Last of the Summer Cruising (Haughtons Shore to Richmond Harbour) by Cosmo

It feels a while since we’ve blogged mainly as we’ve just been backtracking our route heading onto The Royal Canal for winter. But us being us with mum at the helm we’ve still had plenty of adventures along the way.

Firstly we headed back to Ballinamore for their festival. It was a week long celebration with free acts on every night on a stage in the main street from rod Stewart Tribute to Garth Brooks Tribute & mum’s favourite the Tumbling Paddies. There were lots of other activities during the day but mum was there really for the music. The week fell on the really hot week in Ireland & we couldn’t have been in a better spot right by some grass which was shaded by trees so we could sit out & there was a great group of boaters & folks in motorhomes there too.

We had visitors Helen Marie & John at Ballinamore which we especially liked as they brought us treats. We cruised with them back to Keshcarrigan where we also caught up with Nuala again. A night out was had in Gerties when the heavens opened with a huge thunderstorm that we didn’t like at all.

We had a girl power lock relay going on then down to Carrick as mum helped Nuala down the locks & cycled back up then the next day Georgina helped us down while Nuala grabbed our ropes at Carrick. The jetties at Carrick are the hardest place for us to moor as the current swings us round before mum can get off the boat so we really need someone to grab our ropes as we come in.

We all parted company again & we cruised back to one of our favourite spots Lough Key. Mum had finally managed to hook up with one of the IWAI Carrick events & this one was a cracker. Once a year they organise a Carrick Cares Day where they invite lots of adults & their carers to Lough Key for the day & put on a day of activities. IWAI members volunteer their time & lots of businesses donate prizes & food for the BBQ as well as Lough Key providing the venue & Lough Ree Access for all providing a boat that’s adapted for trips.

It was a lovely day & everyone enjoyed themselves. Whilst we were at Lough Key mum was out on Falcon doing some geocaching exploring new areas. She found the hidden derelict Kingston Hall. This house was built by the King family of Boyle in the early 1770’s. The Kings completed the magnificent John Nash designed Rockingham House, close to Kingston Hall in 1817. After the family moved to Rockingham Kingston Hall became the residence of the Land Steward for the estate. Rockingham is gone and Kingston Hall is in complete ruin. It is ironic that the Kings first residence in Boyle, King House, is now the only building still standing, thanks to commendable foresight by Roscommon Co, Council.

She also made it to Cloontykilla Castle whish she’d been hoping to find. This was featured on Grand Designs & all the fascinating info about it can be found here including the episode of Grand Designs: CloontyKilla Castle

We were also pleased to finally meet Josh & Sophie on Narrowboat Qisma. We’ve been friends for many months through instagram but as they’re in Northern Ireland we didn’t think we’d get to meet until next year. Josh & Sophie bought Qisma off our friends Jan & Alistair who we’ve mentioned in our blog before who now own First Lady. Luckily Sophie & Josh were on a 2 week holiday & their days in Lough Key coincided with us. You can read all about them here: NB Qisma & follow them on instagram @cruisingqisma We had a lovely couple of days together & a fabulous last night in mums favourite Carrick bar Mchughs.

We then headed south as they headed north. We had a few days in Drumsna then we headed for Carnadoe waters which was a section of loughs off to the west that we bypassed on our way upriver so we had something new to cruise on the way back down. We set off on a glorious sunny afternoon so glorious in fact mum was in her Tshirt & didn’t even bother having a coat to hand. BIG Mistake!! Carnadoe waters entry point is at the bottom of Lough Boderg & we had a lovely cruise down there. We passed Carnadoe as as we expected the wall looked too high for us & crossed Black Lough. True to its name as we were cruising a huge black cloud developed. Bad weather hadn’t been forecast or so we thought – ANOTHER mistake!! Mum hoped it was going the other way no such luck. There were a lot of tight turns & as we took a sharp turn onto Grange Lough all the reeds literally bowed down flat either side of us as the wind swept past & 30 seconds later the heavens opened & thunder rolled loud above us.

Mum could barely see past the front of her boat & given she was soaked to the skin in 2 seconds flat decided there was no point even attempting to get a coat. She had no choice but to just cruise on as there was nowhere to stop hence a lack of photos of this cruise! Please note Daquiri & I were lovely & warm & dry on the settee inside !!! Mum finally reached her destination of Grange & we got a lovely grassy bank mooring for a change. So on re-examining our weather app which we’d set for Kilglass as this was the nearest place it had picked up we discovered that there are 2 Kilglass’s in Ireland & we had it set on a completely different county hence why we had the wrong forecast.

Sadly once we moored up we heard the very sad news that HM Queen Elizabeth had died so it ended up being a kind of subdued week consumed by sad news from home.

Grange is a pretty remote mooring but does have a pub! Mum visited The Silver Eel one night for a meal & a cocktail & she managed to cycle to nearby Strokestown one day.

After a few days we set off to the other mooring on these waters Kilglass (& not the same as the one we had in the weather app). Kilglass was very pretty & accessed by the narrow Carrigeen Cut.

Kilglass was again mooring fingers with a current like Carrick but luckily there was just one boat there with someone on & he ran & caught our ropes. The wind picked up while we were there so we were stuck for a few days. A few hire boats came in & out & struggled to moor in the wind with one full of French hirers hitting us firstly side on & then straight up the stern!! Luckily no damage done but mum went out & got them to slow down on their approach as both times they just came in too fast & lost control. This reinforced our decision to stay put.

Although Kilglass was a lovely remote spot it was at the bottom of a big hill which even with Falcon was difficult to get up & being at the bottom of a hill also meant we had barely any signal there. So far its just been here & Leitrim that we’ve struggled for signal.

We need a new map book as ours is a bit weathered after the summers cruising!

