The Paddle Steamer Ida

Last week we looked at the river services operated by the Waterford Steamship Company.  This week I wanted to look at the work of one particular ship the Paddle Steamer Ida.

The PS Ida was launched from the Neptune Iron Works on Friday 27th September 1867 and was described at the time as “A very handsome little paddle steamer…of unusual size (149 ft x 19ft x 9ft) and beauty…intended to ply between this city (Waterford) and Ross (New Ross)” (1)

PS Ida circa 1898 leaving New Ross.  No standing room available
Andy Kelly collection

The Ida made her maiden voyage on Friday 31st January 1868 accompanied by the PS Shamrock , making it in 1hr 10 mins , both vessels getting a terrific reception when they reached the New Ross quays.  She would be a constant sight on the Suir and Barrow for the next 37 years.(2)  The steamers took freight, agriculture produce and passengers each way.  The Ida departed New Ross at 8.15am each morning (Mon-Sat) making stops as required at quaysides along the way.

I’ve heard she called to places such as Pilltown -where a hulk was stationed away from the quay- Great Island and Cheekpoint frequently, apparently it was all down to whether there were passengers or freight requiring transport.  Of course as is well known locally, boats dd not need to call to the shore as this fascinating account proves:  “But the most exciting experience of all was at Ballinlaw, when the ponderous ferry-boat with passengers and farm produce from the Great Island made contact with the Ida as she lay to mid stream.  To get the passengers safely aboard by means of a companion ladder involved considerable risk in rough weather.  But the Ballinlaw boatmen knew their job, and no accident occurred in living memory”

Once in Waterford the Ida and her sister ship the PS Vandeleur could be assigned to various tasks in the port, towage, maintenance works and indeed salvage and rescue missions for example the steamers featured in the wreck of the SS Hansa in 1899.  I’d imagine there was many a fisherman or boatman could thank these ships for a tow into town or up the Ross river against the tides, saving them from an agonising row.

PS Vandeleur at Cheekpoint (note no Barrow Bridge)
Andy Kelly Collection

The daily services ran Monday to Saturday but summer Sundays were used for special event trips, one of which started me on this quest to learn more. As I said last week Christy Doherty told me years back of memories of older folk of the Sunday outings, memories of which can still be found in newspaper searches of the time.  Bill Irish quotes one such account: “I have very pleasant memories of the shilling trips return every Sunday by steamer from Waterford to Dunmore East and the splendid tea for eightpence at Galgeys or Shipseys Hotel at Dunmore. These trips were the best value that have ever been offered to Waterford residents. The boats the Ida and Vandeleur left about mid-day or 3pm on alternate Sundays.  We had three hours in Dunmore and reached Waterford at 10pm” (3) As lovely as it sounds, it would appear to be very costly for ordinary folk.  But Christy Doherty did tell me that the special event trips called to all the quaysides and landing posts in the harbour and that a trip to Duncannon could be had for a few pennies and it cost nothing to walk the beach at Duncannon.  He also mentioned their roles in transport to and from regattas and events such as horse racing on Duncannon beach.

Bill Irish gives a first hand account from Captain Farrell of one such trip on the Ida to Duncannon when he was a boy. “A man named Friday, with one eye, played a melodeon box on the way up and down the river. The hat was then put around for a collection. The Ida stopped in Duncannon for about one hour to allow people to ‘stretch their legs’.  Along with the captain, was a first mate, two men to handle ropes, two engineers and two firemen”(4)

There were many episodes associated with the river service that I have come across.  But for sheer madness, this piece sent on by my good friend and heritage ally Frank Murphy must take the biscuit.

On Saturday evening July 23rd 1870 the Ida departed her normal berth at the hulk (The Duncannon Hulk I presume based on the events mentioned) on the quay at 4pm.  She proceeded down the Suir.

