IWAI - Dublin Branch - News & Past Events of 2011

Dublin Waterways News and Dublin Branch news - click here for the full calendar of events

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Effin Bridge naming ceremony (29/12/11)

Approx 150 people turned up on December 29th to travel from Grand Canal Dock, across to Spencer Dock and up to Effin Bridge (formerly Newcomen Railway Lifting Bridge). Unfortunately, high winds put paid to the 'Spirit of Docklands', so we didn't have room aboard for all who turned up. 12 boats and a jet ski ventured over to Spencer Dock and up to Effin Bridge. Mulled wine and "sludge" soup greeted the hardy venturers. This event was a joint venture of the HBA and the Dublin, Kildare & Powerboat branches of the IWAI.  Forum Discussion here.  Niall Galway video here.

Graving Docks future now in NAMA's hands? (26/11/11)

In the Spring 2011 issue of Inland Waterways News, we announced that ,with the blessing of Waterways Ireland and the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA), Dublin Branch commenced an effort to restore one of the graving docks at Grand Canal Dock in Ringsend to working order (more information here).  Permission was withdrawn by the DDDA at the end of October 2011 and subsequent workparties were cancelled.  We note that on 25/11/11, Plot 8 on which the Graving Docks stand has been handed over to NAMA - see DDDA press release here

Community fun day at Drimnagh (20 November 2011)

Dublin Branch volunteers participated in community fun-day at Drimnagh, offering young and old alike trips on the Grand Canal on the 2nd level, opposite Drimnagh Luas Stop - some photos are here.

Green & Silver success

In an effort to increase the use of our waterways and encourage people to make the circular journey formed by the Royal Canal, River Liffey, Grand Canal, River Shannon and Camlin River, the Dublin Branch of IWAI announced the Green & Silver challenge in the Autumn 2010 issue of IWN.  The branch commissioned a certificate and plaque to be awarded to vessels completing the route. We took the liberty of naming the route the Green & Silver route - full details here.

A total of 29 boats have completed the journey in 2011 with another 20 or so en-route, some just setting out on a multi-year voyage, others planning an early assault on the route in 2012.  The total journey is approximately 356km with a total of 93 locks.  It is not without its challenges - some boats have had difficulties with weed, others with too little or too much water.  The failure of the railway lifting bridge in May 2011 upset a fleet of 13 boats.  However, all have memories of the journey to treasure in the years to come.  Below are just a few selected photos from the year just gone.  The Record of vessels which have navigated the "Green & Silver" Route can be found here.

Cameron & Genevieve Gleeson of the Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club, at just 12 and 16yrs old are the youngest overall crew to complete the journey.

5 boats from Belturbet branch completed the route ... and claimed the Dublin Branch's Endeavour Cup

Ebenhaezer is the oldest and widest boat to go around and also the first trading boat to go around.

Deep-draughted Delphin resorted to outboard power to avoid the weed

Cill Iomai went around in the shortest time

Nick Theato
and Pat Kelly went around solo to raise money for the RNLI


Henrietta (Hetty) Leech of Ebenhaezer, on the Liffey.  She is the youngest to do the full circle.
The burgee is available to all, to promote the route.

Recent Talks organised by Dublin IWAI - our sincere thanks to all speakers!

"The Trams of Dublin" - speaker Michael Corcoran, 14th November 2011

Mr. Corcoran is a well known and respected historian. He is a founder member of the Howth Transport Museum and the foremost expert on the Dublin Trams and systems.  See www.nationaltransportmuseum.org  for more information.  He is also author of "Through Streets Broad and Narrow: A History of Dublin Trams" and a founder of the National Transport Museum. 
Michael makes this topic come alive - 70 or so slides beautifully and knowledgably presented by a passionate enthusiast - a wonderful evening.

"Winterising your boat" - speaker Mick Kinahan, 17th October 2011

We understand that the tips picked up at the 2010 talk saved more than one boat during the hard winter of 2010/2011.  Hopefully we'll not be as severely tested this year.

