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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