Tag Archives: passage boat

Death on the Royal

Sudden death

A distressing scene took place lately in a canal boat near Mullingar. A versatile humorous fellow who was on board, having seen a pair of Irish brogues, asked who was the owner, and got a general answer in the negative, when he flung the brogues into the canal.

A serjeant’s wife, who was going to America, a fine young woman, 26 years of age, burst into an immoderate fit of laughter, and instantly died. Medical aid was soon procured, but to no effect.

Sussex Advertiser 8 August 1831

R&CHS Longford

The current issue of the Railway & Canal Historical Society‘s Journal contains an article on the sinking of the passage boat Longford on the Royal Canal in 1845 and the fifteen deaths that resulted. The story has also been told here, starting from this page.

Sunday travel

The Rev Mr Stavelly said that he would avail himself of the present occasion to draw the attention of the directors to a subject in which he felt much interest — namely, the propriety of the company discontinuing the plying of their passage-boats on Sundays, and he moved a resolution to that effect, which was seconded by Mr Robert Guinness.

The Chairman stated that the subject of the rev gentleman’s motion had been already, on various occasions, under the consideration of the Court of Directors, but, with any desire, on their part, to meet the views of those who objected to Sunday travelling, it had been hitherto found impracticable to reconcile the proposed change with the convenience of the public or the interests of the company. He believed it was not in his power to put the resolution from the chair, as by the laws which governed the proceedings of the company, no resolution could be put to any meeting which had not direct reference to the objects for which it was called, but that he would again draw the attention of the directors to the subject on the very earliest occasion.

The meeting then adjourned.

From the report on the stated half-yearly meeting of the Grand Canal Company held on Saturday 23 October 1841 in the Dublin Morning Register 25 October 1841

 

Dublin to Limerick or Kilkenny

FRANCIS JENKINSON,
At the DROGHEDA’s ARMS, Monasterevan,
PROPRIETOR of the LIMERICK and KILKENNY
STAGE COACHES

Most respectfully informs his friends and the public, that he has removed from the Old Town of Monasterevan, to a spacious and elegant house adjoining the Canal, which he has fitted up in a stile superior to any on the road:— His coach-houses, stabling, &c are on a very extensive scale; he has gone to a great expence in fitting up stall stables, which he flatters himself will give general satisfaction; — returns his sincere thanks for the numerous favours received since his commencement in business.

His Larder is constantly well assorted, and his wines are of the first quality.

NB said Jenkinson informs the public, that his Stage from Kilkenny sets off precisely at half after four in the morning, arrives in time for the three o’clock packet which leaves Monasterevan, and on passengers coming from Dublin will arrive in Ballyroan, so as to be in Kilkenny early next day. Said coach passes through Castle Durrow coming and going.

Stage passengers for Limerick or Kilkenny not charged with beds.

Seats taken in Dublin at Mr John Goffen’s, No 7, Bolton-street, and in Kilkenny at Mr Francis Reynold’s, Wheat Sheaf.

Dublin Evening Post 17 June 1790

 

 

I would be glad to hear from anyone who can tell me where Mr Jenkinson’s Drogheda’s Arms was. Please leave a Comment below.

Grand Canal Passage Boat Horses

Proposals in writing will be received by the Court of Directors, at No 105, Grafton street, for drawing six Passage-boats, for three, four, or five years, between the city of Dublin and Monasterevan. The Contractors to be paid monthly.

Proposals to be delivered in two ways, either for the present five stages, from Dublin to Hazle-hatch, Sallins, Robertstown, Rathangan, and Monasterevan; or for four stages, viz Hazle-hatch, Digby-bridge, Elanaree, and Monasterevan. Persons proposing may send proposals either for the whole line, or any one or more of the before-mentioned stages.

Any alteration that shall hereafter be made, by increasing or decreasing the number of Passage Boats, to be mutually allowed for in proportion to the contract.

The boys to be kept in proper apparel, and the contractors to find track lines.

Stables will be found by the Company on the new stages — if they should be adopted.

Proposals will be received until the 1st day of August next, and the contracts to commence on the 1st of October ensuing.

Security in the sum of £500 must be given for the due performance of the contracts.

Signed by order,
W Browne Sec

Dublin Evening Post 17 June 1790

Another waterways mystery

According to Ruth Delany [Ruth Delany and Ian Bath Ireland’s Royal Canal 1789–2009 The Lilliput Press, Dublin 2010], the Royal Canal’s fast passenger-carrying fly-boats had neither toilets nor cooking facilities; the slower night-boats were better equipped.

So how did the fly-boat passengers relieve themselves?

Given that the boats travelled at six Irish miles per hour (about 12 km/h), any passenger who disembarked for the purpose would have found it difficult to catch up again. Yet standing on the notoriously unstable boats might have been difficult for the gentlemen, while the problems facing the ladies are not to be contemplated.

I don’t think that the india-rubber urinal had been invented by then. So what did they do?

