Intrepid Tidal Narrowboat Trip by Daquiri (New Ross & Inistioge)

One of the big reasons for coming down the Barrow this year was that we had a fantastic opportunity to link up with some other boats going to Inistioge as its the type of cruise we couldn’t do on our own. As mentioned in previous blogs below St Mullins the river is tidal so this trip had very strict timings around the tides. In summary we had to wait until close to high tide at St Mullins so there was enough water for us to cruise down river but then we had to make sure the tide had dropped enough to get under MountGarret Bridge. Once through there we passed the junction of the River Nore which heads up to Inistioge & we went to the floating jetties at New Ross. We waited here a few hours for the next high tide to ensure there was enough water to get us into Inistioge. Once there the water would drop & our flat bottomed boats would sit on the riverbank overnight until the tide came up again in the morning & then we refloated. Then we did the journey in reverse back to St Mullins. Below is the overall map.

So we bravely set off a convoy of 3 boats Monday afternoon to St Mullins. It was just 3 locks but they were tough to operate & the cut section was very overgrown.

Again there was no room to moor so we ended up 2 boats in the lock & one just outside it for the night.

We were up early the next morning for walkies before Golden Boyz set off first to pick up her wonderful crew members.

We were very lucky to have John & Billy onboard who are 2 experienced Barrow boat owners who helped us understand the tide & the timings & provided invaluable knowledge & help along the way. The Golden Boyz crew is very grateful to them both.

We proceeded down river meandering our way through spectacular scenery slowly to ensure we had enough headroom under MountGarret Bridge

Once there we had plenty of room & no concerns. You can see the dark marks on the legs of the bridge of where the water level had been,

Once through we passed the River Nore junction that led up to Inistioge & proceeded to New Ross passing the iconic Dunbrody ship that we had visited outside only a week or so ago.

Now so far the cruising had felt fine & although the water was a little more lively towards New Ross mum felt comfortable cruising & even turning 180 degrees so we could moor facing upstream. But the mooring up in the tide was a whole different ballgame! Of course just to add to the challenge we needed pumpout & we had to reverse into the mooring jetty as our pumpout access is at the stern of the boat. Under Johns expert instruction mum had to position Golden Boyz diagonally someway infront of the jetty so the tide would wash us back & the bow didn’t flip round in the tide. It was initially going so well but at the last minute the bow swung the other way & we ended up perpendicular to where we wanted to be alongside the gangway. There were many hands to help & we were pulled around into position thank Goodness. Once we had pumpout we had to move around onto another jetty which we managed somewhat more successfully & then an hour or so later we moved into another position for setting off with the tide so mum had 3 practises at mooring up.

With all the shuffling around we didn’t have much spare time at New Ross just enough for a bacon buttie & walkies.

So before long we were off again & this time we backtracked to the junction but then took a left onto the River Nore. Now there’s a lack of photos on the first section as the heavens opened with a monsoon downpour! Once it stopped & cleared we were treated to what I believe is some of the best cruising scenery in the whole of Ireland & as the sun came out it was amazing to see the steam rising off the trees.

Onwards to wound our way up to Inistioge following the route on the 2 maps below.

After a couple of hours we arrived at Inistioge in the rain again. Again some of you may remember that we visited Initsioge when family was over. I have added a photo of mum from then stood where today we moored our boats.

Once moored up safely with very loose ropes the tide went out & the boats settled on the riverbed. Unfortunately all this happened in the dark so we couldn’t take any photos.

We had a lovely evening with a little glass of champagne each celebrating our intrepid journey. Ah ok me & Cosmo just had water. A big thank you to the other 2 boats for all their help & advice & lock wheeling & rope tying & company & for letting us join them on their cruise especially with our extra special doggie mooring needs.

Now we did get some photos as Mum set her alarm for sunrise at 5.30am so she could take some photos before the tide came back in & refloated us.

It only took about an hour before we were back on water again.

Then it was time to do the journey in reverse. The other 2 boats availed of a sand jetty to stop at which was girders in the riverbank that could be tied to but as there was no access to get off there mum was worried we’d be too long there without a cockaleggie so we went onwards solo to New Ross again & then rejoined the other boats on the way back near the junction. We did a much better job of mooring up at new Ross this time as were able to just moor on the outside of a jetty. We also had a good 6 hours there so we had a nice long walkie & mum finally got chance to do a tour of the inside of Dunbrody now she was back from dry dock & open to the public again.

