Tag Archives: waterways

Launch at Messrs Bewley and Webb’s yard

The first of two new steel canal boats which the above firm are building for the Grand Canal Company was successfully launched on Wednesday.  These boats are 60 ft long by 13 ft 2 in beam, and 5 ft 9 in depth of hold, and are designed to carry forty tons on a light draught of water. They are of improved design and construction, and expected to tow very easily. The Canal Company have expressed themselves well pleased with the time of delivery and workmanship, and it is to be hoped no more orders of this kind will go across the water in future. The firm appear to us to be well able to deal with the work of the port. The ss Magnet, of the Tedcastle Line, which had an extensive overhaul at this yard, we believe, gave every satisfaction, and had a most successful trial trip a few days ago. It is to be hoped that more of our local steamship companies will follow the lead of Messrs Tedcastle, and have their work done in Dublin.

The Freeman’s Journal 1 September 1893. From the British Newspaper Archive run by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited, in partnership with the British Library.

Some context here.

Lacustrine expansions

SHANNON (THE) , the largest river of Ireland, and probably the largest in any equal extent of insular ground in the world. […]

The lower third of its course is tidal or estuarial; and the other two-thirds are, in a comparative sense, so straight, so deep, so free from current, and so much aided by lacustrine expansions, that the river can be navigated by barges, and made an aqueous highway for commerce, to within a few miles of its source.

Were all its facilities to trade and communication as fully recognised and used as those of the rivers of England, it could not fail to relieve and enrich the condition of a very large proportion of the Irish population, and would be burdened with a much greater annual aggregate of freightage than any other river of equal length in the world; yet, in spite of its voluminousness, its highly navigable capacities, and its intimate connection with many of the most populous inland and central districts of Ireland, it was, till a few years ago, very little cared for, and continues to the present day to be comparatively little known.

It effects, from Lough Allen near its source, to the sea at the level of low-water, an aggregate descent of 159 feet in summer, or 163 feet in winter; or, to speak popularly, and with reference merely to high-water level, it makes an aggregate descent of 147 feet; but it achieves no less than 97 feet of the 147 in the brief distance between Killaloe and Limerick; and it also effects, within its entire course, no fewer than 17 different falls or rapids; so that, in its entire current, except at these few particular localities, it is necessarily sluggish and silent almost to stagnation.

Much of its strictly fluviatile extent consists of very large and long lacustrine expanses; much also consists of dull, dead reaches of river, stagnating amid callows, meadows, bogs, and morasses, rankly overgrown upon the sides by aquatic vegetation, and periodically spreading out in cold and shallow floods; and surprisingly little consists of the merry and brilliant combinations of limpid and rippling current with clean well-defined and picturesque banks which so generally constitutes the river-scenery of Scotland.

The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland, adapted to the new poor-law, franchise, municipal and ecclesiastical arrangements, and compiled with a special reference to the lines of railroad and canal communication, as existing in 1844–45; illustrated by a series of maps, and other plates; and presenting the results, in detail, of the census of 1841, compared with that of 1831 Volume III N–Z A Fullarton and Co, Dublin, London and Edinburgh 1846

Monitoring water levels

Several organisations maintain sensors that detect water levels; some of them publish their readings on tinterweb.

The Office of Public Works, for example, shows real-time water levels here; this page shows the changes at Banagher over the past thirty-five days. It may be that the ESB’s run-off of water at Parteen Villa Weir has been having some effect.

The Environmental Protection Agency has a list of monitoring stations but you have to swear not to burn down the queen’s dockyards, insult the president or sell your granny before you’re allowed to look at it. When you’ve done that, you can view Hydronet data, but you have to choose your River Basin District first. If you choose the Shannon RBD, you get a list of stations — none of them on the Shannon itself — arranged in no comprehensible order, so you’re on your own after that. Here’s the one at Tyone on the Nenagh River by way of example.

Finally, Waterways Ireland has information here. The page takes quite a while to load. It covers only the waterways for which the body is responsible and information about the current water level (as compared with MSL Malin) is of limited use unless you’ve been monitoring it for some time. And, alas, there is no information on anywhere on the Shannon south of Meelick (Victoria) Weir, presumably because Waterways Ireland can’t control anything south of that.

Who can? The ESB, and I suspect they must have gauges at, say, Killaloe, but if they do I can’t find the readings published anywhere. It would be a boon and a blessing to men if ESB were to publish its information.

There is one other source of information that might help: there are some webcams on Irish rivers. Farsons have several, though none on the Shannon, and at the moment I can’t get any of the Irish ones to work for me.