We departed Kilglass on a lovely calm day & enjoyed our cruise out without being chased by a black cloud. After a very tricky reverse mooring we moored up at Dromod in the little harbour again. Unfortunately despite me jumping off the boat fine twice I then decided I didn’t like doing it as my back legs are not so strong now. So I point blank refused to get off mum tried everything trying to lift me disassembling the settee to use the foot stool as a step but I wasn’t having any of it. Eventually she put the 2 short planks down but they were very steep. She lifted me onto them then pushed my bottom right up along the planks till I fell off the top!! We had to do it again the next morning but then mum said we’d have to leave as I couldnt get off so we set off down to Rooskey.

Rooskey isn’t far & we hadn’t long left the harbour when alarms starting sounding & lights flashing showing we were overheating. Mum turned the engine off (after having a heart attack) & we drifted for a bit praying another boat would come so we didn’t have to ring the RNLI. Nobody did so mum tried starting it again & there were no alarms so she went very very slowly & pulled in at Rooskey. Once the engine had cooled we looked & somehow we had lost all the water so we topped it up & the next day it was still there. We topped up with diesel at Rooskey & the chaps there very kindly went & got us some coolant as we’d lost all ours & the garage didn’t have any. Mum was watching the engine closely & every time we ran it it would lose its water gradually. A few days later a leak was found out through a bolt which is now in the process of being fixed.

We were intending on hanging out at Rooskey, Tarmonbarry & Lanesborough before heading up onto The Royal canal for winter in October. Unfortunately we got a call from Waterways Ireland to say they were closing the summit level from October & the water levels were already too low for us to get very far along. Our only option was to get up off the river onto the canal & into Richmond Harbour. Mum rang Paddy at the harbour & he advised we get there as soon as possible if we wanted a spot as he was expecting it to start filling. So that afternoon we set off (with a big container of water to keep topping the engine up) & redid the Camlin River & moored up late below Richmond Harbour. In the morning we moved up & have a nice spot across the disused dry dock. Its very nice walkies for us here, Esay for me to get on & off & has an excellent pub. Its a bit of a way from shops but mum can cycle to the garage for some supplies & further into Longford if needed. We’ve also managed to book a Supervalu delivery to here with our all important dog food!

So sadly our winter cruising plans have been stopped before they’ve started. We are still hoping at some point that we will be able to progress along The Royal Canal this winter though its highly unlikely to be before Xmas. Mum has decided she wasn’t doing calendar club this year luckily as we’d have not got there now but she does have some exciting land adventures planned for us. We are also having a little bit of a lifestyle change over winter & mum has got a different winter job sorted. All I’ll say is watch this space & I swear to God she’s as mad as a box of frogs!!

The End of our Summer Route (Cootehall to Haughtons Shore) by Daquiri

Returning from our holiday we were delighted to see all ok with nb Golden Boyz. We were soon aboard & underway travelling with Auntie Angela while Uncle Jim was doing a van shuffle & meeting us at Leitrim. It was a beautiful sunny day & we picked Uncle Jim up before tackling what is a big flight of locks for Ireland. The locks are all electric. We got through the first one fine as a lock keeper was there but we got stuck in the second one as we didn’t realise we had to put a smartcard in underneath until the lock keeper arrived. Anyway we had them sussed after that.

It ended up being a longer & hotter day than we had anticipated. But after what felt like forever we were above the 8 locks & cruising onto the Shannon Erne waterway passing through a stunning rock cutting & across Lough Scur.

Soon we were at the point where the markers changed from being green & red to red & white.

Finally early evening we pulled up at Keshcarrigan our next stop. Uncle Jim & auntie Angela headed off in the van & we all had an early night. Keshcarrigan is a small village next to Lough Scur which lies at the foot of the Sheebeg and Sheemore hills. Mum spent a lot of the week catching up on work but she did manage a visit to the very quirky Gerties Pub!

Our next little hop was the 2 locks to Ballinamore ably assisted by Lockie Gerry. We got a great spot right by some grass with electric hook up. It was a stunning cruise across Muckros Lough & St Johns Lough & bypassing KiltyBardan Lough.

Baltimore was a lovely town with supermarkets for mum. It also had a great canal walk for us past the next 2 locks. Mum disappeared out on her bike one day & visited the amazing Glenview Folk Museum. It really is the most amazing collection of items including a collection of over 4000 egg cups!

Then she cycled off to place that had been intriguing her for a while Drumcoura City. It has a western riding stables & ranch themed bar & holds a fabulous Cowboys & Heroes festival in June each year. Mum had her lunch there then wobbled back after a very strong adult milkshake containing baileys & vodka! Luckily she made it back without mishap.

After our 5 days we went to set off & Golden Boyz ignition light didn’t go off after starting her up which means either the alternator or the belt had an issue. We’d already seen Tony & he was waiting at the lock for us so mum ran round to tell him we wouldn’t be coming & Tony became our superhero. He came round to look at the issue & a worn bolt was discovered so later in the day he came back with a new one & replaced it & Golden Boyz was fixed.

We set off again with Tony doing the locks for us en route for Haughtons Shore. Unfortunately it wasn’t our day or Tony’s as the hydraulics failed on the 2nd lock. After a couple of hours all was fixed & we were on our way again. As it was late we decided not to proceed across the next lough & we moored up below Aghoo lock just for the night.

The next morning we set off to a stunning day & were treated to a stunning early morning crossing of Lough Garadice. It was like gliding through a mirror.

Shortly after 8am we were all moored up safely at Haughtons Shore our end destination for summer 2022. From here we’re turning around & tracing our journey back south again to The Royal Canal for winter but we have saved the Carnadoe waters exploration for our journey south as we missed those on the way up.

