Tag Archives: workboat

Interesting info from Waterways Ireland

Two interesting PDF documents available on this page:

No mention of Saunderson’s Sheugh, but I suppose dredging of the River Finn is proceeding.


A new workboat in Grand Canal Docks.

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.

The Shannon One

Copy of IMG_4546_resize

Heading down the estuary past Shannon Airport

Limerick Port dredger Shannon I 3_resize

Working in Limerick

Limerick Port dredger Shannon I 4_resize

Almost as much kit as WI’s Swiss Army Knife

Limerick Port dredger Shannon I 5_resize

The big crane, though, is not part of the kit

Limerick Port dredger Shannon I 7_resize

Great view from the cab … er, wheelhouse

Limerick Port dredger Shannon I 11_resize

Pusher bow?

Limerick Port dredger Shannon I 1_resize

Limerick in the background

Limerick Port old dredger Curraghgour II 3_resize

Shannon 1’s predecessor Curraghgour II


The Corrib dredger

Drainage and Navigation Works: Construction of dredging machinery

The Commissioners having authorized the purchase of one of the iron dredgers used in the execution of the Shannon works, and then on that river at Athlone, the operation of removing her to Galway was commenced on 1st of March.

This was effected by first clearing her of all machinery, and then cutting up the hull or shell into pieces suited for carriage by land, in which manner every portion of her was removed to Galway.

In reconstructing this boat, considerable improvement and thorough repairs have been effected. A flat iron plate, three-fourths of an inch thick, has been substituted for the hollow iron keel, which lightens her draft of water five inches without any diminution of her steadiness, and an alteration of the position of the steam-pipes has been judiciously arranged. The keelsons were pieced, and whenever any materials were unsound they have been replaced.

The time occupied in the breaking up, transfer, and reconstruction of this dreder, weighing 200 tons, was five months and eleven days, and the whole work was executed at a cost of £803/8/11.

Four scows or decked barges have been constructed for the conveyance of the material raised by the dredger to spoil. Two of these boats are capable of carrying 30 tons, and the other two 45 tons.

Extract from the Annual Report of Mr S U Roberts CE, District Engineer for the year 1851 in Twentieth Report of the Commissioners of Public Works 1852

The Deel navigation

The Deel linked the Co Limerick town of Askeaton to the south side of the Shannon Estuary. Here is a page about the navigation and some of its quays. Note that it is a long page with many maps and photos, although they’re all reduced in size to minimise the strain on tinterweb.

Saunderson’s Sheugh

The Minister for  Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht [who is also a Fine Gael TD for Cavan–Monaghan] spoke at the meeeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht on 25 November 2014. She said:

In addition to progressing North-South co-operation, my key priority is progressing the first stage of the Ulster Canal project from upper Lough Erne to Castle Saunderson, near Belturbet, County Cavan. I am working on this with the Government and other key partners, including the North-South Ministerial Council and Waterways Ireland. […]

It sounds, then, as if the minister intends to get work started on the Clones Sheugh, but only as far as Castle Saunderson, where there is a scouting establishment. The route from Quivvy Lough (location of the Quivvy Marina) is along the Finn River; the first 5.5 km of the route would be in the river and the last 8.5 km to Clones in a canal. The route to Castle Saunderson would, I imagine, require dredging and the removal of rocks as well as work on [or replacement of] Derrykerrib Bridge [I have not read all the details].

It would, of course, be faster to get there by road, but no doubt lots of people will travel from Foreign Parts for the excitement of seeing Castle Saunderson from the water and paying tribute to the memory of a stout Orangeman and founder of the Irish Unionist Alliance.

No mention of the treasure-hunting group who are to find the money, but there’s an election in the offing so money won’t be a problem. Until afterwards.

Quivvy to Castle Saunderson [OSI ~1840]

Quivvy to Castle Saunderson [OSI ~1840]

The minister also said:

Regarding the Ulster Canal, which stretches from upper Lough Erne to Castle Saunderson, we hope to get the project started on that section because that is the one part of the inland waterway system that has not been developed. If we get that done, the Ulster Canal will connect into Lough Neagh. That means we will have a complete network of waterways in Ireland, which is very important. It is also a cross-Border project, and there is a peace dividend in terms of that project. It is very important in terms of cross-Border relationships. It is one shovel-ready project that can be progressed.

