- Heritage Boat Visit 2005
- Boat 95B negotiating Graiguecullen
Bridge in Carlow Town.
- Photos Carlow County Museum
- Barge 31B
- Photo Carlow County Museum
- Boat 34B, which was operated by the
Moore family from Graiguecullen led the flotilla into
Carlow Town in May 2005.
- Photo Carlow County Museum
Lovely Barrow River
I very much appreciate this opportunity to
address this group here today. In many organisations throughout our
community, good work is often misunderstood due to poor communication or
none at all. From reading local press and other feedback, Rotary are to
be congratulated in this area. You provide a forum for discussion and
your objectives are clearly defined. Poor communication and even less
consultation have been the downfall of many a voluntary club, charitable
organisation and, unfortunately, firms and business of many types.
As a member of Carlow U.D.C., we are rightly
open to public scrutiny at each meeting. On a personal feeling, I
believe there should he more meetings and idea exchange between the
U.D.C. and local organisations on a non confrontational basis and in the
spirit and direction towards achieving what is best for the community
which we are so lucky to be a part of.
Today I wish to put forward a few ideas on the
River Barrow and tourist potential in our catchment area. Please accept
these are personal feelings although some have been well discussed down
the years by many interested parties. The over-riding factor in what I
suggest is that to achieve success, it is necessary that full community
support and involvement is required. No one individual or group can
achieve a meaningful community result by working in isolation.
In Ireland today, people are becoming
increasingly concerned about the quality of our natural environment.
Special emphasis is being placed on the protection of our Rivers,
Mountains, Boglands, etc. Parklands and other amenities are also being
provided and should be pushed by National and Local Government,
It is essential that we protect and maintain
green belts especially in our towns as no one benefits from living in a
complete concrete jungle.
We should become litter conscious also with
Urban and Rural recognition for each others problems. The urban dweller
should not discard rubbish (the minority who do) in nice quiet hedgerows
and likewise, our rural brother should he careful about the treatment of
rivers and the landscape in general. This should be viewed in a Euro
context, as we have possibly the best environment in Europe at present,
we should use it to our advantage and long may it remain intact.
Memories: How It All Started
As a member of Carlow U.D.C., I have a
particular interest in the River Barrow. It is the second largest river
system in Ireland and its potential has been largely untapped to date.
We are the poor relation when compared with the River Shannon and while
the strong lobby for funding to the western river has always been the
most successful, the Barrow Project is an uphill battle.
Don’t ever forget that along the length of the
Barrow is contained some of the most beautiful river scenery. We need an
integrated plan to ensure development of the river to the greatest
advantage for all the community, boating, fishing, walking are the top
My family spent twenty two years in Maganey
Lock House. During this time, I learned to swim, fish and operate boats,
all necessary for survival. It was a very happy time.
Our old employers were G.C.C. (Grand Canal Co.)
headquarters in Carlow is now the present location for Carlow Rowing
Club. C.I.E. then took over the operation in the early 50’s. This
company were very supportive of their existing road and rail traffic and
so the demise of the river system was inevitable.
Before leaving for school or work in the
mornings, approximately twelve to fourteen barges would have passed
through the Lock before 8.30 am. Particularly in winter (sugar beet and
sundries down to Carlow, refined sugar etc., up to Shannon - Dublin),
all fifty ton loads.
There were two groups of boats; letter M was
register for company and letter B for privately owned.
Barge Men: Barrow
and Canal men.
Barrow Men: Mainly
from Graiguenamanagh, some from Graiguecullen & Carlow.
Canal Men: From Allenwood, Robertstown, Areas
of North Kildare and Offaly.
The most famous boat on the Barrow system was
6-M or the tugboat with it’s beautiful ship’s wheel and powerful 100 h.p.
engines. This tug would tow at least 4-5 fully laden barges from Carlow
to Levitstown canal during flood times (the Standard barge was only
fitted with a 15 hp engine).
When such a group of boats tied up for the
night at a lock, it was a great social event. This was the days before
the advent of T.V. as we know it today. The bargemen were magnificent
singers, musicians and story tellers.
In the year ending 31st March 1956, 89,640 tons
was conveyed by barge; in other words, 1,793 barge movements per year.
Thus ensuring clean and well maintained waterways.
Carlow was a major contributor to the river
traffic, contributing 20,000 plus tons.
In a memo to Government, January 1953, the
board of C.1.E. set out proposals for closure of Barrow/Canal System.
The board was informed that the Minister was not prepared to close down
canals. The opinion was expressed that the canal provides an alternative
form of transport in emergency, and if its use was to be reduced to the
extent proposed, the condition of the waterway might be expected to
deteriorate through misuse and to become unsightly.
Events took a downturn; the river canal was
closed and how true the above statement has turned out to be.
Present & Future
River system is now under the control of Office
of Pubic Works, waterways service. The O.P W. commissioned a report by
Brady/Shipman/Martin. This study was carried out and published in 1987:
“Management and Development Strategy”
This report is a very useful for Technical Data
and other Input. The present position is improving, however, we must
push for a big slice of the financial cake in order to speed up this
work. Thankfully, good co-operation exists between Carlow Co. Council,
Carlow U.D.C. members and staff, and the O.P.W. staff.
In conclusion, it will be necessary to carry
out much work to the river way, towpaths and existing structures. Proper
access points to the river need to be identified, repaired and/or
purchased and constructed.
A complete integrated package outlining all
local amenities, hotels, guest houses, entertainment, leisure and scenic
areas need to be prepared and sold as a package to tour promoters to
ensure two/three day stopovers become a part of local tourist trade in
Carlow. I intend to push for the success of this project and I hope many
members of the community feel the importance of projecting the lovely
River Barrow as a Jewel in our environment and resource system. “Goodly
Barrow” (A voyage on an Irish River) by T.F O’Sullivan is an excellent
publication. Enjoyable and informative, I would recommend it to you.
Finally, in the coming weeks, I hope to be in a
position to invite all interested members of the community to
participate in a simple project which should help in highlighting the
immense value of this natural resource which is “on our doorstep”
Previously published in 'Carlow Past &
THE BARROW AND THE CANAL
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