Opposite the Mall a drunken passenger jumped onto the railings and hurled himself into the river in an apparent suicide attempt.  The Ida immediately stopped her engines and the crew tried to effect a rescue.  The gentlemen was struggling in the water, fully clothed and with his boots on.  However he didn’t seem minded to accept the crews help.

The Clerk of the Waterford Petty Sessions, Mr PF Hanrahan was rowing by in a small boat and came close to the man offering him an oar.  He was met with abuse and turning on his back, the ‘drowning man’ proceeded to kick water and practically over turn Hanrahans craft.  A boatman in a prong met a similar fate.
A dock worker named Kelly had stripped on the quay and dived in to attempt a rescue also, however he met with an uncooperative client.  Kelly was picked up by the prong and the two men then managed to overpower and haul the ‘drowning man’ aboard.  In the melee that ensued Kelly ended up knocking the gentleman out with a punch who was then rowed ashore where he was arrested on the spot.
Meanwhile another rescue was required.  A considerable crowd had assembled quayside and in an effort to get a better vantage of the incident, some rushed aboard the ship Malakoff moored alongside the quay Proceeding to the bridge, they leaned out to view the scene, pressing against some netting designed to provide security but not to take the weight that was now placed on it.  The netting ripped and ten spectators ended up in the Suir fighting for their lives!  All were successfully rescued by a fleet of small boats that were gathered at the scene. The instigator of the drama was whisked off by the police. The writer of the piece expresses the hope that the miscreant will face the full force of the law at the next court session, something assured if Mr Hanrahan had any part in it surely.  The Ida then proceeded with her trip (5)

The final chapter of the gallant PS Ida, Bristol 1908
Andy Kelly collection

So many dramas, so many journeys, so many memories.  The Ida last sailed on the route in 1905.  I’m not yet sure when she last steamed down the harbour, but it took her to Bristol where she was broken up at Clevedon Pill in 1908.

My thanks to Frank Murphy, Pat Murphy Cheekpoint and Andy Kelly for their assistance with this piece.

(1) The Cork Examiner. Monday 30th September 19867

(2)Decies #53 Waterford Steamship Company. pp 67- 89. 1997.  Bill Irish
(3) ibid
(4) ibid
(5) This is an edited and abridged extract from the piece published in the Tipperary Free Press – Tuesday 26 July 1870

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Waterford Steamship Company river services

As a child in Cheekpoint I was told that in the past I could have travelled to Waterford by paddle steamer.  Christy Doherty RIP, one of the old school fishermen related stories to me of the paddle steamers calling to Cheekpoint quay, picking up passengers and heading down to Dunmore East for a regatta or Duncannon for a day on the beach. As a child I never really knew what to make of such stories.  I suppose I regarded them with some skepticism as we were so used to hearing yarns and tall stories that it was often impossible to tell one from the other.  It was further complicated by the way the older guys tended to collude with each other, so going from one to the other, they could often embellish a yarn rather than correct it.  So in time to come I was fascinated to learn the truth of the river service, the ships that travelled it and the vibrancy that was the rivers in what I personally consider a golden age.
PS Vandeleur at the Duncannon hulk in the city. Paul O Farrell collection.

The river service originated with the Waterford Commercial Steam Navigation Company which was formed in 1836 to provide cross channel steamship services.  In 1837 a river service was initiated, providing links between the city and both New Ross and Duncannon.  Two new paddle steamers were built. The Shamrock 135 tons was built in 1836 in Glasgow, the Duncannon 200 tons was launched in the John Laird yard of Birkenhead in 1837.

PS Ida at New Ross.  Andy Kelly collection
An advert of the time gave the following information:

Shamrock leaves Ross 8.45am arriving at 10am.
returns from Waterford at 3pm. Except Sundays
Fare: Cabin 2 Shillings. Deck 1 Shilling 3 pence.