The minister said that “a complete network of waterways in Ireland […] is very important”. She did not say why and I can think of no possible economic justification for the creation of such a “network”. Nor is it clear what the “peace dividend” is. But the phrase that evoked most terror is “shovel-ready project”, which I take to mean something that might buy votes in the next election.

The minister’s predecessor, Éamon Ó Cuív, a Fianna Fáil TD for Galway West, said:

I welcome the Minister’s continuation of the work on the Ulster canals. There was quite a bit of work done on that in my time and I was very anxious to see it progress on a step-by-step basis. I was going to bring it to Clones, I am not sure whether the place the Minister mentioned is further or nearer than that.

The minister interjected:

It is not as far as Clones. We will start it anyway and we will get it there.

And Mr Ó Cuív continued:

I take the view that even if she were to get it half a mile, we should just nibble away at it until we get it finished. It is of strategic national importance and if we could connect Coleraine, where I was the other day and where my poor car is getting mended, all the way down the coast through Lough Neagh down to Shannon and back up the canals, it would be a fantastic facility for the island. I will not be heard complaining in any way that it is in the Minister’s constituency – that just happens to be a happy coincidence in this case.

Actually, although both Quivvy Marina and Castle Saunderson are in the Free State, most of the River Finn route is in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

It seems that I must cease to speak of the Clones Sheugh: it’s Saunderson’s Sheugh. I suppose that, if reaching Castle Saunderson were enough to shut up the Shinners, who seem to be madly keen on Sheughery for some reason that is hidden from me, that might be a bargain: it would certainly be better than going all the way to Clones.

My OSI logo and permit number for website


GCC Shannon steamers 1866

Here is a new page with an illustrated article from 1866 about the steam engines in three Grand Canal Company steamers of that era, which were used on the Shannon. I am grateful to Mick O’Rourke of Irish Shipwrecks for sending the article to me.


The (re)invention of heritage

From Google’s Ngram viewer (more here):

ngram[Sorry, Google: couldn’t get the embedding to work properly. WordPress’s whitelist omits Google, though maps seem to work OK. Here’s the original.]

The growth in the use of “Heritage” with an initial capital is particularly interesting. I can think of three possible reasons:

  • that more organisations, eg The Heritage Council, use the word in their titles
  • that the word is increasingly used as an abstract noun at the start of sentences like “Heritage is important”
  • that the word is increasingly used as an attributive adjective at the start of sentences like “Heritage apples should be preserved”.

Traditional, personal uses (like “My heritage from my ancestors …”) are, I think, less likely to require initial capital letters. That in turn might suggest that Google’s Ngram viewer is reflecting a new(ish) set of meanings for the word and might lead us to ask what that new(ish) usage is (or was) intended to achieve.

It might also lead us to ask whether an even newer concept might now be more useful: one that would dissuade well-meaning folk from preserving and displaying context-free old tat and persuade them to find and record information instead.

G boats, Biffs, armoured cars and the Lagan

On the Grand Canal, M boats (boats with the letter M added to their numbers) were motor barges owned by the Grand Canal Company itself; E boats were engineering boats, used for canal maintenance and B boats (whether motor or horse-drawn) were bye-traders’ or hack boats, boats owned by traders other than the Grand Canal Company itself.

G boats were wooden horse-drawn boats, built to carry turf (peat) during The Emergency, which to the rest of the world was the second world war. Some of them [PDF] were built by Thompsons of Carlow, whose archives are now in the National Archives of Ireland; you can read about them in the Summer 2012 newsletter [PDF] of the Archives & Records Assocation.

The same organisation’s Autumn 2013 newsletter had an interesting article about Lagan Navigation archives in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. Unfortunately something has gone wrong with the links on its newsletter web page so the relevant PDF is not available at the moment.

h/t CO’M