His late Most Excellent Majesty Henry the Eighth, by the Grace of God, King of England and France, Defender of the Faith, Lord of Ireland and of the Church of England and also of Ireland in Earth Supreme Head, has many claims to fame, but the greatest is undoubtedly his Act for the Weares upon the Barrow, and other Waters in the County of Killkenny of 1537, which begins thus:
Prayen the commons of this present Parliament assembled, That where at all times necessarie boates, scowts, wherries, clarans, cottes, and other vessels, loden and bestowed with goods, merchandizes, and other stuffe, have beene used to passe and repasse thorough and in the King’s most excellent Majesty’s rivers and waters of the Barrow, the Noyre, the Suyr, and the Rie, within this land, which Rie is in the county of Kilkenny, to and from the King’s citie of Waterford, and the townes of Kilkenny, Rosse, and Clomel [sic], to and from diverse borrowe and corporate townes, and other places, being sitiated in the counties of Kyldare, Catherlagh, Wexford, Kilkenny, Waterford, and Tipperary, through which great commoditie and profit hath growen and might grow to the said citie, townes, noroughes, and other places, and to all and every the King’s true subjects adjoyning to the same waters and rivers: […]
We resume a couple of pages later:
[…] and that the said owners, their servants, marryners, boatmen, and other rulers and conveyers, and all other persons coming in ayd and help of them and every of them, at all such times as the said mariners, boatemen, and other rulers and conveyers shall thinke the same necessarie and needfull, shall have and occupie at every of their wills and pleasures, the space and breadth of seven foote or more, as need require, of plain ground, upon every part of the land, of every side of every the said rivers and waters, next adjoyning to the said rivers and waters, and that to bee where they must needs draw the said boats and other vessels afore named, with strength of horses or men, by land […].
So His late Most Excellent Majesty provided that those drawing boats, using manpower or horsepower, could use a space seven foot wide on either side of the river. From the 1750s onwards, work was done on building a towing-path along the Suir between Carrick and Clonmel; work seems to have been finished before 1789 and the towing-path continued in use until the early years of the twentieth century.
Much, but not all, of the towing-path is accessible, and maintainted by South Tipperary County Council; as well as providing a walking route, it allows anglers, boaters and other leisure users to get to the river. However, some sections are impassable, so that it is not possible to walk the whole length of this extremely scenic route between Clonmel and Carrick.
South Tipperary County Council is now considering declaring public roads on the towing-path and thus taking it in charge.
The Council’s documents are here. I think that this is a good idea and I have written to the Council (and to local newspapers) to declare my support.