Tag Archives: Mountmellick

Canal carrying 1846: Dublin to Waterford

Lowtown is at the western end of the summit level of the Grand Canal; it thus has some claim to be the highest point on the canal. It is close to the village of Robertstown in County Kildare.

Lowtown is also the site of the junction between the main (Dublin to Shannon) line of the Grand Canal and its most important branch, the Barrow Line.

Lowtown (OSI ~1840)

Lowtown (OSI ~1840)

The main line from Dublin comes in from near the bottom right and exits near the top left. The two cuts leaving near the bottom left are the Old and New Barrow Lines, which join together just off the map. The Barrow Line runs to Athy, in south County Kildare, from which the Barrow [river] Navigation runs to the tidal lock at St Mullins, downstream of Graiguenamanagh.

The River Nore joins the Barrow a litle further downstream; the Nore is navigable on the tide upstream to Inistiogue. The combined rivers flow south through the port of New Ross and eventually join the estuary of the River Suir. Turning right at that point takes you up the Suir to Waterford, Carrick-on-Suir and Clonmel. Thus the Barrow Line, from Lowtown, forms an inland waterway link between Dublin and some towns along the Barrow, Nore and Suir.

Isaac Slater’s Directory[i] of 1846 lists those carrying goods on inland waterways. There is a long list for Dublin; entries for other towns list those providing local services. There are some conflicts between the lists (see below).

The map below shows those carrying on the Barrow Line of the Grand Canal and on the rivers Barrow, Nore and Suir. Each carrier is assigned a colour, which is used to frame the name of each place served by that carrier. Some towns (Mountmellick, Carrick-on-Suir, Clonmel) are off the map, further to the west. Note that the map is from the 25″ Ordnance Survey map of around 1900 rather than the 6″ of around 1840: I used it because it was clearer, but it shows features (eg railway lines) that were not present in 1846.

Click on the map to get a slightly larger version.

Dublin to Waterford: inland waterway traders 1846 (OSI)

Dublin to Waterford: inland waterway carriers 1846 (OSI)

Notes

All but one of the carriers are shown as having Dublin premises at Grand Canal Harbour, James Street. The exception is Gaven & Co, which is mentioned only in the Mountmellick entry.

I have not included the Grand Canal Company’s passenger-carrying boats, which carried parcels but not goods.

The City of Dublin Steam Packet Company entry for Dublin does not include Portarlington and Mountmellick amongst the towns served but the entry for Mountmellick says that the company’s boats leave for Dublin every Tuesday and Friday (its agent being John White) while that for Portarlington says they leave weekly. Boats from Mountmellick had to pass through Portarlington as well as Monastereven and other towns en route to Dublin.

Similarly, the entry for Mountmellick says that the Hylands boats leave there every other day while that for Portarlington says that they pass through weekly.

There is a page missing from the electronic copy of the directory that I consulted so the entry for Monastereven is incomplete.

The entry for Carlow says

To DUBLIN, and also to [New] ROSS, Boats depart, at uncertain periods, from the Wharfs of Lawrence and James Kelly, the Quay.

It does not say whether Lawrence and James Kelly owned any boats. They may have had boats but used them only for their own goods.

The entry for Mountmellick says “Bryan Hyland” rather than “B Hylands”.

The entry for Mountmellick includes the only mention I have found of Gaven & Co’s boats (James Waldron, agent).

The entry for Rathangan says

There are Boats for the conveyance of Goods, but no fixed period of departure.

Thomas Berry & Co, the most important carrier on the Grand Canal, did not venture south of Lowtown.

More

As far as I know, little has been written about the carrying companies, especially those of the nineteenth century. I would be glad to hear from anyone who can correct, supplement or comment on this information.


[i] I Slater’s National Commercial Directory of Ireland: including, in addition to the trades’ lists, alphabetical directories of Dublin, Belfast, Cork and Limerick. To which are added, classified directories of the important English towns of Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Leeds and Bristol; and, in Scotland, those of Glasgow and Paisley. Embellished with a large new map of Ireland, faithfully depicting the lines of railways in operation or in progress, engraved on steel. I Slater, Manchester, 1846

My OSI logo and permit number for website

Watering Dublin

Someone asked me recently about the progress of the scheme to supply Dublin with water from the Shannon. I had to confess that I haven’t been keeping up with the matter, because I don’t think it’s very important, but happily KildareStreet.com has provided an update. On Tuesday 16 July 2013 one of the Sinn Féin chappies, Brian Stanley of Laois-Offaly, asked a priority question:

54. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government the progress being made on the Dublin, Garryhinch, Shannon water supply project; and the timeframe for planning, construction and completion phases of this project.