Knock Knock Who’s There? Cosmo!! by Cosmo (Holiday to Mayo)

We survived our van journey although it was better than normal as we had mum sitting in the back with us & Uncle Jim was driving. WE pulled up at our lovely holiday cottage Lavender Cottage near Knock in county Mayo. On arrival we were greeted by the wonderful cottage owner Linda & her 2 furpals & she surprised us by having a birthday afternoon tea set up for mum. And you’ll never guess what not only did it have cakes & sandwiches & sweeties & a birthday cake but it also had DOG BISCUITS!!!!

We like this cottage already. It was a very cute remote cottage with a garden. Unfortunately we had to be kept on our leads because there had been a bonfire in the garden & we kept going & eating it & coming back with black paws & faces!

The first day Auntie Angela chilled at the cottage with us while mum & Uncle Jim went to check out the big church thing at Knock. Well mum was a bit blown away as it was a huge site with lots of people there. It has five churches including the huge Basilica & the apparition chapel, a museum, cafe & book shop, huge beautiful gardens, a row of holy water fountains & even a hotel. Since the first organised pilgrimage came to Knock in 1880, they have welcomed pilgrims from all over the world to this sacred place. The pilgrimage season takes place from the last Sunday in April until the second Sunday in October each year. Pilgrimage Masses take place at Knock Basilica each weekend throughout the pilgrimage season. Since the Apparition on the 21st of August 1879, pilgrims and visitors have been welcomed to Knock Shrine from all four corners of the world. There are five churches in the Shrine grounds, each with its own unique and exquisite features. From the Parish Church, built in 1828, to the Basilica constructed to give shelter to the millions that visit here each year.

On a wet dark August evening in 1879,  the villagers of this place had spent the day doing the usual work of the harvest time of the year – gathering winter fuel and fodder. As evening approached, the heavy mist that had been persistent throughout the day,  turned to a steady downpour.  The villagers gathered around the turf fires in their homes, taking comfort and shelter on a terrible night. Suddenly word spread throughout the village that something extraordinary was happening at the Church and so they hurried to the windswept gable where they witnessed a heavenly vision surrounded in a brilliant white light. Men, women and children gathered in prayer at the gable wall of  the parish church.

The witnesses clearly saw the Blessed Virgin Mary dressed in white robes, her hands and eyes turned towards heaven in prayer. On her head was a gold crown and where the crown fitted the brow, a single golden rose. On her right, bowed respectfully towards her, was St. Joseph. He appeared older, his beard and hair were grey and, like Our Lady,  he was barefoot. To Our Lady’s left stood John the Evangelist vested as a bishop, wearing a small mitre. He held an open book in his left hand and in its pages the lines and letters could clearly be seen. He appeared to be preaching but no voice was heard. He stood so that his back was neither turned to the Virgin or to the Lamb that stood upon a simple plain altar. Behind the Lamb was a Cross. The witnesses watched and prayed for over 2 hours and though they were wet, they noticed that no rain fell on upon the Apparition or on the gable.

Apparently mum & Uncle Jim nearly ended up in a mass by mistake but luckily they found an exit door at the back!

The next day Ireland’s summer arrived & it was a wonderful day so we chilled & had a BBQ. Sally & Colin came to visit & brought a beautiful salad grown on their smallholding. A few drinks were drunk of course!

The next day we all set off to the village of Cong which is famous for The Quiet Man film that mum had never heard of! Starring John Wayne & Maureen O’Hara’ A retired American boxer returns to the village of his birth in 1920s Ireland, where he falls for a spirited redhead whose brother is contemptuous of their union. There’s a museum & statue in the village & we found very nice walkies by the river. Here’s the trailer for the film The Quiet Man

The next day we headed west & firstly visited the pretty village of Newport where mum found water & boats & we had a drink at the pub.

Next we dropped down to the very colourful town of Westport via Kilmeena Causeway where mum managed to snap one of those perfect Irish photos. No not the one of Uncle Jim driving the other one!

Mum & Auntie Angela went off exploring while Uncle Jim stayed with us in the van. We were all having a nice peaceful snooze when we were awoken by a loud clip clopping going past the van. We barked our heads off at It & Uncle Jim woke up with a shock to see 2 mad women on the back of a horse & carriage waving frantically at us all.

Thursday became the last day of our holiday as we decided to leave a day early as the weather was good for moving the boat Friday whereas it was forecast to be windy Saturday. On or last day we visited the small sculpture Park at Kiltimagh & then had walkies round Clare Lake. We were then abandoned as they went out for tea & mum introduced Auntie Angela to Baby Guinness!

So on Friday it was back in the van after a lovely break as we all headed back to Golden Boyz at Cootehall Marina ready for our next cruising adventure.

Visitors & Forest Walkies by Daquiri (Drumshanbo to Lough Key)

Just before we left Drumshanbo the rain finally stopped & mum popped into the village for the An Tostal Festival. Inaugurated in 1953 as a celebration of Irish life, it continued on until 1958 when it died out in most centres except Drumshanbo.

The next day we were off back to Carrick to await arrival of our visitors Hilary & Steve from the UK. Luckily the journey downhill in Drumleague lock was less eventful. It was a tad windy & mum had fun mooring up on the very short pontoons there as the wind kept blowing her round quicker than she could shuffle along the gunwhale with the rope. We just sat inside sniggering. Anyway with a lot of muttering she got herself sorted & off we trotted to the lovely riverside park for walkies.

Soon Hilary & Steve arrived & it was a merry little reunion. They hadn’t brought their black lab Vera who has been n our boat before because they had flown over. We did lots of barking & giddiness to welcome them before we were abandoned as when they went to the pub!

The next day they drove to Lough Key & had a look round the distillery at Drumshanbo which they were very impressed with. Needless to say the evening was spent in the pub. All too soon we were wishing them farewell as they left a rainy Ireland behind & the sun came out.

