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Clare County Surveyor’s Report, 1835
Report of the County Surveyor to the Grand Jury of the County of Clare, assembled at the Spring Assizes, Ennis, 27 February 1835.
Gentlemen. – Having been removed from the County Surveyorship of the King’s County, and having had the honour of being appointed to this, I lost no time in coming here and attending the Special Sessions which were then in progress.
On the termination of those Sessions, I immediately commenced the inspection of all works accounted for, having first given notice of my intention and of the manner in which I expected the work to be finished.
I have by much attention and exertion examined every work of which I had notice, as having been accounted for, and several of those applied for, and have reported them with as much discrimination as possible. I have also examined the several accounts and found many of them incorrect.
In considering the system of contracts for the annual repairs of roads, granted under the former law, I have borne in mind the principle upon which they were granted, without reference to any circumstance, except that the roads are in repair; and as to supervisorships, I have reported the state of repair in which I found them, and the improvements which have been effected by them to the extent of the funds allowed and accounted for as having been expended; and in both cases I have remarked upon the neglect of allowing nuisances and trespasses, the existence of which materially tend to injure the public works, and consequently create the necessity of a heavier taxation.
I have been called upon for only a few certificates for works completed under the new law, except for Money to be advanced on account, many of which I have refused, it appearing that there was not sufficient work executed. I have not inspected all the roads upon which contracts for a term of years were granted at the last summer assizes, conceiving that the contractor must be half a year in advance before he can demand payment, and previous to that time expiring, I shall have another opportunity of seeing them.
I beg to suggest that inquiry should be made into the cause of so many undischarged quaeres remaining for so long on the books, in order that they may be either executed or represented.
I have generally found the public works of the County in good repair, and efficiently maintained for the purpose of the public service, with some exceptions in the roads.
In looking over the schedule of applications for new works, you will find many of them are to substitute contracts for repair of roads, for supervisorships expired, and which constitute the most important number; many of them are for the repairs of roads leading to remote places and which from the increase of population and the improved methods of agriculture, demand your attention, as greater accommodation is required for the conveyance of the produce to markets, and for the introduction of lime and other manures for the better cultivation of the lands. Many of them are for ordinary repairs upon roads in constant use, and many for new works, which, of course, you will duly investigate. There are several application exceeding £20 for new roads, bridges, guard-walls, and lowering hills and filling hollows, requiring to be certified only, many of which it will be necessary to investigate as to their utility and necessity.
In the Lower Half Barony of Tulla, the roads are generally in indifferent repair, much of which may be attributed to the badness of the material, and limestone is not so distant but it might be obtained and used. Much inconvenience has been felt by the manner in which the cutting down of the hill at Clonlara has been conducted; it being left unfinished for several months, and there being no preparations for gravelling the part cut down, or for placing the earth in the hollow.
In the Upper Half Barony of Tulla, I have much pleasure in approving highly of the attention which is paid to the roads, and of the system which is adopted for their maintenance.
In the Lower Half Barony of Bunratty, the works are in very good repair, but many nuisances and trespasses are committed. I have to complain very much of the bad state of some part of the Limerick and Ennis road, no attention having been paid to it. The new mail coach road over the Meelick corcas has been completed up to Cratloe Castle. The branch line from it to the present road is in progress, but for want of funds cannot be completed. The remainder of the road from Cratloe Castle to Moyhill has not yet been commenced, neither has the road from it towards Sixmilebridge been undertaken.
In the Upper Half Barony of Bunratty, the roads are not so well repaired as I might have expected. In some places the material is not well calculated for repairing them, the limestone being very soft.
The roads in Inchiquin Barony are in good repair, but several of them are narrow. The intercourse on those of the north end of the barony is not such as to cause much wear. But towards the south there is more wear, and the roads are in good repair. I beg to call your attention to the low lands in this barony, and the injurious effect resulting to the public works from the flood. The river enters the barony near Tubber, and runs through a chain of lakes to Corofin, where it joins the River Fergus, which flows on towards Ennis. In the winter season the lakes and rivers become full of water, which overflows the lands and roads, so as to materially injure them, and to be the cause of frequent applications for repairs and new works. The overflowing is caused by a great number of eel weirs being constructed in every narrow passage of the river, and particularly under the arches of Dromore and Tiernee Bridges.
The roads in the Barony of Burren are few, and from the facility of procuring the best material, they are in tolerable condition (part of the road to Ballyvaughan excepted), but many of them being very remote, there is very little wear upon them.
In Corcomroe the roads are not in good repair, except the parts bordering the limestone district and some upon which much attention is paid – and a selection is not made of the best materials and much labour is lost in consequence. The roads branching inland from the sea require much attention owing to the very great quantity of sand used for manure being carried over them, and as the roads improve it appears to be carried to greater distance into the interior, and is the means of reclaiming the uncultivated lands. There are a few instances of turf being carried on some of the roads but not to any extent.
The roads in the Barony of Ibrickan are in a very bad state, and have been so much neglected or badly repaired as almost to render them useless. Nuisances and trespasses exist on every road; the material is indifferent. The carriage of sand and seaweed is very considerable and the roads demand every attention. Temporary repairs were in progress when it was known that I was in the country.
Several of the roads in the Barony of Moyarta are in bad repair and not attended to, but others are better; and some trouble appears to be bestowed upon them except that nuisances and trespasses are committed to a great extent. But it must be observed that the roads in this barony in particular have an immense wear upon them, in consequence of nearly all the turf which is consumed in the City of Limerick being carried upon them to the sea shore, and sand and seaweed being carried back into the interior of the country. Temporary repairs were also in progress when I visited them.