I suspect that most folk think of the scheme as one involving Dublin and the Shannon, so that the inclusion of Garryhinch may have been puzzling. It seems that Garryhinch is on the road from Portarlington to Mountmellick, just after that nasty bend where folk go to commit golf.

And Mr Stanley is interested not because he wants Garryhinch, Portarlington Golf Club, or indeed Portarlington and Mountmellick to be flooded but because he wants his constituents to be employed digging a hole in the ground there (a bit like the Clones Sheugh, really) and working in a water-based ecopark that will include a reservoir where the Shannon’s water will be stored.

Anyway, Fergus O’Dowd [FG, Louth], who is a Minister of State for something, replied:

The Dublin water supply scheme long-term water source is listed as a scheme at planning stage in my Department’s water services investment programme 2010 to 2013. Dublin City Council is the lead authority for this scheme, on behalf of all of the water services authorities in the greater Dublin area.

Studies carried out for the city council and a strategic environmental assessment have identified a preferred option which involves abstraction of raw water from Lough Derg and pumping the abstracted water through a new pipeline to a proposed storage reservoir at Garryhinch cut-away bog in County Offaly, forming part of a proposed midlands water-based eco-park. After treatment, water would then be conveyed to the west of Dublin where the new supply would be integrated with the existing storage and trunk distribution system.

In December 2012, the Department approved a brief for the engagement of consultants for the planning and statutory approval phase of the scheme. Dublin City Council has carried out a procurement process and I understand it will shortly be in a position to appoint a consultant to advance the further planning of this scheme.

The programme for project implementation has been developed based on the planning and statutory approval phase taking approximately two years. The detailed design and procurement phase should take a further two years, while the construction and commissioning phase should be completed in three years.

Following their appointment by Dublin City Council, the consultants will undertake the environmental impact statement and other statutory requirements in preparation for a submission to An Bord Pleanála which will adjudicate on the matter.

He forgot to mention “best practice”, so he’s lost some brownie points. Mr Stanley wanted it all to happen much faster, to be completed before 2021, but the discussion provided no more useful information. Bord na Móna has some more information about the eco-park here. All good stuff, much as I suggested for Lough Oughter, but I’d lose the eco title: eco stuff is so last millennium.

FF -v- SF on C18 economic development

More from the splendid KildareStreet.com, this time an actual Dáil debate, with real people speaking, on 30 May 2013. The debate was initiated by Micheál Martin [head honcho in FF, Cork South Central], who asked the minister …

… his plans for capital investment in Waterways Ireland in the coming year; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

There are three odd aspects to that question.

The first is that Micheál Martin should already know that the capital expenditure allocation for WI within RoI for 2013 is €4 071 000: I can understand that he wouldn’t have wanted to plough through the vast wodges of budgetary bumpf, but I’m sure he would have read the highlights on this site.

The second oddity is that Micheál Martin must have known that the minister would not himself have any plans for capital expenditure: they would be WI’s plans.

The third oddity is that FF didn’t seem to have any particular reason for asking this question: the rest of the debate (see below) seems rather desultory. Could it be that it’s trying to reclaim the waterways limelight from the Shinners, who’ve been keeping an eye on WI dredging as well as on thon sheugh?

To be honest, it all seems a bit pointless: waterways may be interesting to me, and presumably to readers of this site, but they’re hardly of great national importance. A serious debate, by informed participants, might be useful, but (with all due respect to the contributors) there was little sign of that here.

Jimmy Deenihan did actually give some interesting, albeit minor, details about WI’s plans for this year. I omit the first two paras and the last, which are boring boilerplate bumpf that will be familiar to regular readers.

Jimmy Deenihan [FG, Kerry North/West Limerick]: While the Waterways Ireland 2013 business plan and budget is the subject of ongoing discussions with the co-sponsoring Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure in Northern Ireland and will require formal approval by the North-South Ministerial Council, I have provided an indicative funding allocation of €4.071 million to Waterways Ireland for capital projects in this jurisdiction in the coming year. This will facilitate capital works by Waterways Ireland in developing, restoring and improving infrastructure for water based and activity recreation and tourism, consolidating facilitates and improving access to the waterways across the navigations.