The next day was the completion of what was intended to be the last bit of our summer cruise to Lough Key. We’re a bit ahead of schedule! It was a drizzly day but nice & dry inside on the settee. Mum turned left off the River Shannon this time & onto the Boyle River. We crossed Lough Eldin & Oakport Lough before arriving at Clarendon lock.

Then it was onwards towards the fabulous Lough Key moorings. As it was still early there was lots of room for Golden Boyz & John & Ruth who remembered our boat from Naas came & helped us moor up. We got a perfect spot with a view of McDermotts Castle. McDermott’s Castle is a castle and protected national monument located in County Roscommon, Ireland. The site of a fortification since at least the 13th century, the structure’s tower house may date from the 16th century, with much of the current building dating to the 19th century. it’s quite literally plonked on a little green island smack bang in the middle of a lake.

Local legend tells the story of a girl called Una, the daughter of the McDermott chief, who fell in love with a boy from a lower class. Una’s father refused to let her leave the island, in the hopes that this would deter the budding relationship. Unbeknownst to her father, Una’s boyfriend began swimming across Lough Key to reach the castle. It was during one of these crossings that tragedy struck, and the boy drowned. It’s said that Una died from grief and that both she and her partner have remained buried beneath two intertwined trees on the island ever since.

Stretching around 10km across and forming a rough circular shape, Lough Key contains over 30 islands scattered throughout its chilly waters. One of these islands is aptly named ‘Castle Island’ and it’s here that you’ll find the ruins of McDermott’s Castle. Here is the amazing Lough Key Forest Park. Lough Key Forest & Activity Park is Coillte’s flagship visitor destination for fun activities with spectacular views, exuberant wildlife, historic buildings and multiple islands. After major re-development with the historic Rockingham estate as the backdrop, a landmark cluster of unique attractions has been opened to serve the needs of todays visitor with a new lakeside Centre providing an ideal base for gentle leisurely activities or more energetic pursuits in the Park. There’s so much to do from lots & lots of walkies, outdoor gym, bike hire & trails, Zip It Adventure high ropes course, caravan & camping area, shop & cafe, watersports activities & boat trips. We absolutely loved it there.

One day mum went off on the Rockingham Remembered tour which too place where the Rockingham House once stood. she went through underground servants tunnels, up the viewing tower & along the tree canopy walk.

Another afternoon she went out on the trip boat (I know shes obsessed with boats!!) with Lough Key Boats.

On the last day there we got a HUGE surprise as Uncle Jim & Auntie Angela turned up. We were so not expecting to see them that we walked right past them but once we realised it was really them we went mad! They were just visiting for the afternoon before we were all going off on holiday the next week. They disappeared off & hired bikes whilst mum went out on Falcon. We heard many tales or merriment about them trying & giving up on a tandem bike. Auntie Angela kept screaming & didnt lift her feet off the floor though she soon got the hang of the single seated bike.

That evening they left us to it but we knew there was something afoot as mum was packing bags including our dishes & toys! Sure enough we were up early the next morning as mum wanted to be first in the queue for the lock opening. We retraced our steps on the way into Lough Key but moored up at Cootehall Marina where mum had arranged to leave the boat whilst we went on holiday.

Then what we had dreaded happened we were bundled into something with wheels that moves faster than a boat! But we’ll tell you all about that next time.

End of the Navigation by Cosmo (Lough Allen)

So the weather forecast wasn’t looking particularly good bur we’d seen a notice online that one of the locks on the Lough Allen canal was closing for a couple of days for diving operations so we had to take the plunge & move. So mum got all kitted up in waterproofs & we settled in nice & dry & warm of the settee! Literally as soon as mum set off the heavens opened she’d only just turned the boat. Anyway brave (mad?) person that she is onwards we cruised. For a short distance back the way we came then a right up onto the Lough Allen canal. Soon we were at the first lock Battlebridge which has a fabulous glamping site opposite it.

We failed at radioing the lock keeper but managed to get them on the phone & they were out within ten minutes. It was funny & calm being back cruising on a canal well calm until the next lock that is!

Oh my goodness Drumleague lock! I think this is the closest we’ve ever been to sinking the boat. We were in position but because we’re so long & the paddles were operated electrically the water came in the front with such force it sucked the boat forwards & was soon crashing down on the bow. Golden Boyz’s engine was not powerful enough to reverse against it & we couldn’t hold it on the rope so the bow flung sideways, the whole boat tilted precariously as it hit the other side of the lock with a massive crash & we heard mum yelling to have the paddles dropped. Luckily it was over as fast as it began. We were shaking inside & most of the contents of most of our cupboards were now all over the boat. Mum, however, was calm & collected though I’m not sure we’re keen to come back up this lock again although it does have manual paddles so maybe we’ll insist on those next time. Hopefully going back down won’t be so scarey.

We were glad to be out of there & on our way again. We soon reached Acres Lake but we went straight across that as we intend stopping on the way back. We actually had a few rare moments of sun as we approached it.

We were then at our final lock Drumshanbo before our mooring on the approach to Lough Allen. We were very relieved to see it wasn’t very deep & all went smoothly. There was a nice mooring jetty below the lock beside a nice grassy area & path for us for walkies plus we had decent internet signal so mum was happy.

So having left Leitrim at the bottom of the map above we are now in the top corner at Drumshanbo. Drumshanbo is situated at the foot of Sliabh an Iarainn mountain and is the heart of traditional music in the area. Its position at the southern end of Lough Allen makes it a prized angling resort. The surrounding area is mountainous and hilly and there are excellent marked trails for walking enthusiasts, some of which are suitable for cyclists, An interesting point of interest in Drumshanbo is its unique High Street fronted by a stone wall and steps that lead down to Ireland’s shortest Main Street. St John’s Church of Ireland – A gothic structure that dates back to 1829. Drumshanbo is also the only remaining town in Ireland to still celebrate An Tostal, a festival inaugurated all over Ireland in 1953, as a celebration for Irish life.

