Paddle Steamer excursion

The Waterford Steamship Navigation Company river service commenced in 1837.  It ran daily return trips between New Ross-Waterford and Duncannon-Waterford, Monday to Saturday. In the Summer season Sunday trips were also offered. During the week the ships departed the Wexford towns around 8am arriving into Waterford in under two hours.  The return leg was in late afternoon.  In the time between, the ships were available for hire or were given over to other uses.

The ships preferred on the routes were iron built, shallow draught paddle steamers.  And they were versatile craft.  They were regularly used to tow sailing ships into port, or to attend rescues or act as  salvage vessels to damaged ships. But they also provided tours, special event trips and outings to harbour events such as regattas, horse racing in Duncannon or religious and political gatherings.

One event of July of 1864(1) gives a unique insight into their employment as a river tour vessel.

“The annual summer excursion of the pupils attending the Sunday-school Institute, took place on Wednesday last.  At ten o’clock the scholars, with their respective teachers, formed in their classes at the Protestant Hall (a distinctive, red bricked, building still to be seen in Catherine St. opposite the court house), and proceeded towards the magnificent little river steamer the Tintern, which, through the accustomed generosity of William Malcomson Esq., was kindly placed at the disposal of the committee of the Sunday School Institute for this joyous occasion.

A contemporary scene of Ballyhack with a paddle steamer heading down the harbour
accessed from

Soon the Tintern received its large and living freight, and the deck presented a scene most animating, there being about 400 children formed into little knots, including their respective teachers who, no doubt, felt much pleasure and delight at the sound of their youthful voices and merry laughter, as they spoke of the pleasure they anticipated enjoying during the day.

At half-past eleven o’clock the Tintern steamed away from the Adelphi Wharf, where she had been lying, looking gaily, with her flags flying, and an awning suspended over the after deck, a circumstance which gave those going on board the option of being entirely protected from the sun, or of enjoying its invigorating rays, and the stronger breeze which a person, generally speaking, placed on the forecastle deck, always enjoys.

A close up excerpt of the George Victor Du Noyer painting, showing clearly a paddle steamer off Ballyhack in the harbour

Her course was directed to New Ross, and indeed, the scenery, along the banks of the river was most attractive and pleasing. The well cultivated gardens, fields, and plantations exhibited ample proof of fertility our land; and showed the natural advantages which this country posses as an agricultural country, which, however, are too frequently disregarded. —causes monetary and political tending to -operate against the increase and fuller development of those resources which a bountiful Providence has placed at our disposal for our own profit and good.

The Ida, a later and larger ship of the company, but gives a sense of their popularity 

Coming to the Bridge at New Ross the steamer was turned about, and her course was then directed towards Duncannon Fort, past which she steamed most gaily and gallantly, all on board having an opportunity of seeing the outlines of that Fort, which is said to have been much shaken and loosened in its foundations, owing to the practice of the heavy guns used by the Waterford and Tipperary Artillery Militia regiments, during the past few years.

Having arrived at Broom Hill our little vessel was again turned about, this time with her head bearing towards the Quay of Waterford, where she arrived about half-past three o’clock, and proceeded up a good portion of the river before she turned into her berth at Adelphi landing stage.

It is indeed most satisfactory to be able to say that the utmost order prevailed during the day amongst the children, who amused themselves in various ways. The pleasure derived by the ‘ excursionists’ was greatly enhanced by the presence of the members of the Young Men’s Christian Association,
who, under the direction of Mr. Zinkant, performed a beautiful selection of music during the day.

About one o’clock refreshments which were prepared for the children were partaken of, and the members of the band were provided with a luncheon which was laid out for them in the captain’s cabin. Indeed, a more pleasing scene could scarcely be witnessed than that presented on Wednesday last when so many of the rising generation, professing the true faith of Protestantism, assembled to enjoy a day’s recreation, beholding the beauties of nature in association with those whose exertions have been ever to instruct them in heavenly things, and point them from “nature to nature’s God”

I’d imagine, the boat and her crew had barely time to have a cup of tea before the passengers for the 4pm sailing to Duncannon trooped aboard.  PS Tintern was built in the Neptune Ironworks by John Horn and was launched on Aug 21st 1861. She would serve the good people of Duncannon and the SW Wexford area from 1861 to circa 1875 when she was replaced by the PS Vandeleur.  The Tintern was used thereafter as a relief ship by the company and was contracted out for other duties after this time.  She was eventually broken up and her hull used as a landing stage in 1897.(2)

(1) Nenagh Guardian July 20th 1864 page 1
(2) Malcolm McRonald. The Irish Boats Vol II. 2006. Tempus. Stroud, Gloucestershire.

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