Archive Film Show, at the Waterways Interpretive Centre (Box in the Docks), Grand Canal Quay, Dublin 2. (16 May 2011)

A showing of two archive films by Michael Lawlor:

  1. "Emerald Shannon", a promotional film shot for Guinness/Emerald Star Line in 1971, featuring lots of characters and sights, no longer with us (~30mins)
  2. Archive Film Showing the arrival of the ESL fleet in 1970 including unloading and heading for the Shannon via the Grand Canal (~15mins)

This was immediately followed by ...

Talk - "L.T.C. Rolt - The Irish Connection", by Gerald Potterton (16 May 2011) and launch of 4th edition of "Green & Silver"

Lionel Thomas Caswall Rolt (usually abbreviated to Tom Rolt or L.T.C. Rolt) (1910–1974) was a prolific English writer and the biographer of major civil engineering figures including Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Thomas Telford. He is also regarded as one of the pioneers of the leisure cruising industry on Britain's inland waterways, and wrote the iconic book 'Green and Silver' on the topic of the Irish inland navigation system, first published in 1949.  The talk was delivered by Mr. Gerald Potterton, author of 'In the Wake of Giants' (2008) who holds a great interest in L.T.C. Rolt and has accumulated much knowledge of his work and writings. Read Gerald's article on Tom Rolt from IWN (Spring 2010) here Gerald also organised the reprinting of the 4th Edition of Tom Rolt's classic "Green and Silver". 
which was launched on the night.  More than 100 people turned up on the night.

A 1st Briefing session for those contemplating doing the Green & Silver route or attending the Dublin Rally in 2011 was held 14th March 2011.

This was a loose interactive session with lots of Q&A and tips given, particularly on the Royal which was new territory for many.  Many thanks to Derek Whelan in particular for his valued contribution.

Heritage Week - 12th Lock, Lucan on the Grand Canal, 27th August 2011

The "Annual Heritage Day on the Grand Canal" at the 12th Lock Lucan,  Co Dublin, is an annual event to preserve and promote proper usage of a fantastic amenity and a piece of industrial heritage, and to highlight the environmental importance and ecological advantages of this lifeline of this man-made lifeline of nature through the Countryside, Towns and Dublin City.  Some photos of the day can be found here.

Opening of the Grand Canal Cycle Way, 1st July, 2011

The Grand Canal Green Route Extension to Adamstown and Griffeen Avenue, Lucan was officially opened on Friday, 1st July, 2011 at 12.30 p.m. by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald, T.D., in the presence of Cllr Guss O'Connell Lucan Area Chair, Deputising for Mayor of South Dublin County Council.  Canal Boat 107B represented the IWAI.  Niall Galway was on hand to record the event on video - see videos 1, 2, 3, 4.

Racing in Grand Canal Dock

The Waterways Ireland Inter-Counties Sailing Championship 2011 was held in Grand Canal Dock on Sunday 26th June - more information here and here

More photos of the day can also be seen on the fotosail website here.

The photo at left is from "Dr. J"

Plaque Missing

A plaque "went missing" in early June 2011 - it was on the wall at the Guinness Brewery at Victoria Quay and commemorated the crews of the Guinness Barges.  The plaque was erected by the Dublin Branch of IWAI in 1992.
(photo at right, courtesy Charles Dunn)

Proposed electrification of the railway line between Connolly Station and Maynooth

Dublin Branch made a submission to Roughan and O’Donovan Consulting Engineers who are preparing an Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed improvements to the Maynooth Railway Line. Our submission placed emphasis on the operation of the lifting bridge near Newcommen bridge, the proposals in respect of replacing 6 level crossings and the maintenance of the navigation throughout the project.

2011 Dublin Rally

The Dublin Rally timeplan is found here, with photos of the rally here.   See also a "nice" writeup in the Irish Times of 18/06/11 re life in Grand Canal Dock.

In via the Royal

The 50th Anniversary of the closing of the Royal Canal in 1961 was celebrated in style with a varied collection of craft taking advantage of the newly opened access through Spencer Dock to visit the Dublin Rally. Indeed, many of them have larger ambitions; they intend to complete the Green & Silver Challenge by exiting Dublin through the Grand Canal and completing “the loop”.