We spent a couple of days at Drumshanbo so mum could catch up on work & get some shopping in & we had a few walkies up along the Lough. Then a 3 day calm weather window appeared so mum decided we’d cruise up Lough Allen in case we didn’t get another chance. So we set off first up the west coast to Spencer Harbour. We had excellent conditions calm & no rain. It was a fabulous tranquil mooring with its own picnic spot. We were even allowed off our leads here as noone was around & we went for a couple of dips in the lough. The view was amazing across Lough Allen. We loved Spencer Harbour.

The next day we cruised across to the eastern bank of Lough Allen but first we went on a mission to find the End of Navigation which is the most northern official navigable point of the River Shannon.

Mission completed it was down the eastern shore to Cleighran More. Another remote mooring. This one was nearer the road & was a bit bumpy overnight despite the breakwater so we preferred Spencer Harbour. We were amazed though to get the final part of the sunset as late as 11pm at night.

The weather was now forecast to turn windy again so mum had us up at stupid o’clock for walkies & we were off down the lough at sunrise. It was still a bit choppy then so its a good job we didn’t leave it any later. We then moored at Drumshanbo again & waited a couple of hours for the lock to open at 9.30am. Just as it did it started to pour with rain again so mum got absolutely soaked on our short cruise up to Acres Lake.

Drumshanbo marks the start of the Shannon Blueway and Acres Lake is home to Ireland’s first floating boardwalk. The 600m boardwalk extends over the lake and is part of a 6.5 km linear walking and cycling trail from Acres Lake in Drumshanbo to Battlebridge Lock, near Leitrim Village.

It rained most of the time we were here & mum went through 3 sets of clothes getting soaked to the skin so our boat looks like a laundry with everything drying. We do have the bonus of electricity here though so that’s cheered mum up. Not long after we’d arrived we got a knock on the boat & a lovely lady called Anjela popped to say hello as she follows our blog. So a big shout out to Anjela & hope you had safe onward cruising.

We’ll be headed back to Carrick soon as we have friends arriving from the UK in the next few days so no doubt there’ll be a few drinks drunk & pubs visited!!

Onwards up the Shannon in Leaps & Bounds by Daquiri (Lanesborough to Leitrim)

Oh my goodness we’ve been doing so much adventuring we’ve not been able to keep up with our blog. It’s been all go but here we go with our latest cruise adventures.

We very sadly parted company with Nuala as she was heading south & we were off north. To beat the weather we set off very early on an overcast day a short hop up the River Shannon to Tarmonbarry. It’s here that the Clondra Canal meets the River Shannon. So we just moored here for one night ready to set off up the Clondra Canal & then onto the Camlin River the next day. We moored for the night in the short entrance to the private marina.

The next morning we traversed the River Shannon & entered the Clondra Canal & up the one lock. At the end of this you can turn right to Richmond Harbour & the start of The Royal Canal which is hopefully our plan for winter. Today we turned left onto the very pretty Camlin River which winds round & then joins the River Shannon further north above Tarmonbarry.

Once we’d rejoined the River Shannon it was actually quite busy & we passed several boats. We continued north up across Lough Forbes & up Roosky lock to moor up on one of the fabulous jetties along the bank.

We stayed here a couple of days & mum was able to get a few top up supplies from the shop. Then we made the short hop up To Dromod. On the way mum stopped for diesel I think she nearly fainted as she only needed half a tank & it was 243euros!!! Apparently we’re trying to only run our engine days we move now as its longer days for the solar & the fire isn’t going on till at least November at these prices!

Dromod was one of harbours mum had recce’d on her holiday & she knew there was a smaller side harbour which had a lower bank for getting us off. She was also uncertain if she’d be able to turn in there so she did a reverse manoeuvre with an audience of hire boats who had all looked out when she turned up probably wondering how she was going to fit in the main harbour. Anyway we got moored perfectly & we could get off fine here.

The wind picked up a bit across the weekend so we stayed a few days at Dromod. The pretty town of Dromod is situated on shore where Lough Boderg (Lake of the Red Cow) and Lough Bofin (Lake of the White Cow) intertwine. Mum had a nice evening our at Coxs steakhouse & visited the wonderful Cavan & Leitrim Railway. It is  is a unique family attraction being the only location in Ireland where visitors can board an airplane cockpit and view heritage steam and diesel locomotives. There is a massive eclectic collection of vehicles and mum even got a little train ride. Heres a few photos to give you a flavour.

We were also treated to a spectacular sunset whilst at Dromod.

After the weekend the wind calmed & the forecast for the next week was very calm. So we decided to continue northwards & skip Kilglass & Grange as we’ll save those for our way back as we’d like to spend a few days there & we didn’t want to miss this current good cruising window. From Roosky northwards we’ll be able to visit again on our way back down at the end of the summer. So it was full steam ahead across 3 loughs: Bofin, Boderg & Tap to Drumsna.

We were very relieved to see there was space by the steps as again the wall would be too high for us to get off. We actually got a rare bit of sunshine while we were moored there too.

Next day we headed back down the river & turned onto The Jamestown Canal. We were hoping to moor at the end of this but alas the wall was too high so we continued onto Carrick praying that there was room as it was late afternoon. We normally try & arrive in the mornings to ensure we can get our long boat in at places. Anyway we needn’t have worried as there was loads of space. We did have to moor on short finger moorings here that we only get just under half of our length on. Luckily as it was a calm forecast we were fine.

Carrick-on-Shannon is the county town of County Leitrim in Ireland. It is the largest town in the county of Leitrim. A smaller part of the town lies in County Roscommon. It is situated on a strategic crossing point of the River Shannon & is a mecca for Hire boats.

