Tag Archives: Paterson

The Lady of the Shannon

Folk interested in early steam transport in Ireland may wish to know that the latest issue [Vol 41] of The Other Clare, journal of the Shannon Archaeological & Historical Society, has an article, “Mr Paterson’s steamer”, about the Lady of the Shannon, the steamer built on the Clyde in 1816 for James Paterson of Kilrush.

While the steamer and its operations are well known (see for instance the page by Senan Scanlan on the Clare County Library site), a lack of contextual information has meant that the scale of Paterson’s achievement is not widely appreciated. His steam boat was built only four years after PS Comet, Europe’s first commercially viable steamer, began operations on the Clyde. Paterson, who built baths at Kilrush at the same time as he acquired his steamer, may have intended to imitate Henry Bell’s operations.

At the time, most steamers operated on rivers and estuaries, but some undertook longer delivery voyages to new areas of operation in Britain and Europe. But Paterson’s may have been the first to brave the rigours of the Atlantic: it probably travelled west off Ireland’s north coast, and then down the west coast to the Shannon. Ensuring that coal was available along the way must have required a good deal of planning.

Commercially, Paterson’s steamer was not a long-term success, and the possible reasons for its failure are explored briefly in the article.

The Shannon Archaeological & Historical Society does not itself appear to sell its journal online; Scéal Eile Books in Ennis may be able to supply it by post, as may the Celtic Bookshop in Limerick.

Mr Paterson, General Lake and Napoleon Bonaparte

Dublin

On Tuesday sennight sailed his Majesty’s gun-boat, the General Lake, commanded by Mr James Patterson; and on Wednesday the Bishop, Lieut S Dunn, an experienced officer, who had served in the Royal Navy during the whole of the American war — these, with two others now fitting out, are to join the Kingsmill and Gen Duff gun boats at Carrigahoult bay, where they are to be stationed for the purpose of defending the entrance of the Shannon, the whole under the command of Lieut Augustus Margett, senior officer of division.

The Hon Capt Pakenham, who arrived at Limerick some time back to survey the works on the river, had the boats constructed upon his own plan, and they are found to be in every respect both capable of standing the shock of cannonading, and of annoying an enemy. There is a signal post, with a proper person to conduct it, stationed on Ray Hill, a commanding eminence near Loophead, from whence there is an extensive prospect of the offing. The gun-boats are furnished with private signals, so as to communicate with the person who conducts the signals on shore, by which means friends or enemies at sea are easily ascertained, long before they can come near the shore, and regular and certain intelligence conveyed to the commanding officer of the district.

The following is a list of the gun-boats stationed in the River Shannon, with the names of their commanders, forces, and complement of men:

Vessels                 Guns  Pounders    Men    Commanders

Pakenham              1           24           19      A Markett
Kingsmill                1           18            19     J Alexander
Gen Duff                  1           18            18     — Wing
Bishop                      1           18            18     S Dunn
Gen Lake                 1           18            18     J Patterson
The Shannon         1           18            18     Geo Perry

The whole completely equipped, with every description of small arms, ordnance stores, &c.

Dublin Evening Post 6 May 1797. From the British Newspaper Archive run by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited, in partnership with the British Library.


 

Yesterday dispatches were received at the Admiralty from Vice Admiral Kingsmill at Cork, brought over in the Waterford mail. Intelligence is received by this conveyance that the River Shannon is now rendered perfectly secure from any designs of an enemy, by the judicious stationing of several gun-boats, which wholly command the entrance and port of Limerick in every direction. The Naval Agents in Ireland, it also appears, continue, by order of Government, to purchase stout ships, which are converted into floating batteries for the defence of other harbours of the kingdom in like manner.

Hereford Journal 9 August 1797. From the British Newspaper Archive run by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited, in partnership with the British Library.


The Hon Capt T Pakenham, who shortly after went to Limerick, converted some turf-boats into gun-vessels, each of which carried a twenty-four pounder, constructed to traverse on a platform, and to fire in every direction with the same facility. We are gratified to learn that the system is to be generally adopted.

The Monthly Mirror: reflecting men and manners. With strictures on their epitome, the stage May 1798 in Vol V, Thomas Bellamy, London