The Directors of Inland Navigation originated in the mid-18th century and were reconstituted in 1799. £500,000 was provided for the promotion of canals. The Lord-Lieutenant appointed five directors. Canals constructed at public expense, were vested in the directors. They considered requests for grants for canals. They supervised works that were grant aided.
The directors were responsible for existing waterways including the Tyrone and Upper Shannon navigation. They were entrusted with completion of the Royal Canal in 1813 after the Royal Canal Company became insolvent. The completed canal was vested in the new Royal Canal Company.
The Linen Board originated at the start of the 18th century and was set up to regulate linen manufacture. It maintained standards in the cultivation of flax and the manufacture of linen. It paid bounties, premiums and prizes. The Board maintained standards by inspecting and sealing cloth. It managed the Linen Hall in Dublin. The Board was abolished in 1828.
The Board of Works
In 1831, various agencies and commissions used to advance public money for works were consolidated into the new Board of Works. It had formerly been known as the Barrack Board and Board of Works. The civil branch was responsible for the upkeep of law courts governmental and various other public buildings. Three commissioners were appointed by Treasury. The Board of Works became the principal governmental developmental agency. Most other departments operated in relatively narrow areas.
The Board was given power to make loans for public works and improvements to public bodies and to individuals. Over time the Board was vested with new functions. It took over police buildings and buildings connected with customs, revenue, post office and national education were vested in the Board of Work.
Drainage & Fisheries
In the 1840s drainage legislation functions, fisheries, and Shannon Commissioners were entrusted to the Board. The Shannon Commissioners were responsible for the improvement of the Shannon. Improvement of navigation was the primary objective.
The Drainage Act permitted schemes for the improvement of the drainage of land. Schemes were published and objections were permissible at quarter sessions. If the owners of two thirds of the land affected, agreed the scheme, it could be approved and funds raised by loan from government or private sources, were charged on the land. The Drainage Act in 1863 removed the functions of drainage from the Board due to complaints about excessive use of powers, saddling landowners with significant charges.
If landowners prepared a scheme the Board of Works could inquire and approve it, confirming it by provisional order. The Board of Works could then make loans to the Drainage Board to enable it to carry out the schemes. One 120 districts were constituted under the Drainage Act 1842 and 63 more under the 1863 Act. The principal purpose was to alleviate flooding.
The Fisheries Act 1842 permitted the Board to appoint inspectors to enforce regulations on river and deep-sea fishing. The Salmon Fishery Act 1863 provided for the appointment of three commissioners to decide on matters relating to salmon fisheries and their management. In 1869, the powers were transferred to fisheries commissioners appointed by the Lord-Lieutenant. They were eventually absorbed into the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction.
An immense amount of work was undertaken by the Board of Works as a result of the famine. Land improvement, fisheries improvement and the arterial drainage schemes were promoted.
During the famine, the Board of Works, expanded rapidly with a staff of over 14,000 supervising relief schemes. Many of the schemes were for road making and drainage.
After the famine levels of work returned to normal. In the latter half of the 19th century, the Board’s functions were steadily increased by legislation. The Board was given powers to make loans for a variety of matters including building glebe houses and national schoolteachers residences and dispensaries.
The Board was given functions in relation to disputes between railways and landowners over land acquisition. It is given power to make loans for the construction of railways and enquiring tramway and railway schemes.
Under the Irish Church Act, disused churches deemed to be national monuments were placed under the Board’s control. In 1883, it was given powers in relation to the construction of piers and harbours for sea fisheries.
The Board of Trade appointed the first Registrars of Companies in 1862. A separate registrar of Friendly Societies was constituted in 1855. The financial control over expenditure of the Irish Lighthouse Authorities passed to the Board of Trade in 1854.
The responsibility for managing Dublin Port was divided between the Dublin Port and Docks Board and the Commissioners of Irish Lights. The latter body, which was under the control of the Board of Trade was responsible for Irish lighthouses.
The Local Loan Fund Board was established in 1836 to supervise charitable loan societies. Societies had to submit their rules and accounts to the Board.
Inspectors of factories were appointed from 1833 and inspectors of mines from 1872.
The Church Temporalities Commission was set up as part of the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland. It managed the ecclesiastical property taken over by the State. It was obliged to arrange for payments of compensation to those adversely affected by disestablishment. It ultimately handed over to the Church of Ireland buildings and lands attached, to which it was entitled under the Church Act. It administered the rentcharges and the land belonging to the established church.
The Land Commission was established by the Land Act, 1881. It is responsible for fixing fair rents for agricultural tenants. It also made loans to tenants for land purchase. The Church Temporalities property was vested in the Land Commission. The Land Commission comprised three commissioners. The judicial commissioner had the status of a judge.
A 1885 Act provided for advances by the Commission of the entire purchase money to tenants. By the 1891 Act, the Commission had become permanent and the monies available for land purchase had increased considerably. Ultimately, Land Act 1903 provided for the purchase of estates en bloc by tenants or the Land Commission.
Congested Districts Board
The Congested Districts Board was established in 1891. Its purpose was to give assistance for the development of impoverished districts on the West Coast. A congested district was one whose rateable valuation was less than a certain amount, situate in a county where at least 20 percent of the population lived in divisions of such valuation.
The Congested Districts Area stretched from Donegal to West Cork. The Congested District Board had very wide functions. It could purchase land, encourage agriculture, industry and fishing. The Board promoted a range of schemes. These ranged from agricultural promotion an instruction. Loans to promote cottage industry, road building as well as the purchase of fishing boats.
The Board undertook some of the functions of the Land Commission in taking over sales of estate and selling them to tenants. Later legislation gave the Broad increased funds to facilitate land purchase.
By the Land Act 1909, the Board’s powers were extended, and its land area almost doubled. It was given exclusive control of land purchase in congested districts. At that stage, the Board comprised the Chief Secretary, Undersecretary, Vice President of the Department and 11 other members.