Tag Archives: Montpelier

Money from the bog

To a small extent reclamation is now going on in Ireland; Mr M’Nab, of Castle Connell, county Limerick, has reclaimed 80 acres of the worst red bog, devoid of vegetation and 20 feet deep. It was drained, then coated with the subsoil, and the land which was not worth 2s 6d per acre is now worth 30s per acre.

Thus Robert Montgomery Martin in his Ireland before and after the Union with Great Britain third edition with additions; J D Nichols and Son, London; James McGlashen, Dublin 1848.

I have written here about Mr Macnab (that was how the spelling settled down) and his talent for extracting money from the bog at Portcrusha, which is between Castleconnell and Montpelier, Co Limerick. It seems that his achievements are still remembered — and emulated.

Incidentally, in the same work, published in 1848, Mr Martin refers to the

… large practical mind, great experience,  and Christian philosophy …

of Sir Charles Trevelyan.

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.

The surprising importance of the Shannon steamers in the 1830s

A short, lavishly illustrated talk in Killaloe Cathedral, Co Clare, at 6.00pm on Sunday 29 April 2012, as part of the Waterways Ireland Discover Killaloe and Ballina thingie.



Limerick bridge

Just as Killaloe is to have a new bridge, so too is Limerick. Or perhaps more than one …. This page (on a site whose ownership I do not know) has a map of proposed routes for the proposed Limerick Northern Distributor Road, which is to provide a northern bypass of Limerick. You can read about it on the websites of the promoters, Limerick County Council, Clare County Council and Limerick City Council. You can download stuff. And you will be pleased to hear that there are to be consultations (only not many of them).

This road is to be built in two phases, the first covering the area from west of the city to Parteen and the second from there to the old Dublin road (N7 as was, now demoted to the status of boreen). There are (or were) several options for each section, but the decision to cross the navigation at the Ardnacrusha tailrace, between the power station and the existing bridge, seems to be set in, er, concrete: that is, it seems, where the ESB wants it.

Ardnacrusha and the tailrace seen from the existing bridge at Parteen

The current consultation is about Phase 2, south-east from Parteen. There are several possible routes.

Two of them, B1 and B2, would cross the Shannon downstream of Plassey and the Black Bridge; they would not cross the Plassey–Errina Canal. It would be important to ensure that they did not further damage the towing-path and its artefacts on the Limerick side.

The west bank below Plassey

Four other routes — C1, D1, D2 and E1 — would cross the Plassey–Errina Canal between Gillogue and Wooden Bridge; they would cross the non-navigable Shannon upstream of Plassey, between there and a point just above the confluence of the Mulcair. C1 seems to run very close to Gillogue Lock, although that may be an effect of the scale of the route markings.

Woodenbridge (which isn't)

I am sure that the ESB will look after the interests of the existing navigation (through Ardnacrusha) and that Waterways Ireland will look after those of the former navigation (the river to Plassey and the canal thence to Errina). However, it might be worthwhile lobbing in a comment to TPTB, first to sttress the heritage value of the abandoned navigation and second to suggest that a new road near Plassey might improve rather than diminish access to that area.

One final thought: this new road seems likely to put the final nail in the coffin of the Limerick Tunnel under the Shannon estuary downstream of Limerick. I very much enjoy using the tunnel, but many folk are deterred by the charges and they drive through the city instead — or, worse, cross the Shannon at O’Briensbridge. As a result, revenue is less than expected, so the traffic guarantee mechanism means that the National Roads Authority has to compensate the tunnel operators.

So now that a new, free, presumably fast road is to link the east and west sides of the city, what will happen to the numbers of vehicles using the tunnel and to the taxpayers who are ultimately paying the compensation? They’ll pay more. The tunnel is on a national primary route, so it’s the NRA’s problem, whereas the new bypass is a regional or local route, which is in the hands of the local authorities.





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.

Championing waterways heritage

O’Briensbridge, covered here on this site, makes the front page of the Clare Champion this week.

Pue’s Occurrences

I’ve had an article accepted at the history blog. It’s about the capstan at O’Briensbridge on the old Limerick Navigation and the trade it facilitated. There is more information about the technicalities on my own page about O’Briensbridge.

Big it up for Waterways Ireland

Waterways Ireland and the National Trails Office have come together to develop a technical specification, including code of practice and risk assessment for canoe and small vessel trails in Ireland.

The National Trails Office started work on the classification of water based trails in its publication,”Classification and grading of recreational trails.” The purpose of this tender is to develop this process further and produce a technical specification, including a code of practice and risk assessment for the future development of canoe and other small water vessel trails on the rivers and waterways of Ireland.

Tender notice on the eTenders Public Procurement website here, but you may need to be registered to get the bumpy.

This is a Jolly Good Idea and much to be encouraged. There are some suggestions for possible trails (mostly not on WI waters) on this site.

Old photos of Parteen Villa Weir and barges

Thanks to Sam and Brian Grubb, I have been able to put up some photos, taken in 1930, of Parteen Villa Weir. The scanning of the photos was done at such high resolution that it is possible to see several vessels moored in the headrace below the weir.

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).