Tag Archives: O'Briensbridge

Shannon history in Birmingham

According to the Railway & Canal Historical Society’s Events page, its annual Clinker Memorial Lecture, to be held in Birmingham in October 2014, will be about River Shannon steamers in the second quarter of the nineteenth century:

The 2014 Clinker Memorial Lecture will be held in Birmingham on the afternoon of Saturday 18th October 2014. The speaker will be Brian Goggin, BA (Mod), MA.

Brian graduated from Trinity College, Dublin in Economics and Politics, and spent some years as honorary Editor of the quarterly magazine of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland. He and his wife Anne have been boating on Irish inland waterways since the late 1970s. He is currently working on a book on the Shannon steamers of the 1830s and 1840s, and the Clinker Lecture will draw on his research.

Before lunch (and independent of the Lecture) there will be a walking tour of central Birmingham, focusing on sites of waterway and railway interest.

 

The Gillogue railroad

Gillogue, in Co Clare, is the site of a former Burlington factory and of a Clare entrance to the University of Limerick. It is also the site of a lock on the Plassey–Errina Canal, a section of the old Limerick Navigation, and of quarries, gravel pits and lime kilns.

And, according to the 6″ Ordnance Survey map, of around 1840, Gillogue also had a railroad.

The Gillogue rail road

The Gillogue rail road (click to enlarge)

The railroad was almost certainly not for carrying passengers; it may have been a light railway, with small wagons pushed by men or pulled by horses, and designed to be taken up and moved elsewhere fairly easily. However, I have no hard information about who owned it, who built it or what it was for. I can make guesses, based on its closeness to the canal and to the quarries, but it would be nice to have evidence.

If, Gentle Reader, you know anything about it, do please leave a Comment below.

My OSI logo and permit number for website

Relieving Athlone

Parteen Villa Weir is sending large amounts of water down the original channel of the Shannon, and over the Falls of Doonass, to draw water off from the upper reaches of the river.

Castleconnell water level 20140210 264_resize

The footbridge at Castleconnell

Castleconnell water level 20140210 267_resize

Above the bridge

Castleconnell water level 20140210 269_resize

The downstream side of the bridge

Castleconnell water level 20140210 271_resize

A bumpy ride

Castleconnell water level 20140210 273_resize

At normal levels the bottom of the wall is several feet above the water

 

Levels below Parteen Villa have not yet reached those of 2009 and the channel can probably take more before folk get flooded.

The Old River Shannon site has some photos taken at Parteen Villa Weir.

Draining Lough Derg

The ESB is currently letting more water down the old course of the Shannon, from Parteen Villa Weir through O’Briensbridge, Castleconnell and the Falls of Doonass. This channel gets the first 10 cubic metres per second from the Shannon; the next 400 go through Ardnacrusha and anything left over is sent down the old course.

The result is to help to reduce the water level on Lough Derg while raising it on the old course.

The footbridge in Castleconnell at normal summer level in 2002

The footbridge in Castleconnell at normal summer level in 2002

The footbridge on 1 January 2014

The footbridge on 1 January 2014

Before Ardnacrusha was built, the old channel took the entire flow of the Shannon, so it can take more than it has now.

The footbridge in the floods of November 2009

The footbridge in the floods of November 2009

The level is still below that of 2009, when the land around the old channel flooded in several places. But much land is waterlogged: I saw yesterday that the upper reaches of the Nore, the Barrow and other rivers were in flood. And more rain is forecast.

Wouldn’t it be nice if some of that could be sent to Dublin instead? I see that some folk claim (on what looks like a website that hasn’t been updated for a while) that the evil Dublin folk want to extract 350 million litres of water from the Shannon every day; the original idea was to take it from Lough Ree but now it seems that Lough Derg is the preferred source.

Now 350 million litres sounds like a lot, but it’s 350 000 cubic metres per day, 14 583.3 per hour, 243.05 per minute, 4.05 per second, which is less than 1% of normal flow through the two channels draining Lough Derg. There’s a lot more at the moment, and the good citizens of Dublin are welcome to come down and fill their buckets. I suspect that Clare TD Michael McNamara has got things out of proportion.

Addendum: 350 million litres per day, over a lake whose area is 130 square kilometres, would lower the level of the lake (if my calculations are correct) by 2.69 millimetres. If no water entered the lake, the level would be down 983 mm after a year, ignoring evaporation and other abstractions and assuming that the Shannon and other tributaries no longer flowed in and that there was no rain.

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.

Up with this sort of thing

Folk interested in the history of the Shannon before 1850 may like to know of a talk …

The smart green technology of the 1830s: the Shannon steamers and the definition of Ireland

… to be delivered to the Thomond Archaeological and Historical Society on Monday 4 November 2013. It’s in Room T.1.17, TARA Building, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, at 8pm.

A related topic …

Charles Wye Williams and the Anglo-Irish Trade

… will be discussed in one of the papers at the Eighth [British] Waterways History Conference on Saturday 26 October 2013 at the University of Birmingham. Leave a Comment below if you would like contact information for the conference.

Shannon passage times 1838

Estuary

Kilrush to Limerick 4 hours

Tarbert to Limerick 3 hours

Clare[castle] to Limerick 3.5 hours

Limerick Navigation

Limerick to Killaloe:

  • iron passenger boat 2.5 hours
  • timber passenger boat 3.5 hours
  • trade boat 6 hours.

Shannon

Killaloe to Portumna:

  • passenger steamer 6 hours
  • steamer towing lumber boats 8 hours.

Portumna to Shannon Harbour:

  • 6 hours.

Shannon Harbour to Athlone:

  • 8 hours.

Source: Railway Commissioners second report Appendix B No 6.

Ardnacrusha drowning

Killaloe Coast Guard report.

The Marquis survives

I reported last October that an unused London pub, named after Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne, KG, PC, FRS, was threatened with demolition in favour of a museum extension.

I pointed out that the late Marquis had two claims on the attention of Irish waterways enthusiasts. First, the best-known of the early River Shannon steamers, the Lady Lansdowne, was named after his wife. Second, he was Lord President of the Council [the current holder of the post is Nick Clegg] when the government of Her Late Majesty Queen Victoria decided, in 1839, to spend about half a million pounds improving the Shannon Navigation.

The Indie reports today that Hackney Council’s planning committee has voted against the demolition, so the Marquis survives, at least for now.

The Charles Wye Williams bridge campaign

Dublin City Council has published its call for proposals for naming the new bridge across the Liffey. According to RTE, various bolshies and literary types have been suggested, as though we didn’t have enough of them (and of politicians too). Accordingly, I have submitted an application suggesting that the bridge be named after a successful entrepreneur who understood technology and created employment: Charles Wye Williams, the Father of the Shannon, whose fleet of nine steamers and fifty-two barges gave us the Shannon as we know it today.

I will be happy to send a copy (PDF) of my application to anyone who is willing to support it.