Carrick-on-Shannon is the county town of County Leitrim in Ireland. It is the largest town in the county of Leitrim. A smaller part of the town lies in County Roscommon. It is situated on a strategic crossing point of the River Shannon. Carrick on Shannon is known as ‘the marina capital of Ireland‘ and the Marina is an attractive focal point of the town with many hire boat companies & a daily trip boat running. It has a beautiful riverside park & boardwalk over the river that we enjoyed for walkies.

It also has the Costello Chapel which is the smallest chapel in Europe & the second smallest in the world. The Chapel is sixteen feet long by twelve foot wide and thus covers an area of 192 feet. The Costello Memorial Chapel was erected by Edward Costello to mark his devotion to his wife, who died in 1877 at the age of 46. On the death of his wife, Mary Josephine, he had work on the memorial Chapel started. It was to be both a monument to his love and a last resting place for his wife and himself. The little building was dedicated on April 22, 1879 and after the consecration ceremony, the body of Mrs Costello was placed in a sunken space to the left of the entrance, and covered over with a thick slab of specially made glass. The body, which was interred in a metal coffin, had been embalmed when Mrs Costello died, and had been cared for in the interim by the marist nuns. Mr Costello himself died in March 1891, and his remains also in a metal coffin were placed in a sunken space to the right of the entrance. A thick glass lid was placed over this vault too, and today the inscriptions on both coffins can be read with the aid of a torch.

On a slightly less sombre note Carrick has many pubs & restaurants which no prizes for guessing mum was off visiting!

Now we didnt want to spend too long at Carrick as we’ll be back here in a couple of weeks to meet friends & you’re only allowed to moor at the harbours for 5 days. So after the important task of an online shopping delivery of 4 large bags of dog food we set off northwards to Leitrim. We’ve now ended up very ahead of schedule as Leitrim & Lough Allen were our end goal this summer. Ah well we can always go to our favourite places again or move our goals.

Leitrim is a small village at the start of the Shannon-Erne waterway which is our 2023 goal. It is just on a canal section & we found a perfect mooring with grass right next to us.

Unfortunately it did nothing but rain all the time we were there & its one of the first places we had a very poor internet signal. Of course this meant mum had to go to the pub to use their wifi! Mum had hoped to cycle further up the canal to have a look at the locks but given the weather that plan was shelved.

We’re now quite a way up the waterways as can be seen from the map below. This blog has taken us from Roosky to Leitrim. Lough Allen is next & then we also have Lough Key to explore which we’re really looking forwards to.

We decided to move onwards from Leitrim & have a quick look up at Lough Allen as there’s a festival on at Drumshanbo then we’ll possibly come back & do more time on Lough Allen in August. We’ll fill you in on our Lough Allen adventures in the next blog.

We’ve Conquered Lough Ree by Cosmo (Barley Harbour, Portrunny, Lecarrow & Lanesborough)

So we got another beautiful still day so we said goodbye to our River Inny mooring & set off northwards in our Funky Boyz Convoy again. Wanting to stop at every stop we had a slight detour for a stop at Rindoon jetty near Rindoon Castle. This jetty isn’t connected to land so was not for us a good mooring with no cockaleggies so it was just a quick photo stop. Unfortunately the castle is a bit hidden by the trees but we still accomplished our mission. Rindoon, “Camelot on the Shannon” was built in 1227 by King Henry III of England and was populated by up to 1000 people in it’s heyday. On St. John’s Point peninsula lies the abandoned medieval town of Rindoon. With its town wall, castle, medieval hospital, church and mill there is nothing that compares to it anywhere in Ireland or the UK. Built in the first half of the 13th century and abandoned a few hundred years later, the site has remained largely untouched.

Then it was full steam ahead to our next destination Barley Harbour. The paper maps we use are the ones given out to hire boats & as this is not the easiest harbour to moor at due to rocks its not marked for hire boats, But under Nualas expert navigation we were soon moored up safely in this beautiful location which we had all to ourselves. Like most of the stone harbours it has high walls for us but there were plenty of sets of steps down so it was just a matter of aligning our bow against one of these so we could get off. Although the harbour was constructed in the 1950’s, its fine stonework and serene atmosphere suggest a far greater antiquity.  The adjacent picnic area is a perfect spot to relax and take in the glorious views of the lake. Here’s a few photos to give you a flavour of our idyllic little mooring.

We had another wonderful evening there with our favourite BBQ for tea. We all sat out & watched the sun set & mum & Nuala drank wine of course!! Truly boat life at its best.

If anyone would like to see a bit more info about Barley Harbour check out this video blog by Driftwood

The next day dawned & we were headed northwards again this time up to Portrunny. We’d seen we had a couple of days of good weather then it was turning a bit windy so we decided to overnight in Portrunny first then visit Lecarrow as we wanted to be tucked up in the more sheltered Lecarrow when it was windy. Well thats what mum told us but we think its because Lecarrow had a pub!!

Portrunny was one of the spots mum visited on her recce week when she was staying in the cottage in Galway. Heidi The Narrowboat Pirate did a fantastic video of the whole week which you must watch especially to see our behaviour at the end tee hee! In the video you see mum stood apprehensively looking our across Lough Ree from the wall at Portrunny knowing she’d be bringing her boat here. So yay now we’ve done it. Super duper Narrowboat Pirate Video

The next day we had a very early window to move down the lough to Lecarrow so mum made us get up in the middle of the night at 5am!!!! But we were scuppered as although it was calm it was foggy so we couldn’t set off. We did get some great photos though.

Luckily when the sun came up it burnt the fog off quickly & before long we were on our way on a stunning morning. Lecarrow Harbour is linked to Lough Ree at Blackbrink Bay by a short 1km section of canal. We actually still made it onto the canal by 7am which had been our aim before the wind picked up. It was strange being back on calm canal cruising after being out on the lake.

There was only really one spot suitable to get us off so we had to do a bit of inventive mooring in the harbour but before long we were moored & after a short walkies we were trying to get 40 winks at the harbour.

