New podcast explores how the Vikings changed Ireland's waterways

What impact did the Vikings and the Normans have on Ireland’s inland waterways? How did Turlough O’Connor earn the moniker ‘King of the Water’? How did the Knights Templar use the waterways during the Anglo-Norman invasion? Those are just some of the questions historian Turtle Bunbury tackles in the second series of the ‘Waterways Through Time’ podcast.

Commissioned by Waterways Ireland, the eight-part series also looks at the history of Ireland’s inland waterways in more recent times.

This includes the voyage of the Guinness barges from St James Gate in Dublin along the canals through the Irish countryside; the story of the 45M barge, which sank on Lough Derg in 1946 with the loss of three crew members and was raised in 1975 and subsequently restored, and what exciting artefacts underwater archaeology of Irish waterways has revealed.

Chief Executive of Waterways Ireland, John McDonagh said: “Ireland’s inland waterways, of which Waterways Ireland is a custodian, have a fascinating history. We are delighted to work with Turtle Bunbury to uncover these stories and to bring them to life for a new audience.

"This research, in turn, augments Waterways Ireland’s fantastic archive, which covers more than 200 years of Ireland’s waterways. I would encourage anyone interested in this history to check out the more than 7,000 records on file. These include engineering drawings, dating from the 1800s, photo archives and film charting lives spent on the water.”

Renowned historian Turtle Bunbury developed and presents the series, which contains a mix of stories, historical events and contemporary interviews.

“When you slow down the past, it becomes increasingly clear how much the island’s inland waterways have played in the evolution of our history. The Vikings recognised rivers as the arteries which gave this country life, and they ruthlessly exploited them to their benefit. The Normans and Gaelic kings did likewise.

"The waterways were our borders, our highways, our supply corridors, our everything. A strong sense of that pivotal role continues to the present day, as became quite clear when I enjoyed a series of fascinating interviews for this new series with an underwater archaeologist, a canal historian, the owner of an epic barge and an eloquent boating guru.’

‘Waterways Through Time 2’ is available now on the Waterways Ireland archive website and on all podcast outlets.