Dunbrody Famine Ship

The original Dunbrody was built in 1845 in Quebec. She was commissioned along with 7 sister ships by ‘William Graves & Son’, a merchant family from New Ross. She was built by the expert shipwright Thomas Hamilton Oliver, an Irish emigrant from Co. Derry. The building of the ship took only six months and was supervised by her first master Captain John Baldwin, who captained her from 1845 to March 1848. Designed as a cargo vessel the Dunbrody’s main cargos where timber from Canada, cotton from the southern states of the U.S.A. and guano from Peru.

In 1845, the very year of her launch, famine struck Ireland. With the potato crop failing and food prices soaring, widespread starvation would soon force more than a million people to flee the country. So many people left, that there were not enough passenger ships to carry them all. Entrepreneurial merchants, like the Graves’, took the opportunity to fit out their cargo vessels with bunks to meet the extra demand. Between 1845 and 1851 the Dunbrody carried thousands of emigrants to North America.

In November 1996 the JFK Trust began construction of the Dunbrody Replica. Based on the design of the original, plans for the replica were drafted by the renowned naval architect Colin Mudie. A half-dozen experience shipwrights were engaged to supervise the project, headed by Michael Kennedy. With the support of FAS (the Irish National Training and Employment Authority), a workforce of apprentice shipwrights and trainee carpenters was assembled. Over the course of the five-year construction project more than 150 local people would gain hands-on experience of traditional shipbuilding skills.

We then cruised back to St Mullins & got in at dusk. Mum had booked a lock keeper for the next day so we weren’t too much of a burden on the other boats as only 2 boats fit in the locks at a time. So we were first up the lock but we couldn’t fit in at St Mullins so we cruised onwards around the corner & did a spot of wild river mooring at Bahanna woods. It was a pretty little spot but we were all too shattered by then to appreciate it. We all slept well that night.

In the morning we set off early again in the rain to meet the lock keeper as we gradually now start our journey back up the Barrow having explored it this summer.

As we now make our journey back up the Barrow revisiting our favourite walkie spots we’ll take a break from our blog until we start our next new cruising adventure. Who knows where we’ll be next year. Mum is doing a calendar club over here in winter at Whitewater Shopping centre at Newbridge so if you’re ever that way do pop by say hello & buy a calendar or two or three!!

In Pursuit of Monks by Cosmo (Goresbridge to Graiguenamanagh)

After family left mum had a day out on Falcon to Kilkenny. We’d tried to visit before but there was nowhere to park the big motorhome so we just drove through. Kilkenny was a delightful town & mum hopes to visit there again with more time. Kilkenny is a medieval town in southeast Ireland. Its grand Kilkenny Castle was built in 1195 by Norman occupiers. The town has deep religious roots and many well-preserved churches and monasteries, including imposing St. Canice’s Cathedral and the Black Abbey Dominican priory, both from the 13th century. It’s also a crafts hub, with shops along its winding lanes selling pottery, paintings and jewellery.

Next we had to move fairly quickly as a lot of campers came to Goresbridge so it wasn’t the best of moorings. Paul the lockie rang to check we were Ok & suggested we move the next day. We initially intended to just go to Ballytiglea but as the lock keepers were available we ended up going all the way to Graignamanagh. As we progressed south the scenery got more & more spectacular as we wound our way between tree lined slopes & there were some fabulous lock cottages. We also encountered the only double lock on the River section at Ballykeenan. It wasn’t an easy section to cruise as most of the cut sections were full of weed & shallow so mum had many visits down the weedhatch. Plus on exiting the locks there were often sandbanks where the river met the cut so we had to keep far over to avoid grounding on these. Certainly a challenging section to cruise.

Eventually we reached the town of Graignamanagh. In the guide book it warns that there is barely any room to moor due to the number of boats permanently moored there & mum had driven there previously & seen the situation so to say we arrived with intrepidation was an understatement. We’d been told not to moor on the right or through the bridge by the weir so we only had the left bank available to us. We just managed to get a third of the boat on the very end of a mooring. Mum had hoped to moor bow in as we were headed downstream but the current weirdly kept flicking her bow out & as the stern was well & truly in the bushes mum couldn’t get off to pull it in so after several attempts we pulled out & moored stern in. This made it quite difficult for us to get off but we were brave boyz & did our best. Mum learnt later that there’s an unusual circular current there where it does downstream on the right of the river, circles round in front of the bridge & upstream on the left. Anyway after mum had calmed down from her stressful mooring & had a glass of wine in her hand she decided she liked it there as we had an amazing view. Unfortunately we had to move twice whilst we were there including on an extremely windy day which was quite scarey. We needed water & getting on the tap with a long boat single handed was really difficult as one tap was under the bridge & it was really shallow to moor up & the other the trip boat operated out of & was too short for us anyway so we’d have had to go against other boats to get water. The pumpout there also apparently hasn’t worked for years. So Graiguenamanagh has gone on our list of places to never visit again by boat even though its a lovely little town and on the way back upstream we avoided stopping there