 

The sinking of the Longford 6

Here is the sixth and final page on the sinking of the passage boat Longford on the Royal Canal on 25 November 1845. This page is about who was steering the boat and why the steerer was unable to avoid the accident.

The price of fifteen lives was 1p.

 

The sinking of the Longford 4 and 5

Here are the fourth and fifth pages [I split one long page] in the sequence of articles about the sinking of the passage boat Longford on the Royal Canal in 1845. They discuss some of the evidence of corporate incompetence and farcical laxity that may have persuaded the inquest jury to award a deodand against the vessel (and thus against the Royal Canal Company).

Amongst other gems, the footnotes explain what a crapper is.

The sinking of the Longford 3

Here is the third page in the sequence about the sinking of the passage boat Longford on the Royal Canal in 1845. This page, The deodand, covers the inquest and the trial.

Royal Canal November

I said here that I did not know whether there was a plaque to commemorate the drowning of fifteen people on the Royal Canal in 1845. I am grateful to both Ewan Duffy and Niall Galway for telling me that there is a plaque and for sending photos of it. Ewan’s, which I show below, was taken in 1997.

Porterstown Plaque

The plaque in 1997 (copyright industrialheritageireland.info)

Niall has sent on a message from the Royal Canal Amenity Group chairman:

A Mass in memory of the 16 people who lost their lives on 25 November 1845, when a passenger boat sank on the Royal Canal at Clonsilla, will be
held in St Mochta’s Church, Porterstown Road, at 10.00 am on Friday next 27 November 2015. After the mass you are invited to Porterstown (Kennan) bridge to lay a wreath and afterwards to the Clonsilla Inn for a tea/coffee.

I know that Ruth Delany gives the figure of 16 deaths, but all the newspaper reports that I have read say that 15 people died: 7 men, 6 women and 2 children, all from the second-class cabin.

Addendum 23 November 2015: I have now read some more newspaper reports and I think the discrepancy arises because early press reports of the accident itself, notably that carried in the Freeman’s Journal, said that sixteen people had died, but reports of the inquest gave the number as fifteen. The pre-inquest reports were inaccurate in other respects too: the total numbers of passengers were wrong and the chain of events that led to the accident was not properly described.

 

Aw sheughs

On 6 November 2015 there was a meeting of the Inland Waterways flavour of the North South Ministerial Council, whereat the Minister for Fairytales (RoI) and the Minister for Marching Bands (NI), each with a sidekick, discussed waterways matters. The joint communiqué, artfully written to provide outsiders with as little information as possible, is available here [PDF], but here’s a summary:

  • WI’s “capital expenditure focused on infrastructure repairs”, presumably because it has no money for any improvements or extensions, except a bit of dredging in or near the constituency of the Minister for Fairytales
  • yes, that means the River Finn, Saunderson’s Sheugh, which we’re pretending is or was part of the Clones Sheugh or Ulster Canal
  • WI has managed to get “third party funding” of over €1 million for waterside developments, which is good: much better than transferring WI money to other bodies. WI is trying to nab euroloot but, as there were no announcements of success, we must assume that this is work in progress. Mind you, the ministers would probably claim the success (and the photoshoots) anyway
  • WI may sell some unspecified property
  • the important one:

LEGACY SCALE LINKAGES FOR NORTHERN BASED WATERWAYS IRELAND STAFF

The Council approved the determination made by Waterways Ireland regarding legacy scale linkages for northern based staff.

I knew you’d want to know about that. Whatever it means.

On 17 November 2015 the latest attempt to get the boys and girls of the Northern Ireland Assembly to be nice to other reached some sort of conclusion, which you can read about in the Irish Times (until it disappears behind a paywall) and the Manchester Guardian. But of course the important question is whether we southron loons have to buy sweeties (sheugher candies) for our northern brethren to persuade them to be polite. For that, gentle reader, you must turn to the inspiringly-titled A fresh start — the Stormont Agreement and implementation plan, available here [PDF].

You will not, of course, want to bother reading most of it, so we can skip straight to Section E Irish Government Financial Support on page 30. New readers may wish to know that, many NI disagreements ago, the Irish government, led at the time by a group of leprechauns who believed they possessed a pot of gold, resolved to impress the poor benighted northerners with a display of southern wealth and power. Accordingly, it promised to pay for all sorts of transport infrastructure, provided that it could be claimed to have some sort of cross-borderality and preferably looked iconic. Whether there was any point to any of the schemes was a matter omitted from consideration.

