Tag Archives: Thomas Spring Rice

Buckets

And be it Enacted, That all potatoes sold in cities, towns corporate and market towns and elsewhere, shall be sold and delivered by weight, and not by measure or in any other way whatsoever, and that such weight shall be according to the avoirdupois pound, fourteen pounds whereof shall make a stone, and eight stone one hundred weight, and that such potatoes shall be weighed, without fee or reward, at the beams and scales of the several places erected and kept pursuant to law;

and if any master or owner of any ship, vessel or boat, coming into any port, harbour or town in Ireland, with potatoes, or any market man, herbman, herbwoman, huckster, or any other person selling potatoes, shall sell the same by measure or otherwise than by weight, and shall be lawfully convicted thereof, every person so offending shall for every such offence forfeit the value of all such potatoes sold otherwise than by weight, and the sum of Sixpence for every stone of such potatoes, and the sum of Sixpence for any quantity under one stone;

and every person who shall demand or take any fee or reward for weighing any such potatoes, shall forfeit the sum of Twenty shillings, provided complaint be made within Three days after any such offence shall be committed.

Bill to consolidate and amend Laws respecting Customs, Tolls and Duties in Markets and Fairs in Ireland HC 183 HMSO 1830

Buckets

Buckets

If the clause for enforcing the weighing of potatoes shall be passed into a Law and strictly enforced I apprehend it may be productive of much public inconvenience here where the use of Buckets as a measure for sale of potato’s is so general, and I can hardly conceive how such a number of Scales could be got up or attended to as would be necessary to accommodate the population of this City frequenting the Potatoe market.

John Carroll, Secretary to Limerick Chamber of Commerce, to Thomas Spring Rice MP, 2 April 1830, in Letter book 19 January 1826–15 September 1840 [P1/26 p120] [DjVu]

 

 

The madness of Daniel O’Connell

In 1828 Daniel O’Connell was elected to the House of Commons for County Clare. As a Roman Catholic, he could not take the Oath of Supremacy [Frizzell, the illustrator, seems to have got his date wrong] and so could not take his seat, but the Emancipation Act 1829 removed that obstacle. However, it was not retrospective, so O’Connell had to stand again in County Clare; he was elected unopposed in July 1829.

On Sunday 31 January 1830 “The Patriotic member for Clare, Daniel O’Connell Esq, sailed from Howth […] at 8 o’clock, for England, to attend his Parliamentary duties” [Tipperary Free Press 3 February 1830] and when Parliament resumed on Thursday 4 February 1830

Daniel O’Connell Esq took the oaths prescribed by the Catholic Relief Bill, and his seat as a member for the county of Clare. The honourable member seated himself on the third row of the opposition side of the house, and exactly opposite to Mr Peel.

[London] Standard 5 February 1830

O’Connell’s letter

Before he left Ireland, O’Connell issued a letter to “the people of the County of Clare”; according to the Morning Post of 20 January 1830 it was issued from the Parliamentary Intelligence Office, 26 Stephen-street, on 15 January 1830. It began

MY FRIENDS AND BRETHREN — I take up the pledges which I made to you when I called on you to repose in me the high and awful trust of being your Representative. I will endeavour honestly to redeem those pledges.

For this purpose I propose to leave Dublin on the 26th of this month. I go off at the commencement of Term, and I shall be absent for two, if not three, entire Terms. Men will sneer at me for talking of these sacrifices to public duty, who, themselves, seek their own individual advantage in all their political exertions. I readily consent, and will proceed to do my duty to you with alacrity, zeal, and perseverance.

There was more along those lines, and then he said

My Parliamentary duties will naturally divide themselves into two distinct branches: the first relates to your local concerns; the second, to those mighty interests in which your prosperity is involved with that of all Ireland.

There were four local concerns: two about canals and two about ports.

An asylum harbour

West Clare [OSI ~1900]

West Clare [OSI ~1900]

The first port proposal was to build an “asylum harbour” on the west coast. An asylum harbour was a port that provided refuge in storms: Kingstown [Dun Laoghaire] was an asylum harbour (amongst other things). O’Connell thought an asylum harbour on the west coast would provide a safe haven for vessels coming across the Atlantic, feeling the force of the Gulf Stream and the prevailing westerly winds: they risked being “embayed on the iron-bound coast between Loop Head and Hag’s Head” where the Cliffs of Moher are. It is not clear how vessels could safely enter such a harbour, given that it would require them to come close to the lee shore, but O’Connell said

The existence of an asylum harbour on Malbay would be of the greatest value to the trade of the British Isles. I do hope to be able to realise this project, in the execution of which the talents of my most valued friend THOMAS STEELE would be found to be most highly beneficial to that county which he adorns by his abilities and patriotism.