 

Limerick gammon

Thanks to AOD for alerting me to an article by Morgan McCloskey “O’Maras of Limerick and their overseas business” [PDF] from the Old Limerick Journal summer 2001. O’Maras were bacon and ham curers: according to Frank Prendergast “The Decline of Traditional Limerick Industries” in David Lee & Debbie Jacobs, eds Made in Limerick: History of industries, trade and commerce Volume 1 [Limerick Civic Trust, Limerick 2003]

James O’Mara of Toomevara in County Tipperary had established the business in a small house on Mungret Street in 1839. He started bacon curing in the basement but it became so successful that he had to move shortly afterwards to the premises in Roches Street, which they occupied until its closure in 1987.

The waterways interest arises from McCloskey’s having drawn on Patricia Lavelle James O’Mara: a staunch Sinn Féiner Dublin 1961, republished in 2011 under a slightly different title. Lavelle’s O’Mara, her father, was also covered here and was the grandson of the original James who set up the business in 1839. We are concerned with neither of the Jameses: Stephen, son of the first and father of the second, is the man of the moment. McCloskey says that Lavelle says that Stephen preferred to go to Dublin by boat rather than by rail and that she gives this description of one such trip:

Then the boat went through the heart of Ireland; and the country, with its hills and green fields, was spread before him in all its changing beauty for the best part of a couple of days. The steamer left Limerick and made its way up the Shannon, avoiding the rapids by various canals and locks.

After Killaloe it reached the wide waters of Lough Derg. The passengers had the run of the boat and could get a snack meal if they wished. Once, when grandfather was travelling this way, terrible squalls sprang up and the lake was very rough, but usually they could stop for a moment at Holy Island and see the ancient ruins there, and pass on by the wooded heights of the Tipperary shore, past Dromineer to Portumna, crossing and re-crossing the lake until they found anchorage in Shannon Harbour, as far north as Offaly.

There was a big hotel there owned by the Grand Canal Company, where they all stayed for the night and got to know one another; and feasted on chicken and bacon and cabbage followed by apple pie, and then sat round huge turf fires swopping stories or playing cards.

Next morning the canal boat awaited them, gay with its overhead canopy to protect passengers from the heat of the sun or from inclement weather. The passengers sat in two long rows, back to back, and gazed out across the fields as the paddle lazily churned up the turbid waters and the boat made leisurely progress along the canal. The monotony was broken once in a while by the excitement of passing through a lock.

The problem with this romantic account is that, as presented, it’s rubbish.

Stephen O’Mara was born in 1844 and began work in the family business in 1860. The passenger boat service between Limerick and Killaloe ceased in 1848, when the railway reached Limerick (though there were occasional special excursions after that).

The service was by horse-drawn boat, not by steamer; though there had been some attempts at running steamers, the Limerick boats did not go beyond Killaloe, whence larger steamers ran to Portumna or, later, to Shannon Harbour and places further north.

Scheduled passenger services did not “stop for a moment” at Holy Island, which was off the main route to Portumna.

The canal hotel at Shannon Harbour effectively ceased operating as such in 1847, according to Ruth Delany The Grand Canal of Ireland David and Charles, Newton Abbot 1973.

The canal passage boats did not have canopies, the passengers sat facing each other rather than back to back and the boats were horse-drawn rather than paddle-driven. Furthermore, the service ceased in 1852.

I cannot explain the extent of the inaccuracies, but perhaps Lavelle’s account should have been attributed to the elder James rather than to his son Stephen. I would be glad to hear from anyone who can cast light on this; please leave a Comment below.

 

 

 

New Engine and Propellers for Canal Navigation

Mr Peter Taylor, of Hollinwood, has recently taken out patents for two inventions — one for a rotary high-pressure marine steam engine on a new principle; and the other, that which chiefly calls for notice, for paddles or propellers, also of an entirely new construction. His principal object was to attain that desideratum in steam navigation on canals, sufficient motive power for considerable speed, without the injury to the canal banks caused by the action of the ordinary paddles.

The apparatus consists of a series of vanes or curved blades, placed obliquely, like the sails of a windmill, or like portions of a continuous screw. The apparatus is placed at the stern of the vessel in a small enclosure of water, the sides of the boat being continued beyond the stern, and the rudder being fixed beyond the propellers. They occupy a space of about a yard and a half in length, and, in the instance under notice, seven feet in breadth.

There are two parallel axes or shafts, which project from the stern, each shaft having four pairs of vanes or blades, at short distances, and so placed as to strike the water in quick succession, and obliquely, like the scull of a boat. The oars or blades on one shaft have an action like that of a right-hand screw, and those of the other like that of a left-hand one; and the vanes of each shaft work nearly up to the other shaft, and thus their joint action has the effect of propelling the boat forward, or when reversed, by altering the motion of the driving-wheel, in a direction stern first. They are said to differ (amongst other respects) from all propellers previously invented, both in their screw-like action, and in the axles being wholly under water.

By way of trying experiments with these propellers, Mr Taylor has had a set of them fitted to an old iron boat, about fifty-two feet in length, and seven feet in width, formerly worked on the canals by Messrs Buckley, Kershaw and Co. One of Mr Taylor’s new rotary engines of only five horses’ power has been fitted into the boat, which has been named “The Experiment of Hollinwood“. After several private trials, this boat made its first experimental trip on the river Irwell, yesterday week.