I am advised that the Waterways Ireland draft 2013 business plan has a development schedule providing for 1354 m of additional moorings across the navigations. Works planned within this jurisdiction include a range of major projects such as upgrading Bagenalstown Lock on the Barrow; provision of a slipway and stabilisation of the dock walls at Grand Canal Dock, dredging the Grand Canal; development of houseboat facilities at Lowtown and Sallins; lifting the bridge at Tullamore depot; bridge upgrades, works on weirs and locks on the Shannon; and commencement of work on the Belturbet Service Block on the Shannon Erne and purchase of plant and machinery.

I said that I would welcome information about what “lifting the bridge at Tullamore depot” means. The answer was provided in the Comments below; here is a photo of the bridge in question.

The (currently non-lifting) lifting bridge at Tullamore

The (currently non-lifting) lifting bridge at Tullamore

 

Most of the rest is unsurprising.

The FF follow-up came from Seán Ó Fearghaíl [FF, Kildare South], who said:

I welcome the many positive developments to which the Minister referred but one of our concerns is that since 2011 the funding available for Waterways Ireland has been cut from €35 million to approximately €32 million.

Studies over the years have shown that waterways tourism is one of the activities that is most likely to generate return visits. As a regular user of places like the Shannon Navigation, one never ceases to be amazed at the number of non-nationals one meets on that waterway who have been coming back to Ireland year in, year out. I wonder to what extent the funding the Minister has available to him should be augmented by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. These waterways are of immense value to the local populations privileged to live in the catchment area of each amenity, along with their huge tourism importance. What sort of interaction does the Minister have with tourism bodies north of the Border and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport? Is anything planned for the waterways under the auspices of The Gathering?

What has happened in Kildare this week? We had Bernard Durkan [FG, Kildare North] the other day and Clare Daly [Socialist Party, Dublin North, but originally from Newbridge, Co Kildare] a moment ago; now we have a new chap from Kildare South.

Anyway, it can’t have come as any surprise to Mr Ó Fearghaíl that WI’s budget has been cut: so has everybody else’s, and the budgets were announced last December. I note that he didn’t ask how the Clones Sheugh was to be funded, never mind the Cavan Sheugh to Lough Oughter. But his question is the sort that a journalist might ask: vague, unfocused, couched in generalities, lacking in evidence of research into the subject. I would like to know more about his “Studies over the years”, with particular reference to the balance between and the allocation of the costs and benefits of investment in waterways; generating return visits is not in itself terribly useful (I really do not want Great Aunt Maud here again).

Not that the minister offered many hard facts in his reply:

I have seen for myself the provision of moorings at Killaloe and Ballina. Those have made a major difference to both towns in different counties on either side of the Shannon. The result of that investment is obvious and local people would accept that.

As regards involvement from Fáilte Ireland, Waterways Ireland is augmenting Fáilte Ireland’s promotion of the waterways. Waterways Ireland is providing funding on an annual basis for the promotion of tourism on its waterways. It is a North-South body, which is also very important, because Tourism Ireland promotes the entire island and the waterways network of more than 1,000 navigable kilometres can really be pushed on an all-island basis and we are doing that. I have tried to minimise the reduction in funding for Waterways Ireland because of its North-South significance and its potential and considerable work has been done. We have improved facilities for tourists so we are now ready to proactively promote this great facility.

Any, like, figures? Statistics? References to analyses? How much of WI’s budget is being diverted to the tourism bods and what is the benefit?

Next (and last) up was Peadar Tóibín [SF, Meath West], with “now for something completely different“:

A number of groups are actively trying to create a green way along the Boyne from the estuary to its source. The Boyne is littered with internationally recognised heritage monuments and would be a fantastic tourist attraction that would bring people into the region. People who holiday in the region visit Trim Castle and Newgrange on coach trips and as ar result Meath does not get the full value of their tourism. The Boyne Canal runs from Navan to Drogheda. It is not covered by the Waterways Ireland network. Would the Minister agree that such a canal should be brought within the ambit of Waterways Ireland, along with other canals, and would he consider the funds that might be available to help with the development of such a green way along the River Boyne?

The minister’s reply is interesting:

We have no plans to extend the present 1,000 kilometres of navigable waterways. The focus of our investment in capital development will be from Clones to Lough Erne to the value of €35 million.

What? No Cavan Sheugh? No Kilbeggan, Longford or Mountmellick Branch?