O’Connell no doubt had in mind Thomas Steele’s talents as a urinator.

Carrigaholt and Kilrush

O’Connell also wanted

[…] the construction of two suitable piers, with other works, completely to protect shipping; the one on the Bay of Carrigaholt, the other on Scattery or Kilrush Harbour.

The commerce of Kerry, Clare, and Limerick, are interested in these works. We shall certainly obtain the powerful assistance of the patriotic Member for Limerick. His assiduity, information, and public spirit, render him a model which Irish representatives should imitate.

He wasn’t quite as complimentary about Thomas Spring Rice a few years later, when O’Connell’s five-hour speech in favour of the repeal of the Acts of Union was topped by Spring Rice’s six-hour contribution.

Here is a page about Kilrush. I haven’t done a page about Carrigaholt so there follows some information to fill the gap until I get around to doing it properly.

The earlier pier at Carrigaholt was built by Alexander Nimmo and was more successful than his harbour down the road at Kilbaha. Despite the description on the DIA site, I assume that it is the one shown on the 6″ OSI map.

Carrigaholt map 1

The old quay at Carrigaholt (OSI ~1840)

Here’s a photo.

Carrigaholt August 2011 7_resize

The old quay at Carrigaholt as extended

Commander James Wolfe’s Sailing Directions [PDF], compiled some time before 1848, say

Round Kilcradan, to the northward, and protected by it, is the anchorage or Road of Carrigaholt. It is a very fine secure anchorage with all winds from the westward, but from the ENE to S much sea prevails, though not heavy enough to endanger a vessel well found in ground tackling. With SW gales, a long rolling swell sets in round Kilcradan Point, which renders riding here at those times very uneasy. These roads have the advantage of being free from any great strength of tide.

The ground is level all over the road, but from six fathoms it shoals gradually towards the shores; the bottom, of sand over clay and mud, is generally considered good holding ground. The best anchorage for a large ship is with the top of Ray Hill in one with the Coast-guard Watchhouse W ¾ N, and Moyarta Lodge, just open of the point on which Carrigaholt Castle stands, nearly N ½ W in 5½ to 6 fathoms low-water springs.

The shore forms two smaller bays, the northern of which takes its name from the village which stands on its shores, and the southern is called Kilcradan. Both are very flat and shallow; in the latter there is a coast-guard station, but it is not a boarding station. The village is a poor miserable place, and does not afford supplies of any sort, nor can a ship complete water here. At the village is a small pier, accessible only (to loaded boats) at high water. It is used by the turf-boats, though most of these load on the beach.

Carrigaholt Castle, a high square tower on the point, and the chapel, a cruciform building, with its belfry, are very conspicuous objects.

As those directions were written some years ago, I suggest that you should not use them for navigating nowadays. You can tell that they are out of date because the village does now afford most excellent supplies, chiefly in the Long Dock. The Long Dock does not, alas, seem to have updated its website since 2006, having gone over to the Dark Side of FaceTweet which, at least to me, is impossible to search, so I can’t point you to a list of the interesting beers the Long Dock stocks in addition to its excellent food.

My spies tell me that, if you happen to be driving a barge from, say, Donegal to Limerick — not that I’m encouraging you to do anything of the sort — Mr Luke Aston of the Carrigaholt Sea Angling Centre will be able to advise on moorings. He’s got a Lochin, so he must be sound. You can have a day’s sea angling with him or a day watching dolphins with Geoff Magee (to whom I owe a glass of sherry), followed by a meal at the Long Dock: what more could you want?

Carrigaholt new harbour 24

Luke Aston’s Lochin [I assume] and Geoff Magee’s Draíocht

Well, if you were Daniel O’Connell, you’d want a new pier or quay.

Carrigaholt map 2

Carrigaholt old and new quays [OSI ~1900]

The old quay was extended at some stage and a new quay was built at the castle. I don’t know have dates for either of those, but I think the new quay was built as a fisheries pier in the 1890s. If, Gentle Reader, you know the dates, and can save me from having to plough through years of Board of Works reports, do please leave a Comment below.

If O’Connell had any role in having the old pier extended, that would have been the only one of his four local concerns on which he had any success, although he could also claim a minor supporting role in having the pier at Cappa, Kilrush, extended in the 1840s.

Carrigaholt new harbour 30_resize

Carrigaholt new quay seen from the old quay

The canal to Ennis

Daniel O’Connell’s third local concern was

The opening of the navigation of the Fergus to Ennis, so as to make that town a sea-port. The tide rises about half a mile beyond that town; and if there were a short canal cut near the village of Clare, of about 300 yards, vessels of burden could deliver their cargoes at Ennis, and carry away the produce of the country to the most remote markets.