Duncannon arrives at 9.15am every morning
Leaves Waterford for Ballyhack and Duncannon daily at 4pm.  3pm in winter.
Fares: Cabin 1 Shilling.  Deck 6 pence

unidentified paddle steamer at Duncannon.  My guess is PS Vandeleur
Andy Kelly collection

The PS Duncannon ran until 1861, and when she needed a break for repairs etc a relief steamer the PS Taff was used.   She was replaced by the PS Tintern which operated up until the 1870’s and was subsequently replaced by the PS Vandeleur.  The Tintern was then used as a relief vessel.  The Vandeleur was built in the Neptune iron works of Waterford (Park Road) in 1866 for the Shannon estuary, and where she served until her return to Waterford. She was originally constructed as a partner vessel to the PS Rosa, a ship that was also to feature on the river service of Waterford.  One other ship I am aware of was the Repealer, a ship that has featured on the blog previously.  She sailed the Waterford New Ross route in 1842, but possibly in short lived competition rather than as a relief boat.

Foreground is steam yacht Maritana with PS Rosa and PS Ida berthed on the city quays. 
All three vessels were built at the Neptune Iron works. Andy Kelly collection.
The following year 1867 the neptune turned out another paddle steamer which went onto the New Ross route, the PS Ida. It appears that the Ida replaced the Shamrock, but another ship mentioned on the route was the PS Maid of Erin. The Ida went into service on 31st Jan 1868 making her sailing to Waterford in one hour and ten minutes. She was 149 feet long by 19 feet with a 9 foot draught. The PS Ida gave 37 years of loyal service. She last sailed in 1905.
The end of the river service came with the undermining of their freight and passenger service by the railways.  The Ida was made redundant in 1905. The Vandeleur actually stopped on the Duncannon route in May 1893 and was broken up in 1908.  At the time of writing I’m not sure when the actual service stopped, but I understand the Duncannon service persevered into the first world war era. 
Next week I hope to look at a few incidents associated with the ships including an amazing ten person rescue on the waterford quays.  An indulgence I know, but surely I deserve that from time to time.
All the details contained in this mornings blog come either from my own notes or specifically from the work of Bill Irish.  
Irish. Bill. Shipbuilding in Waterford 1820-1882.  A Historical, technical and pictorial study. 2001. Wordwell. Wicklow
Bills article from Decies #53 Waterford Steamship Company. pp 67- 89. 1997
 
Also thanks to Andy Kelly for his ongoing support and Paul O’Farrell.  Their willingness to share images is much appreciated.
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Cheekpoint Regatta 1909

