Sex, steam and a syphon: tales of the Royal Canal
- Waterways & past uses
- Saving the nation
- Turf and bog navigations
- The Bog of Allen from the Grand Canal in 1835
- John’s Canal, Castleconnell
- The Canal at the World’s End
- The Finnery River navigation
- The Lough Boora Feeder
- The Little Brosna
- The Lullymore canal as wasn’t
- The Roscrea canals
- The Monivea navigations
- Lacy’s Canal
- The Rockville Navigation page 1
- The Rockville Navigation page 2
- The Rockville Navigation page 3
- The Colthurst canals
- The Inny navigation
- The lower Shannon
- The piers, quays and harbours of the Shannon Estuary
- Nimmo’s non-existent harbour
- The Doonbeg Ship Canal
- Kilrush and its sector lock
- The Killimer to Tarbert ferry
- The Colleen Bawn at Killimer
- Knock knock. Who’s there?
- Cahircon: not at all boring
- The hidden quay of Latoon
- The stones of Kilteery
- The Maigue
- Sitting on the dock of the Beagh
- Massy’s Quay, Askeaton and the River Deel
- Saleen Pier
- The Lord Lieutenant’s Visit to Limerick — trip down the Shannon 
- The Fergus
- The Limerick Navigation
- The boundaries of the Shannon
- The power of the Shannon
- The locks on the Limerick Navigation
- Worldsend, Castleconnell, Co Limerick
- The bridge at O’Briensbridge
- The Limerick Navigation and the Monmouthshire Canal
- The Limerick Navigation (upper end) in flood November 2009
- The Limerick Navigation (lower end) in flood November 2009
- The Limerick Navigation (tidal section) in flood November 2009
- Floods in Limerick (1850)
- Limerick to Athlone
- The piers, quays and harbours of the Shannon Estuary
- The middle and upper Shannon
- The Grand Canal
- Monasterevan, the Venice of the west
- The Grand Canal lottery
- Grand Canal carrying: some notes
- The dry dock at Sallins
- The Naas Branch
- The Mountmellick Line of the Grand Canal
- Dublin to Ballinasloe by canal
- The Ballinasloe Line
- A Grand Canal lock: Belmont
- South of Moscow, north of Geneva
- Water supply to the Grand Canal
- The Grand Canal Company strike of 1890
- The Royal Canal
- Water supply to the Royal Canal: the feeders
- The Lough Owel feeder
- The proposed Lough Ennell water supply to the Royal Canal
- From Clonsilla to Clew Bay
- Kinnegad and the Royal Canal
- The sinking of the Longford in 1845
- Steamers on the Royal Canal
- Leech of Killucan: horse-drawn boats on the Royal
- Horses on board
- Royal eggs
- Prothero on the Royal
- The whore who held the mortgage on the Royal Canal
- Waterways in Dublin
- The Naller
- Visit Dublin. Walk canals. Drink beer.
- The Broadstone Line of the Royal Canal
- Between the waters
- The abandoned Main Line of the Grand Canal 1
- The abandoned Main Line of the Grand Canal 2
- The abandoned Main Line of the Grand Canal 3
- The abandoned Main Line of the Grand Canal 4
- Waterways of the south-east
- The top of the Suir
- The upper Suir: Carrick to Clonmel
- The middle Suir, from Carrick-on-Suir to Waterford
- The Barrow
- The Nore in 1897
- Long-distance transport on the Nore
- The Slaney
- Johnstown, Co Kilkenny
- The Brickey Navigation?
