection with or in anywise concerning the swivel bridge or the approaches thereto by road or by water or the works in connection therewith and all byelaws in force at said date should be deemed to apply and should apply to the new swivel bridge and the approaches thereto and the works in connection therewith;

A new swivel section was built in 1923 …

AND WHEREAS the said new swivel bridge was in pursuance of the last recited Act erected in or about the year 1923 and has been since and still is in use;

The formerly swivelling section

The formerly swivelling section

AND WHEREAS up to and including the 8th day of February 1927 the said new swivel bridge was from time to time opened by the Commissioners for the purpose of enabling ships and vessels to pass up and down the River Shannon to and from two quays on the east side of the bridge known as Honan’s Quay and McGuire’s Quay;

… but never opened after 1927

AND WHEREAS the new swivel bridge has not been opened for the passage of a ship or vessel since the month of February 1927;

AND WHEREAS Sarsfield Bridge and the new swivel bridge carry the main stream of vehicular traffic across the River Shannon to and from Shannon Airport and to and from the West of Ireland and the traffic by road over the new swivel bridge has increased greatly;

AND WHEREAS the opening of the said swivel bridge would cause a serious disruption of such traffic by road and pedestrian traffic;

Opening it would be a nuisance

AND WHEREAS it is expedient in the interests of the public travelling by road that the Commissioners should be relieved of their duty to open the said new swivel bridge for the passage of ships and vessels;

AND WHEREAS the purposes of this Act cannot be effected without the authority of the Oireachtas.

So the Commissioners don’t have to do it any more


1.—In this Act unless the subject or context otherwise requires:—

the expression “the Commissioners” means the Limerick Harbour Commissioners;

the expression “the new swivel bridge” means the swivel bridge authorised by the Limerick Harbour (Bridge) Act, 1913.

Restriction of Commissioners’ liability in respect of swivel bridge.

2.—From and after the passing of this Act and notwithstanding anything contained in any other Act the Commissioners shall not be under any liability to open the new swivel bridge for the passage of ships or vessels or to maintain or repair the said swivel bridge in such a manner as to render the same capable of being opened.


3.—(1) Where this Act has the effect of curtailing or terminating a legal right of any person (including, in particular, a right of navigation, whether or not conferred by statute), such person may, within twelve months after the passing of this Act, make to the Commissioners a claim for compensation in respect of such curtailment or termination and he shall be entitled to be paid compensation therefor by the Commissioners and, in default of being paid such compensation when the amount thereof has been agreed upon or has been determined under this section, to recover it from the Commissioners in any court of competent jurisdiction.

(2) In default of agreement, the amount of any compensation payable by the Commissioners under this section shall be determined by arbitration under the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919 (as amended by subsequent enactments) as if the compensation were the price of land compulsorily acquired and the arbitrator shall have jurisdiction to determine whether compensation is, in the circumstances, payable at all.

(3) Such compensation shall be paid by the Commissioners out of any moneys for the time being in their hands.


4.—All costs, charges and expenses preliminary to and of and incidental to the preparing, applying for and passing of this Act or otherwise in relation thereto shall be paid by the Commissioners out of any monies for the time being in their hands.

Short title and collective citation.

5.—(1) This Act may be cited as the Limerick Harbour (Bridge) Act, 1963.

(2) This Act, the Wellesley Bridge (Limerick) Act, 1882, the Limerick Harbour (Bridge) Act, 1913 and the Act 4 George IV Cap XCIV may be cited together as the Limerick Harbour (Bridge) Acts, 1823-1963.

I wonder whether anyone got compensation.

My OSI logo and permit number for website


The aid of Lord Lansdowne

We have reason to know that the public of Great Britain and Ireland are indebted for the return of their incomparable Lyric Bard, T Moore, from the banishment to which his misplaced confidence in others had consigned him, to his rural home near Devizes, to an act of noble generosity and kindness on the part of his friend and neighbour, the Marquis of Lansdown[e].

Saunders’s News-Letter 3 December 1822
quoting Cork Southern Reporter

From the BNA

The danger of carbon monoxide

At Christmas 1839 the 150-ton schooner Lansdowne, owned by the Limerick Shipping Company, sailed from Limerick for Glasgow.

