Tag Archives: Midland Great Western Railway

Sarah Kelly and the Royal Canal

Quite the most remarkable story I’ve come across about the Royal Canal and the Midland Great Western Railway ….

Henn, cheese, pickles and Guinness

An Affecting Charge

The following case lately came for trial before Mr Henn QC, the new Recorder of Galway:— George Hamilton, who for twenty-five years had been in the employment of the Midland Great Western Railway Company as station-master, was indicted for stealing from a hamper some goods, the property of Sir Arthur Guinness, which were addressed to Cong, in the county Mayo. For some time a course of pilfering had been carried on, and the directors, in order to find out who were the guilty parties, employed two Dublin detectives, named Stookman and Healy, who arrived in Galway on Aug 31st, and, concealing themselves in the goods-store in empty barrels, remained on the watch all night. About one o’clock next morning they heard a noise, and observed the prisoner entering the place. Having satisfied himself that he was unseen, he took out his penknife and proceeded deliberately to cut the cords of the hamper and extract some of its contents. The detectives waited until he had taken out a bottle of vinegar, a bottle of pickles, and some cheeses, and then tied up the hamper again. They then issued from their hiding-place and seized him. He begged them for God’s sake to have mercy on his wife and family, and to leave the matter between himself and the manager, but they refused to do so, and, having called the police, gave him into custody. About twenty witnesses were examined for the prosecution, and among them the clerk of the goods store, who swore that it had been locked and the key left with the prisoner.

Mr M’Laughlin QC appealed to the sympathies of the jury, and, pointing out some alleged discrepancies in the evidence, pressed them, if they had a doubt that the prisoner took the articles with a guilty intent, to give him the benefit of it.

The Recorder, in his charge, showed that the discrepancies only proved the truth of the charge, and expressed the deep pain he felt at seeing in such a position a man who had held a respectable position, with a salary of £300 a year, and had young ladies whom he saw in court dependent upon him. He finally burst into tears.

The jury retired, and after three hours’ deliberation returned into court and stated that there was no chance of an agreement. His worship sent them back to their room, and, after being absent for another hour, they brought in a verdict of not guilty, which the Recorder stated he could not endorse, but characterised as monstrous.

The Leeds Times 12 October 1878

The Recorder, Mr Henn, was the father of T R Henn and later lived in Paradise. Sir Arthur Guinness, a stout fellow, was a descendant of this chap and had a small holiday house at Cong on Lough Corrib, where his family had many boats.

One for the Phizzers

Quite a few visitors to this site come to read about the Broadstone. Here is a piece about the pontoon bridge used at the Broadstone between (AFAIK) 1847 and 1877. It was designed by Robert Mallet and it is interesting to see how an inventive engineer solved the peculiar problems of the Broadstone site.

The Liffey before the Lagan

According to the Heritage Boat Association, the Guinness jetty on the Liffey was built in 1873, but the first steamer, the Lagan, was built in 1877. The Guinness Storehouse‘s fact sheet confirms the 1873 date, but is vague about when the first boats were built. So why the four-year gap? Why would Guinness build the jetty before it had the boats to use it?

At the half-yearly meeting of the proprietors of the Midland Great Western Railway Company, held on 7 September 1876, the Chairman (Sir Ralph Cusack) said that the largest trader on the Royal Canal (owned by the MGWR) was about to retire from business because of ill health. Sir Ralph said:

[…] it might be very inconvenient to persons in the country, who carry on the canal materials that are not exactly suited for a railway, such as coals, timber, slates, bricks, etc. […] it is therefore our intention to commence — perhaps in a small way at first — carrying with a couple of boats on the canal, so as to relieve the railway of this rough kind of traffic, and at the same time to benefit the country through which the canal runs. [Irish Times 8 September 1876]

Sir Ralph said that the company had ordered a small steamer:

We don’t propose that the steamer shall carry goods, but we propose to have a few small tugs similar to those used by Sir Arthur Guinness on the Liffey to draw laden boats. […] we will begin in a small way and see what way the thing will do. We cannot lose very much by it. We are getting one small tug, and I suppose we will get another.

So in 1876, one year before the Lagan was built, Guinness was using dumb barges, towed by small tugs, on the Liffey.