One hundred years ago - where was your boat in April 1911
14 December 2010


The National Archives of Ireland have extended their database since we last looked at it, with what appears to be records from all the counties. We have perused information from Limerick, Portadown, Coalisland, Dublin, Kings County, Kildare et al.
Here are some facts extrapolated from the archives that may be of interest to those whose boats were built over 100 years ago or it might add a little more to the history of the waterways and the people involved.
Almost one hundred years ago, on or around Sunday April 2nd 1911, on the waterways of Ireland, the crews on the inland ‘lighters’, ‘canal boats’, ‘steamers’ and ‘tugs’ had to take time out of their busy schedules to satisfy the questions of the census takers.
In Mullingar Harbour, the Leech brothers, William (28), James (20) and Thomas (30) were on Horse Boats 121, 115 and 104. Also with them were John Byrne, Tom Purcell, William Daly, John Ledwith and Matthew Malone, all described as ‘Canal Boatmen’. However, in Spencer Dock the census taker also listed 121 and 115 and their master as Garrett Leech, but the people stats appear to have been listed just on the Mullingar entry.
In James Street Harbour, the 40 ton canal boat number 36, with a home port of Dublin, had John Brien (26) as captain with Marten Brien (24) and Thomas Bracken (30) on board, all of them from King’s County.
In Ringsend Basin was Lighter 1B, 50 tons, home port Dublin, owned by Wallace Brothers with Bernard McGuire (60) from Dublin as captain. The rest of the crew were absent, stated on the form as "on shore".
Lighter No 2 was further along the Grand Canal at Northumberland Road with James Connell listed as skipper/owner and her home as County Dublin.
At Hazelhatch there were several Grand Canal Company boats moored up including Lighter 17 with Peter Lawlor (30), Patrick Tierney (29) and James Geraghty (34) all from County Kildare. Thomas Coxe (27), William Connolly (30), and William Wyse (29) were on board number 21 all from Kildare. (What was 21 doing on the Grand, should she have been on the Royal?)
In Roberstown on the Canal near Lowtown, was Lighter 1, home port of Dublin with James Connolly (50) from Kildare listed as her owner and skipper and Thomas Connolly (37) and Edward O’Brien (27) from Dublin on board.
And also in Roberstown was 17B, her home port listed as Portarlington and owned by Pat Farrell with William Domican (50) on board.
(The Tug Boats Ant and Owl from Dublin, were also there; the Owl listed as owned by Louis Mullen with Patrick Hassan (30) from Dublin on board).
In Ballycommon near Phillipstown, Daniel Logan (49) captain/owner with John Logan (24) and Daniel Logan (26) were on board the 40 ton Lighter 66. Nearby was a steamer called Owl, home port Lowtown; master was Edward Kelly (36), engine driver John Domican (29) and fireman John Donohue (16), all from Kildare.
In the Grand Canal Harbour at Tullamore was the 40 ton canal boat number 53 captained by William Timpson (26) with John Kearney (36) and Michael Connolly (19) on board. They were all from Kildare, but the home port of the boat is listed as Dublin.
Further down the canal line in Shannon Harbour was the 40 ton steamer The Jay, with William Dudley-Fletcher (23) a civil mechanical engineer listed as owner or skipper on board. The Jay's home port was Shannon Harbour.
As well as marinersand seamen of various types, in 1911 over 11,000 men and in 1901 over 12,000 men listed their occupation as 'Boatman'.
Last Updated ( 03 April 2011 )