This was a proposal that came up several times, but it was never implemented. The Shannon Commissioners built a fine quay at Clare [now Clarecastle] in the 1840s, but they left it as the head of the navigation.

Wolfe’s Sailing Directions made it clear that the passage of the Fergus estuary was not to be undertaken lightly:

A mile to the eastward of the Beeves is the principal and only navigable entrance to the River Fergus, which comes from the NNE amid vast banks of mud, and numerous islets and rocks. Having passed the Beeves, steer up for Feenish Island till you bring the tall square tower of an old castle (called Court Brown) in one with the north point of Low Island, WNW¼W, which is studded with white houses.

You must then keep rather more to the northward for the round hill of Coney Island, until Cannon Castle is in one with the peak of Grady Island, W¼S, when you must bear away for the east point of Coney Island; you will then shortly come into five and six fathoms, where you must anchor with the sharp peak of Coney Island bearing N by E and Cannon Castle WSW1/3W in about six fathoms soft muddy bottom.

Grady's and Cannon Islands from off Innish Corker [Admiralty Surveyors 1841 by kind permission of the UK National Archives]

Grady’s and Cannon Islands from off Innish Corker [Admiralty Surveyors 1841 by kind permission of the UK National Archives]

Beyond this it would be impossible to proceed without a pilot. The river beyond Coney Island winds through vast banks of mud, extending from 1 to 1½ miles from the shore, decreasing gradually in width from 600 yards, and varying in depth from nine to three feet up to the town of Clare, nearly seven miles in a direct line, and nine following the channel.

At Clare the bed of the river is dry at low water, but there is a quay, alongside of which vessels load. Clare is a miserable place, though the shipping port of Ennis. It is a military station.

Pilots may be had at Low Island, but no vessel above 150 tons should go up to Clare.

Clare_resize

The bridge at Clare[castle] [OSI ~1840]

As well as a lock, some opening mechanism would have been required for vessels to get though the bridge, which was not the current flat structure; here is a photo of the old bridge.

Clarecastle Fergus Navigation June 2007 07_resize

Looking from the Shannon Commissioners 1840s quay at Clare towards the bridge

Clarecastle November 2014 16_resize

Clarecastle gandalows at the quay

Clarecastle old quay from far side 03_resize

The quay from across the river

Very low water at Clarecastle 5_resize

Low water at Clarecastle

The interesting thing is that, even though a boat could not pass through Clarecastle to the estuary, there must have been some navigation on the Fergus; I would like to know more about what and how much was carried when. There was a quay, Parson’s Quay, in Ennis …

Ennis_resize

Parson’s Quay in Ennis [OSI ~1840]

… and another quay further downstream. I put the next map in black and white to make it easier to see things; it’s scaled down from the Ennis map.

Quays_resize

Ennis and district [OSI ~1840]

The map also shows that O’Connell was right about the tide: it did flow well above Ennis.

The other canal

Although the first three proposals were not implemented, and probably would have been either uneconomic or unsuccessful, they weren’t absolutely bonkers. His fourth idea, though, was nuts.

The fourth local concern relates to a communication by a canal from the bay of Galway to Limerick. The point of junction should be somewhere in the neighbourhood of Killaloe. The entire of the western and midland counties of Ireland would derive great advantage from such a canal.

Getting through the hills above Killaloe would have been fun. But the real problem with the proposal is that O’Connell fundamentally misunderstood the nature of the Irish economy. Each Irish port served its own hinterland, shipping out its produce and shipping in coal, timber and other overseas goods. But the ports did not need to trade with each other, as each performed the same function.

The exception to that was created by the application of steam on the inland Shannon, which allowed perishable produce from the Limerick area to be carried across Ireland for export through Dublin to Britain. That role was soon taken over by the railways.

But there was no point in connecting two westward-facing ports by canal: if they needed to trade with each other, they could do so by sea.

My OSI logo and permit number for website

Underwear and the Ulster Canal

In September 2010 I wrote:

[…] a government department, in a time of economic crisis, is proposing to commit to the spending of at least €35,000,000, without having any certainty of being able to get the money anywhere. Unless Waterways Ireland has surplus assets that I don’t know about, I cannot see how it can raise that amount by selling property in a slump; nor do I see any certainty that the Department of Finance will supply the money.

So the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs won’t be choosing between two sources of funding. Its only possible source is the Department of Finance, and its only possible argument is that, unless the taxpayer stumps up, the shame will be too great: the neighbours will realise that we’re all fur coat and no knickers.