It’s a great harbour very sheltered with electric, water, bins, service block & a small shop & pub nearby plus grassed areas for us. We spent a few days there until we got another calm morning window when we were up & off early to reach our end destination of Ballyleague/Lanesborough at the very top of Lough Ree.

There are a lot of mooring options at Lanesborough from jetties to the wall along the River Shannon to the old harbour. We were aiming for the jetties as we wanted electric. Initially we had to go on a shorter jetty but was boast moved we were able to get on the end hammerhead longer jetty.

Now in hindsight that didn’t turn out to be such a good mooring as see that gap to the right of the breakwater in the above photo that became our enemy. The weather worsened over the time we were there as a tropical storm came though Ireland. We spent nearly 3 days with waves sneaking through that breakwater & slamming against our boat non stop. Neither of us liked it & don’t think mum was keen either. Daquiri spent the nights up on mums bed panting keeping us all awake. I braved riding it out on the settee. Anyway all part of the boat life its not all sunsets & BBQs!

So we have now reached the top of Lough Ree at Lanesborough & are back on the River Shannon as you can see on the map below. We set off from Shannon Harbour initally just over a month ago.

We have had the bestest time mainly due to the wonderful Nuala Redmond on Funky Duck who has been our tour guide extraordinaire as well as our BBQ buddy & mums drinking partner. Having someone so knowledgeable to follow & to know where to moor has taken all the stress away from mum who is normally in a panic looking for the next red or green marker! We are so grateful for an amazing few weeks in the Funky Boyz Convoy its been so much fun. So yay we’ve conquered Lough Ree!!!!!! Thank you Nuala xxxxxx

The Funky Boyz Convoy by Cosmo (Glasson to Coosan Point to River Inny)

After a lovely few days at Glasson we had a very small very early calm window so we set off just after sunrise for Coosan Point.

Coosan Point was only a short cruise but it had water that we needed. So we were soon moored up safely as the forecast was for a few very windy days.

Coosan Point was a fabulous spot for us with little trails through the woods, beautiful views along the shore of Lough Ree, lots of informative signs about the geography & wildlife of the area, both BBQ & picnic areas, playground for the kids, a pub & the newly opened Lough Ree Lifeboat station. Ireland does do these areas so well.

It was quite a busy spot with swimmers & lots of coats cruising past of all shapes & sizes. As well as the ones pictured we saw the Viking Boat & the Hot Tub Boat again plus the magnificent Shannon Princess.

While we were at Coosan Point our new friend Nuala aboard Funky Duck arrived who is going to cruise with us across Lough Ree. Her boat is amazing with great big windows so particularly good for socialising on summer evenings & the best bit is we’re allowed onboard so we had great nights with mum & Nuala.

We had to wait quite a few days before there was a gap in the wind conditions but one evening mum was taken on a trip out across the bay to the wonderful chalets restaurant at Killinure. It had its own small private harbour which was quite tricky to get into. Nuala managed it superbly but we’d never have got Golden Boyz in there.

Eventually the wind calmed in our favour & the day dawned of our big cruise up Lough Ree – well partway up it. So ropes were cast off, life jackets donned & vhf radios tuned in & we were off. It was an absolutely stunning day for a cruise in our Funky Duck Convoy.

We made our way up the lough & headed east across the bay towards the River Inny.

After about an hour & 40mins we turned left onto the winding River Inny which again was spectacular cruising.

Just for reference we are about where the number 13 is on the map below.

In the past you’ve needed to do bankside mooring along the Inny but Waterways Ireland have installed a very swish new jetty at Red Bridge which is the end of the navigation. We moored on the end with a fabulous view out up the river.

Now we had the best time there as we had not one but two BBQs! Mags came to visit one night & brought Baileys cheesecake but we weren’t given any of that!!! It was a beautiful setting with a fabulous sunset view. Now we were also very excited each night as it got dark as the jetty has these amazing motion activated solar nights. They only come on when people are on the jetty. How ingenious. We tested them each night when we went for late night cockaleggies!

One day mum disappeared off on a Falcon adventure as she discovered we were near to both The royal Canal & the Irish Center Parcs. We won’t say too much about those places here as we should be on The Royal Canal this winter so hopefully we’ll be able to visit them all again but here’s a few photos of her day.

After a couple of days work the forecast is now looking good again so the Funky Boyz convoy will be bidding farewell to the Inny & heading northwards soon.

A Massive Leap for Dogkind by Daquiri (Ballinasloe to Glasson)

After a very pleasant few days we departed Ballinasloe solo. It had been a bit of a wet day in the morning but the rain eased as we travelled in the afternoon. We were a bit concerned Shannonbridge would be full but there was only one other boat there.

It turned into a lovely evening & the next day was a stunning calm day with barely a ripple on the river as we headed north.

Our mission was to moor at Clonmacnoise that we’d visited 2 years ago by bike. It was again another lovely spot & nice for walkies.

We had originally intended spending a night here & mum wanted to have a play with Dermot the drone but we’d had word that some of the moorings were closing at Athlone so we wanted to get up & secure a spot as we knew it was forecast to be windy the next week. As we got to Athlone the lockies were absolutely amazing & sorted us a spot on the wall & even helped mum tie the boat up.

Now although we got a spot mum was very worried the wall would be too high for us to get off. She knew I’d make it but Cosmo the wuss was a completely different matter. Well he took us all by surprise & performed a giant jump for dogkind & was on & off easily all week. In fact mum had more trouble getting off than us especially when it was raining as she either had to go out on her knees or her bottom. It was a sight to behold!!!

We had a nice week in Athlone. Mum was ecstatic to find an M&S with a foodhall & she got to see the new Downton film. Our viking friends on the Viking Boat often passed us & we even got to see The Hot Tub Boat.

