Tag Archives: Limerick Navigation

Limerick and Newport

Newport in South Wales, that is. If you’ve taken a ferry from Rosslare Harbour to Fishguard or Pembroke, and you’re driving across South Wales, you might like to stop at Newport. It’s got a transporter bridge, and not a lot of places can say that.

It also has the Cefn Flight of Fourteen Locks, which raises an interesting question about the Limerick Navigation.

They killed Kenny!

Annabeg, Annaghbeg, Plassy or Plassey Lock on the Limerick Navigation (OSI 6″ ~1840)

 

Last Sunday a young man of the name of Kenny, bathing in one of the locks of the Canal, near Annabeg, was unfortunately drowned; the sluices of the gates happened to be open, through which the poor lad was drawn from the great suction, and his head very much shattered.

Saunders’s News-Letter 30 July 1803

Limerick Navigation lockkeepers

The Limerick Navigation was in five sections — three canals with river sections in between — and joined Limerick to Killaloe and the rest of the inland Shannon. The canal sections had locks, each controlled by a lockkeeper who lived on site. The job passed from generation to generation: some of the lockkeepers’ cottages are still inhabited by descendants of the lockkeepers.

Cussane lock (OSI 25″ ~1900)

Cussane was the furthest downstream of the three locks on the Killaloe section of the canal. It was covered by water when the Ardnacrusha hydroelectric scheme created the “flooded area” below Killaloe. If memory serves, Cussane was known as Crowe’s Lock.

In the online searchable catalogue of the Registered Papers of the Chief Secretary’s Office in the National Archives, there is a letter dated 15 February 1830 [CSO/RP/1830/815]

[…] from James Saurin, Henry R Paine, and John Radcliffe, [Directors General of Inland Navigation], Board of Control, [Dublin], to Hugh Percy, 3rd Duke Northumberland, [Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Dublin], recommending Denis Crow to succeed Lott Corboy sheriff as lockkeeper on the Limerick Navigation.]

There is also a letter dated 2 June 1830 [CSO/RP/1830/836]

from James Saurin, J Armit, and Henry R Paine, [Directors General of Inland Navigation], Navigation Office, [Dublin], to Hugh Percy, 3rd Duke Northumberland, [Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Dublin], recommending dismissal of Simon Johnston, lockkeeper on the Limerick Navigation, for irregularities and for deception; asking to employ Michael Gully in his stead, for Stg£9-4-9 per annum.

Gully’s Lock is at Gillogue, on the central canal section known as the Plassey–Errina Canal.

Gillogue lock (OSI 25″ ~1900)

 

 

 

The mystery of Mr Worrall

Castleconnell and Worldsend, Co Limerick (OSI 6" ~1840)

Castleconnell and Worldsend, Co Limerick (OSI 6″ ~1840)

The authors of a book called Village by Shannon, about Castleconnell, Co Limerick, say that the area of Worldsend, at the northern end of Castleconnell, derives its name from Worrall’s Inn, an establishment operated by a Mr Worrall in the early eighteenth century.

That may be so, but the book’s accounts of river-borne traffic — to a quay at the inn — do not seem to accord with what is known about the history of the Shannon navigation, and in particular of the Limerick Navigation between the city and Killaloe. Here are some of the problems.

My OSI logo and permit number for website

Not Grand

Limerick’s SmarterTravel initiative aims to promote cycling, walking, car sharing and public transport. It has a little leaflet (I can’t find a downloadable version) describing five walking and cycling routes and including information on bus routes, a cycle to work scheme and car sharing.

One of the cycling and walking routes is along the towing path of the Limerick Navigation from Limerick to Plassey. It is described thus:

The Tow Path was part of the Grand Canal system stretching to Dublin and was used by the Guinness brewery to bring stout to Limerick.

The towing-path was not part of “the Grand Canal system”, although I suppose it might be described as a facility used by the Grand Canal Company. The Park Canal in Limerick, and the towing-path on the river navigation to Plassey, were not built or owned by the Grand Canal Company; they were part of the independent Limerick Navigation until subsumed into the Shannon Navigation in the 1840s. The Grand Canal Company was permitted to use its vessels on the navigation when it began carrying cargoes, which it did for, amongst others, Guinness; Guinness itself did not own or operate boats on the Shannon Navigation or the Limerick Navigation.

 

Errina Bridge

I remarked in November 2012 that Waterways Ireland had parked a canteen trailer and some pontoons at Errina Bridge, the uppermost bridge on the Plassey–Errina Canal, which is part of the old Limerick Navigation.

WI pontoons

WI pontoons

WI canteen

WI canteen

I wondered what was to be done; I noted that a stone at the top of one of the stop-plank grooves under the bridge had been removed (the stone on the far side was removed some time ago).

So I asked Waterways Ireland what was happening. They said:

The works in Clonlara are Flood relief works to protect Errina Lock from catastrophic failure. After the flooding in 2009, during which the dam in Errina Lock was overtopped by approximately 0.5 metres, it was decided to protect it from this happening again.

It has happened before too: in February 1809 the lock was destroyed by floods when heavy snows melted.

Errina Lock (looking upstream)

Errina Lock (looking upstream)

I asked WI about the nature of the works. They said:

Stop logs are to be put into the grooves under the bridge forming a dam with the same size opening as that in the concrete dam in Errina Lock. As for the stone which is removed to facilitate the installation of the timbers, this will be replaced once the timbers are in place.

That is good to know.

Errina Bridge stop-plank grooves (towing-path side, with uppermost stone removed)

Errina Bridge stop-plank grooves (towing-path side, with uppermost stone removed)

Errina Bridge stop-plank grooves (off side)

Errina Bridge stop-plank grooves (off side)

An authority on waterways has suggested that the curious shape of the grooves was designed to allow planks to be inserted from boats rather than from land.

 

Boating off piste

Coast Guard rescue between O’Briensbridge and Clonlara.

Bring back the Black

The Black Bridge at Plassey has been closed since the floods of November 2009. Its reopening seems to have a low priority; I suspect that is because the importance of the bridge in Ireland’s technological, economic, entrepreneurial and political history is not widely appreciated. Here is a page explaining some of the background and suggesting a context within which reopening might be justifiable.

Annoying the neighbours

It would be unfair to condemn the proposed opening of a canal to Clones without also condemning the proposed reopening of the Park Canal in Limerick (and the Newry, when I get around to it). The link is to a top-level page; the first substantive page has a lead to the second, the second to the third and so on up to the fifth.

Waterways restoration? No thanks

An article in the Irish Times about railway restoration has prompted me to set out my views on waterways restoration. Essentially, I don’t believe public funds should be spent on projects that won’t provide a decent return, but I do favour small-scale conservation, opening up walking and cycling routes along waterways and marketing them to industrial heritage enthusiasts (and others).