25 November-Barrow Canal

The River Barrow rises at Glenbarrow in the Slieve Bloom mountains in Co Laois, Ireland, flows south through Co Carlow and enters the sea at Waterford Harbour. At 192km long it is the second longest river in Ireland. The Barrow, which is fully navigable, links with the Grand Canal at Athy making it a major part of Ireland’s inland waterway network.

It was first proposed in 1703 to make the River Barrow navigable. However it was not until 1785 that the first boats were able to travel upstream to the Grand Canal. By then seven locks had been installed but, because it was too shallow, only relatively small boats could navigate the river. The project was not economically viable

A new report in 1789 indicated that the Barrow navigation project could become viable with the building of extra locks and the construction of lateral canals. Eventually twenty three locks were built and some of the existing ones were widened. Five lateral canals with a total length of almost 18km were constructed to bypass the shallow areas. The last lock and bypass canal were built at Clogrennan near Carlow town in 1836. Boats carrying up to thirty tons could now navigate the river.

The opening of the Barrow canal had for time a significant impact on the development of towns along its route. Trade increased from 16,000 tons in 1790 to almost 60,000 tons by 1830. However from 1850 onwards competition from the railways led to a decline in traffic and the Barrow Navigation was bought by the Grand Canal Company in 1894. The canal continued to be used for commercial traffic until 1959 when it was closed by Ireland’s Transport Company (Coras Iompar Eirann) in 1959. The Barrow Canal, which is open to navigation by pleasure craft, is now managed by Waterways Ireland. The towpath along the river is used by growing numbers of walkers and cyclists.

The letter announcing the closure of the Barrow Canal to commercial traffic was issued by CIE (Coras Iompar Eireann) in the year 1959 On This Day.

River Barrow by Real Alan Dalton on 2010-05-09 13:27:12


Cathole Waterfall near source of River Barrow….On This Day

Courtesy: Joe Rattigan

24 November-Divorce in Ireland

Divorce was prohibited in Ireland under the Constitution until 1995. In that year the people of Ireland voted in a referendum, by a narrow majority, to amend the Constitution and remove the ban on divorce. It was the 15th amendment to the Constitution. The passing of the amendment made Ireland the last country in Europe to permit divorce.

Divorce was available in Ireland under Brehon law. The Statutes of Kilkenny, enacted in 1366, were designed to replace Brehon law with English law. This was followed in 1494 by Poynings law which provided that all laws passed in England applied in Ireland. Despite this English law applied only to a small area of Ireland around Dublin, known as the Pale.

In 1603 a Proclamation of King James 1 brought an end to the Brehon laws. Ireland was divided into counties and English law began to be administered throughout Ireland. One such law was The Matrimonial Causes Act 1857 which allowed for divorce under civil law.

Following independence divorce in Ireland was regulated by law passed in 1925, but was not banned under the Constitution of 1922. This continued to be the situation up until 1937. In that year the Fianna Fáil government led by Éamon de Valera introduced a new constitution which was ratified by the people. Article 41.3.2 of the Constitution stated: ‘No law shall be enacted providing for the grant of a dissolution of marriage’. The ban remained in place until the Constitution was amended by the people almost sixty years later.

The first attempt to amend Article 41.3.2 of the Constitution was made in 1986. The people rejected the proposed amendment by a majority of almost two to one. In what was a divisive campaign the final vote saw 63.5% reject the amendment while just 36.5 were in support. Nine years later a new proposal to amend the Constitution was put to the people. This time the vote was narrowly in favour of ending the Constitutional ban on divorce. The final vote was 50.28% in favour and 49.72% against. The removal of the ban was followed fourteen months later by the passing of the Family Law (Divorce) Act. The first divorce following the amendment was granted in the High Court on January 17th 1997.

The people of Ireland voted to remove the Constitutional ban on divorce in the year 1995 On This Day.



21 November-Birmingham Pub Bombings

Bombs exploded in two public houses in Birmingham, England killing 19 people in November 1974. The bombs which were believed to have been planted by the Provisional IRA also injured over 180 people. The IRA denied responsibility.

The bombings led to the arrest of six men who were sentenced to life imprisonment. They became known as The Birmingham Six. They protested their innocence and had their convictions quashed after serving 16 years in prison. The real culprits were never brought to justice.

The Birmingham pub bombings occurred in the ‘Mulberry Bush’ and the ‘Tavern in the Town’ pubs in the year 1974 On This Day.

To the memory of the victims of the Birmingham pub bombings of 1974 by ell brown on 2011-06-23 11:28:21

20 November-Joe Biden

Joe Biden was the 47th Vice President of the United States of America. He served for two terms from 2009 to 2017. A lawyer by profession, Biden served as US Senator for Delaware from 1973 to 2009. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom with distinction in 2017.

Joseph Robinette Biden was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania in 1942. He worked for time as an attorney before becoming involved in politics. In 1972 Biden was elected United States Senator from Delaware. When he resigned from the Senate in 2009 he had become the longest-serving senator in Delaware history.

Barack Obama chose Biden as his running mate in the 2008 Presidential election. They won the election and Biden became the first person from Delaware and the first Roman Catholic, to serve as Vice President of the United States. Following President Obama re-election as President in 2012 Biden earned a second term as Vice President.

In the November 2020 US Presidential election Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump. He will be inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States of America on January 20, 2021

Joe Biden, President elect of the United States of America, was born in the year 1942 On This Day.

Joe Biden




19 November-Dunkitt Rail Accident

The railway line from Dublin to Waterford City passes through the townland of Dunkitt. Dunkitt is located just over 6km north of Waterford City. In 1856 Dunkitt was the scene of a rail accident in which five people lost their lives.

The railway line from Dublin reached Kilkenny City in 1848. The line was extended southwards and reached Dunkitt in May 1853. Dunkitt was the terminus for Waterford City from 1853 to 1854. Waterford railway station was opened on August 26th 1864.

On the day of the accident at Dunkitt a track worker failed to operate the points correctly. This caused a passenger train to be misrouted into a sidings where it crashed into a ballast train causing the deaths of five people. The ensuing investigation determined the primary cause of the accident was Pointsman error. The secondary cause was given as inadequate training.

The rail accident at Dunkitt led to the deaths of five people in the year 1856 On This Day.

Waterford railway station photo

Photo by National Library of Ireland on The Commons

Tough for Salmon by Bernie Goldbach on 2005-10-07 16:59:54