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Celebrating Ireland's Floating Heritage

Celebrating Ireland's Floating Heritage

Home arrow Vessels arrow Modern Boats arrow Coill an Eo - Maintenance Barge - Dublin 1969
Coill an Eo - Maintenance Barge - Dublin 1969 PDF Print E-mail
02 February 2009

 

Coill-an-Eo (wood of the yew) was built in 1969 in the Liffey Dockyard. She was designed specifically for the Shannon: at 95’ x 18’ x 4’6” she fits the locks and is shallow enough to cope with low water levels. Coill-an-Eo covers the Shannon as far up as Leitrim and Lough Key, but not Lough Allen or the Shannon Erne Waterway. She can stand up to serious weather on the big lakes but, with her wheelhouse roof folded down, can also get down to Limerick.
 
She has a single screw with an 112hp Kelvin engine, but no bow-thrusters. A large generator can supply 220v, 110v or three-phase power. The crane in the bow can take various attachments for different jobs.
In the stern is the galley, with the bridge forward of that, above the engine-room. Forward again are two cabins in the hold, each with two pairs of bunks. They are no longer used, as the crew nowadays drive to work.
 
Forward of the cabins is the workshop: Coill-an-Eo and her skilled crew can carry out electrical and mechanical work, including oxy-acetylene cutting and welding, on the spot wherever she may be. The workshop is roofed with wooden beams and canvas, resting on removable metal cross-pieces, so that the area can be used as a cargo hold if necessary.
 
Coill-an-Eo carries a Pioneer Multi dinghy; big brother to the near-indestructible dinghies used by many hire-firms, and is usually accompanied by WB2, a small tug and working platform with a 60hp Lister engine. She is powerful enough to pull Ceoll-an-Eo off if she has taken the ground while driving markers, but can also get into shallow areas.
 
Work
The work varies with the seasons. In winter, Coill-an-Eo may be repairing lock gates, towing the pontoon-mounted pile-driving rig or driving the piles to anchor pontoons or as the basis for new or extended harbours. Her experienced crew can drive a 30’-40’ section of 18” gun-barrel piling, and then weld another section to it in situ, without letting any water in.
In summer, even if there is no harbour work in progress, there are navigation marks on the lakes to be attended to. Some jobs are planned two to three years in advance, but urgent repairs, e.g. when markers go adrift in high winds, may force a change of schedule.
 
Crew
Her first crew were Kevin Madigan (Skipper), Jimmy O’Brien (Fitter), with Michael McMahon and Mick Clifford as deck hands. Bert Conroy joined the crew in 1971 and his son PJ joined in 1973. Over the years one by one all of the crew became skipper at some stage. PJ took over from his father in 1992 and was in charge until 2003. George Herriott from Dromineer joined in the late 1980s with Michael, Bert and PJ. George eventually left to take over as skipper of the Fox in the mid nineties. The current crew are John Joe O’Rourke, Tony Burke, Patsy Fallon and Ray McKeown who all joined in the 1990s.
 
WI Fleet
Waterways Ireland’s Shannon Fleet includes the Inspector’s Launch and RIB, some Tugs and the maintenance boat Fox, which usually works on the northern reaches. But Coill-an-Eo is the biggest and best-equipped and an essential element in the maintenance and improvement of the Shannon Navigation.
Last Updated ( 04 April 2009 )
 
 
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