The Knock Ferry Bridge - Knock, North - Much Talked About - Never Built

By Jim Fahy

Knockferry Pier - June 4th 2014
Kilbeg Pier
Ferry Rental. 1819
The Nation. Aug 8. 1868
Galway Express May 8. 1869
Oughterard Meeting. Freeman's Journal - November 15. 1897

In early August, 1868 Archbishop John MacHale of Tuam was crossing the Corrib Lake from the parish of Killannin, on his way to Headford. In the townland of Knock, North was a slip-way known as “Knock Ferry”.  The journey to the opposite side to a place known as “Kilbeg” is approximately half a mile.

In the course of the crossing, the Party remarked on the low level of the water and queried amongst themselves why a bridge had not been built there. From reading the comments recorded by the reporter they did not have much hope of this happening.  A bridge across that part of the lake would have given easier access to farmers in the Oughterard to Moycullen area, who would wish to trade with people in the towns of Headford, Tuam, Kilmaine, Ballinrobe and Claremorris.

County Surveyors Report:

On the 10th March, 1868 the County Surveyor for Galway – Mr Roberts –stated in a report to the Grand Jury in Galway of works to be carried out in the County in that year, stating;

“Among the applications approved of at the recent baronial Sessions, the following are the only new works which require special notice in this report.”

No. 1 on the list in the county at large, is for the extension of the pier at Knock, on Lough Corrib, with a view of affording the accommodation necessary to enable the steamer trading on the lake to embark and disembark passengers, and to take in and discharge loading at that point and also to improve the Ferry accommodation across the lake. The work is a useful one and will be attended with much advantage to that district. It was approved of subject to the condition that the promoters of the project contributed one third of the cost of the work. (Source: Galway Express March 14th 1868)

Bridging the Corrib – Galway Express – May 8th 1869

The Galway Express carried a report of Henry Brett, Esq., the eminent civil engineer, Dublin, and county surveyor of Wicklow being in the area taking observations for the purpose of erecting a bridge and causeway at the Ferry of Knock.

 Oughterard  – September 30th 1897  – Meeting of Board of Guardians

The Meeting was called to seek Government aid for farmers in the Electoral Districts of Oughterard, Letterfore and Wormhole due to the failure of the potato crop. They agreed to request the Government to send an Inspector to report on the situation. They also agreed the following resolution:

“By starting works of utility, such as completing the road from Oughterard to Costello Bay, making a bridge across Knock Ferry and a few quays along the shore of Lough Corrib would confer lasting benefits on the public at large, while they would give employment to the people who are so sadly in need of it.”  (Freeman’s Journal Oct. 4th 1897)

Oughterard – November 11th 1897 – Public Meeting

A public meeting was held in the Square where similar resolutions were passed. Revd John Connolly, P.P. Killannin acting as secretary.

Proposed Motor Service

The Freeman’s Journal dated July 28th, 1913 carried the following report:        “Lord Killanin has written to the Oughterard Rural District Council informing them that himself, a few members of Parliament, and Colonel Kilkelly, Drimcong, County Galway, have had an interview with the Chief Secretary with regard to a motor service across Lough Corrib at Knock Ferry, and that the result of the interview has been favourable to the project. Mr. Stephen Gwynn, M.P. has written to the Council also, stating that the opposition of Sir F. Banbury will be fatal to the undertaking. The Council, while thanking Lord Killanin and the other members of the deputation, are more in favour of a bridge across Knock Ferry, and have placed the matter in the hands of their Parliamentary representative, Mr. William O’Malley.”

(Sir F. Banbury referred was a British M.P. and a Stock Broker who had large investments in British rail and was against spending money on projects that were unlikely to yield a profit. The Galway to Clifden rail line had been in operation since 1895.)

Martin of Ross Estate records for November, 1819 show that Daniel Liddane (Lydon) was being charged a half yearly rent of £35 3s 6d for the privilege of operating the ferry. Record shows that he paid £20.0.0 in cash on April 27th, 1820, £15.0.0 on July 11th and the balance amounting to £9 12s 7d on August 30th which included land rental for Carrowmoreknock.

Jim Fahy

August 2nd 2014

This page was added on 15/08/2014.

Comments about this page

  • Here’s a news report from RTE, showing that a bridge was still being discussed more than a century later: – nothing like rushing in to things!

    By Chris Sweeney (19/03/2020)
  • Hi Mike,

    Your great grandfather would have used a light weight boat, sometimes referred to as a “Currach” to cross the lake. Apparently there was a busy trade between Oughterard and Headford in those times. The water level at Knockferry is low, it being the reason for having a bridge built there.

    Not many miles from Headford in the parish of Addergoole, a local man found the remains of a canoe in 1902, which is stored in the National Museum in Dublin. Google: Lurgan Canoe @ “Miltown Heritage Group”

    In January 1739 a funeral procession was drowned on what appears to have been the upper part of Lough Corrib, when they tried to cross on the ice covered lake.
    See my post with press report at “Loss of Life on the ice covered lake.”



    July 6th 2018

    By Jim Fahy (07/07/2018)
  • I have been wondering how my 4th great grand father (John Faherty) from Oughterard could have met my 4th great grand mother (Bridget Earner) from Headford in about 1775. They must have had a good boat to get to the other side to find love at first sight.
    There son (Owen) and his daughter (Julia Ann) ended up in Kentucky USA in the early 1800’s and Julia Ann married my 2nd great grand father (Michael Ahern) in 1845 in Illinois USA.

    Mike Hassler, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin USA

    By Mike Hassler (23/03/2018)

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