Tag Archives: tug

River Suir

My spies tell me that the RTE television programme Nationwide, to be broadcast on Wednesday 13 May 2015 at 7.00pm, will include some material about the River Suir and perhaps some footage of a former tug-barge, the Knocknagow, that plied thereon.

Canal boat sunk on the Liffey

In a comment here I wondered what a canal boat was doing as far up the Liffey as Grattan Bridge in 1873. Here is a report from the Freeman’s Journal of 10 March 1875 that may provide a possible explanation.

THE LATE WRECK IN THE RIVER LIFFEY:— The porter-laden canal boat which was swamped on Monday by being borne by the flood in the river against the southern abutments, at the western side of Grattan-bridge, still remains in the place where she sank. Though she came with great force against the structure, she did not inflict the slightest injury upon it. Measures will be at once taken for floating the sunken vessel, which does not in any way interfere with the river traffic, as the centre arches are quite clear. All the porter which was on board the canal boat when she went down has been secured.

Remember that Guinness built its wharf on the Liffey in 1873 but did not start building its own fleet of barges for the Liffey until 1877. It did, however, have “a few small tugs” that were used to draw laden boats.

Guinness had easy access to the Grand Canal Harbour at James’s Street, so it seems unlikely to me that Grand Canal boats would risk the Liffey passage to supply pubs along the Grand, the Barrow and the lower Shannon. It therefore seems more likely that the boats were either Royal Canal boats or were being used to supply ships in the port.

Willie Leech and the Royal trade

I have uploaded an old article of mine based on an interview with Willie Leech of Killucan, whose father ran the last trading boats on the Royal Canal.

WI’s latest tug

The Maritime Journal covers it.

Why there won’t be many more new orders.

Russells of Portarlington, timber merchants

I am indebted to Eleanor Russell for permission to reproduce four photos of the canal operations of Messrs Russells of Portarlington, timber merchants and sawmills operators. They used the Royal and Grand Canals (and the Barrow Line and Mountmellick Branch) to carry timber cut on large estates to their sawmills. One of the estates on which they cut timber was Rockville, and Eleanor Russell has also given me permission to use a photo of Rockville House, taken in 1913, on my page about the Rockville Navigations.

Royal Canal steamers

According to Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary (1837),

The principal trade is in wool, for which this is the greatest mart in the county, its central situation and facility of communication with the Shannon and with Dublin having rendered it the commercial centre of a wide extent of country. The City of Dublin Steam Company commenced operations here in 1830: a steamer plies twice a week between this town and Shannon Harbour, where it meets the Limerick steamer and Grand Canal boat for Dublin.

It is interesting that the steamer went west and south (37 miles, 21 locks to the Shannon, then river, lake and river to Shannon Harbour), rather than directly eastward (52 miles, 25 locks) to Dublin, but its route would have enabled it to serve Longford, Tarmonbarry, Lanesborough and Athlone. Lewis, however, does not mention steamer services at any of those places other than Athlone.

More research required ….

SS John Randolph

The SS John Randolph, described as “America’s first successful iron ship in commerce”, is commemorated by a historical marker in Savannah, Georgia, USA.

The John Randolph was one of the first six iron vessels built by Lairds of Birkenhead (later merged into Cammell Laird). The other five were built for use on the River Shannon.

Royal steam

How many steamers were used on the Royal Canal? The standard answer is five, but the right answer might be nine or ten. Read about Fishbourne, the unknown carrier, here.

The Liffey before the Lagan

According to the Heritage Boat Association, the Guinness jetty on the Liffey was built in 1873, but the first steamer, the Lagan, was built in 1877. The Guinness Storehouse‘s fact sheet confirms the 1873 date, but is vague about when the first boats were built. So why the four-year gap? Why would Guinness build the jetty before it had the boats to use it?

At the half-yearly meeting of the proprietors of the Midland Great Western Railway Company, held on 7 September 1876, the Chairman (Sir Ralph Cusack) said that the largest trader on the Royal Canal (owned by the MGWR) was about to retire from business because of ill health. Sir Ralph said:

[…] it might be very inconvenient to persons in the country, who carry on the canal materials that are not exactly suited for a railway, such as coals, timber, slates, bricks, etc. […] it is therefore our intention to commence — perhaps in a small way at first — carrying with a couple of boats on the canal, so as to relieve the railway of this rough kind of traffic, and at the same time to benefit the country through which the canal runs. [Irish Times 8 September 1876]

Sir Ralph said that the company had ordered a small steamer:

We don’t propose that the steamer shall carry goods, but we propose to have a few small tugs similar to those used by Sir Arthur Guinness on the Liffey to draw laden boats. […] we will begin in a small way and see what way the thing will do. We cannot lose very much by it. We are getting one small tug, and I suppose we will get another.

So in 1876, one year before the Lagan was built, Guinness was using dumb barges, towed by small tugs, on the Liffey.

 

Ephemera 2

Work in progress on the new moorings above the bridge in Killaloe.

WIP Killaloe 12 December 2010

Below the bridge, the downstream end of the canal has been blocked by a fallen tree. The ESB boats (62M and the tug) have been moved to the dockyard side (I don’t know whether that has anything to do with the blockage) and the path down the side of the marble mill has been blocked by a locked gate. It is climbable, but being burdened I did not attempt it.

Killaloe canal blocked