Over Easter Weekend the first boats began to arrive from the Shannon, some coming from as far afield as Belturbet and Carrybridge on the river Erne to supplement the local Twelfth Lock boats who have led a lonely life, imprisoned as they have been for years on the small stretches of the Royal that were navigable.

By Friday April 29th we had collected 17 craft who would make the trip into Dublin to join with those from the Grand who would enter the city a week later on May 7th. After a “briefing” from the two” Micks” (Farrell & Kinahan) we were ready to go and with good weather on our side we set off at 8 on Saturday morning for Shandon. The voyage was uneventful for most and we were all safely moored along Shandon Gardens by early afternoon. The welcome at Shandon was warm; residents had not seen boats there since 2004 and large crowds gathered. At 4pm we were joined by the Finglas Concert Band with some rousing musical numbers. Later it was the turn of the Brian Boru, that historic Dublin pub, to host the boaters and we finished the night with a great traditional session. Due to tidal conditions, it was unlikely any boats could get onto the Liffey before 1.30 on the Sunday so there was no need to start very early next morn.

The decision to put our “fattest” boats first at the 2nd lock (Binn's Bridge) was to result in delays here but it proved a blessing in disguise. The hundreds of football and hurling followers heading for Croke Park were shocked to see a large fleet of boats where they never saw anything but floating debris before. By the time we sailed under the stands we could hear the shouts overhead but didn’t know who had scored. Having heard that end of Croke Park described for years on radio and tv. as “the Canal End” it was nice to recall that the canal was “alive” again. We passed onwards and cleared the 1st lock and railway bridge without trouble and were soon at the Sea Lock waiting our turn to cross the Liffey. By 5pm everyone was through and an hour later we were moored-up on the jetties of the Inner Basin, Ringsend.

We felt a sense of satisfaction as mariners do when reaching the end of a voyage, any voyage. But this one was special, particularly for those members of the Royal Canal Amenity Group who were with us. It was a memorable occasion which we were glad to be allowed share.

In via the Grand

Nineteen boats came into Dublin on May 7th via the Grand Canal in windy, but reasonably warm conditions. No great difficulties were experienced, a bit of plastic here and there, until we got to the long level above Portobello. This section was very shallow and filled with detritus of all sorts which claimed a number of casualties. “Elsewhere” with its duvet had probably the catch of the day. However, the divers of Irish Diving & Marine Contractors Ltd. came to the rescue and there was no great hold up. Going from this mire to the levels below Portobello was to experience a journey to the promised land. Following the recent dredging, the condition of the canal from Portobello to the basin was a shock to the system and a joy to behold. A depth of greater than 9ft (or 2.8m) was recorded above Leeson St.

First "Green & Silver" route completions of 2011

Among the fleet entering the city via the Grand Canal were four vessels, two yachts, a rescue boat and a lakeboat, from Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club. These boats had left Dublin via the Royal Canal on April 16th and so were on the return leg of their “Green and Silver” expedition. Our heartiest congratulations to the Gleesons, Wilsons and Denhams on completing their journeys.

Royal interrupts play on the Liffey

The traditional journey up the Liffey was curtailed due to security issues at Islandbridge in preparation for the Queen of England’s visit a few days later, this despite getting clearance from authorities in advance. However a large fleet pottered about on the Liffey for a few hours and returned to a fine BBQ at Grand Canal Dock where 120 steaks and a proportionate amount of other food and drink were consumed by the very enthusiastic crews.

Film Show and Book Launch

An audience of more than 100 members turned out for a superb evening at Waterways Ireland’s Visitor Centre on Monday 16th May. The evening commenced with a with a showing of two archive films by Michael Lawlor: The first, "Emerald Shannon", was a promotional film shot for Guinness/Emerald Star Line in 1971 and featured a lot of characters and sights, no longer with us. A second film showed the arrival of the ESL fleet in 1970 including the unloading of the boats, their welcome by the great and good at Wilton Terrace and the boats heading for the Shannon via the Grand Canal. Everyone over 40 in attendance had an air of absolute joy in seeing these films.

