Discover the Waterways Ireland Archive
Discover the story of the waterways through direct contact with original documents from the past. With a unique collection of over 3,000 drawings, sketches and records of the Irish inland waterways there is a wide range of material to uncover in the Waterways Ireland Archive.
At the heart of the archive are the original drawings tracing the development of the waterways from their conception in the eighteenth century through to their construction and their ongoing maintenance during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Included are engineer's plans for locks, sluices, bridges and harbours, all providing a fascinating insight into our heritage.
The records in the collection can be used for many purposes including:
•The history of the waterway and transport network in Ireland
•Current engineering and maintenance work programmes
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•The engineers had to design the tools and machinery to be used on construction projects. Surviving blueprints reveal designs for loading cranes, winches and pumps, all of which were required for their work.
•Much of the construction works carried out in the 1840's were during a period when Ireland was experiencing a nationwide famine. Public work schemes provided much needed employment for thousands of families but at its height the famine and emigration had decimated the population that it became difficult to find sufficient men to carry out the work.
•The canals were used primarily to transport barrels of porter from St James in Dublin to the rest of the country. The toll books document their journey from the Guinness Distillery to the various towns and cities on the waterways.
Accessing the Archive
Ireland Digital Archive, a unique collection of over 7,000 drawings, images
and records of the Irish inland waterways is now online.
At the heart of the archive is the Engineering Collection
which is the original drawings tracing the development of the waterways from
their conception in the eighteenth century through to their construction and
their ongoing maintenance during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Other
collections include the Ian Bath Collection, the Delany Photographic Collection
and the Hayden Collection all providing a rich legacy of inland waterways
history and heritage.
As the digitisation
process continues more items will be made available online.
To Access the Archive in Enniskillen
The physical archive is in the Waterways Ireland
Headquarters in Enniskillen.
To consult the archives researchers need to make
arrangements in advance by contacting +44 (0) 28 6634 6205 or emailing email@example.com.
Please note that the archive is currently not accessible
to the public due to covid restrictions.
Donating Material to the Waterways Ireland Archive
The Waterways Ireland Archive collects primary source materials that have historical significance.
If you own material of significance and would like to contact a staff member about donating them to the Waterways Ireland Archive, please e-mail us .
The following kinds of papers are most useful to researchers:
•Professional correspondence with engineers, foremen, lock-keepers, contractors, organisations,
•Financial papers, including bills, receipts, lists and ledgers.