“Knocknagow” owners hail towpath proposal

The owners of a century old tug-barge that spent most of its working life ferrying goods on the River Suir has welcomed South Tipperary Co. Council’s move to “take in charge” the old riverbank towpath between both towns.

The owners of a century old tug-barge that spent most of its working life ferrying goods on the River Suir has welcomed South Tipperary Co. Council’s move to “take in charge” the old riverbank towpath between both towns.

Brian J. Goggin, the current owner of Knocknagow tug-barge, says the Council’s decision to take the towpath in charge will provide improved access to the river for the various recreational users of the waterway and lead to the creation of a wonderful riverside walk between Carrick-on-Suir and Clonmel.

The closing date for submissions from the public on the Council’s proposal to formally take over the maintenance of the towpath was last Friday, February 22. TheCouncil says it has received a lot of submissions, which will now be examined. The elected Council is expected to reach a decision on the issue at its May meeting.

Taking in charge the 20km route, that was built in the 1750s for horses towing barges transporting goods between Carrick-on-Suir and Clonmel, will open the door for more funding to be secured to develop it as a riverside walking route.

Mr Goggin from Castleconnel, Co. Limerick points out that the River Suir is one of the few rivers in Ireland to have a river bank route boasting such gorgeous scenery a significant distance outside a town. “I don’t live in the area, I am not fully aware of the objections or difficulties that this proposal might encounter and I am reluctant to risk being seen as an interfering outsider. I will confine myself therefore to saying that it would be worth a bit of effort to make the full stretch of river accessible,” he said in a letter to The Nationalist.

The diesel powered Knocknagow, which is now berthed on the shores of Lough Derg, was formerly owned by the Dowleys of Carrick-on-Suir and transported goods on the tidal part of the Suir between Waterford and Carrick-on-Suir for much of its working life. It was too big to transport cargo on the difficult stretch of the river from Carrick-on-Suir to Clonmel.

Mr Goggin says the Knocknagow would have towed barges with no fuel power as well as transporting its own cargo on the Suir. After its time in Carrick-on-Suir, the barge was used by Roadstone to dredge the bed of the River Slaney for some years. It was saved from dereliction by Richard Miller, who restored the barge. The Goggin family purchased it from him in 2004 and carried out further restoration. They now use it as a pleasure boat on the River Shannon.

Mr Goggin says owning the Knocknagow has prompted he and his wife to learn more about the navigation of the Suir. “Both the tidal section to Carrick-on-Suir and the horse-drawn stretch to Clonmel have features that are unique in Ireland. Nowhere else that I know of were boatmen faced with a current like that through Sir Thomas’s Bridge; no other Irish navigation needed teams of up to thirteen horses to get the boats upriver.”

Mr Goggin has written about some of the river’s history on his website http://irishwaterwayshistory.com.