Passing of the PS Ida

On Saturday 1st July 1902 the Paddle Steamer Ida ceased operation on the New Ross to Waterford run. The paddle steamers had commenced from the town in 1836 when the newly formed Waterford Steamship Company saw a means of getting agricultural produce to the city promptly and efficiently. Commencing with the PS Shamrock the service ran each day except Sundays, leaving New Ross at 8.45 am and arriving in Waterford at about 10. She left for the return journey at 3pm.

The steamers were a central feature of the inland port and were scenes of much commercial trade and passenger transport. As such they were considered with much pride and a sense of endearment. A week after the service ceased, the New Ross Standard captured the loss.

Ida with a crowd aboard on a special event trip. Andy Kelly Collection.

THE PASSING OF THE IDA. Source: New Ross Standard – Friday 07 July 1905. Page 4

The daily river steamship service maintained by the Waterford Steamship company between New Ross and Waterford for the past half century came to a close on Saturday(July 1st), when the Ida plied for the last time to Ros-Mhic-Treoin.

On Tuesday afternoon, with (house) flag at half-mast and pennant set, and taking in tow the hulk, boats, and other belongings of the company the Ida bade goodbye to New Ross. The event was regarded with much regret by everybody and synchronising, too, with the sad bereavement of Captain Murphy, it made no little impression on the mind of many a Rossonian who recalled pleasant memories of the most enjoyable and exhilarating trips on the familiar days that are gone.

The Ida, boarding at her berth at the hulk in New Ross. Andy Kelly collection.

Indeed there was a good deal that was touching and pathetic in the departure of the Ida, so long an institution of the old town that it seems sacrilege to remove it.  For the people not in much of a hurry, who loved a healthy breeze, pleasant scenery and a chat with fellow passenger, the Ida afforded a most pleasant means of getting from New Ross to Waterford: and when employed for an excursion down to the sea at Dunmore, was ideal.

The discontinuation of the steamer throws a number of men out of employment and also lessens employment and variety on the quay.  As already stated, the leave-taking of the familiar vessel had its pathetic side. For many ” AN OLD INHABITANT” the arrivals and departures provided the only excitement of life. No more of these excitements and delights will be vouchsafed; no longer will the quay spectator of years and years have the opportunity of keenly relishing the troubles of the countryman in getting his reactionary pigs aboard.

But the most regrettable of all results remains to be, told—the “steamer committee” is left without a place to meet. The very thought of the idea causes a pang. To those benighted few, unaware of the existence of such a committee, it will be information to state that for a full fifty years “A HOARY COMMITTEE” of gentlemen voluntarily met day after day, and especially on Sundays on the deck of the Ida and its predecessor (PS Shamrock), and without any remuneration or without the investiture of any statutory powers whatever, settled there the affairs of the town and the world at large.

Captain Murphy aboard the Ida overseeing operations while a group of passengers look on. Cavanagh collection – Wexford Co Library

This committee never failed to meet for want of a quorum, and it is to be remarked in passing that, like Cabinet Councils, it kept no minutes. Its record nevertheless, was unbroken. Being very exclusive in its membership, the committee was slow to nominate or elect anybody and as a general rule, a new member was not admitted to the confidence and discussion of the inner circle for a number of years.

The business of the committee was as limitless in its scope as the very universe itself. As a rule,  when current events became slack and were of a nature that did not call for lengthened  attention,  the council kept well to the sunny side of the deck, and there revelled for hours in bardic tales of the heroes, saints, and sages, the daring and valiant exploits produced by New Ross in the dim and distant past, from the recounting of all of which one would feel compelled to reverently doff a hat to New Ross of long ago, when the world went very well, and sorry that he was born in the present degenerate age, when everything seems out of gear, and the people, itself are not half as good as they used to be.  Who said “fossils”?

The Ida, awaiting the breakers at Clevedon Pill, Bristol. 1908. Andy Kelly Collection

Authors note: The service was under threat from the opening of the New Ross to Waterford railway line in 1904. I would imagine with the passing of Captain Murphy this decision was easier to make.

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