Tag Archives: steamer

Steamer at Drumsna

Can you help?

Liam Sherringham has sent me two photos of the remains of a steamer at Drumsna.

I am pretty certain that someone at some time told me something about this vessel, but I’ve lost the information. I think it was said to be a former steam yacht, owned by a family living not too far away and abandoned at the spot, but I am not at all certain about this.

If you are the person who told me about this, I apologise for my lapse and I would be grateful if you could supply the information again. If you are not that person, but know anything about the vessel, do please tell us about it. In either case you can leave a Comment below.

Photo 1 ((c) Liam Sherringham 2017)

Photo 2 ((c) Liam Sherringham 2017)

 

 

 

The Earl of Granard

The Earl of Granard has, within the last ten days, placed a neat little steam-boat for pleasure on the Shannon. She is upwards of fifty tons burden, and is, we believe, the first steam-boat for pleasure ever placed on the Upper Shannon.

Longford Journal 8 October 1859 from the
British Newspaper Archive

From the BNA

First steamer across the Atlantic: new evidence

According to the Irish Times of 11 February 2017

Margaret Gaffney was born on Christmas Day 1813, in Tully, Co Leitrim. Five years later, faced with extreme poverty and religious persecution, her parents and the three youngest of their six children, including Margaret, boarded a steamer bound for Boston.

Eoin Butler, the author of the article, provides no details of the vessel, but I hope he will: up to now folk have believed that an American vessel called the Savannah was the first to use steam on any part of the Atlantic crossing, and that was in 1819, the year after Margaret Gaffney’s crossing.

 

Limerick 1850

For extent and population it is now the fourth town in Ireland. The shipping at the quays was not numerous. There are but two small steamers which ply from the port, and both are employed only in the summer, one being laid up during winter, as the other is found sufficient for the trade. These steamers ply down the river to Kilrush, calling off the ports on each side on their way. […]

Dung, in any quantity, may be got in Limerick, for 1s per load of 20 to 30 cwt.

James Caird, Farmer, Baldoon The Plantation Scheme; or, the West of Ireland as a field for investment William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh and London 1850

Boarding in Limerick

On the morning of the day on which I left Limerick, a truly melancholy and fatal accident occurred. Just as the steamer which starts every morning for Kilrush and Kilkee, was in the act of leaving the quay, a car was seen to approach very rapidly to the station, from which the vessel had just begun to move. Planks are not used at these quays, the water being sufficiently deep to admit of the steamer lying so close as to enable the passengers to step off from the quay on board the vessel.

A fine young man jumped off the car, and took a female who was on the opposite side in his arms, and ran with her to the packet, and had just succeeded in placing her feet in the side of the boat. In order to get her safely aboard he had to push her forward, and by this means accomplished the object he had in view. But alas! in achieving so much for her, he lost himself; for at this moment the packet moved off, and it became impossible for him to reach her; while the efforts he had previously made to get the lady on board occasioned him to stretch so far forward that it was equally impossible for him to recover his upright position on the quay. The consequence was that he fell between the quay and the steamer, and, as it was supposed, was struck by a revolution of the paddle, for he never rose.

What must have been the feelings of the poor female in witnessing the sudden and melancholy death of her gallant preserver? She was in delicate health, and was about to proceed to Kilkee for the benefit of sea-bathing, when this awfully heartrending event took place, which deprived her of him who was her darling and her pride; for alas! he was her son.

Thomas Lacy Home Sketches, on both sides of the channel, being a diary Hamilton, Adams, & Co, London; W H Smith & Co, London; McGlashan, Dublin, 1852

Date of event (deduced) Wednesday 28 August 1850

Burkism

On Saturday, a man applied at one of the Scotch sailing vessels, opposite the North Wall, Dublin, and offered a large parcel directed for Greenock. He stated that the parcel was a set of books, but the foul smell proceeding from it excited suspicion, and it was opened by the mate, who found that it contained a body, wrapt in oil-cloth, and over that a thin matting, the entire contained in a bag.

The body was that of a boy, about 13 years of age, tightly corded, and doubled up. The bones of the legs and arms were broken, and blood flowing from the mouth and nose. This gave rise to a suspicion, that the boy had met a violent death.

Many persons exclaimed “this is Burkism“, “seize the villain” &c. Such was the excitation of the multitude, that it was only by the intervention of some of the police, that the fellow who brought the parcel was saved from destruction. He and the body was taken to the Police-office, where the latter remains for inquest, and the former in custody to abide the result of the inquiry. Several of the Faculty that examined the body, have given their opinion that death came by disease, the legs being dropsical. The prisoner says his name is M’Dowell.

Drogheda Journal, or Meath & Louth Advertiser 18 February 1829

From the BNA

 

Notes

On 28 February 1829 the Leeds Patriot and Yorkshire Advertiser carried a longer report, which it said it had taken from the Dublin Morning Post; it did not give the date of the Post issue.

This report said that a boy spotted a cart coming down Eden Quay to the North Wall. He recognised the man sitting on the cart’s shafts as a resurrectionist and told the mate of the ship to “have an eye” to him. That was why the mate was suspicious enough to open the parcel.

The report added some more gruesome details about the body. It said that, although the man gave his name as M’Dowel, he was found to be John Cadwell, from Longford. After he was taken into custody by peace-officer Gilloghly and police constable Paine from the Henry-street office, he said that he had been given the body by a gentleman he met in Grafton-street and employed to put it on board the vessel. The body was taken to Tucker’s-row watch-house for inspection, identification and inquest.

The boy appears to have been somewhat about 12 or 13 years of age, soft and full countenance, with a profusion of extremely fine light-brown hair, and looking remarkably fresh.