- Waterways of Cork and Kerry
- Waterways of the west
- Waterways of Ulster and thereabouts
- The Junction Navigation (B&B/SEW)
- The Lagan Navigation
- The non-contentious Ulster Canal
- Prothero flies north
- Upper Fathom: Victoria Lock on the Newry Ship Canal
- The Willsborough canals
- The Ballykelly and Broharris Canals
- Systems & artefacts
- Irish waterways furniture
- Irish waterways operations
- Miscellaneous articles
- Irish inland waterways vessels
- Cots -v- barges: defining Irish waterways
- Waterways Ireland workboats
- Wooden boats on Irish inland waterways
- Traditional boats and replicas
- Non-WI workboats
- Older Irish working boats
- The barge at Plassey
- Dublin, Athlone and Limerick
- Waterford to New Ross by steam
- The steamer Cupid
- Liffey barges 1832
- Steam on the Grand Canal
- The Mystery of the Sunken Barge
- Steam on the Newry Canal
- Guinness Liffey barges 1902
- Up and under: PS Garryowen in 1840
- Watson’s Double Canal Boat
- The Cammoge ferry-boat
- The ’98 barge
- Late C19 Grand Canal Company trade boats
- Chain haulage
- The Aaron Manby and the Shannon
- A sunken boat in the Shannon
- Sailing boats on Irish inland waterways
- Some boats that are … different
- 4B mooring
- Irish waterways scenery
- Engineering and construction
- Irish navigation authorities
- The folly of restoration
- The Ulster Canal now
- The Ulster Canal 00: overview
- The Ulster Canal 01: background
- The Ulster Canal 02: the southern strategic priority
- The Ulster Canal 03: implementation
- The Ulster Canal 04: Ulster says no
- The Ulster Canal 05: studies and appraisals
- The Ulster Canal 06: the costs
- The Ulster Canal 07: the supposed benefits
- The Ulster Canal 08: the funding
- The Ulster Canal 09: affordability
- The Ulster Canal 10: kill it now
- The Ulster Canal 11: some information from Waterways Ireland (and the budget)
- The Ulster Canal 12: departmental bullshit
- The Ulster Canal 13: an investment opportunity?
- The Ulster Canal 14: my search for truth
- The Ulster Canal 15: spinning in the grave
- The Ulster Canal 16: looking for a stake
- The Ulster Canal 17: the official position in November 2011
- The Ulster Canal 18: Sinn Féin’s canal?
- The Ulster Canal 19: update to February 2012
- The Ulster Canal 20: update to April 2013
- The Ulster Canal 21: update to August 2018
- The Barrow
- A bonfire at Collins Barracks
- Living on the canals
- Waterways tourism
- The Park Canal: why it should not be restored
- The Park Canal 01: it says in the papers
- The Park Canal 02: local government
- The Park Canal 03: sinking the waterbus
- The Park Canal 04: the Limerick weir
- The Park Canal 05: cruisers from the Royal Canal
- The Park Canal 06: What is to be done? (V I Lenin)
- The Park Canal 07: another, er, exciting proposal
- Accounting for risk
- Tax-dodging boat-owners
- Waterways & past uses
Tag Archives: Locaboat
I have reported regularly on Shannon traffic figures [most recently here] but I have paid relatively little attention to the Shannon–Erne Waterway [SEW]. I am therefore grateful to Waterways Ireland for supplying me with the last five years’ monthly traffic figures for Locks 1 and 16 on the SEW. I had some queries about the figures for certain months and I have put them to Waterways Ireland, but I presume that the annual figures are OK.
Clearly, not all boats go all the way through: if they did, the figures for Locks 1 and 16 might be the same. The hire bases for Locaboat, Riversdale and Corraquill were all on the Erne side of the summit level; does Lock 1’s excess of traffic over Lock 16 suggest that hirers, perhaps wishing to minimise the number of locks they passed through, headed for the Erne rather than the Shannon? The figures, which I presume are gathered automatically, do not distinguish between private and hired boats.
The other point that strikes me is that the level of traffic is actually quite low. I put in the figures for Pollboy and Athlone locks to allow comparison. SEW traffic is greater than that on the Lough Allen Canal, but it is not much greater than that on the River Suck to Ballinasloe. In that case, WI is [according to its Business Plan 2015] considering automating Pollboy Lock to reduce costs.
The SEW locks are already automated, but the costs and benefits may have to be re-examined, especially now that Locaboat has moved from Ballinamore to Quigleys Marina at Killinure on Lough Ree: I presume that that will result in less traffic on the SEW.
Pollboy and the CLones Sheugh
In 2006 Pollboy traffic was used as the basis for estimating likely traffic to Clones on the Ulster Canal’s “SW section”:
The total number of boat parties/groups for the SW section is assumed to be 600. This is based on a comparison with another “offshoot” like the Suck Navigation which had around 1,250 boat parties/groups in 2005 (obtained by dividing the passages through Pollboy Lock by 2) in a much busier section of the whole system. So, for the SW section, a level of around 50% (ie. 600) is regarded as a reasonable assumption.
