IH News 2021

Plastic sleepers

The BBC has an article about the use of railway sleepers made from discarded household plastic waste, this being a novel use of such material.


Mini High Line for Manchester

The BBC reports on a re-activated proposal (first floated in 2012) to turn 400m of disused railway viaduct in Manchester into a High Line style park on a temporary basis.


Scotland’s industrial past

The BBC have an article about John Hume (not he of Northern Ireland’s SDLP fame) and his contribution to the recording of Scotland’s industrial heritage.

IH News 2021

Dublin Port kills green freight transport

In an era when we are told that we have to be green, Dublin Port decides to do its bit and stop railfreight services from Ballina into the port, using the excuse of ‘the bad man (Brexit) made me do it’.

It is quite clear that the “Green” Minister for Transport is nothing more than a damp squib and should go back to organising cycling holidays.

If there was the straw that broke the camel’s back that showed that Dublin Port’s days need to be numbered (build a new, rail served port in North Dublin and give statutory redundancy to Dublin Port employees), it is this.


Cable nation

RTE have an article looking at the establishment of the trans-Atlantic cable from Ireland to North America, which came ashore in Kerry (Valentia Island and later cables at Ballinskelligs and Waterville).


Canal “houseboat” Go Fund Me

I have had a look at the GoFundMe page for this emoting session (no, I am not giving you the link) and I despair. From the page:

” Hi, I am raising money to help my friend get his house boat back after Waterways Ireland wrongfully took it from the canal, after the same Waterways Ireland officials told him to take his time getting his permit and congratulated him on building a great houseboat. “

First off, do you have evidence that WI “wrongly took it from the canal” or do you know more about the canal and WI regulations than they do? If so, I would be happy to give you an opportunity to explain why they are wrong with reference to the relevant regulations.

Second, whilst I obviously wasn’t there when WI officials talked to the owner, I would imagine that he fell foul of classic public sector behaviour of damning you with faint praise whilst mentally running through the list of offences you have committed. In addition, telling you did great is just a way of being polite – it in no way indicates compliance with the rules (in fact, I would suggest that if the structure was compliant, he would never have heard from WI). The claim that he should take his time getting a permit was probably a case of them realising that his permit application was only going to have one outcome – that which occurred.

“Anthony has a very good job with Kildare County Council.” But according to reports elsewhere, he can’t afford rent. If he has a very good job, why can he not pay for a room in someone’s house. A quick search on today and I found a room in a house in Naas for €470/month.

“Not only does this houseboat meet all the Canal sizing guidelines of Ireland, it also is aesthetically pleasing and adds to the surroundings.”

What are “Canal sizing guidelines”. WI have indicated that the structure is non-compliant (based on its description, I’d be worried if it was compliant). As above, please advise exactly why WI are wrong and you are right.

“… it also is aesthetically pleasing and adds to the surroundings. ” That is a matter of personal opinion. Anyway, it is also irrelevant due to it being non-compliant with WI regulations.

“This house boat followed the designs of European Houseboats (that can be seen in Dutch Canals for decades) and Waterways Ireland are now calling it “a shed on barrels”.” Whilst I don’t dispute having seen a houseboat in Amsterdam which, above water, bore similarity to this structure, this does not mean that the below water structure of such houseboats is composed of barrels. Even if it was, the Netherlands have their rules, Ireland has its rules and your friend is non-compliant.

” Anthony is now in a situation where he has to pay an extortionate release fee to get his property back”. No, he is in a position of having ignored the rules and WI are seeking reimbursement of their costs (and rightly so). The taxpayer would have to pick up the tab otherwise.


Canal “houseboat” removal – update

Ireland is doing what Ireland does best – it is emoting rather than thinking.

Per the Irish Independent, some “well meaning” friend of the houseboat shed atop floating barrels owner has started a GoFundMe to raise money to release the houseboat shed atop floating barrels from Waterways Ireland’s storage depot.

What he would do with it if released is a matter for concern. Will he put it back on the water or if he puts it on land, why did he not take that course of action in the first place? Would the fact that his employer (Kildare County Council) would not allow planning permission for such a course of action be a relevant factor?

I am reminded of the writings of my late friend, Brian J Goggin, of (I suspect that Brian would have as little sympathy for this person as I do), in pointing out that Waterways Ireland are not a housing authority and as such, to expect their assets (designated navigable waterways) to be used as such is not reasonable nor to be encouraged.

IH News 2021

Funicular Railway for Donegal

Famous as one of 5 counties in Ireland with no operational public railway, a funicular railway has been proposed for Fort Dunree in Co. Donegal.

Whilst unlikely to actually materialise, it would be the third railway in the county, after the line at Fintown and Sir Gerry Robinson’s railway.


“Houseboat” removed from Grand Canal by Waterways Ireland

A number of publications, including the Irish Times and report on the sob story of a man who, unwilling to live with his parents during the lurgy outbreak of 2020/1, decided to build a “houseboat” to live on.

In reality, what he built was a garden shed on 30 plastic barrels strapped together and covered by sheeting. From

” ‘It’s floating on 30 220L barrels. Big blue drums, but you can’t see the blue drums; I’ve built this metal sheeting around it, it just looks like the normal hull of a boat.’ “

The Irish Times article (paywall so I didn’t link) mentions that the owner of this contraption is a Kildare County Council employee, unable to afford rent.

One would have thought that an employee of the relevant authority for enforcement of building regulations and planning permission would have understood the need for compliance with regulations specific to the project in question and that the relevant authority (in this case Waterways Ireland) can determine an entity on their property to be non compliant.

There is the wider issue of the canal system being used as a location for houseboats for permanent living – something I disagree with. In this case, the individual in question has taken to thumbing his nose at the requirement for a canal boat to move frequently to a new degree – his “boat” does not possess an engine. Whilst I am not a lawyer, does this mean that it is not a boat, even if it did structurally comply with WI’s definition of that term?

I have no time for State overreach and bully boy tactics – however, on this occasion, the State (WI) has acted correctly and I support them in doing so.