Victoria Lock, Meelick
I like spending the night above the lock at Meelick: a pleasant, sheltered and quiet place. But there is a mystery about it.
Last time we were there, several groups of young folks came down to the lock after the keeper had knocked off for the night and gone home. It had been a warm day and I imagine that they were there to swim below the lock. Afterwards, some of them stayed around, chatting and hitting balls with their hurling mallets. They were quiet and caused no annoyance to anyone (although they might have removed their rubbish, in accordance with Waterways Ireland’s Leave no Trace policy).
But I did wonder what would have happened if there had been any horseplay, or even a mild slip, and someone had fallen into the lock chamber.
Both sets of gates were closed for the night, so the victim (even if conscious and uninjured) would have been unable to swim out and no rescue boat could get in.
There are no ladders in the lock chamber, so the victim could not have climbed out and any rescuer could only dive in, which would mean two people in the chamber rather than one. Nor was there anything in the chamber on which the victim might rest.
There was no information (that I could see) at the lock to tell the victim’s friends what to do, how to summon help or to get the gate opened. Any boater present might use VHF to call the Coast Guard and request a helicopter, but non-boaters might not think of that (or even of asking for the Coast Guard on ringing 999 or 112).
So that’s the mystery: if someone falls into a closed lock after operating hours, how is that person to be rescued? And how are others present to know what they should do? It would be nice if Waterways Ireland were to make information available on the spot.
Posted in Ashore, Built heritage, Canals, Engineering and construction, Extant waterways, Ireland, Modern matters, Operations, People, Safety, Shannon, Water sports activities, Waterways management
Tagged accident, ladder, Meelick, rescue, Victoria Lock
Victoria (Meelick) and Hamilton Locks (OSI ~1900)
Lord Dunkellin: Do you know the Victoria lock at Meelick?
Sir Richard Griffith: I do.
Victoria Lock, Meelick
Dunkellin: Do you know what is called the Old Cut, the old canal?
Dunkellin: The Victoria lock is a new work, is it not?
Griffith: It is.
Dunkellin: Should you be surprised to hear that vessels do not use that frequently, but go by the old cut?
Griffith: In times of very high flood I am aware that the canal boats find it advisable and beneficial to go by the Hamilton lock, on the old cut, in preference to the other.
Dunkellin: Prima facie, one would have thought that a new work like the Victoria lock would have the effect of regulating the state of things?
Griffith: It arises from the Counsellers’ Ford, as it is called, above Meelick; it has not been sufficiently excavated, and there is a strong current, and the boats are not able to get up to it in times of high flood.
Dunkellin: Then the boats made use of the old canal instead of the new lock?
Griffith: Under those peculiar circumstances they did.
Evidence of Sir Richard Griffith to the Select Committee on the Shannon River 12 June 1865
Posted in Ashore, Built heritage, Canals, Charles Wye Williams, Drainage, Economic activities, Engineering and construction, Extant waterways, Historical matters, Industrial heritage, Ireland, Irish inland waterways vessels, Operations, People, Politics, Shannon, Sources, Steamers, The cattle trade, The grain trade, waterways, Waterways management, Weather
Tagged boats, canal, Counsellors Ford, floods, flow, Hamilton Lock, Ireland, Lord Dunkellin, Meelick, Operations, Shannon, Sir Richard Griffith, steamer, vessels, Victoria Lock, water level, waterways, weir
I am grateful to Waterways Ireland for sending me the Shannon traffic figures for the last three months of 2014. They sent them last month but I didn’t have time to deal with them until now.
Regular readers may wish to skip this section
All the usual caveats apply:
- the underlying figures do not record total waterways usage (even for the Shannon) as, for instance, sailing, fishing or waterskiing on lakes or river stretches, which did not involve a passage through a lock or Portumna Bridge, would not be recorded
- the passage records would not show, for instance, a change in the balance of types of activities from those in larger cruising boats to those in smaller (sailing, fishing, waterskiing) boats
- figures like these will not necessarily be representative of those for the year as a whole. The winter months, January to March, see little traffic in any year; for April, May and June, the weather can have a large influence on the amount of activity especially, I suspect, in private boats.
On the other hand, the figures do include the Shannon’s most significant tourism activity, the cruiser hire business. And they are our only consistent long-term indicator of usage of the inland waterways.
Total (private + hired) traffic for the full year
As we saw in September, traffic is down on 2013, but there has been little change over the last three years.
Private-boat traffic for the full years 2003 to 2014
The vertical scale on this chart is different from that for hired boats so the changes in private boating from one year to another are exaggerated (by comparison). The good weather did not prevent a fall in activity.
Hire-boat traffic for the full years 2003 to 2014
Again, the lowest figure in my records, but the drop was small; perhaps the hire trade is bouncing along the bottom (as it were). I wonder whether anyone has a Grand Plan for recovery or rejuvenation.
Percentages of 2003 levels
Percentages of 2003 levels
Private traffic at just over 90% of 2003 levels, hire traffic at just over 40%.
Private -v- hired
Still roughly 50:50
In the five months January, February, March, November and December, there were 385 passages altogether, less than 1% of total boat movements for the year. If money can be saved by ceasing to operate the locks and bridge during the winter, they should be closed except, perhaps, for one Saturday per month, to be arranged for a non-flood day.
Here is the order of popularity.
Lough Allen is a delightful place but it is not popular.
