Commissioners of Public Works (Ireland): twentieth report with appendices

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The greatest number of men employed at any one time on the district was in July, Annual Report of Mr. 
Ottley, C.E., 
District Engineer. 

when they reached 1,780, and at the same time the number of horses amounted to 253. 
Although this is a greater number of men than we had at any period in 1850, still I have found a very gicat difficulty in procuring hands, or in retaining those who do enter the works, when the harvest season opens. 
It is thus unfortunately in the best part of the season that we find ourselves deficient in men, and the evil is> rather increasing than diminishing each successive vear. 
In this part of the country it is not surprising that this should be the case, for, in addition to a fair share of emigration, ihe extensive and constant employment afforded in weaving is in itself sufficient io provide for nearly the whole labouring population of the district. 
The hubits of the men, too, who follow that sedentary occupation, are ill-suited to works of excavation, and they consequently evince a dislike to enter upon them as lono-as they can earn an easier livelihood at home. 

Genera I 0 bsei va tiou s. 
Each year's operations carry with them, in my opinion, additional proofs of the practica¬ bility of fully carrying out the intentions and calculations of the Commissioners, as regards the extent of benefit to be conferred, not only on the proprietors but on the public, by the final completion of the Lough Neagh works, both of drainage, navigation, and mill-power. 
With reference to the drainage branch of the project, I am enabled to report that the relief of lands from flood has been greatly extended by the works done in 1851. 
The water in the Lower Bann has been kept completely within its banks. 
Lough Beg and Lough Neagh have been kept down; the former much below its ordinary summer level, and the latter to that (summer) level up to the close of the year; a state of things I believe unprecedented. 
By the control thus brought to bear on Lough Neagh, the tributaries have been directly relieved from backwater, and the low lands along the banks of those heretofore subject to its influence have thereby been kept dry and free from floods throughout the year. 

The total quantity of injured lands calculated to be comprised within the Lough Neagh district is 26,000 acres. 
Much of this lies along small tributaries, not suffering directly from the winter level of the lake, but deficient in their own capacity. 
Making allow¬ ance for such lands, I consider that fully 16,000 acres have been benefited to a greater or less extent by the works already executed, though the key to the district at Toome is yet far from being properly opened out. 
Of this quantity of land I calculate that one-half has been altogether free from flood during the last ten months of the year 1851. 
The navigation works are also in a very forward state, three locks out of five being com¬ plete, and the other two in progress. 
Of the weirs, that most difficult of execution in connexion with the tidal lock is completed, and the next in importance for regulating Lough Neagh itself, and the supply of water to the Toome or summit lock, has been fully two-thirds constructed. 
The navigation channel throughout the Lower Bann has been made through the heaviest shoals, and on the whole that part of the navigation branch of the measure is in the same state of forwardness as the masonry, The advantages of the navigation, even in its present unfinished state, have been felt, in the general execution of the works lately, as well as by the Board's tenant for the eel fisheries. 
Stone and dredge boats have been passed up and down the locks, and the whole of the eels now taken in the Lower Bann, including Ihe product1 of the Toome weirs, are brought down in this way alive, and shipped on board a large tank vessel in Portrush Har¬ bour for transmission to England. 
In former years the Toome eels were sent via" Lough Neagh aud the Lagan Canal, and their transit was-liable to interruption, both from stormy weather, deficiency in water on the summit level of that canal, and occasional stoppage by ice. 

With regard to mill-power, there will be falls created at five points, varying from 4 feet to 14 feet 6 inches. 
The final establishment of these depends on the execution of the weirs; and as there is but one weir altogether completed, one new mill-site only is at present available, and may be disposed of when the Commissioners think fit. 
These mill-sites will, I am sure, readily find purchasers, when the navigation is open, and access had to them, which is not easy otherwise. 
The salmon fishery at the Cutts has, if anything, improved, as pointed out in my remarks on the first division. 

The quantity taken in 1849 was 10,615 lbs. 

„ 1850 

„ 13,089 lbs. 
1851 „ 13,399 lbs. 
The eel fisheries, now held under the Board by one tenant, have, I am informed, been very productive ; and in connexion with this subject I am glad to report, that poaching has received a decided check, both from the summary measures taken by the Commissioners m 1850 to punish such offenders, and from the circumstance of the favourite poaching streams and shoals having been so much deepened by our operations that nets cannot be set with the same facility or prospect of success as formerly. 
The system of taskwork continues to be carried out with good effect, and its establish¬ ment has been recently made complete on fhia district in the eye of the public and of the men, by the failure of some attempts made of late to claim days' wages in cases where the money earned did not satisfy the gangs. 
The assistant barrister for the county of Antrim,