Tag Archives: Office of Public Works

The OPW’s 1969 restoration of Richmond Harbour and the Clondra Canal

Read about it here.

Big it up for the OPW

I’ve just been reading some particularly nitwitted Dáil discussions and I need some time to calm down enough to report on them to the Learned Readers of this site. Let me just say that anyone who thinks that politicians cannot distinguish fact from fiction is absolutely right. But enough of that for the moment.

I reported earlier on an oddity in the results from the OPW’s Athlone waterlevel gauge. I emailed the OPW about it and a helpful chap got back on more or less immediately.

He explained that the data we see on the waterlevel.ie site is, as it were, live: raw unfiltered data with nothing added, nothing taken away. The same data goes in to the OPW and they spotted that the Athlone gauge was reading too high. They found the sensor was faulty; they have now adjusted it and the new, lower readings are correct.

The disappearance of the placenames is because of some work in progress on improving the website; they will be back.

He kindly pointed me to a list, in .xlsm format, downloadable from here; it shows all hydrometric stations in Ireland. It shows who operates them, whether they’re active and whether they use telemetry (which I take to mean that they can be monitored remotely). Unfortunately OPW itself doesn’t seem to have any gauges on Lough Derg and nor does Waterways Ireland. OPW does have a rather excitable gauge at Scarriff and gauges upstream of Meelick Weir and Meelick (Victoria) Lock. The ESB has gauges with telemetry at Ballyvalley (25073) and Killaloe (25074) but I can’t find any website giving the levels. If, Gentle Reader, you can find one, perhaps you would let us know.

The consoling part of dealing with the OPW is that you get the distinct impression that they know some useful stuff. Unlike, say, some folk working in Kildare Street ….

Thump it on the thirteenth

Here is a screenshot from the OPW’s online waterlevel gauge for Athlone Weir. It shows the levels for the past 35 days. In recent days the waterlevel website has ceased to show the names or locations of the gauges, but 26333 is Athlone Weir.

Athlone waterlevel: 35 days to 14 February 2014

Athlone waterlevel: 35 days to 14 February 2014

Note the odd discontinuities: the level jumped up on 13 February and fell back on 13 February. Does the gauge get stuck every so often and have to be thumped to free it?

I do not know. I have reported both the discontinuities and the disappearance of the station names to the OPW.


Lowering Lough Ree

I reported in October and in November on the lowering of the level of Lough Ree, in advance of heavy rain, to see whether that would help to manage flooding on the Shannon Callows further downstream.

The interim data from the experiment is available on the OPW website here [seven-page PDF]. The conclusion is:

From the water level records, it is apparent that the closing of the gates at Athlone weir in anticipation of a rise in water levels on Lough Ree led to a temporary lowering of the Shannon water levels immediately downstream of Athlone. This possibly delayed inundation of the Shannon callows downstream of Athlone by a number of days. To determine whether the extent or depth of eventual inundation was in any way reduced by the experiment will require more detailed analysis by the CFRAM consultants. Data is available on request from Hydrometric Section if required.

It should be stressed that this is an interim report. This CFRAM background document [PDF] is still useful.

It is not clear to me why the state should spend any money improving the value of privately owned riverside land that is of marginal benefit to the economy.


Cutting and pasting

One of the problems with all this newfangled technology is that some things — like, for instance, copying a block of text from one document into another – are so easy that folk may forget to check their work afterwards.

Consider, for instance, the Office of Public Works, which seems to have a block of boilerplate text ready for answering written boilerplate questions from midlands TDs who have discovered that things get wet when it rains.

On 22 January 2014 Denis Naughten [Ind, Roscommon/South Leitrim, which — let it be admitted — The Lord intended to be rather boggy and sad] had this question:

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the steps being taken to address flood risks within the Shannon basin; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The answer tells Mr Naughten about CFRAM — nothing he didn’t know before he asked, I imagine — but it included this sentence:

On foot of discussions between my colleague, Minister of State Hayes and the IFA, and with the cooperation of both the ESB and Waterways Ireland, a water level monitoring exercise is being carried out as part of the CFRAM process which will allow for analysis of water flows and levels at key points around the Lough Ree and Callows areas.

The highlighting is mine: it seemed a bit odd because this written answer was allegedly being given by Mr Hayes.

Mr Naughten had another Q&A here, but it’s not very interesting.





A threat to an existing navigation

I have a page here about the River Maigue, one of Ireland’s oldest improved navigations. Incidentally, the river’s name is locally pronounced Mag, to rhyme with bag.

In 2009 I wrote to the Powers That Be to suggest that the (much to be desired) bypass of Adare, a major bottleneck on the N21 Limerick–Tralee/Killarney road, should pass to the south of the town, thus avoiding the interference with the navigation that would undoubtedly have resulted from a northern bypass. It was no doubt the strength of my case, and a recognition of the importance of the navigation, that caused the Powers to opt for a southern bypass. A proposed link to a proposed M20 Limerick–Cork motorway may have been a minor factor in their decision: as nobody was going to build a motorway to Kerry, Adare would piggyback on the motorway to Cork.

However, An Bord Pleanála overturned the decision [PDFs available here] because the M20 proposal was withdrawn. The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association is pleased because it wanted a northern bypass of Adare, to be linked to a new road from Limerick to the port of Foynes; its submission on the matter is here [PDF]. A Limerick ICSA chap has a letter to the editor about the Foynes link in the current issue of the Limerick Leader, although it’s not yet available online.

Now, this proposal has the drawback that it might actually be slightly sensible: a better road to Foynes might stop people agitating for a restoration of the railway line and enable a speedy ending of port activities in Limerick, thus removing large piles of scrap from the riverside. But have the ICSA not considered the damage to the turf-boat traffic to Adare if a road bridge is added to the railway bridge downstream of Adare?

OPW on the Shannon Estuary

A brief note on the navigational interests of the Office of Public Works on the Shannon Estuary.

Saving the banks

The banks, the Fergus and the lost island of Islandavanna.

A medieval priory and its lessons for Irish waterways history

See The Stones of Athassel here.

It’s not the bleeding Grand Canal

To Limerick City Council offices this evening, where the family of Cecil Mercier, Mill Manager of Bannatyne’s in Limerick and later supervisor of all Ranks mills in Ireland, were handing over his papers to the Limerick City Council Archive.

No photos of the Ranks boats that worked on the Shannon, alas, but perhaps there are some in the archives.

A booklet, Cecil Mercier & the Limerick Rank Mills, was distributed (free): an interesting account of the man and the industry. But it contains this sentence:

At the turn of the twentieth century there were other flour and animal feed mills in and around the city such as the Lock Mills at the junction of the Abbey River and the Grand Canal and the maize mills in Mount Kenneth and Mallow Street.

The canal in Limerick is one of five sections of the Limerick Navigation, and has recently been dubbed the Park Canal. It was not constructed by the Grand Canal Company. It was not owned by the Grand Canal Company. It was not operated by the Grand Canal Company. The only connection between that canal and the Grand Canal is that the Grand Canal Company was permitted to operate its boats on the route and was provided with premises at the canal harbour in Limerick. It put its name on the transhipment canopy, and perhaps that may have given people the mistaken idea that the Grand Canal Company owned the canal. But during the period when the GCC operated its boats, the canal was owned and operated by the Board of Works (Shannon Navigation).