The Tipperary Free Press of 18 February 1829 gave the man’s real name as John Caldwell; it said that he had been taken up on suspicion of murdering the boy to sell his body to the “Scotch surgeons”. However, “After an examination before the Coroner, it appears that the boy was not murdered” although Caldwell could not account for his possession of the body.

The Clonmel Herald of 25 February 1829 gave a longer report of the inquest, taken from the Dublin Morning Post “of Tuesday”. It was less information about the specifics of the case than about what seemed to be a lively trade. It said that the vessel in question was the Scotia steamer, not a sailing vessel, and there was a strong suggestion that the mate was concerned in the trade, having investigated the parcel only when it became impossible to avoid investigating the parcel.

Caldwell himself said that he had delivered two or three similar parcels to the Scotia within the past fortnight but he did not name their senders; he did not know the Grafton-street gentleman’s name and had never carried parcels for him before, but had accepted half a crown to carry this one. He did not know a “medical man named Rea”.

James Killin, a ship labourer, said that Caldwell had taken two or three similar packages down the quay on the previous Saturday; Killin seems to have known that they contained bodies:

The witness then gave an account of dead bodies that had been discovered to have been shipped on board the same vessel, by the prisoner on the Saturday week preceding.

One of the jurors said that the body looked like those prepared for dissection; another said that

[…] he had heard a gentleman say that day that he had within the present season cleared £220 by the exportation of subjects.

He said that an Edinburgh surgeon had offered an Irish resurrectionist £10 per body plus post and packing.

There was no funding to pay a member of the profession to examine the body in such cases and the coroner said that he was unable to afford to pay for one out of his own remuneration, so the jury was unable to decide on the cause of death. The body was sent to Surgeons’ Hall for examination and Caldwell was remanded in custody.

Scots wha hae nae rummelt eggs

The steamer Foyle, Captain Wyse, from Londonderry, arrived at the Broomielaw on Sunday morning, after a boisterous passage.

Among the other freight the Foyle has brought over 25 tons of eggs, which, at eight to the pound, amounts to 448,000, or 37,333 dozens; and at 6d a dozen, are worth about £933. On Saturday evening scarcely an egg was to be had in Glasgow.

Southern Reporter and Cork Commercial Courier 13 March 1834 quoting the Caledonian Mercury

From the BNA

Transport history

Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution quotes an interesting extract today from a new book on the history of India:

…the most important technological change for the transportation of heavy goods in nineteenth-century India was not the arrival of the quick, expensive railway: it was the move from pack animals to carts pulled by two or four beasts in the first half of the century.  This was the process historian Amalendu Guha calls ‘the bullock cart revolution’.  Throughout the 1860s and 1870s railways found it impossible to compete not only with bullock carts, but also with human-powered river transport.  Rowing boats along the Ganges and Jamuna won a price war with the railways over the cost of transporting heavy goods.  Vessels powered by human beings were able to undercut steam vessels elsewhere.

There is a description of the book (which I have now ordered) here.

How did transport in Ireland compare? In the first half of the century, road transport using Scotch carts dominated carrying. Within about 55 miles of Dublin, eastward of Mullingar on the Royal and Tullamore on the Grand, canal carriers did little business except in the heaviest goods: the Scotch carts, each drawn by one horse and carrying about one ton, dominated the trade. But the Scotch carts relied on there being good roads, which in many cases required government intervention of one sort or another.

But rowing boats do not seem to have been serious contenders on Irish inland waterways. They might have been used on the Shannon, to tow canal boats, and the idea was mooted, but nothing seems to have come of it. The problem, I suspect, was that there was little or no trade: when it did arrive, it did so because the steamers created it. And the capital cost of a large pulling boat might have been beyond the means of a small-scale entrepreneur who might have been able to afford a cart.

On the other hand, vessels powered by sail retained certain markets, including traffic across the Irish Sea, until the middle of the twentieth century.

Much about Irish transport history remains unclear to me.

Lough Gill

Mr Kernaghan’s steamer is navigating Lough Gill, which has increased the value of country produce in Sligo market 15 per cent, and it is proposed to connect the Lough with the Shannon four miles distant.

Roscommon & Leitrim Gazette 11 May 1844

From the BNA

A distinguished visitor to the Shannon

Dwarkanauth Tagore, of Calcutta, the distinguished and princely East Indian, who is making a tour of the United Kingdom, arrived in this city, on Tuesday evening with his suit [sic], in an elegant drag with four horses, and he put up at Cruise’s hotel.

The native Prince merchant partook of a dejeune at Killaloe on Tuesday. The City of Dublin Steam Company placed all their vessels on the Upper Shannon, at his command, and they were gaily decorated with flags, in compliment to the distinguished stranger, who left Limerick this day on a visit to Killarney Lakes, and is expected to call at Derrynane, the seat of Mr O’Connell.

Dwarkanauth Tagore dined and slept at Lord Rosse’s, on Monday night, where he examined the prodigious telescope — drove to Banagher, on Tuesday morning, and embarked on board the Lansdown [sic] steamer, proceeded through Victoria Locks Meelick, accompanied by Colonel Jones, and Mr Rhodes CE, also by Mr Howell, Secretary to the Dublin Steam Company. He was much pleased with the new works at Meelick, and also with the operations of a diver in a helmet, who exhibited the mode of using that apparatus.

The dejeune on board the Lansdown was provided by the Steam Company. Several ladies and gentlemen came up by the Lady Burgoyne to join the party of [at?] Portumna in the Lansdown. After partaking of the good cheer, they had dancing and music on deck till they reached Killaloe, much to the amusement of the stranger guest, who felt edlighted, not only with the scenery of the lake, but also with the company of the ladies.

Limerick Reporter 5 September 1845

From the BNA