Monday, 7 August 2017

Crossing the River Maigue
at Ferrybank, near Clarina

The River Maigue at Ferrybridge, Co Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

Patrick Comerford

This is a bank holiday weekend in Ireland, and although the weather has not brought out the best of summer sunshine, two of us visited the banks of the River Maigue at Ferrybridge, near Clarina, Co Limerick, on Saturday afternoon [5 August 2017].

The River Maigue (An Mháigh, the ‘river of the plain’) rises near the Milford in north Co Cork, and is 38.75 miles long. It is joined by the small River Glen and the larger River Loobagh in south Co Limerick; it then flows north through Bruree, is joined by the River Morning Star; and it flows on through Croom and Adare before entering the Shannon Estuary on its southern shore just north of Ferrybridge, between Kildimo and Clarina, downstream from Limerick City.

Although some work was carried out as early as 1720 to improve the river, it never seems to have been a very important navigation, and never had any locks.

The Directors-General of Inland Navigation did some work from 1815 on, installing an opening bridge on the coast road, the present N69, at Ferrybridge.

In 1837 the Shannon Commissioners recommended that only minor works were needed as only turf boats used the river and there was a good road from Adare to Limerick.

After the formation of the Irish Free State, the new state reviewed its inland waterways in 1923 and concluded that the opening bridge-arch over the River Maigue could be replaced by a fixed arch. It had not been opened for many years, and most boats were too wide for that arch and had to use the fixed arch.

As far upstream as Adare, the Maigue is heavily embanked, with occasional sluices along the way. The confluence with the Shannon is said to be tricky to navigate, with shifting sand banks.

The River Maigue Rowing Club, which was formed recently, is based at Ferrybridge, Clarina. It aims to provide a club where members can row in Gandelows on the River Maigue. Generations of local people have been involved in this activity and the club particularly encourages young members who can also learn the skills of rowing a Gandelow and carry on this tradition.

There are two pubs at Ferrybank. The car park at the rear of De Bucket on the west side of the bridge and the river opens onto the riverbank.

But on Saturday afternoon, two of us stopped for and lingered at Curran’s, which was established in 1783, and with its thatched roof is located on a pretty turn on the river on the east bank of the Maigue.

Curran’s with its thatched roof, on the banks of the River Maigue at Ferrybridge, Co Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

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