One day when mum wasn’t working (or shopping!) we went on a nice walkies down to the old Athlone Canal which we’d passed the entrance of as we were cruising to Athlone.

Boats passing through Athlone nowadays use the lock beside the weir and downstream of the current road bridge. Lock, weir and bridge were constructed by the Shannon navigation commissioners in the 1840s. Before then, boats used a canal, about a mile and a half long, to the west of the river. Although the old canal is no longer navigable, small boats are kept at its upper end and the entire line is easy to follow.

After a week at Athlone the wind calmed & mum deemed it a day safe enough to venture out onto Lough Ree. As you may remember from our previous exploits on Lough Derg narrowboats aren’t as stable as cruisers due to their flat bottoms so mum can only cruise in very calm conditions. So we bade farewell to Athlone & said hello to the vast waters of Lough Ree.

We were headed only just onto the bottom corner of Lough Ree & to the east opposite Hodson Bay where we went on our Viking Boat trip. Mum was anxiously following the markers with her Navionics app on her phone. We decided to pass Coosan Point as there were loads of swimmers all on the jetty where mum needed to pull in plus it was a beautiful day so mum thought she’d be brave & explore the bottom corner of Lough Ree & Killinure Lough.

We passed several private marinas & soon had our destination in sight The Glasson Lakehouse Hotel & Golf Club. It certainly looked impressive from the distance & boy was it even more impressive close up. When we arrived there were no boats in the little harbour so we were able to reverse into a nice spot on the jetty for us. No more giant leaps for dogkind! It really is the most stunning setting with a fabulous view of the hotel in front of us & an amazing view of the Lough we’d just cruised behind us. We were very happy moored here.

Mum was feeling very accomplished having managed her first little cruise out onto Lough Ree. After getting us off for walkies (priorities please!!) mum went up for a look around the hotel & was blown away by it. It has a wonderful restaurant & amazing bar with wonderful areas to sit out with fire pits, a gorgeous outdoor heated swimming pool, hot tubs with a view of the lough, an extensive golf course & even a cute burger truck. Best of all its a doggie friendly hotel.

This all obviously comes at a price tag but for those who can afford the finer things & those of us who are lucky enough to moor here it truly is a spectacular location. So all in all our first little cruise & mooring on Lough Ree couldn’t have gone better. A great start to our 2022 Lough cruising

Out on the Shannon & Disaster Strikes by Cosmo (Shannon Harbour to Ballinasloe on the River Suck)

Well off we set with our newly serviced & bottom blacked boat on our summer adventures 2022. This year we are heading north up the River Shannon. Our first planned stop was Shannonbridge as there was an IWAI Athlone event planned there that evening. So after doing a vehicle shuffle mum set off with Auntie Joy as crew. We dropped down our last 2 Grand Canal locks & then it was a right turn up onto the River Shannon. The big 2022 adventure had begun.

We hadn’t been cruising for long when disaster struck. Golden Boyz did a sort of cough & a splutter & lost all power. Now this isn’t good at any time but on a river with a current it’s quite scarey. Luckily it wasn’t windy & the flow wasn’t too bad. The engine wouldn’t start again so mum was immediately checking the fuel as although we’d been full maybe someone had drained it & she also checked the fuel hadn’t been shut off accidentally. Both were OK. While she was doing that she quickly rang Tom who we knew was coming up later that day & passed the phone to Joy. Tom set off immediately but was about an hour away. By this time mum saw we were actually just slowly drifting into some reeds at the side so she decided she didn’t need to deploy the anchor & we just sat gently at the edge of the river awaiting Tom. Mum tried the engine again & now it started but we still waited for Tom in case it happened again. After an hour Tom the Cavalry arrived!

So we set off again in a little convoy & had no further issues. Soon we were moored up safely at Shannonbridge after our eventful day.

We joined in with the IWAI cocktails beneath the bridge (as it was raining) then had a quick drink in Lukers & a meal up at Fallons. It was lovely to meet some other boaters. Unfortunately the meal at Fallons was really slow about 2.5hours after we arrived & as they were really big portions it made mum feel ill eating so late. So she left early & that night her throat got sore & her whole body ached. So at 4am mum was up convinced she had finally got the dreaded Covid & took a test. Much to her surprise it was negative. Anyway the next day she felt better so it was probably just the stress of breaking down on the river.

In the morning Sean came & checked the boat over but nothing was found to have caused the power issue so we’re thinking it was just air or a fleck of rust in the fuel. Fingers crossed it doesn’t do it again! Then we set off again in a convoy with Tom for Ballinasloe on the river Suck. We had to backtrack a short distance then turn right onto the River Suck.

It was a absolutely beautiful cruise on a very still day so we saw lots of reflections in the river. Part of it is quite winding & rocky so it feels like you’re doing a slalom course around the marker posts. Just before Pollboy lock you can see a mini rapids coming down & we take a sharp left there to the lock.

We’re now on the big electric locks operated by Waterways Ireland lock keepers. A bit like the locks on the South Yorkshire navigations except we operated those ourselves.

We were soon at Ballinasloe the whole journey taking just over 2 hours. There’s a fabulous well kept harbour there with electric, water & a services block. The town is really close with 3 big supermarkets just a few mins walk away so it was a really pleasant mooring.

It was great for us going on walkies down the river where we met some very friendly new friends. Daquiri wasn’t too sure but I was brave & said hello.

On Tuesday Auntie Joy bade us farewell to continue on her Campervan travels heading up to Northern Ireland & mum returned the hire van (after buying us 4 big bags of food) & caught the train back to the boat. We stayed here a few days so mum could catch up on work. Wendy & Fergal came to visit us & they were playing with their vhf radios talking to each other from opposite ends of the harbour!! Mum is getting ready for her expedition across Lough Ree in a week or two & praying our engine behaves!