The roads in the Barony of Clonderlaw are in general in bad repair in consequence of both the selection and application of the materials not being properly attended to, and the stones not broken small enough, and of irregular sizes, all of which preclude the possibility of there being good roads. In summer probably they may be very smooth roads, but the winters require them to be as good. There is considerable carriage of turf and sand on these roads but not to the extent to injure properly made ones.
The Barony of Islands has the advantage of possessing limestone, and the roads being properly attended to and using that material are very good with few exceptions, but the intercourse is not so incessant as in the more western baronies, except on the road between Clare and Ennis, which of late has not any attention or repair done to it. I have observed that every road approaching this town is much too narrow for the intercourse which passes upon them, and strongly recommend that applications should be made for their being widened. The breadth in no part for at least two miles from the town should be less than 35 or 40 feet, also a footpath which is absolutely necessary about 5 feet, but I must remark that where new roads are contemplated, any alteration in the present ones will unnecessary.
The County at Large works which I have inspected are generally strong and substantial with some exceptions. There is a great want of attention in the maintenance of the parapet wall to bridges, by the coping stones being wantonly thrown down.
Under this head I have considered the County Jail which I have inspected and found the works in good and proper condition, with the exception of the chimney shafts, the lining of which are burnt and the cap stones loosened, and require your instructions to have them repaired. I have also examined the drop and find that one side does not work properly. The sewers in the interior are very bad, and particularly those of the hospital. Mr D’Arcy, the Governor, pointed out to me the necessity of making some alterations in the buildings, which in all probability will be taken into consideration by the committee appointed for that purpose, such alterations appear to me necessary for the regulation and convenience of those confined there.
I take this opportunity of drawing your attention to the want of accommodation in the several Petty Sessions Rooms in this County, particularly in those places where the Special Roads Sessions are held, as associating the cess-payers with the magistrates, and the number of persons who attend those sessions, require more space and convenience than the present Petty Sessions Rooms afford. I beg to submit that an inquiry should be instituted into the state and description of accommodation afforded, and rent charged, with a view to their enlargement.
I have examined the County Court-house, and find it in repair according to Mr. Creagh’s contract.
I have inspected the repairs which have been done by presentment to the House of Industry, and found them properly executed, and the buildings in good repair. Much attention appears to be paid to its maintenance.
The bridge in the town of Ennis, now being built by Mr. Creagh, is proceeding satisfactorily.
I have considered it part of my duty to inspect, for the purpose of reporting to you, the state and progress of the works under the immediate management of the commissioners of public works. The bridge building near Liscannor is in progress, one abutment and two piers having been finished up to the springing of the arches, and a cofferdam is preparing for erecting the south abutment. Much difficulty and labour is experienced in laying the foundation of this abutment, as it will be necessary to sink it 23 feet under the sand, but such means are adopted as to insure it’s being properly executed. A new road is in progress to the south side of the bridge.
The roads called Mr. Killally’s roads are in perfect repair and much attention is paid to them, there being an abundance of broken stones prepared and always ready to be placed on them.
About five miles of the new road between Killaloe and Tomgraney is completed and executed in a superior manner, the remainder is in progress. The walls on each side of the road at the canal at Killaloe are completed. The bridges and gullets are not yet commenced.
The road from Lough Graney towards the Derrybrien road, to where it joins the County of Galway, has been all formed and fenced, and the material prepared in order to complete it early in the ensuing summer. All the masonry has been executed.
I find that the Grand Jury at the last summer assizes directed the county surveyor, my predecessor, to report upon the practicability of making a mail Coach Road between Dublin and this town as far as regards this county only, but I understand that no report has been made. I beg to remark that for your better information a more extended examination should be required through the counties of Galway, Tipperary and the King’s County, as to the practicability of forming a complete communication with this country.
Great difficulty arises in finding the roads in the county, and explaining the objects proposed as improvements, for the want of a more perfect County Map, the present one being deficient, it having been made before several of the roads and other works were executed. A proper Map of the whole County, and one of each barony, on a larger scale, would give great assistance at the Special Sessions and to Grand Juries in investigating the proper roads to be repaired and new roads or bridges proposed. The Grand Jury have power to present £20 for every 50,000 acres, to renew the county map, and £10 for every barony on double the scale as enacted by the 36th Geo. 8, chap. 55, sections 31 and 32, to be levied upon the county at large and may be paid by instalments as the Survey proceeds.
As it is my most anxious wish to discharge the duties of my office as much as possible to the advantage of the public and for the benefit of the County, I beg leave to say that those wishes cannot be realised unless I have some assistance in removing nuisances and checking injury on the public property, by the appointment of baronial or district Constables, without whom it will be impossible to effect the objects which are most desirable, as I may be absent and indeed I can scarcely ever attend where I discover them. The duty of the Constables should be to summon persons so offending to Petty Sessions either upon my information or their own observation.
For the more effectually regulating the certifying and payment of magistrates orders for works done in cases in repairing sudden damages in the manner prescribed by the new law, I have prepared forms some of which I have distributed to every Petty Sessions in the county, and hope they will answer the purposes intended.
I have received very great attention in all parts of the county, in being directed during my inspection, to the roads and works, the situation of which I was totally ignorant of, and I take this opportunity of acknowledging it with my best thanks and also I gained much information on all the circumstances connected with this extensive county which has rendered me great assistance and facility in performing my duty, and hope that I may by continual exertion prove the utility of the office.
I have the honour to be, Gentlemen, your most obedient humble servant,
Richard B. Grantham,
(From: Clare Journal, 5 March 1835)