We embarked [on the Mahmoudié Canal at Alexandria] in a boat not unlike those that ply in Ireland upon the Grand Canal and, to say the truth, among the dreary wastes of swamp that surrounded us, we might also have fancied ourselves in the midst of the Bog of Allen.
The boat was towed by four wild, scraggy-looking horses, ridden by four wilder, scraggier-looking men; their naked feet were stuck in shovel stirrups, with the sharp sides of which they scored their horses flanks, after the fashion of crimped cod.
It is true, these jockeys wore tattered turbans instead of tattered hats, and loose blue gowns instead of grey frieze. Yet still there was nothing very new or imposing in the equipage, and the mud cabins that here and there encrusted the banks did not tend to obliterate Tipperary associations.
Eliot Warburton The Crescent and the Cross; or, romance and realities of eastern travel new ed, George P Putnam, New York 1848
There will be more on links between the Shannon and the Nile, Ireland and Egypt, at the Mountshannon Arts Festival on Saturday 1 June 2019 at 3.00pm, aboard one of the boats that used to “ply in Ireland upon the Grand Canal”.
Posted in Canals, Charles Wye Williams, Extant waterways, Foreign parts, Historical matters, Irish inland waterways vessels, Passenger traffic, Sea
Tagged Bourne, Nile, P&O, Shannon, Watson
There is a possible link between the Mahmoudié Canal, which ran from Alexandria to the Nile, and Irish waterways. I have not managed to establish a definite link to this Irish canal-boat but it is not ruled out either, and a few other Irish connections came up along the way: Oscar Wilde’s father, for instance, who wrote about the Boyne and the Corrib, and sent his most famous son to school on the Erne, travelled on the Mahmoudié Canal.
And did you know that, in the early 1840s, you could buy bottled Guinness and Bass in Cairo? Or that, to transport 50 people (including 12 ladies and 3 female servants) and 3 bags and 62 chests of mail across 84 miles of desert, you would have needed, in 1841,
- 130 camel men, donkey men and servants
- an escort of 17 Arab horsemen
- 145 camels
- 60 donkeys
- 12 saddle horses
- 12 carriage horses
- 7 carriage camels
- 12 donkey chairs: “for invalids, or ladies, the donkey-chair forms as easy a conveyance as a palanquin or sedan”
- 3 two-wheeled carriages
- 1 four-wheeled carriage?
Or that, to reduce the number of rats and insects on a cangia (sailing boat) on the Nile, you should sink it for two or three days before boarding?
You can read about all of that and more in this PDF. However, it’s not for the faint-hearted: it’s 51 pages, with over 300 endnotes (which you don’t have to read) and lots of links for those who are really interested. There are illustrations in some of the linked materials.
The Mahmoudié mystery v04 iwh [PDF]
Posted in Ashore, Canals, Charles Wye Williams, Drainage, Economic activities, Engineering and construction, Extant waterways, Foreign parts, Forgotten navigations, Industrial heritage, Ireland, Irish inland waterways vessels, Natural heritage, Operations, People, Politics, Restoration and rebuilding, Scenery, Sea, Shannon, Sources, Steamers, Tourism, waterways, Waterways management
Tagged Alexandria, Atfé, barge, boats, bridge, Cairo, camels, canal, Charles Wye Williams, Dublin, East India Company, Egypt, Grand Canal, India, Ireland, iron, lock, Mahmoudié, mails, Muhammad Ali, Napier, Nile, Operations, P&O, Pasha, Royal Canal, Shannon, steamer, Suez, trackboat, vessels, Waghorn, waterways, William Watson