Waterways Ireland Socio economic Summary Report for the NE and SW Sections of the Ulster Canal Final Report February 2006
Now that Pollboy’s traffic is half what it was in 2005, no doubt the estimate for the number of boats that would visit Clones, if a canal ever reached it, has likewise been halved, which would give an average of about ten boats a week over a seven-month season: four boats every Saturday and one a day for the rest of the week. Folk intending to build restaurants to cater for the cruiser traffic might be wise to reassess their investment plans:
In overall terms, the benefits of waterway restoration derive from the fact that these can facilitate a variety of leisure and recreational activity, that the users will benefit from this activity, and that there will also be wider spin-off benefits in the areas, e.g. facilities such as restaurants etc built to service canal traffic.
Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Restoring the Ulster Canal from Lough Erne to Clones Updated Business Case February 2015
There’s not enough business there for a burger van, never mind a restaurant.
The magic of the Shannon–Erne Waterway
But if Pollboy, the River Suck and Ballinasloe are no longer cited as support for the construction of a Clones Sheugh, the Shannon–Erne Waterway is still used as an example, in that and in other contexts. Take, for example, this:
I’ve nicked that from a slide show called Economic, Recreational and Social Benefits of Rural Waterways in Ireland, which was to be delivered [PDF] by Garret McGrath of Waterways Ireland at the World Canals Conference [PDF] in Milan in 2014.
Now, if the Shannon–Erne Waterway had caused all that construction activity, we’d have to drag Waterways Ireland before the Irish banking enquiry. Skipping lightly over the question of the ghost estates, and the departure of Locaboat from Ballinamore, we come to the real problem with this sort of stuff: the post hoc fallacy. We are invited to believe that
- a waterway was built
- prosperity followed
- so the waterway must have caused the prosperity.
Well, maybe it did and maybe it didn’t, but the argument presented in the slide show isn’t sufficient to prove it. You would have to check to see whether there were any other possible explanations: any other changes that might have resulted in all that construction.
Along the Shannon–Erne Waterway, I can think of two other possible factors: Sean Quinn’s business empire and the Upper Shannon Rural Renewal Scheme, a tax dodge that applied in Leitrim, Longford, Roscommon, Cavan and Sligo, five of the six counties that had the highest rates of vacant housing (excluding holiday houses). So there are two problems here:
- much of that construction activity may have been driven by tax breaks rather than by the existence of a nearby waterway
- the construction itself may not have had beneficial effects.
You can read more about that here, noting in particular, on the map, the areas around the upper Shannon and the SEW with vacancy rates of over 25%; you might wonder whether Waterways Ireland is wise to claim credit for housing over-development.
But my main concern here is a different one: that, if you want to claim credit for economic benefits that followed waterways development, you have to measure the benefits and subtract those attributable to other factors, such as Sean Quinn and the Rural Renewal Scheme. Then it would be useful if you compared the remaining benefits with the cost of constructing your waterway: it might then be possible to say that waterways development is a good investment.
It may be that such a study has been done on the SEW, but if it has I don’t know where it is; I would like to see it if it exists. Until then, I regard this sort of thing, from DAHG’s Business Case, as drivel:
The broad existence and nature of the potential socio-economic benefits of canals and restored waterways are therefore well established and not really at issue.
Sorry, minister: that’s rubbish. As far as I know no proper evaluation has ever been carried out on the costs and benefits of any restored or new-built Irish waterway. So you’re not getting away with that one.
Locaboat tells us that
All the countries of Europe have agreed to facilitate access to hire-boats which are duly equipped and certified, and operate in tourist areas where there is little commercial shopping [presumably “shipping”].
In France, Germany [list of areas], Ireland, Holland, Poland and the Venice Lagoon Locaboat has received permission from the local authorities for their boats to be hired without licence. Initial instruction, both theoretical and practical, is given at the point of embarkation, enabling you to quickly master your boat and grasp the essential rules of navigation. You will then be given a licence that is valid for the duration of your stay.
When you’re starting from Ketzin in Germany, however, a boating licence is obligatory. This is not valid for citizens from countries that don’t have a boating license (e.g. Great Britain or Denmark).
This suggests that Ireland does have a boating licence, which is the first I’ve heard of it.
On its English-language front page, incidentally, Locaboat bigs up the fact that licences are not required in Poland:
Licence free hiring now also in Poland
Good news: Due to a new regulation, since 1st August 2010 a boating license is no longer required for our boats in Poland! Now a barge trip in the natural paradise of the Masurian Lake District becomes even more attractive.
And very nice it looks too. I wonder whether the Polish lakes have provided extra competition for the Irish.