Tag Archives: Longford

Up the Inny

The navigation of the River Inny from Ballynacarrow upriver to Lough Sheelin.

The sinking of the Longford 6

Here is the sixth and final page on the sinking of the passage boat Longford on the Royal Canal on 25 November 1845. This page is about who was steering the boat and why the steerer was unable to avoid the accident.

The price of fifteen lives was 1p.

 

The sinking of the Longford 4 and 5

Here are the fourth and fifth pages [I split one long page] in the sequence of articles about the sinking of the passage boat Longford on the Royal Canal in 1845. They discuss some of the evidence of corporate incompetence and farcical laxity that may have persuaded the inquest jury to award a deodand against the vessel (and thus against the Royal Canal Company).

Amongst other gems, the footnotes explain what a crapper is.

The sinking of the Longford 3

Here is the third page in the sequence about the sinking of the passage boat Longford on the Royal Canal in 1845. This page, The deodand, covers the inquest and the trial.

The sinking of the Longford 2

Here is the second page of the saga. This one gives background information about the passage boat service, the boats and the crew of the Longford. The shock-horror stuff will be in later pages.

The sinking of the Longford 1

Here is the first of several articles about the sinking of the Royal Canal passage-boat Longford on 25 November 1845.

Remember, remember the twenty-fifth of November

25 November 2015 will be the 170th anniversary of the sinking of the Royal Canal passage-boat Longford and the deaths of fifteen people.

This was not (pace Ruth Delany in Ireland’s Royal Canal 1789–2009 Lilliput Press, Dublin 2010) “the worst accident ever to happen on the Irish waterways”: that melancholy distinction belongs to the drowning at Carrick-on-Suir of about 111 people in 1799 [see “The cries at the bridge” on this page], while the second-worst was the drowning of twenty people on Lough Corrib in 1828, the event commemorated by Antoine Ó Raifteiri in his poem Eanach Dhúin.

But the 1845 accident, between Porterstown and Clonsilla Bridges, was the worst to occur on an Irish canal. Evidence at the inquest and subsequent trial suggests great laxity in the management of the Royal Canal Company’s affairs, even if the immediate cause was an act of insane irresponsibility on the part of the boat’s temporary steerer.

I do not know whether any plaque or other artefact commemorates the event.

Blueways

Longford Tourism and Waterways Ireland are holding an information meeting about Blueways in Longford tomorrow. It’s in the Backstage Theatre on Tuesday 24 March 2015 at 7.00pm. The blurb reads:

Are you an activity provider, accommodation provider, walker, boater, canoeist, outdoor enthusiasts?

Longford Tourism, in conjunction with Waterways Ireland is delighted to invite you to a Public Information Meeting regarding exciting new recreation and tourism products called Blueways.

Blueways are a series of innovative, safe and easy to use water and land-based trails. These provide for guided and unguided paddling, walking and cycling. Visitors can opt to paddle along the Shannon Blueway, on a 10km looped trail along the Camlin and Shannon Rivers, while the Royal Blueway provides 16km of off road walking and cycling from Cloondara to Longford Town.

To celebrate this exciting trails development, Longford Tourism will host the inaugural Longford Blueways Festival in April. So, come along and hear how you can get involved. All are welcome to attend.

I wish them well and I hope this initiative works. I think that the Blueways are more likely to be successful than any attempted revival of the cruiser-hire business (although I’d like that to work too). However, I would like to learn more about the Blueways business model (if that’s the right term). Who has to invest how much and who gets what returns? Clearly, Waterways Ireland spends money up front, but far less (I presume) than (say) canal restoration would require. But are there viable businesses, or at least viable supplementary income-generating activities, for small local service providers? How do they reach overseas markets? Or is the focus on domestic markets?

One point that strikes me is that Blueways allow for more interaction between tourists and locals: something that used to be a strength of the Irish tourism offering (I’m trying to keep up with modern marketing jargon here) until we decided we were too busy being rich and successful to waste time chatting to tourists (or, if you prefer, providing unpaid support services to the tourism industry). Indeed we felt that even paid employment in tourist enterprises was beneath us: we could get nice people from overseas to do that work instead. Did we, I wonder, hollow out Ireland, removing the Irishness, the distinctiveness (whatever it was) from the tourist experience?

If so, the Blueways’ opportunities for interaction with small-scale and local enterprises might put them back again. There are difficulties in making a living from small-scale operations, but there are benefits too. And the Blueways might tap into other local, small-scale developments: for instance, the recent startling growth in the number of craft breweries. The Lough Allen and Longford Blueways each have a local brewery — St Mel’s in Longford and Carrig in Drumshanbo — and the products of at least one other brewery, Co Roscommon’s Black Donkey, are available on the North Shannon. Maybe, now that KMcG is back, “Places to find good beer” might be added to places to stay, eat and go on the Blueways website.

A Blueway is defined there as

a recreational water activity trail that is developed for use by non-motorised water activity enthusiasts. It is defined by trail heads, put in and take out points and readily available trail information. Blueways can be developed on canals, rivers, lakes or along the coast and can incorporate other associated land base​d trails adjacent to the water trail.

So what about a Blueway for Lough Oughter, with sailing, canoeing and camping?

[h/t Carthach O’Maonaigh]

Shannon–Erne Waterway traffic

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.

Shannon–Erne Waterway traffic 2010–2014

Shannon–Erne Waterway traffic 2010–2014

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.

Pollboy lock passages 2005–2014

Pollboy lock passages 2005–2014

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:

Shannon–Erne Waterway magic

Shannon–Erne Waterway magic

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.

 

Canals conference 7 March 2015

Information posted at the request of the organisers


Inland Navigations of Ireland Historical Society
in partnership with
The Heritage Boat Association

The Canals of Ireland

Saturday 7 March 2015

Hugh Lynch’s Function Room, Tullamore, Co Offaly

Programme

Memorial Slides Conor Nolan 09.30
Welcome Gerard Bayly 09.55
Session 1 Chairperson Judie Lambert
The Canals of Europe Mike & Rosaleen Miller 10.00
The Canals of Ireland Colin Becker 10.20
Coffee break 10.40
Saving the Royal Niall Galway 11.00
Fighting for the Grand Mick Kinahan 11.20
Living on a Canal Eric Kemp 11.40
Morning Question Time 12.00
Lunch break 12.30
Session 2 Chairperson Kristina Baker Kenny
Newry Canal Geraldine Foley 13.30
Limerick Navigation Raymie O’Halloran 13.50
John’s River Brian Simpson 14.10
Grand Canal Kilbeggan Branch James Scully 14.30
Boyne Navigation Seamus Costello 14.50
Coffee break 15.10
The Future Joe Treacy 15.25
The Future Brian J Goggin 15.45
The Future Nigel Russell 16.05
Evening Question Time 16.25

 

Details

Admission:                          €12
Breaks:                                Tea/coffee included
Lunch in room:                   Soup and sandwiches included
Music:                                 Live music session during lunch
HBA:                                   Merchandise for sale
IWAI:                                  Merchandise for sale
Authors:                              Books for sale

Directions

Hugh Lynch’s Pub, Kilbride Street, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

087 250 5422