Tag Archives: launch

A Grand Canal mystery

Passenger boat over lock1

Boat at Lowtown

Alan Lindley has very kindly sent me, and permitted me to publish, this photograph.

It was taken at Lowtown lock, on the Grand Canal, in 1911 or 1912.

Alan says that the man on the left of the group — with cap, waistcoat and watch-chain, and with a dog standing in front of him — is the lock keeper, Murtagh Murphy, the great-grandfather of the present incumbent, James (Jimmy) Conroy. Murtagh was born in Ballycowan, near Tullamore, Co Offaly, in 1849 and, after working on a Grand Canal Company boat, married a Kildare girl and took the job at Lowtown.

The boat had been described as a passenger flyboat but, as the Grand Canal Company had ceased carrying passengers in 1852, that seems unlikely. And the boat looks much more like a pleasure vessel than a working boat.

If the Grand Canal Company had an inspection launch, this might be it, but I have found nothing to indicate that it did. The boat does, though, seem to have been designed for canal travel: it seems (from the twenty feet or so we can see) to have straight sides and to be well equipped with fenders. It might therefore have been designed to travel on the canals (as well as on other waters).

At least one director of the Grand Canal Company, Henry Samuel (aka Harry Samuel) Sankey, of Fort Frederic, Virginia, Cavan and of 64 Wellington Road, Dublin, did have a launch or pleasure craft on the canal, the Aja, which you can read about here. Incidentally Mr Sankey, who died on 5 December 1925, directed “that no Roman Catholic shall take any benefit” under his will.

Further information about the boat and the people shown in the photograph, and about Mr Sankey’s launch, would be very welcome; please leave a Comment below.

Looking for Hilda

In Irish Passenger Steamship Services Volume 2: South of Ireland (David & Charles, Newton Abbot 1971), D B McNeill writes:

In the autumn of 1964 the Ormonde Hotel at Nenagh took delivery of the Hilda from Holland. She is a modern canal cruising launch with central heating and a transparent roof. She is used for local trips on Lough Derg.

She is described as a single-screw motor vessel with a diesel engine but no further details are given. I would welcome more information about the Hilda; a photo would be very nice.

Kilgarvan Quay

On 3 October 1906 Mr Hugh Delaney of Borrisokane, Co Tipperary, gave evidence to the Royal Commission appointed to enquire into and to report on the canals and inland navigations of the United Kingdom. Tipperary (North Riding) County Council had asked him “to give evidence on behalf of the quay at Kilgarvan.”

His evidence became rather confused, as he and his interlocutors misunderstood each other. The source of the problem seems to have been his using the term “the canal” to refer both to the Grand Canal Company and to the canal itself. The main points of his evidence were these:

  • Kilgarvan Quay was “only of recent date: it was only opened in [October] 1891 and it has had an extraordinary effect on the traffic of the district and brought down the railway rates [from Cloughjordan] very considerably”
  • there had been no quay at Kilgarvan before that; there was deep water at the quay
  • the grand jury of the North Riding of Tipperary gave £230 towards the cost and the Grand Canal Company paid the rest, about £579
  • although it was only 104 miles from Kilgarvan Quay to James Street harbour, it took five or six days for barley to reach Dublin
  • he felt that the trip should be done in two days, using steam launches
  • he thought that transhipment at Shannon Harbour caused undue delay
  • people at Terryglass had built a quay and it made a port of call for the Grand Canal Company.

The present quay at Kilgarvan is not on the ~1840 OSI map (though there is a smaller quay near the bend in the road) but it is on the ~1900. I have a photo of the crane on my page about Shannon cranes; I’m no expert, but I wonder whether the crane might be older than the quay.

Into the west

An unidentified sister-ship of the MGWR Royal Canal steamer Rambler went fishing in the west of Ireland ….