With the setting of the “Green and Silver” challenge by the Dublin Branch of the IWAI, it seemed appropriate to celebrate the life of L.T.C. Rolt. Gerald Potterton obliged and gave us a wonderful talk on the life of Tom Rolt – you can read Gerald's earlier article on Tom Rolt in the Spring 2010 issue of IWN (also available online). Gerald also managed to organise the publication of the 4th edition of Tom Rolt's classic "Green and Silver”. This book was last published in 1993 by Athlone branch of IWAI and its long been unavailable. Its great to have it back in print and 40 copies were snapped up on the night – the book is now available from the IWAI shop.

Lifting Bridge won't lift

On Saturday, May 21, a fleet of 13 boats locked down from Grand Canal Dock, crossed the Liffey and locked up into Spencer Dock. Most were Dublin Rally boats continuing their Green & Silver quest down the Royal Canal.

Unfortunately the planned lift of the Irish Rail bridge just before the 1st lock didn't happen. While the root cause isn't known at this stage, at least one of the bridge motors went with a bang. Access to Spencer Dock is now only possible in and around low tide, due to the Scherzer bridges being bolted in place (although they have opened in the recent past), so the fleet was forced to spend the night at a very wind swept Spencer Dock, the force of the wind heightened by the large block of the convention centre. While the failure of the bridge was disappointing for all crew involved, it was particularly disappointing for the large group including three TDs gathered at Ashtown to welcome Float No. 3. They did send in some food parcels to Spencer Dock to maintain crew morale. Another boat The Rambler was being used to film another of Dick Warner's popular waterways series It will be interesting to see if the bridge episode makes it into the series.

No repair of the bridge being immediately planned, the fleet retreated to the Grand Canal Dock on Sunday morning, although three boats missed the morning tidal window and sailed on the evening ebb tide. Our sincere thanks to dockmaster Mark Clarke for his patience and good humour throughout. We hope that an analysis of the events of the weekend will lead to better procedures being put in place to ensure this doesn't happen again.

A second attempt to raise the bridge on Friday May 27th also failed and a 3rd planned lift on June 4th also was cancelled.

The Grand Exit

Ten boats overnighted in Portobello on Friday night and early Saturday started for the 1st lock, Suir Rd.  Water levels were down and the long level above Portobello had proven tortuous three weeks earlier.  It was the same for the fleet departing Dublin.  Virtually all boats needed attention from the diver to disentangle plastic, mattresses, tracksuits etc.  Despite a 7am start, the 1st boat didn't reach the 3rd lock until 09:30.  It was 3pm before the last of the 10 reached the 7th lock.  One boat, Dasher needed the attention of the divers at the 1st, 4th and 7th lock, a quilt being the offending item at the 7th.  Faoi Dheireadh also had three calls.  Another, Delphin resorted to backup power provided by an outboard motor.

A second group of 5 boats from the Belturbet Branch of IWAI had a late start, no doubt due to their branch dinner dance being held on the night before.  Again, all boats needed attention from the divers at the 1st Lock.  The last of the Belturbet boats left Suir Rd. at ~4pm and overnighted at Park West.  They reached the 12th Lock at lunchtime on Sunday. 

Some of the boats were joined by a group from the Dublin Camera Club - our thanks to them and to the crews that assisted them and indeed pressed them into service.

A Royal Departure

The railway lifting bridge in Spencer Dock prevented the Dublin Rally boats from leaving the city as planned on 21st May.  A second attempt to raise the bridge on Friday May 27th also failed and a 3rd planned lift on June 4th also was cancelled.  A "test lift" on June 9th allowed The Rambler and Ashford Star to head west (See photos here). The remaining boats managed to get out on June 18th. 

Only six boats locked down from Grand Canal Dock at 7am (low tide was 07:35) and headed for Spencer Dock.  13 boats had attempted to leave a month earlier, but many had elected to leave via the Grand Canal due to other commitments and the uncertainty surrounding the lifting bridge.  Even on June 18th, the bridge did not lift completely or correctly or indeed on-time.  However, lift it did, allowing the 6 boats out and also 5 boats to come in to the city. Four of the boats, "Rud Eile", "Got-it", "Bo-Bo" and "Shu-Ra-Nu" were doing the Green & Silver route while "Saoirse" was making its way home to Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club.  "Bo-Bo" and "Shu-Ra-Nu", piloted by Nick Theato and Pat Kelly are raising money for the RNLI by doing the Green & Silver route - details here.