Posted in Built heritage, Canals, Economic activities, Engineering and construction, Extant waterways, Ireland, Operations, Restoration and rebuilding, Shannon, Sources, Tourism, Water sports activities, waterways, Waterways management, Weather
Tagged Albert Lock, Athlone, Battlebridge, boats, bridge, canal, Clarendon lock, Clondra, Drumleague, Drumshanbo, floods, Ireland, Jamestown, Limerick, lock, Lough Allen, Lough Derg, Lough Key, Meelick, Operations, Portumna, Rooskey, Roosky, Sarsfield, Shannon, Tarmonbarry, Victoria, waterways, Waterways Ireland, Wellesley
Downriver from Shannon Harbour to Dromineer in December 2014. It began as a bright, cold morning.
Leaving Shannon Harbour after icebreaking between the locks
Flooding to the south-east
But southward, look …
Heading for Banagher Bridge 1
Keeping close to the pontoons
Heading for Banagher Bridge 2
Heading for Banagher Bridge 3
There is a YouTube video of the shooting of the bridge here. It seems to start automatically, including sound; I don’t know how to avoid that.
Looking back at Banagher
Marker and gauge
Boats at Meelick
Through Meelick Lock
Delaying Eamon Egan
Gateway to civilisation
Lough Derg: weather has changed
Journey’s end, Dromineer
Posted in Built heritage, Canals, Drainage, Economic activities, Engineering and construction, Extant waterways, Industrial heritage, Ireland, Irish inland waterways vessels, Irish waterways general, Natural heritage, Operations, Shannon, waterways, Waterways management, Weather
Tagged Banagher, barge, boats, bridge, canal, Dromineer, floods, flow, Ireland, jetties, lock, Lough Derg, Meelick, Portumna, quay, Shannon, Shannon Harbour, Tipperary, vessels, Victoria Lock, water level, waterways, Waterways Ireland, weir
Thanks to Colin Becker, I have updated this page to show the location of the ESB’s third pumping station between Meelick and Portumna: I had known only where two of them were.
I have also added to the page some rude remarks about the ESB’s policy of not revealing the clearance of their cables above navigable waterways. If, dear reader, you know of a change in the policy, or if you can effect such a change, or if you know the clearances, do please let me know by leaving a Comment.
Posted in Ashore, Built heritage, Drainage, Economic activities, Engineering and construction, Extant waterways, Industrial heritage, Ireland, Irish inland waterways vessels, Operations, Safety, Shannon, waterways, Waterways management
Tagged clearance, embankment, ESB, fried to a crisp, Lough Derg, Meelick, Operations, Portumna, pumping station, Shannon, vessels, waterways
I’ve just been reading some particularly nitwitted Dáil discussions and I need some time to calm down enough to report on them to the Learned Readers of this site. Let me just say that anyone who thinks that politicians cannot distinguish fact from fiction is absolutely right. But enough of that for the moment.
I reported earlier on an oddity in the results from the OPW’s Athlone waterlevel gauge. I emailed the OPW about it and a helpful chap got back on more or less immediately.
He explained that the data we see on the waterlevel.ie site is, as it were, live: raw unfiltered data with nothing added, nothing taken away. The same data goes in to the OPW and they spotted that the Athlone gauge was reading too high. They found the sensor was faulty; they have now adjusted it and the new, lower readings are correct.
The disappearance of the placenames is because of some work in progress on improving the website; they will be back.
He kindly pointed me to a list, in .xlsm format, downloadable from here; it shows all hydrometric stations in Ireland. It shows who operates them, whether they’re active and whether they use telemetry (which I take to mean that they can be monitored remotely). Unfortunately OPW itself doesn’t seem to have any gauges on Lough Derg and nor does Waterways Ireland. OPW does have a rather excitable gauge at Scarriff and gauges upstream of Meelick Weir and Meelick (Victoria) Lock. The ESB has gauges with telemetry at Ballyvalley (25073) and Killaloe (25074) but I can’t find any website giving the levels. If, Gentle Reader, you can find one, perhaps you would let us know.
The consoling part of dealing with the OPW is that you get the distinct impression that they know some useful stuff. Unlike, say, some folk working in Kildare Street ….
Posted in Ashore, Built heritage, Drainage, Economic activities, Engineering and construction, Extant waterways, Industrial heritage, Ireland, Non-waterway, Operations, People, Politics, Safety, Shannon, Sources, waterways, Waterways management, Weather
Tagged Athlone, canal, Clare, Dublin, ESB, floods, flow, gauge, Ireland, Killaloe, Lough Derg, Meelick, Office of Public Works, Operations, OPW, Scarriff, Shannon, telemetry, Victoria Lock, water level, waterways, Waterways Ireland
P J Norris commented here on the need for a walkway across Meelick Weir. The excellent KildareStreet.com tells us that the drought will end, as a Dáil written answer on 22 October 2013 showed.
Michael Kitt [FF, Galway East] had asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
… when it is proposed to reopen the walkway which spans the weir on the River Shannon in Meelick, County Galway; if funding has been provided for this work; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that this is an important local and tourist amenity; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Jimmy Deenihan [FG, Kerry North/West Limerick] said
I am informed by Waterways Ireland that it is currently preparing a submission for planning permission to construct a new walkway over the River Shannon at Meelick. Indeed, environmental studies are underway to support the planning application.
I must advise the Deputy that construction work may only commence when all necessary permits have been received. It is Waterways Ireland’s intention to undertake works at the weir during 2014, subject to the appropriate statutory approvals being granted and financial resources being available.
Financial resources, eh? Perhaps a coin- (or note-)operated toll-gate on the walkway would be best.
Posted in Ashore, Built heritage, Drainage, Economic activities, Engineering and construction, Extant waterways, Industrial heritage, Ireland, Irish waterways general, Operations, People, Politics, Restoration and rebuilding, Safety, Shannon, Sources, waterways, Waterways management
Tagged Banagher, Eyrecourt, Lusmagh, Meelick, Operations, Shannon, Victoria Lock, waterways, Waterways Ireland, weir