Land was created to provide a place for boats to visit. - Brooks Atkinson

Celebrating Ireland's Floating Heritage

Celebrating Ireland's Floating Heritage

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4B - Bye Trader - Portadown 1912 PDF Print E-mail
24 February 2009


4B on Lough Derg 2007
4B was built in Portadown for Sir John Purser Griffith of the Leinster Carbonising Turf Company in Turraun, Co. Offaly and was first weighed at Killaloe in August 1912. She was built as a motorised boat and fitted with a 15hp Bolinder engine.
At this time, the canal was the only method of moving bulky goods through the midlands and it was the main highway. The By-Trader’s Barges (B Boats) were crewed by two men. While based in Turraun Joe Daly was 4B’s skipper and Jim Bracken was the assistant. While 4B’s main role was to draw turf from Turraun, she carried anything and everything including porter, brick, timber, flour for Odlums, tobacco & general groceries etc. up and down the canal delivering to shops along the way. She travelled the system from Limerick to Dublin and to Athy & Portarlington. She would supply shops along the way, but her home base was Pollagh, Co Offaly.
In 1936 the Turf Development Board took over the Turraun Peat Works and paid a sum of approx £400 for the barge which continued to work from Turraun. In 1939 ownership transferred to Mr James Doyle (Big Jim Doyle) of Allenwood and he used her during the emergency years (1939 – 1945) to transport turf from the midlands to Dublin. After the war 4B was sold to Jack Gill, who at the time also owned 31B. Jack is remembered for carrying large bales of cotton to the Shannon on the deck of 4B. These bales were 8’ x 4’ and being a hack boat were piled high on the boat so the tiller man had to nearly jump up and down to see where he was going. The height of the chimney had to be extended with a broomstick to align the boat with the bridges.
In the fifties she passed into the ownership of a local publican Jack O’Neill who used her to carry timber. Records confirm that 4B made numerous trips on the lower Barrow between 1951 and 1953, mostly with round timber wharfage. These were through St. Mullins, Ballykeenan, Graiguenamanagh and Inistioge. Jack O’Neill operated as a skipper/owner and had a deckhand called Leary who was always told to jump off the boat with the stop rope when they reached the quay. Legend has it he never had to jump because he was thrown ashore by the force of the boat hitting the wall.
When the canal was closed and the boats were sold from James Street Harbour in 1959, 4B left the canal system when she was purchased by Carroll Bros of Carrick-on-Suir. She became known locally as Carroll’s Boat. She was used to draw washed builders sand from the river bed near Mooncoin. The sand barges were kept in Carrick-on-Suir where they would unload their sand. They would go downriver on an ebb tide and sit of the sand as the tide went out. Then the crew of four would climb out and load the barge with sand. As the tide rose, the barge would re-float and then return to Carrick. On many an occasion when the engine would not restart she was towed back upriver by one of the four Dowley boats which were better maintained (Little Knocknagow, The Old Forge, The big Knocknagow and the Rocksand). Carroll Bros sold her to ‘Bill the Bowler Keeffe’ and he in turn sold her to Pat Walsh of Piltown, Co. Kilkenny in 1970 for £300. At this time her original Bolinder engine had become too tempremental and it was replaced with an engine from a Thames Trader lorry.
Ian Johnson purchased her in 1972 and brought her back up the river Barrow and across the Grand Canal to the river Shannon and over the next couple of years converted her to a leisure boat. The Johnson family used 4B for nearly 30 years until they sold her in 2001 to Stephen Gentleman. Stephen based her on the Grand Canal in Hazelhatch, Co. Kildare, where he lived aboard her until 2006 when she was purchased by her current owners, Cliff & Eunice Jeffers.
4B is now based in Athy at the junction of the Grand Canal and the River Barrow. She continues to travel the Inland Waterways system. She had a new 6 cylinder Perkins engine fitted in 2008 which hopefully will last a similar length of time to her previous two. She is currently undergoing some renovations and we are looking forward to celebrating her centenary in 2012.



in Turraun 1920
James Harbour Dublin Doyle's Tyrf Boat loaded
Start of her Conversion Shannon Harbour 1972
Kilrush with the Dolphins 2008
4B on River Suck June 2007 4B at Railway Bridge above Limerick 2008
4B 2007 4B arriving Limerick 2008
4B & Reflection off Kilrush 2008 4B approaching Foynes 2008
68M 4B El Roi off Scattery Island 2008
Last Updated ( 03 December 2010 )
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