As you can see from the photos below we think virtually every boat on the Barrow is moored here as we’d barely seen any other boats. Graiguenamanagh has a fabulous 7 arched bridge just above the weir which was built in 1760 to replace a 15th century stone bridge.

Graiguenamanagh is a beautiful town and is home to Duiske Abbey, originally a Cistercian Monastery, now a Catholic parish church. With a simple exterior contrasting with its elaborate interior, visitors can see the ancient stone and high clerestory windows of the nave as well as an effigy of a 13th-century knight at the entrance. Graiguenamanagh served as a base for commercial barges operating on the river until barge traffic ceased in 1959. Mum was particularly enthralled with the widows cottages. The four elegant Tudor-Revival style cottages on Abbey Street were built – with their potato patches to the rear ‘for deserving widows’ by the Clifden Family, landlords of the town. Up until 1930 these houses were used to re-home widows and are now privately owned. In fact one of them is now an air bnb property.

The other thing mum really enjoyed was following the monks trail. Gráig na Manach, means “Village of the Monks. The monks are fantastic series of statues of monks, 12 of them depicting the various activities carried out by the original Cistercian monks of Duiske Abbey. mum started off just finding them herself but then managed to get a leaflet from the library giving a bit more info so the 12 monks were The Abbott, The Scribe, The Stone Mason, The Weaver, The Milkman, The Farmer, The Shepherd, The Stick Collector, The Salmon Fisherman, The Eel Fisherman, The Hunter & The Gardener. Quite a few of them are on roads leading out of town & they always face the town so they have their backs to arriving traffic. Unfortunately mum only found ten she could have done with cycling to find them as some of them were a bit of a way to walk but we couldn’t get the bike off the boat on the moorings.

We had a few days at Graig before our fleet of friends arrived who we were planning to do our exciting tidal cruise to Inistioge with. It was great to finally have some company & spend a couple of nights at the pubs. Ireland has finally allowed us inside pubs as long as we have a covid passport with proof of vaccination. Its been a very very long time since mum was in a pub.

Now one place we have to mention in Graig is the local chippie/indian/kebab place. I mean have you ever seen a floral display like this at Graig Garden? Mum had to test the curries out of course!!

In our next blog we’ll tell you all about our cruise out on tidal waters where Golden Boyz almost goes out to sea!!!

Cousins come to visit by Daquiri (Bagenalstown to Goresbridge & beyond!)

After returning from Belfast mum returned the van to Waterford. On the way she called into New Ross marina & met John from IWAI Barrow Branch. New Ross is on the tidal section below St Mullins & is the only pumpout facility on the whole of the Barrow stretch so at some point we’ll be heading down there hopefully with Johns help. Once mum had come back by train we set off late afternoon towards our next destination of Goresbridge. It was tough going as with all the hot sunny weather water levels were low & weed levels high. Two boats the day before had pretty much had to bowhaul in as they had weed round their propellors. As soon as we set off we lost most of our power due to weed but mum limped onto the lock & was the down the weedhatch to clear it as she knew we’d be better once we dropped onto the river section. Billy warned mum that she was likely to ground below the lock but that he’d let water through to flush us out. And ground we did but mum managed to get off by herself & gently coaxed Golden Boyz onwards. We changed lock keepers at the next lock as we are now on Pauls section. We were also very pleased to get water at the WI depot as we’d not been able to get any for 3 weeks & the next accessible tap is a long way on our schedule. This will also help with the grounding as it’ll weigh our front down a bit so the stern doesn’t sit so low. We nearly went through the wrong arch on one bridge as the markings were hidden until the last minute & there were a lot of reeds obstructing the navigational channel so we were too far across but a reverse back upstream soon had us righted. We grounded another time & managed to shuffle off until we eventually had Goresbridge in our sights.

Mum had previously cycled to Goresbridge so she’d seen that you had to go through a far arch, past the island & then do a loop back upstream onto the moorings. It was a bit tricky getting tied up at Goresbridge as it was shallow by the jetty but lots of people helped mum so we were eventually in a nice spot that we could get off easily at. In fact this proved to be an excellent mooring spot in the end.