I was lucky enough to have been raised at a time when regattas were a big event in Cheekpoint. Families came from upriver and down, and it was a day of races, fun and camaraderie in the village. Helping out with the organising, I would often hear tales of the older regattas and they brought to my mind a colour, drama and excitement that filled the river before me.
Recently I came across the following news report printed in the Munster Express of the 7th August 1909. My own clarifications to the piece are included in brackets [ ].  Names of boats are italicised. In describing the boat crews; the expressions used at Stroke = stern oar and which others follow, 3 = third thwart, 2 = second thwart and bow = forward thwart.  Cox is giving orders and steering.  Some editing I felt was also required.
The Waterford Steamship Company’s river Ferry PS Ida with a crowd of day
trippers heading to an event photo by Andy Kelly
via Poole Collection posted on Maritime History page
Cheekpoint Regatta
President-P.M.Power [Pat Power, Landlord at Faithlegg House] JP., D.L. Committee. W.J.Kenny, R.W.Morris, W.F.Peare, H.E.Benner, E.Murphy, Capt. Farrell [Harbour Master], J.B.Wallis, P.Heffernan, J.Heffernan, P.Butler.  Hon. Sec. and Treasurer-C.E. Beames, C.E
This annual event took place on Monday last at the picturesquely situated harbour-side village of Cheekpoint, in magnificent weather. A very interesting programme was arranged, and the attendance was larger than we have seen at any similar re-unions at Cheekpoint.  The Waterford and Duncannon Company’s new steamer (presumably the SS Duncannon) made two trips to the scene of action, and carried large complements of passengers on each occasion, and the private pleasure launches-including those of George Nolan and Mr. W.E. Peare- also on board a number of the owners friends.  Of the fourteen events numbered on the card three of them fell through for want of entries; but the remainder were well filled, and keenly contested.  Details are appended:-
MV Reaper as a flagboat at Cheekpoint regatta of 1980’s
Sailing
Second Class Yawls, not exceeding 26 feet over all.  First prize £4; second, £1; third, 10s.
1st Maid of the Green – William Doherty, Cheekpoint; 2 Kish – James Heffernan, do; 3 The Holy Terror – Pat Heffernan, do.  Maid of the Green eventually proved herself the fastest boat, winning comfortably from Kish with the Holy Terror a good third.
Third Class Yawls, not exceeding 22 feet over all.  First prize, £3; second £1
1st Kate (John Doherty); 2nd Green Wave (Andrew Doherty); 3rd William (Matt Doherty)
Rowing
Ladies’ Pair Oared Punt Race (one gentleman allowed to either row or steer) Prize value £3.
1st, Invicta – The Misses Fleming, Great Island and Heffernan (Cox)
2nd, Lily – Mrs Hennebry, Ballinlaw (Stroke) Miss Hennebry, do, (Bow) P. Hennebry (Cox)
3rd, Eily – Mr T.W.Brewer, Waterford (Stroke) Miss McCarthy, do (Bow) AN Other (Cox)
This was a most interesting contest in which four boats competed.

Mary Fleming, Mary Sherlock and a n other from Great Island
with a medal they won in 1913 for rowing
photos courtesy of Mary’s grandson Liam Fleming,

Watermen’s Four-Oared Gigs not exceeding 25 feet.  First Prize, £4; second, £1; third 10s

