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Celebrating Ireland's Floating Heritage

Celebrating Ireland's Floating Heritage

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The Bat - Steam Tug - Drogheda 1866 PDF Print E-mail
02 February 2009


In the 1850’s the Grand Canal Company decided to use steam tugs to speed up the passage times of boats on the canal. For this purpose four boats were built, The Fox, The Bat, The Fly and The Bee.
The original plan was to have the horse boats towed in groups the entire length of the canal, but the locks made this too slow, so the steam tugs were used on the long levels of the canal.
The Bat was built in 1866 in Gorrendons Foundry, Drogheda of wrought iron plates on angle iron frames. A steam engine was fitted which took up the rear third of the hull. The steam tugs would have worked on the canal until 1912 when the Bolinder engines were introduced. The Bat was fitted with a Bolinder in 1913 and became 25M. She was decommissioned and sold to the ESB in 1927 and used for the construction of Ardnacrusha. After Ardnacrusha was complete, The Bat was abandoned with Dabu in Killaloe, where she lay until 1965.
Mick Donahue, the lock keeper in Ballycommon, bought her for five pounds and subsequently fitted her with accommodation. He also installed a Gardner 4LW 50-60hp hand-start engine that probably came from an obsolete Bord na Mona bog train. This engine still powers The Bat. Mick was famous for scavenging bits and pieces for his barge from anyone and anywhere and these still keep The Bat going.
Paul Doran bought The Bat from Mick’s widow and brought her back to Belmont where he fitted an electric start to the engine. He sold it to Noel Dunne who sold it after a short period to Kieran Walsh. The Bat was on the Shannon Erne Waterway on its opening day and had the privilege of being the first barge into Lough Allen since 1932.
The Bat was bought by Ken Murphy and Grainne Duffy in 1999. They carried out extensive renovations including re-plating the bottom, rebuilding most of the accommodation, electrics and plumbing. A new collapsible wheelhouse was designed and built for passage through Carlow Bridge. They lived aboard her for a number of years at Graiguenamanagh before reluctantly moving to a house.
The Bat has travelled the navigation extensively in recent years, from Graiguenamanagh to Lough Derg and Ballinamore, and down the Barrow to New Ross, the Estuary and Inistioge.
The Bat Jan 2002


Last Updated ( 04 April 2009 )
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