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Celebrating Ireland's Floating Heritage

Celebrating Ireland's Floating Heritage

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Surviving Working Boats on Irish Inland Waterways - Cool Metal - Clear Water PDF Print E-mail
08 October 2008

Cover Cool Metal - Clear water

 

The history of the building of the canals and our inland navigations has been covered by a number of authors, most notably by Ruth Delany. Gerard D'Arcy's "Portrait of the Grand Canal" gave us a great insight into the operational side of the Grand prior to its closure in 1960. More recently Joe O'Reilly and Caitriona Killaly's 'Through the Locks" gave us an excellent first hand account of boatmen's memories of their time working on the canal.

The book, Cool Metal - Clear Water, has been compiled as a reference guide to the surviving trading boats that were used on Ireland's inland waterway system of rivers, lakes and canals. It documents the history of each known boat with technical and anecdotal information supported by photos from the past trading days to date.

This and other books of interest are reviewed in the Publications & References section of this site.

"As for as it is possible to befriend a piece of steel, I look on the 59M as an old friend who has repaid my efforts a hundred times over"

 

Many boats have been preserved by their evolvement to practical application and conversion over the years which has given a great diversity to the current fleet. A lot of the old photos, including some from the Shortall collection, have been digitally restored and preserved for future reference and are a magnificent photographic archive of times past.
 

Most of the barges featured in the book and on this website, have been out of working service longer than they were in it.

For example, 50M (the Venus) operated commercially with the Grand Canal Company for 32 years (1928 -1960) but has been in private use with the Tottenham family for over 46 years. Likewise the 45M worked for 18 years (1928 -1946) before it sank to the bottom of Lough Derg where it lay for 29 years (1946-1975) until it was raised by Donnachta Kennedy and authentically restored by David Coote. It has been cruising the waterways for the last 31 years as a constant reminder of our past industrial heritage. The Rambler hasn't been a work boat in almost 100 years and there are a good number of other boats still moving around our waterways that were built in the 19th century.

From the barge pages you will note that most have survived through three distinct stages, commonly referred to as their working life, their demise and their rejuvenation which reflect the transition from commercial to recreational service. The detailed mapping of this transition became a core objective of the book together with the recording of the skippers and crew that served on the GCC Canal Boats.

We trust that the book and this website will go some way to providing an appreciation for the historical contribution, that both the barges and the crews made to our commercial development in times past.

As boat owners we are all proud of our boats and their history. Some owners are more passionate than others which is best summarised by the following statement - "As for as it is possible to befriend a piece of steel, I look on the 59M as an old friend who has repaid my efforts a hundred times over"

Boatmen's Reunion Banagher 2006 Carrick 2002
Last Updated ( 04 December 2010 )
 
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