Tag Archives: Shannon

The Dalkey atmospheric railway

Tuesday 13 May 1845

[…] afterwards we met P McHenry and we went to the Atmospheric at Dalkey we travelled at about 30 Miles Pr Hour it is the most Zig Zag narrow disgraceful thing I ever beheld

David Brooke ed The diary of William Mackenzie, the first international railway contractor Thomas Telford Publishing, London 2000

Shannon water levels

According to the Indo, which may or may not know anything about the matter itself but probably got a press release from someone [to whom the same qualification may apply], farmers along the Shannon Callows are concerned about rising water levels at Clonown, an area on the west bank below Athlone.

The level in that area is held up by the weir at Meelick. But according to Waterways Ireland today,

[…]  low water levels exist on the upstream approaches to Meelick and Victoria Lock. Water levels are currently below Summer levels.

According to the OPW gauges at Athlone, the water level is below the 50th percentile and is falling. The same applies at Banagher, although it did exceed the 50th percentile for some days.

Three lessons suggest themselves:

  • farmers might need to get used to the idea that, when it rains, it gets wet — and that, if they choose to farm on a floodplain, their land might get wet too
  • politicians might refrain from issuing nonsensical panic-laden press releases to gain free publicity [but I suppose that’s too much to ask for]
  • journalists might like to check stuff for themselves instead of reprinting press releases unquestioningly [but that too is probably too much to ask for].

This month’s header

Bartlett drawing of turf boats below Wellesley (now Sarsfield) Bridge, Limerick.

Meelick

Sinn Féin has a TD called Martin Kenny who, in the Dáil on 29 May 2019, asked about repairs to a walkway across Meelick Weir. He said that

The weir is a crossing point on the Shannon on an important walkway, the Beara-Breifne Way, which runs from Breifne in Leitrim to the Beara Peninsula, straight through Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands.

I’m not sure that he’s got the direction of travel right, but let that pass. He also said

The problem is that people using the walkway have not been informed it is closed. Many businesses, particularly tourism businesses, are directing people up the walkway as far as the bridge but they cannot cross it. Over the past several days, some tourists could not cross the river at the point.

One Seán Kyne, a mini-minister, said in reply that

In 2009, during an extreme weather event, the weir and its walkway from which the weir boards are placed and removed were extensively damaged. In the 2015-16 severe weather event, the last remnants of the walkway were destroyed.

If the “many businesses, particularly tourism businesses” have not noticed that the walkway has been out of action for almost ten years, it suggests that the Beara-Breifne Way is used by very few people and that its reinstatement is not important, or at least not urgent. On the other hand, it might suggest that the operators of the tourism businesses in question have not paid as much attention to the route as they might have.

The minister, by the way, said

Meelick weir was originally built in the 1790s as part of the Shannon navigation.

I thought it was built by the Shannon Commissioners in the 1840s.

Egypt and Ireland

We embarked [on the Mahmoudié Canal at Alexandria] in a boat not unlike those that ply in Ireland upon the Grand Canal and, to say the truth, among the dreary wastes of swamp that surrounded us, we might also have fancied ourselves in the midst of the Bog of Allen.

The boat was towed by four wild, scraggy-looking horses, ridden by four wilder, scraggier-looking men; their naked feet were stuck in shovel stirrups, with the sharp sides of which they scored their horses flanks, after the fashion of crimped cod.

It is true, these jockeys wore tattered turbans instead of tattered hats, and loose blue gowns instead of grey frieze. Yet still there was nothing very new or imposing in the equipage, and the mud cabins that here and there encrusted the banks did not tend to obliterate Tipperary associations.

Eliot Warburton The Crescent and the Cross; or, romance and realities of eastern travel new ed, George P Putnam, New York 1848

There will be more on links between the Shannon and the Nile, Ireland and Egypt, at the Mountshannon Arts Festival on Saturday 1 June 2019 at 3.00pm, aboard one of the boats that used to “ply in Ireland upon the Grand Canal”.

News for Fido

Fido tells me that we have had a response from Clare County Council (but none from Waterways Ireland, although admittedly they’re not responsible).

Fido says that Clare County Council says

Your observations and comments will be brought to the attention of the Beach Management Committee.

