Tag Archives: waterways

Killaloe

There is a new video about Killaloe’s waterside heritage on the Heritage Week website here. The video was made in July 2020 by Joe O Dughghaill of Pine Valley Productions, Killaloe.

Swiss army knife

Ten years ago this site used the term “Swiss army knife” to describe Waterways Ireland’s Watermaster “amphibious multipurpose dredger“. Carlow Live says that Waterways Ireland now use the term themselves.

Assistance to canals in Ireland

The assistance given to canals belonging to companies in Ireland in the last and commencement of the present century was chiefly in the form of loans of public money or by grants from special or general taxes; but we have been unable to obtain from the records of inland navigation in Ireland a complete account of the public loans which were made for such purpose.

Report of the Commissioners appointed to inspect the accounts and examine the works of Railways in Ireland, made to the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty’s Treasury HMSO, London 1868

How true those words are even today.

I would be grateful if anyone could tell me the full cost of the restoration of the Royal Canal and the Ballinamore & Ballyconnell Canal, now the Shannon–Erne Waterway.

 

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.