Oh, and note that the figure of €35 million is being quoted for the Clones Sheugh, although the last estimate I had form WI was higher than that.

The minister continued:

As regards the green way, I do not have direct responsibility but any way I can help through Waterways Ireland, I will do so. As a keen cyclist and walker, I am all for encouraging green ways wherever possible. If the Deputy has a proposal I can forward to Waterways Ireland for discussion, I will gladly take it.

Well, well. A Monaghan greenway is being developed; why not a Clones greenway too, instead of an expensive canal?

Just in case you were wondering …

Grand water

Here is a page about the feeders that supplied water to the Grand Canal. There will soon be a page about the Royal Canal feeders; these will lead to an examination of the current and proposed supply of water to the Royal.

A waterway for everyone in the audience

My attention has been drawn to this Dáil written question by Joan Burton TD (Dublin West, Labour) and the answer by Éamon Ó Cuív TD (Minister, Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Galway West, Fianna Fail).

The layout on the kildarestreet site is not perfect, so I reproduce some of the list here:

The following are the details requested by the Deputy in respect of non-navigable stretches of canals that are within the control of Waterways Ireland and are being or could be restored:

Grand Canal

  • Kilbeggan Branch (8.2 miles long) in Co. Offaly and Co. Westmeath
  • Part of Naas & Corbally Branch (Corbally Extension) (4.4 miles long) in Co. Kildare
  • Barrow Line Part of Mountmellick Branch (0.25 miles long) in Co. Kildare (remaining 11 miles filled in).

Royal Canal

  • Part of Royal Canal (11 miles long) in Co. Longford, currently under restoration
  • Longford Branch (3 miles long) in Co. Longford.

The Royal Canal main line is currently under restoration and the remaining work necessary to return it to full navigation between Dublin and the Shannon is due for completion in 2010.

Ulster Canal

  • 46 miles long in Co. Cavan, Co. Monaghan, Co. Fermanagh and Co. Armagh.

Approval has been given to Waterways Ireland to restore the stretch between Lough Erne and Clones. Present indications are that this stretch could be re-opened by 2013.

And (perhaps because the economy was so successful) we could have waterways everywhere:

It is intended, subject to availability of resources, to carry out feasibility studies and preliminary designs in relation to the Longford Branch, the Kilbeggan Branch and the Corbally Extension, along with extensions to Annagh Upper near Dowra on the Shannon Navigation and to Lough Oughter on the Erne System with a view to possible re-opening. Consideration will also be given to the carrying out of preliminary analysis and assessment of the Mountmellick Branch, as well as the Boyne Navigation (which is primarily a river navigation) and the extension towards Mohill on the Rinn River, as future possibilities for restoration.

“The Irish economy entered severe recession in 2008,” according to Wikipedia’s useful summary of the financial crisis, but Craggy Island (nach maireann, comme on dit) still hoped to drag Ireland into the Canal Age.

 

 

Portarlington and Mountmellick

I have added some photos and maps to the page about the Mountmellick Line of the Grand Canal. Thanks to Martin O’Shea for two of the photos.

Russells of Portarlington, timber merchants

I am indebted to Eleanor Russell for permission to reproduce four photos of the canal operations of Messrs Russells of Portarlington, timber merchants and sawmills operators. They used the Royal and Grand Canals (and the Barrow Line and Mountmellick Branch) to carry timber cut on large estates to their sawmills. One of the estates on which they cut timber was Rockville, and Eleanor Russell has also given me permission to use a photo of Rockville House, taken in 1913, on my page about the Rockville Navigations.

The upper Barrow

Charlie Horan (of Go with the Flow, the canoe expedition specialists) left a comment on my post about Abbeyleix (below) saying

I have some very very interesting pictures of the Barrow near source in flood taken just two weeks ago ….

And here they are. They are indeed interesting!

White water (courtesy Eamonn and Charlie Horan)

Eek (courtesy Eamonn and Charlie Horan)

The burling Barrow brown (as Gerald Manley Hopkins called it) (courtesy Eamonn and Charlie Horan)

Even the indefatigable F E Prothero might have been put off …. He canoed down from Mountmellick to Athy in 1897, taking about eight and a half hours. Major Rowland Raven-Hart said that the Barrow had been canoed from a little above Portarlington (which is downstream of Mountmellick); there is a PDF of his book here.

Back in the USSR

I’ve added some photos of Moscow to my page South of Moscow, north of Geneva about the Grand Canal Company’s collieries.