1st Exile – James Heffernan (Stroke) Andrew Doherty 3, Jim Doherty 2, James Barry (Bow) W Power (Cox)
2nd Intacta – P.Delahunty (Stroke), P.Sullivan 3, P.Hearne 2, J.Walsh (bow), M.Maher (Cox)
This was a capital race, and both boats were splendidly handled.  On the pull down river against the tide, the boats kept close together but Exile got first round the mark.  She increased her lead slightly on the run up past the flag boat to the upper buoy, and on the race down again to the flag boat had the issue well in hand, eventually winning by four or five lengths.
crew of the Intacta via NLI *
Pair Oared Punts.  (No Coxwain allowed) First Prize £2, second, 10s
1st Osprey (New Ross Boat Club)P.Hawe and T.Sullivan, Blackrock.
2nd Atalanta – J.Delahunty and J.Walsh do.
3rd Invicta – P.Hennebry and Watt Hennebry, Ballinlaw.
The Osprey on the inside station had the advantage of the slack tide, and got best away, but there was little between all three at the lower mark.  Coming back with the tide, however, the Osprey came away and won by three lengths; a couple of lengths separating second and third.
Four Oared Yawls, boats not confined to any length.  First prize £3,; second, £1
1st Success (Passage) -John Nugent (Stroke) Thomas Organ 3, Pat Connors 2, J.Walsh (Bow) M.Veale (Cox)
2nd Salmon (Ballyhack) – P.Barron (Stroke), M.Foley 3, J.J.Whitty 2, J.Slattery (bow), M.Foley (Cox)
The Passage crew pulled off a ding dong race by about two lengths.
Cheekpoint Yawls. First prize, £3, second, £1
1st. Maid of Erin – Pat Mahon (Stroke) Larry Mahon 3, James Nugent 2, James Whitty (bow), M.Mahon (Cox)
2nd, Heron – John Hanlon (Stroke), Mike Walsh 3, P Duffin 2, James Hanlon (Bow) P.Heffernan (cox)
Also competed:- William – Matt Doherty, (Stroke), James Heffernan 3, Philip Hanlon 2, Andrew Doherty (bow), M.Walsh (cox) Won by a couple of lengths, a similar distance separated second and third.
Pair oared Praums[Prong], (no coxswain allowed) 1st Prize £2, 2nd, 10s.
1st – Annie (Ballinlaw) P.Hennebry and M.Walsh
2nd – Wave (Cheekpoint) Jim Brownock and Matt Furlong
3rd – Nellie (Cheekpoint) L.Mahon and P.Mahon
Won by a length and a half, and a couple of lengths between second and third.
Pair oared Praums for boys under 12 years old. 1st Prize £1, 2nd 10s
1st D.Murphy and W.Heffernan, Cheekpoint
2nd Thomas Ferguson and P Curran do
Also competed P.Kennedy and Pat Moran Cheekpoint.  This was a very amusing race and only only the winning boat finished the course, Ferguson and Curran having fowled a yacht on the course
Model Yachts. First Prize £1.
Only two yachts competed, viz, those belonging to Mr.George Nolan Jnr, and Mr. M.E. Shalloe. lower Newtown.  Mr. Shalloe’s boat won easily.
Tug-of-war between Four-oared Boats belonging to Ballyhack, Passage and Cheekpoint the latter putting in two crews.  In the first heat the boats competing were Emerald (Ballyhack) – P.Barron, (Stroke) M.Foley 3, J Whitty 2, J.Slattery (bow) J Foley (cox) and Seagull (Passage) P.Hennessy (Stroke) M.Pepper 3, P.Foley 2, J.Newell (bow) M.Burke (cox)  In the second heat the two Cheekpoint crews opposed each other, viz Maid of Erin -P.Mahon (Stroke), L.Mahon 3, James Nugent 2, James Whitty (bow), M.Mahon (cox) and William – James Barry (stroke) James Heffernan 3, Matt Doherty 2, Andrew Doherty (bow) Phil Hanlon (cox)
A restored William under sail with Matt “Mucha” Doherty RIP
Photo courtesy of PJ O’Shea
This was the best contested and most exciting pull of the series. [No detail was given about the contest between the Passage and Ballyhack men in the piece] Maid of Erin eventually got foul of the flag boat, and in the confusion that ensued was pulled over by the crew of the William who thus got the verdict.  The final pull was therefor between the William (Cheekpoint) and the Emerald (Ballyhack), and it was thought that the issue would be well contested.  After about three minutes however, some misunderstanding occurred among the Ballyhack men and they allowed the Cheekpoint men to pull them over almost without any resistance.
The Inshore events which followed were greatly enjoyed by the spectators.  They included greasy pole climbing, duck hunt, swimming contests etc.  Taken all round the sport was very good.”
The account above reflects a scene that tallies with the stories I was told as a youngster. In naming the characters, the areas and the boats it underlines that the fact that in the past the river was a vibrant interconnecting entity that brought the villages and the towns on the rivers together in a way that modern society has clearly failed to maintain.  The regattas I experienced were all too fleeting. Insurance, as I recall was a major issue.  In the meantime I feel the rivers have become a sewer for public waste, denuded through national policy of the fishermen, and a struggling entity commercially. However this piece does bring to mind some of the excitement and energy of the parade of sail for the Tall Ships festival of 2005 and 2011. Such events underline the potential and what a wonderful space the harbour is.
Unfortunately the name of the writer was not included in the piece that I found, if anyone could identify same I’d appreciate it.
* A Poole commission (for a Mr. O’Leary) of a rowing four with coxswain. Possibly captured at the end of the season with the spoils on display. The trophies appear to be displayed on an old sewing machine, and though perhaps not as impressive as previous rowing crews, were no doubt hard-earned! Is it my imagination, or a trick of the slope, but are the two inside oars shorter than those on the outside? via National Library of Ireland twitter page

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