Since the creation of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in 2011, we’ve seen a slow striptease, with the government flicking up the corners of its fur coat and gradually hinting at the nakedness underneath.

The setting up of an inter-agency group of treasure hunters was the most explicit acknowledgement that the Irish government could not afford to build the Clones Sheugh. The group included folk from Fermanagh District Council, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, the NI Strategic Investment Board and the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, so the burden of treasure-hunting was spread north of the border. But if that constituted the fifth veil — highlighting rather than concealing nakedness — the sixth has now been dropped.

On Tuesday 9 July 2013 the Select Sub-Committee on Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht was concluding its consideration of the revised 2013 estimates for the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (and the National Gallery). Sandra McLellan, Sinn Féin TD for Cork East, said:

I have one more question, on subhead D4, Waterways Ireland. There is a promise of stage payments to Waterways Ireland to begin the process of making the opening up of the Ulster Canal a reality. Planning permission to begin the project was sought and is due to be approved at this month’s Fermanagh District Council planning meeting and permission has already been approved in County Monaghan. Once the Government releases the funding, the process should move quickly and whatever land purchases are needed will be made. Does the Government intend on doing this and will Waterways Ireland have the adequate funding to undertake the project in 2013–2014?

The minister, Jimmy Deenihan [FG, Kerry North/West Limerick], began by talking about planning permissions and compulsory purchases:

At this stage, the planning permissions have been granted. That, in itself, was a challenge because of environmental and other reasons. The next process will be the CPOs to get the land. In many cases, hopefully, we can acquire the land by agreement. That will be the next challenge.

He went on to say why the Irish government couldn’t afford the sheugh:

There is an inter-agency group sitting. It is something I established, where the local authorities and the statutory organisations, North and South, have all come together around a table and are looking for alternative sources of funding too rather than merely funding from the Dublin Government. Originally, the agreement was that this would be funded by Dublin and the funding for it was identified with the sale of property at the time. During the Celtic tiger, the property, down in the docklands, etc., was quite valuable. However, with the collapse of the property market, that potential source of funding was not there to the same extent, although, with the property market now recovering, that property could become valuable again. Hopefully, it will and can contribute to the overall costs.

Note that phrase “rather than merely funding from the Dublin Government”. But there is more to come:

The next stage would be the acquisition of the land in order to provide the canal and the inter-agency group is looking at possibilities. Also, my counterpart in Northern Ireland, the Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Carál Ní Chuilín MLA, is looking at possible funding for the small portion that is in the North. Funding may be available for that from the Northern Executive and, maybe, Westminster. That, obviously, would help. Wherever we can get funding for this, certainly we will be striving to get it. It will be incremental. We will have to approach it on a staged basis but the important point is to get it started.

So the idea that the wealthy and munificent southern government would pay the entire cost of the sheugh, as a present to the benighted and miserable inhabitants of Norn Iron, and as a demonstration of the prosperity to be expected from a united Ireland, has been abandoned altogether. If Carál Ní Chuilín [who is, coincidentally, a Sinn Féin MLA] manages to extract money from her colleagues for that portion of the sheugh lying within Norn Iron, it will mean that the construction is being funded in the same way as other Waterways Ireland capital spending: each government pays for the development within its own jurisdiction.

Will Ms Ní Chuilín manage to persuade her colleagues? In September 2010 I wrote:

[…] I see no evidence whatsoever that the Northern Ireland executive, or Her Majesty’s government, has any intention of ever starting the JCBs rolling along the Ulster Canal. They are happy to support the principle of canal restoration; they are even prepared to allow southern taxpayers to spend money (borrowed from the bond markets) crossing northern soil. It is possible that, if the canal to Clones brings wealth and prosperity to Co Monaghan, the northern executive will rethink. But as it stands, the evidence suggests that the southern taxpayer will be permitted to dig to Clones, and perhaps even to Monaghan and Caledon, but that the canal will never get any further.

It is possible that having a Sinn Féin minister running DCAL will change  economic perceptions, and no doubt Simon Hamilton, the [DUP] Minister of Finance and Personnel, will be easily persuaded. Having an Irishman as UK Chancellor of the Exchequer may help the Sinn Féin cause: the last time that happened, HMG wasted half a million pounds on the Shannon.

But back to the minister:

It is a good North-South project. It links North and South. There also could be some possibilities under European funding, for example, there was funding available for the Ballyconnell canal and some of that was derived from European funding. We will be looking at every possible source of funding in order to get the project off the ground and to complete it over a period of time. Besides, Waterways Ireland, from its own capital budget, may have some small amount of funding available to initiate the project as well. I will be looking at identifying funding from different sources and, hopefully, over a period of time, we can provide the canal.