The three main proposals, IIRC, were

  • the A5, a road in Northern Ireland
  • the Narrow Water Bridge, which would cross the Newry River in the middle of nowhere (whereas a south-eastern bypass of Newry might actually be useful). And it would have an opening span for the many vessels that visit Newry by the Ship Canal
  • the Clones Sheugh, a short section of the Ulster Canal.

Unfortunately the hardheaded northerners have long memories and they keep looking for their three sweeties long after the Free State realised that it couldn’t afford them. So has this latest throwing of their toys out of the pram forced the Free Staters to give in and buy them the A5, the iconic bridge and the Clones Sheugh?

Up to a point, Lord Copper.

The Irish government says it’s all in favour of, er, “investing” in infrastructure “to support North-South co-operation to help unlock the full potential of the island economy”, where no doubt eighteenth century transport methods will prove to as important as they were in the time of Grattan’s Parliament. But with that, and all the other waffle and irrelevancies shoved in at the start of the section, it is clear that the Irish government is trying to big up a small contribution. It drags in the European Union, the Dublin to Belfast railway, flood relief, energy, communications and health, which have nothing to do with the case, but which between them fill almost the whole of the first page.

From there, though, it has to get specific, or at least look as if it’s doing so. Accordingly, each of the three white elephants gets a subsection to itself, with numbered paragraphs, from which we learn that:

  • the Free State government “remains supportive of the commitment under the St Andrews Agreement” to co-fund the A5. It’s going to pay more (I think): £25 million a year in the years 2017–2019, up from a total of £50 million
  • the Free State government “remains committed to the concept of the Narrow Water Bridge”, which has “potential to provide jobs” [how?]; it will review the plans with the NI Executive and think about it by June 2016. It says nothing about the disappearance of funding
  • the Free State government does not say that it “remains supportive of the commitment under the St Andrews Agreement” to fund the Clones Sheugh. Nor does it say that it “remains committed to the concept”. What it does say about the sheugh is that it is funding Saunderson’s Sheugh (see above), it will think about more cross-border greenways and blueways including the Ulster Canal and it and the NI Exec will identify “options for jointly developing future phases of the Ulster Canal restoration project”, which I take to mean that the southron taxpayer won’t be stuck with the entire bill. Oh, and it’s going to think about funding a bleeding sail training vessel, another exercise in pointlessness and nitwittery.

That’s almost it: there is something about a north-west thingie, senior officials will meet and there will be progress reports.

These documents are not necessarily constructed to provide information to outsiders, but my sense is that the Clones Sheugh danger to the southron taxpayer has receded for the moment, although the Narrow Water Bridge and the sail-training nitwittwery need to be blown out of the water (or into it). The A5 road is to go ahead: I don’t know much about it but it might be the least objectionable of the lot.

 

Placing Percy

Back in May 2013, I wondered whether 53 Percy Place, Dublin 4, which Waterways Ireland was being forced to sell to dig the Clones Sheugh, would still be on its hands in a year or two. And so it was, but in August 2015, I noted that the property was for sale to fund Saunderson’s Sheugh, which we’re all pretending is the Clones Sheugh (aka the Ulster Canal).

The interesting point was that Messrs CBRE wanted over €1.6 million for the site, which was the valuation put upon it in 2008. The 2012 valuation was €650,000 and the 2013 €800,000. I wrote:

On the basis of its asking price for Percy Place, WI seems to believe that the property collapse is over; perhaps it is even now in negotiation to develop Plot 8 and build a sheugh all the way to Clones. In the meantime, if it gets €1.6 million for Percy Place, that will help to alleviate the damage caused by the smash-and-grab raid carried out by the Department of Fairytales to pay for Saunderson’s Sheugh.

Well, it seems that the boom is back. According to the respectable people’s Sunday newspaper, the Sunday Business Post, of 18 October 2015, WI got over €2 million for the site. The SBP is paywalled and I can’t find online confirmation elsewhere, but it’s a high price.

I did note on the CBRE site that the Twelfth Lock Hotel, that haunt of Stakhanovite homoeroticism on the Royal Canal in Blanchardstown, is for sale again. I haven’t been there for some years, so I don’t know whether the mural is still extant.

 

A new book

Andy Wood’s Abandoned & Vanished Canals of Ireland, Scotland and Wales [Amberley Publishing, Stroud 2015] is now available. It is a companion to his Abandoned & Vanished Canals of England.

Many (but by no means all) of the Irish canals are covered on this site; the author sought and was granted permission to draw on this material and has generously acknowledged that.

I have not yet had time to read the book but I did note that the author seems to have confused Grand Canal Harbour and Grand Canal Docks.