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Waterways Through Time – Season 2

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 award-winning ‘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 won Bronze for Best Podcast at the 2023 Digital Media Awards.

Episode 1: The Vikings


In this episode Turtle Bunbury charts the impact of the Vikings on the Shannon, the Erne, the Barrow and the Bann

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Series 2 Episode 2: Turlough O'Connor, King of the Water image

Episode 2: Turlough O’Connor, King of the Water


The O’Connor king’s 35-year rule reshaped the Shannon region with a powerful fleet, bridges, castles, and a new border against southern and eastern foes.

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Series 2 Episode 3: The Normans image

Episode 3: The Normans


Turtle Bunbury delves into the fascinating realm of the Normans who dominated the waterways

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Series 2 Episode 4: The Maguires, Kings of Fermanagh image

Episode 4: The Maguires, Kings of Fermanagh


The Maguires, kings of Fermanagh, were once among the most prominent dynasties in the north-west of Ireland. At their peak, their fleet of white sail boats gave them complete dominance of the waterways in and around Lough Erne, where they built the first castle at Enniskillen. This is the story of their rise and all. Join Turtle Bunbury as he explores the Maguires, Chieftains of Fermanagh between the 14th and 17th centuries.

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Series 2 Episode 5: The Secrets of the Barrow image

Episode 5: The Secrets of the Barrow


Boating guru Cliff Reid of discusses the glorious historical, geographical and natural elements of the River Barrow, the second longest river in Ireland.

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Series 2 Episode 6: The Voyage from St. James's Gate image

Episode 6: The Voyage from St. James’s Gate


In this episode historian Cathy Scuffil recalls the sight of barges laden with Guinness barrels voyaging through the Irish countryside.

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Series 2 Episode 7: 45M image

Episode 7: The Story of 45M


Susie Cootes, owner of the 45M, recounts the tragic sinking of 1945 and the subsequent recovery of the boat in 1976 by her father.

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Series 2 Episode 8: Hidden Treasures of the Waterways image

Episode 8: What Lies Beneath – Hidden Treasures of the Waterways


Turtle talks with marine archaeologist, Dr Connie Kelleher, about the exciting revelations of underwater archaeology on Irish waterways from Neolithic logboats to battle debris to the treasures of the modern age. Turtle interviews Dr. Connie Kelleher, a marine archaeologist, about the captivating discoveries of underwater archaeology in Irish waterways.

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