The search facility on Clare County Council’s website hasn’t heard of a “beach management committee” so I can’t tell you anything more about it. If anyone has information, please leave a Comment below.

In other news, Fifi, the Rottweiler, says that she is going to form a Ladies’ Committee to lobby for private facilities for lady dogs. She says that the powers-that-be seem to think they’ve done enough for dogs when they’ve put up a few lampposts, but that does nothing for the ladies.

Looking after Fido

I have today sent this email to both Waterways Ireland and Clare County Council.

This email is being sent to Waterways Ireland (Scarriff office) and Clare County Council.

Let us suppose that, during the summer season (15 May to 15 September), I set  off on my boat, with my dogs, from somewhere at the northern end of Lough Derg; I moor in Mountshannon at 11.15am.

Under Clare County Council’s beach bye-laws (number 16), I may not take my dogs ashore until 6.00pm: they will be confined to Waterways Ireland’s piers and pontoons. The entire area of the car park, the access from the piers to the roads, is off limits to dogs between 11.00am and 6.00pm.

Perhaps you might, for the convenience of visiting dog-owners, designate a corridor through which dogs (on leads) might be taken to land. After all, the area in question is not actually a beach: it is a car park.

 

 

Ennis to Dublin 1838

The public car from Ennis to Williamstown was quite a treat in the way of public travelling; a leather strap, and afterwards a branch of a tree, sufficed for a whip, until an innocent country lad was coaxed into an exchange pro tempore — that is to say, he very good-naturedly lent our driver his whip on a simple promise to return it, and took the branch instead. Although half an hour too late at starting, our loquacious conductor assured us that we would arrive in due time at Williamstown to meet the packet, ‘barring accidents’ — which was well put in, for the wheels were once or twice so hot and the horses so lazy that a stoppage at one time seemed inevitable.

A voyage in a large steamboat of one hundred horse power was quite a novelty to be enjoyed in an inland piece of water, and I greatly enjoyed both this and the voyage up the Shannon, in a less steamboat of twenty four horse power. I had never in my life travelled in a canal passage-boat, and the voyage therein from Shannon Harbour to Dublin was described by a Limerick attorney as a nuisance, horrible beyond endurance. I have never, however, been disposed to rely so much on the opinion of others as on my own experience, and therefore I resolved to try the voyage.

Never was I more agreeably surprised that to find, after sailing in it eighteen hours, I arrived at Dublin too soon, so far as the pleasantness of the journey was concerned. I heard the best Irish songs and recitations, and had a most interesting account of Irish scenery and superstitions from Mr Dennis Leonard, of Kilrush; besides this, I had a very comfortable night’s rest and was altogether much interested and pleased with my first journey on a canal.

From Chapter XV Ireland and the Irish 1838 of Benjamin Ward Richardson Thomas Sopwith MA CE FRS, with excerpts from his diary of fifty-seven years Longmans, Green & Co, London 1891

 

 

The cows of death

On Wednesday, a melancholy accident, attended with the loss of nine lives, occurred on Lough Derg, on the Upper [ie non-tidal] Shannon, by the upsetting of a boat in its passage across the lake from Williamstown to Dromineer. The nine men were jobbers, six of them belonging to Nenagh, and three to Cork, and were returning from a fair in the county Galway.

The accident is said to have been owing to their having carried two cows with them yoked to the boat, one of which, having burst the ties that confined it, became unmanageable, and in a few minutes the boat being upset, all on board were engulphed in the deep.

The Warder and Dublin Weekly Mail 3 March 1849, quoting Limerick Reporter

Indelicate exposure of persons

NOtice

Several complaints having been made to the Mayor, that respectable persons are debarred from walking on THE BANKS OF THE CANAL, THE PUBLIC WALKS ON THE RIVER AND THE QUAYS, in consequence of Men BATHING there, and thus INDECENTLY EXPOSING THEIR PERSONS, which, being an OFFENCE INDICTABLE AT COMMON LAW, any PERSONS found BATHING for the future in ANY PLACE OF PUBLIC RESORT will be PROSECUTED; and any PERSONS AGGRIEVED by such INDELICATE EXPOSURE OF PERSONS will, upon application to the Mayor, obtain every redress.

Mayor’s Office, Exchange, Limerick
June 15

Limerick Chronicle 10 July 1839