Mr Taylor and a few friends proceeded from the Old Quay, Manchester, as far as Barton-on-Irwell, and on the whole they state that the action of both engine and propellers was satisfactory; though in returning there was a deficiency of steam, from the filling-up of the fire-tubes with coke; a casualty which was remedied as soon as discovered. The speed was regarded as in a high degree satisfactory; being, it is stated, generally at the rate of six, and occasionally seven miles an hour. The motive power was deemed inadequate to accomplish all that the inventor had a right to anticipate; but it is mentioned as one proof of the superiority of his inventions, that the Jack Sharp, a passage boat belonging to the Old Quay Company (whose first trip, after being fitted with engine and stern paddles, we noticed some time ago), was not at all able to keep up with the Experiment, though the engine of the former is twelve horses’, and that of the latter is only five horses’ power.

On Wednesday the Experiment steamed down to Runcorn, by river and canal, and the whole distance was accomplished in about five hours’ working; including the stoppages at the locks, and those caused by the parties on the boat having themselves to open the bridges on the Runcorn Canal. The boat stopped a short time at Barton, and several hours at Warrington, which place it did not leave until dark, and performed the distance between Warrington and Runcorn (which, it is said, is about seven miles and three quarters) in about an hour, including delays from the cause just noticed. This increased rate was attributed to having obtained a better description of coke at Warrington.

The boat remained at Runcorn for some hours, and, having so far performed her work to the satisfaction of the voyagers, they determined to proceed in her to Liverpool. They started from Runcorn at half-past three o’clock on Thursday morning, with the tide, and reached the Rock Ferry, opposite Liverpool, by five o’clock, performing the distance in about an hour and a half.

The Experiment is considered to be by no means well adapted for the purposes of canal steam navigation. She is described as in form more like a box than a boat, and as drawing two feet nine inches water; a manifest disadvantage with so small an engine. We are informed, that all who have seen the boat’s performance, including several engineers who took a trip in her, have expressed themselves much pleased with her speed and general action. We understand there is some probability of the Old Quay Company making a trial of the propellers and engine in one of their twin quick passage boats on the Runcorn Canal.

The Experiment, in these trips, was placed under the care of Isaac Taylor, an experienced captain in the Old Quay Company’s employ, the aid of whose services, as pilot and steersman, was afforded for the occasion by Mr T O Lingard. Taylor says the boat answers her helm readily, turns well, and is very manageable. When at her greatest speed, it was found that the agitation and swell caused by her passing through the water, and by the propellers, had very little effect on the canal boats, the stream from the propellers being thrown off in the centre of the canal, leaving a considerable wake there.

Newcastle Courant 5 June 1840, quoting the Manchester Guardian

From the British Newspaper Archive run by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited, in partnership with the British Library.

Barrow Passage Boat

Will, from the 1st of October, depart every morning from Athy at eight o’clock, and arrive at Carlow at or before eleven o’clock, and again on each day leave Carlow at two o’clock, and arrive at Athy by five o’clock in the evening. To continue at these hours until further notice – and it is intended very shortly to run a boat to Leighlin bridge.

27th Sept 1799

Saunders’s News-Letter, and Daily Advertiser 23 December 1799

From the British Newspaper Archive run by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited, in partnership with the British Library.

The passage boats were not a success, nor were the hotels at Carlow and Graiguenamanagh, and the last passage boats from Carlow to Athy ceased to operate in 1809.

V T H & D R Delany The Canals of the South of Ireland David & Charles, Newton Abbot 1966

Grand Canal Coaches

In order to accommodate Ladies and Gentlemen who travel in the Grand Canal Passage Boats, there are established two elegant Coaches to convey passengers to and from their respective houses in Dublin to and from the Grand Canal Harbour, near St James’s-street.

The Coaches will set out from Goulding’s-lane, Anne-street, (South) at four and seven o’clock every morning, on and after Saturday the 16th of April next, and will call at the houses of such Ladies and Gentlemen as have previously taken and paid for their places at Mr Harrison’s Office, No 32, Dawson-street, which will be open from nine o’clock in the morning till eight at night for that purpose. Fare forfeited if the Coach is detained more than five minutes at any one house.

The Coaches will attend every day at the arrival of the Naas and Monasterevan Passage-boats, to convey the Passengers to their respective houses in Dublin.

Those who take places in the Coach will be secure of a passage in the Boats: — no large parcel can be admitted into the coach, it is therefore recommended to such as may have parcels to send them to the Grand Canal Harbour the evening before the boat sails.

RATES

From any part of the town to the Grand Canal Harbour.

1s 7½d for one passenger, from one house.
2s 8½d for two                              ditto
3s 3d for three                               ditto, and
1s 1d for any other passenger from said house.

Three Men Servants may be accommodated with places behind the coach, for which Half Fair will be required, proportioned as above.

A Guard attends the early coaches throughout the year.

The Passengers are requested to communicate to the Director of the Grand Canal the misconduct of any person or persons entrusted with the management of this department.

Dublin Evening Post 29 March 1796. From the British Newspaper Archive run by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited, in partnership with the British Library.