There are two sets of points in that paragraph. One suggests that the inter-agency group has not yet found the pot of gold, indeed that it has no very firm ideas about where to find it. Waterways Ireland is unlikely to be able to spare more than the price of a few shovels, but even if it devoted its entire capital budget to the Clones Sheugh it would take at least ten years to pay for it.

The other set of points is contained in the first two sentences:

It is a good North-South project. It links North and South.

Any minor boreen could be said to link North and South, but without costing €40 million or so. In fact, though, the Clones Sheugh is not a good project: it is a waste of money. It will link a couple of fields in the middle of nowhere to, er, Clones, which is no doubt a vibrant hub of culture. It will not attract significant numbers of foreign tourists, so it will merely displace waterways activity from elsewhere, and it will not generate new business or employment opportunities except perhaps for part-time summer jobs in a couple of pubs.

I have compared the Irish (and especially Sinn Féin) enthusiasm for canals to a cargo cult, but perhaps a more modern comparison, and one in line with this post’s heading, would be to the Underpants Gnomes (a metaphor I used here about the Shannon in 1792). It will be recalled that the Underpants Gnomes had a three-phase business plan:

  1. Collect Underpants
  2. ?
  3. Profit.

The Irish government’s (and perhaps Sinn Féin’s) devotion to the Clones Sheugh might be explained by their adherence to a similar plan:

  1. Build canal
  2. ?
  3. Peace and prosperity.

But, knickerless, they cannot gird their loins. Maybe Little Miss Higgins‘s video might provide useful advice.

Envoi

The minister’s extensive reply did not stop Sandra McLellan from asking pretty much the same question nine days later, causing me to wonder why the shinners want the sheugh:

Is there something in the St Andrew’s Agreement, or some other bit of northsouthery, that promises a sheugh to Sinn Féin, to enable them to claim credit for some high-profile but non-threatening all-Irelandism? Is the Clones Sheugh the price of SF support for the Police Service of Northern Ireland? I don’t know, but there must be some explanation for the failure to kill off the sheugh.

[h/t to the learned AD, who drew my attention to the meeting of the select sub-committee, which I had not myself noticed. AD is not, however, to be blamed for my views — or for my metaphors]

Ireland needs promissory notes

                                                                                        Chamber of Commerce, Limerick
10th March 1826
Right Honble Earl of Limerick
 
My Lord
By desire of the Directors of the Chamber of Commerce, I have the honour to forward to Your Lordship a petition to the House of Lords from that Body, praying that the proposed measure of prohibiting the issue of promissory notes payable on demand for sums under five pounds may not be extended to Ireland. The Directors request that you will please to present it and give it your support, if your opinion on the subject coincides with theirs.
 
I have the hon …
John McNamara, President
 
(A like letter to Mr [Thomas Spring] Rice [MP], with a Petition to the House of
Commons)
 

From the Limerick Chamber of Commerce letter book page 89.

Arthur’s Day

There is quite a modern branch of trade risen up in Ireland — I mean the exportation of Dublin porter. I am not a proprietor in the brewery, and, in praising the beverage, which I consider most excellent, I cannot be considered to be actuated by interested motives. But, it is a curious fact, that, a few years ago, Ireland was an importing country of porter, while, at the present moment, a very considerable export trade is growing up in Dublin.

In this point, and, perhaps, in this point only, I fully expect the learned member for Dublin [Daniel O’Connell MP] to concur with me. I only venture to entreat hon. Members opposite, who wish to give some activity to the trade of their country, to encourage the fermentation of the vat, rather than the fermentation of politics. By so doing, they may greatly improve our trade and our internal condition; and, if they will but take my advice, I, for one, shall be ready, most heartily, to drink their healths in their own porter.

Thomas Spring Rice, MP for Cambridge (and previously for Limerick), Joint Secretary of the Treasury, in a House of Commons debate on the repeal of the Act of Union on 23 April 1834. On this site, you’ll find more on Daniel O’Connell here and on Uncle Arthur here.

Wordling Repeal

On 22 April 1834 Daniel O’Connell, MP for Dublin but a native of Kerry, argued in the House of Commons at Westminster for, IIRC, five hours in favour of the repeal of the Act of Union. Here is what Wordle makes of his speech.

Daniel O’Connell Wordled

On the following day Thomas Spring-Rice, MP for Cambridge but a native of Limerick, responded for six hours. Here is what Wordle made of it.

Thomas Spring-Rice Wordled