Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. - Mark Twain

Celebrating Ireland's Floating Heritage

Celebrating Ireland's Floating Heritage

Home arrow Vessels arrow Horse Boats arrow 4E - Horse Boat 53 - Cork 1895
4E - Horse Boat 53 - Cork 1895 PDF Print E-mail
16 October 2008

The Canal Boat which presently carries the number 4E has an interesting and varied history. She started her working life as Horse Boat Number 53 on the Grand Canal and worked as such from 1896. In 1913, a Bolinder engine was installed and she became 23M. In 1935 she was sold without an engine to Joseph (Joe) Kane of Blackwood in County Kildare and became a Horse Boat again with the number 111B. Joe Kane had previously worked for Odlums Mills on their canal boats and was encouraged to go-it-alone. He bought 49B and then the following year he bought 111B, which he was to use for the rest of his working life. The bent stem post, known as the 'nose job' occurred when she was being towed by 41M into the inner basin in Ringsend, with a cargo of 45 tons of wheat aboard. On approaching the lifting bridge, 41M slowed down and 111B veered out of control and into the bridge. The stem post and some bow plates were buckled forever.

Joe sold 49B in 1937 and the following year he had an engine installed in 111B, at a cost of £300. The main cargoes were turf into Dublin and wheat back to Odlums’ Mills at Sallins. Built of iron, riveted construction with wooden decks, the only remnant of her horse-drawn days is part of the tow post about half way along the port side-inside the hull.
When Joe retired in 1952, 111B was acquired by CIE, the state transportation company. She was the last boat out of the Blackwood feeder before its closure. She was again relieved of her engine, renumbered 4E and assigned to the Royal Canal by the CIE’s Engineering Section for maintenance duty. While on the stretch between Ballynacarrigy and Abbeyshrule, a breach occurred in the canal on the bog section trapping 4E, where she was abandoned in the dry canal.
Her preservation was due to a former CIE employee, who had suffered a work accident, and was allowed to live on her for some years. He was very liberal with the application of red lead and bitumen. In the early 1970s, 4E was purchased by Robertstown Guild of Muintir Na Tire to add to its collection of canal boats. However, the salvage of 4E was not attempted and she remained settled at Ballynacarrigy.
In October 1980 the current owner, Joe Treacy, purchased 4E where she lay for the sum of £1,800. He had the hull towed by tractor the half mile to a lock chamber, then craned onto a truck and brought to Tullamore where she was re-floated on the Grand Canal. With the aid of a barge pole lent to him by John Weaving, "as good as a spare engine', and powered again by 15 hp [Evinrude outboard], the trip to the 13th lock was completed over two weekends in January 1981. Conversion to her present shape was completed by summer 1982.
At Tuamgraney on the Scarriff River she received and survived her second 'nose job' during the flooded 1986 Derg rally. Through a combination of age and her years of abandonment on the Royal Canal, her feeble hull was in need of being totally re-plated; this was completed in 2002.
4E along with 35M, 68M and Dabu travelled from the Shannon to Dublin in 2001 to launch the Heritage Boat Association. After a memorable trip the Minister Sile DeValera hoisted the HBA’s burgee on 4E's mast and a new era began. In the last decade 4E has proudly flown IWAI, RCAG and HBA flags at events throughout the navigable system. Dublin has been the destination on three occasions, Lough Erne twice and Carlow, Limerick and Jamestown were all milestones in her busy social schedule.
In 2010 4E was one of the HBA’s representative vessels at the ceremonies in Spencer Dock, the eastern end of the Royal Canal; later that year she was at the re-opening of the western end at Richmond Harbour. 4E will continue to fly the flag at events throughout the inland waterways system with HBA 10 @ Banagher, the immediate big one and her crew look forward to Jamestown 2012 next year.
Over the last century 4E has evolved from horse boat to floating home-from-home, with a lot of water under her keel. To those of you interested in a piece of canal history there is always a welcome aboard and anyone bitten with the dreaded 'Barge Fever' will never be put off by her skipper, Joe Treacy, as 4E has well repaid the blood, sweat and tears that has her still on the water today.
In August 2011 a longstanding wish came true when 4E travelled the Royal Canal from Richmond Harbour and while tied up at Ledwith's Bridge where the iconic photo in Ireland's Royal Canal was taken, an aerial picture was again taken, thirty one years after her purchase.
    4E at entrance to Killaloe Canal Mar 2008 4E outside WI Visitors Centre in Grand Canal Docks Dublin 2004
Technical Details
Reg No:
Previous No's:
1895-HB53, 1913-23M, 1935-111B
Built By:
Passage Dock Company, Cork
Riveted Iron
60 ft 8 inches
13 ft
50 tons
4 ft 2 1/4 inches (Horse Boat)
Killaloe 1896
Bolinder E-Type 15Hp (1913-1952)
15 hp Evinrude (1980)
BMC 4 Cylinder Diesel (1982-2011)
BMC Commodore Diesel 2011
Home Base:




4E & 35M Carrick 2003 ? Erne Trip 2003
4E Pollagh 4E Tullamore 2003
4E at Carlow 2005 Boatmen & Wise Ones Daingean 2004
4E Bolands Lock 2003
Chang Sha & 4E Quivvy Waters 2003 4E Jamestown 2006



Last Updated ( 07 December 2016 )
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