The Limerick Shipping Company

The Marquis of Lansdowne had been built at the company’s yard at North Strand, Limerick, downstream of the Wellesley Bridge and on land owned by the noble Marquis. She was named by Miss Russell, daughter of John Norris Russell, a principal shareholder, and launched on Tuesday 5 November 1839, in the presence of Sir William Macbean, Col Mansel and most of the officers of the garrison. The other merchant vessels in port had “colours flying from stem to stern” and “frequent discharges of artillery” welcomed the new schooner to the “world of waters”.

The Limerick Shipping Company's ship-building yard

The Limerick Shipping Company’s ship-building yard (OSI ~1840)

My OSI logo and permit number for website

The yard, which was equipped with a patent slip, had another schooner on the stocks at the time. According to Commander James Wolfe

There is a patent slip and yard at Kilrush, as well as at Limerick. At the latter place the slip is proved for vessels of 400 tons, at the former only for those of 250 tons. Repairs to any extent may be done at either of these places; and at Limerick some fine vessels have lately been built.

The Limerick Shipping Company had ten schooners by 1834 and, in 1838, bought a steam tug, the Dover Castle, which also competed in the passenger-carrying trade on the Shannon Estuary. By 1842 it had thirteen schooners and was offering regular weekly sailings between Limerick and London.

At no period were the Commercial interests of the Port of Limerick so prosperous, this spirited Company having now at their command a squadron of vessels equal, if not superior for all sailing qualities, to those of any other port in Ireland.

Death at the Broomielaw

John Brown, aged 27 or 28, got married one day before the Lansdowne sailed at Christmas on what must have been one of its first voyages. In Glasgow, the schooner berthed at the Broomielaw, and in mid-January Brown went drinking with William Bennet and John Anson, both aged about 20. When they returned to the schooner, they lit the stove in the forecastle, closed the hatch and went to bed.

The port regulations banned fires on vessels after nine o’clock; the newspaper said [without citing any evidence] that the three men closed the hatch “so as to prevent a single ray being seen outside” by the police on the quay.

The unfortunate men went into their sleeping berths, and as might have been anticipated, the consequence proved fatal to all the three, the action of carbonic acid having done its deadly work long before morning.

About seven o’clock they were found dead, their countenances as calm as if they had still been under the influence of sleep. One of them was in a half sitting posture.

Two doctors inspected the bodies and “corroborated the accidental nature of the causes which led to death; and liberty was granted to have the bodies interred.”

The Lansdowne herself survived for only another three years: she was wrecked on the Scottish coast in January 1843.


Clare Journal, and Ennis Advertiser 7 November 1839

Sailing Directions for the Lower Shannon, and for Lough Derg; with some Hydrographic Notices of Lough Ree and Lough Erne. By Commander James Wolfe RN; being the result of Surveys made by Order of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty

Clonmel Herald 25 January 1840 quoting Glasgow Courier

Limerick Reporter 17 January 1843

All newspapers from the British Newspaper Archive:

From the BNA



The Marquis survives

I reported last October that an unused London pub, named after Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne, KG, PC, FRS, was threatened with demolition in favour of a museum extension.

I pointed out that the late Marquis had two claims on the attention of Irish waterways enthusiasts. First, the best-known of the early River Shannon steamers, the Lady Lansdowne, was named after his wife. Second, he was Lord President of the Council [the current holder of the post is Nick Clegg] when the government of Her Late Majesty Queen Victoria decided, in 1839, to spend about half a million pounds improving the Shannon Navigation.

The Indie reports today that Hackney Council’s planning committee has voted against the demolition, so the Marquis survives, at least for now.

Limerick Dock Yard

On 9 May 2012 the Irish Times carried a large ad offering for sale a “landmark site situated in a prestigious location on the North Circular Road/O’Callaghan’s Strand” in Limerick. The site is being sold by DTZ Sherry Fitzgerald but I can’t find it listed on their website; nor can I find, on the Irish Times website, the article “Toffee factory to test sticky Limerick market” that, coincidentally, appeared on the page after the ad.

However, the Limerick Post has a brief history of the site, which is shown on the OSI map of ~1900.

The Condensed Milk Manufactory ~1900

The waterways interest is actually in the dockyard, with its dock and slip, on the river just south of the manufactory. The yard also appears on the ~1840 map.

The dockyard ~1840

You can see the site on this Google photo …

… but the dockyard is gone.