Tag Archives: shannon estuary

Diesel, gas, turf or battery?

The Irish Times tells us that Endesa, a Spanish company, intends to sell its Irish operations. They include two water-side sites, at Great Island in Co Wexford and Tarbert in Co Kerry, as well as a near miss in Rhode, Co Offaly, and a fourth in Co Mayo.

The Great Island power station on the Suir opposite Cheekpoint

The Irish Times says that Endesa had intended to change Great Island and Tarbert from diesel to natural gas. The Tarbert project received planning permission in December 2010; the Irish Times report was probably inaccurate in suggesting that a submarine cable from Tarbert would supply the ESB generating station at Moneypoint which, being a generating station, would be able to generate its own.

The old Tarbert power station

However, I had heard that Tarbert might have received its natural gas from the proposed storage plant at Ballylongford, near Saleen Pier whence Trinity College turf was sent to Limerick. A pipe from Tarbert might have supplied Moneypoint. I don’t think construction has yet begun.

The old Tarbert power station was built on the site of the Tarbert battery, the largest of the six Shannon estuary batteries and the only one to mount seven guns.



Big it up for the Irish Amateur Rowing Union (aka Rowing Ireland), which will be descending the Lower Shannon in May. Good to see that they’ll be doing the estuary, as fas as Bunratty, and are not confining themselves to non-tidal waters.


F E Prothero would be proud of them: he himself thought it best to see the estuary from the deck of the steamer to Kilrush.




Ephemera 8: Tarbert

Tarbert Island

The Irish Times reports that:

AN BORD Pleanála has approved the application by Endesa Ireland, part of the Spanish energy company, to build a combined-cycle gas turbine power plant on the former ESB station at Tarbert, Co Kerry.

I presume that, when it says that “A submarine cable is to supply Moneypoint.” it means that a submarine pipe will do so: I imagine that the power station at Moneypoint is more likely to want gas than electricity from its rival across the estuary.

Tarbert is now the southern station for the ferries that cross the Shannon Estuary, but it has had a long history as an estuary port. Even before the first of the piers was built, Tarbert Roads provided a sheltered anchorage, and the estuary steamers adopted ingenious methods to get passengers and cargo from shore to steamer and vice versa.

Tarbert was also an important administrative centre and Tarbert Island (as was), which now houses piers and power station, had a Coast Guard station, a lighthouse, a signal mast and the largest of the six forts that guarded the Shannon Estuary. The ESB power station is built on the Ordnance Ground, right on top of the seven-gun battery, as you can see if you play with the Overlay feature on the Historic 6″ Ordnance Survey map.

Moneypoint had a large quarry; it may have been from there that Charles Wye Williams got the “marble” that he polished in the marble mill at Killaloe.

Saleen Pier at Ballylongford is covered here.

Knock knock …

Knock in Co Mayo is well known, having its own airport; Knock in Co Clare is less well known, though it has its own port. Here is a short account of its history, with some photographs, but more information would be welcome.

Nimmo’s non-existent harbour

Beginning a section about the piers, quays and harbours of the Shannon Estuary, especially those noticed in the mid-nineteenth century. At that time, and while the Shannon Commissioners were at work, the estuary was seen as a part of the river, just as Lough Derg was, although nowadays the Shannon Foynes Port Company controls the estuary and Waterways Ireland (and the ESB) the river upstream from Limerick.

Noel P Wilkins, in his recent biography of the engineer Alexander Nimmo (Irish Academic Press 2009), says that Kilbaha was the only place where Nimmo selected an unsuitable site for a harbour. Within a couple of years it had been abandoned and replaced by a pier.

Kilbaha is the westernmost harbour on the north side of the Shannon Estuary and the closest to Loop Head. It exported turf (peat) and imported sea-manures; it was also a pilot station. A lot of activity for a small place. Read about it here.