The six rally boats were led by "Seachran" and "1st Image" and these probably had the best day, getting a clean run.  Seachran only needed diver assistance 4 times.  At one stage, "Leitrim Star", "Fionnuisce", "Vazon B" and "31B" were all on the 2nd level, with three being aground - the level being down more than 2ft. 

A big problem was algal blooms, presumably Cladophora (from a 1990 study) - see here for a photo.  If you get a clump of this around your propeller, you lose power, have to pull it off the prop and start again.  "Leitrim Star" had encountered this in Spencer Dock itself and on the 2nd level.  The worst stretch was above the 6th lock.  "Fionnuisce" couldn't get more than 10m following a cleaning of the propeller and resorted to being towed by the diver's jeep.  "Leitrim Star" and "31B" had problems but ploughed through.  It seems that if you can get a decent speed up (i.e. 4mph) you can make progress.  The 11th level was down a foot and almost everyone picked up clothing on the prop of some sort or other.  Only four of the boats made it to the 12th lock between 5 and 8pm with two over-nighting in Ashtown and following on on Sunday 19th.

It has to be said that we've never seen as much rubbish picked up on the props as this year, both incoming and outgoing. While Irish Diving & Marine Contractors Ltd. was doing a roaring trade, this is not how canal boating should be.  Our sincere thanks to them, to the WI staff, the volunteers and particularly to the boat crews who were still smiling at the end of it all.

The Belturbet Branch was awarded the Endeavour Cup for their contribution to the rally.  Our thanks to the five crews who made the trip from Belturbet.

FIVE LAMPS ARTS FESTIVAL 31-Mar-11 - 09-Apr-11

Dublin Branch members were involved in this local community effort which for three days will be doing some art / storytelling / boat trips etc. etc. at Charleville Mall on the Royal Canal.
see photos here

One summer, a group of children built a raft near the Five Lamps, with dreams of adventure and escape from life in 1960’s Dublin.  Artists Kathryn Maguire & Áine Ivers collaborated on a scupltural, installational and community-based project, entitled The Free Seas, inspired by this local tale. A homemade sculptural raft was built and floated at at the First Lock of the Royal Canal at Charleville Mall, a reflection on the relevance of the image of the raft in Ireland’s island culture today.  With local children, folklorist Terry Fagan, barge owner Derek Whelan, Mick Kinahan of IWAI and others, The Free Seas brought barges, boats and rafts big and small to The First Lock over three days.  See photos here.

No Festival in 2011

Given the times that are in it, Dublin Docklands Development Agency did not organise its (usually) annual maritime festival this year.  This June Bank-Holiday weekend event has been a fixture on the Dublin events calendar for the past few years.

Dublin Branch of IWAI commence workparties at the Grand Canal Graving Docks (Jan 2011)

Over the years, the Dublin Branch of the IWAI has rarely been able to stay still for long, with attention variously focused on the Central Line of the Grand Canal (1960s), the Naas Line (1970s), and the Boyne Navigation (2000s).

Now, with the blessing of Waterways Ireland and the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA), we're commencing an effort to restore one of the Graving Docks at Grand Canal Dock to working order.

For more information on the Graving Docks at Grand Canal Dock, their history, our plans AND how you might help, please see here for more information on the Graving Docks.

A timetable of planned workparties can be found here.

See here for more Photos of the Graving Docks

Grand Canal Dredging continues

Where has all the water gone? Conor Nolan's photo captures the on-going works above Leeson St. Bridge on the Grand Canal. Some heavy machinery is moving in to restore the channel to its original dimensions.  The following photos were taken by Conor Nolan at the beginning of February 2011.

Dublin Branch AGM 2010

The 2010 AGM of Dublin Branch IWAI was held on Mon 13th Dec at the Wellington Lounge, Baggot St.
The minutes of the proceedings can be read here.

Earlier NEWS items can be found

If you have views on Dublin Waterways you are welcome to express them to Dublin Branch, IWAI.

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