Goresbridge is a small village located in the east of County Kilkenny, in the province of Leinster, Ireland. Goresbridge is named after a 1756 bridge, built by Colonel Ralph Gore, which provides a crossing of the River Barrow between County Kilkenny and County Carlow in the South-East region. The river proved to be really popular with local families for swimming & lots of canoe expeditions set off from here so with the glorious weather we had there were always lots of people around. Theres a small park at the end of the driveway which was perfect for us to be off the lead & a great slipway that mum made us go down several times a day to cool off in the hot weather. Mum was also in several times a day swimming between her work calls. We soon fell in love with our little spot at Goresbridge.

After a few days working mum logged off again as finally after a long 17 months we were expecting our first visitors over from the UK now Ireland has lifted its restrictions. Our first visitors to the boat were mums cousin Colette & husband Stuart & her aunt Jeanette & our new furry cousin Enzo. They came across in a huge 7 berth motorhome & this was a perfect spot for us all to sit out, have BBQs, walkies & swimmies.

The first day was a chill out day with us playing with zoomy Enzo & his ball on the field, a BBQ, a few ice creams & lots of swimming.

The next day the humans went up to Blessington lake whilst we caught up on our sleep after trying to keep up with Enzo & his ball. Some of you may remember mum cycled there from Sallins in the winter. It was quite different now with much more open & the new addition of Rise sauna & hot tubs. Mum had booked the hot tubs for Colettes birthday present. So they all went off strapped into Dora the Explorer the big Motorhome up to Blessington.

On arrival at Blessington they were directed to a private parking spot as the vehicle was so large & auntie Joy had also made her way down from northern Ireland & met them there. The staff there were so incredibly helpful even arranging a lift for Jeanette in the maintenance vehicle from Dora to the picnic benches.

The others sat & enjoyed the view whilst mum & Colette chilled out in their hot tub with a view.

They all had a late lunch/early tea from the BBQ bus before returning back to us for a few drinks

That night disaster struck onboard Golden Boyz but we didn’t know about it until the following morning. The night before at about 11pm the waterpump suddenly started cycling out of the blue with no water running. This is often the sign of a leak but it was unusual for that to happen on its own & the bilges were still dry. So mum turned the pump off & just flicked it on when we needed water thinking it was a pressure issue maybe because we’d been low on water & she was going to look at it when she had more time. However, the next morning when she turned the pump on there was a very definite noise of a flow of a lot of water somewhere behind the panels in the bathroom. So after breakfast mum pulled the bathroom apart & located where a lot of water was flowing from. Stu came across to help locate the problem which was very easily found there was a great big hole in the washing machine pipe. The good news was we could isolate the pipe so we could still have water & the pipe was easily replaceable the bad news was that something had obviously nibbled the pipe & where the hell was it now??!!! We have had the blame as mum is freaking out & saying we’re rubbish guard dogs letting a mouse onboard. The bathroom is next to the bedroom so mum hasn’t slept for 3 nights as every noise within a 5 mile radius has her on mouse alert! And as if we didn’t have enough problems trying to conserve water we now have a good portion of our watertank in the bilges!!

So the first task the next day was to a DIY store for mouse capture devices, a new washing machine hose plus we’ve found a new hose attachment for all the taps that don’t have a hosepipe tap on them along our way.

We also drove to Kilkenny & Thomastown for a quick look round. Sunday evening there was live music on at the pub The Pint Depot so we went for a meal & a listen. The food was served in enormous portions & was delicious so is highly recommended.

Monday everyone headed south back to New Ross as the Dunbrody Famine ship had been in dry dock on mums last visit but she was now back & although not open to the public yet was still fantastic to see & the cafe there next to The Emigrant Flame made a handy stop. Mum hopes to see inside next time she’s in New Ross.

The Dunbrody Famine Ship is one of the premier tourist attractions in the South East of Ireland. Centred on an authentic reproduction of an 1840’s emigrant vessel, it provides a world-class interpretation of the famine emigrant experience. Incorporating guided tour, costumed performers and themed exhibitions of the highest quality, ‘The Dunbrody’ provides a unique insight into the bravery and fortitude with which Irish people faced up to a desperate situation.

On June 18th 2013, a gathering formed at the graveside of President John F. Kennedy in Arlington Cemetery, Virginia. The purpose was to take a light for the eternal flame at President Kennedys graveside and to bring it to New Ross to light the Emigrant Flame which now stands beside the Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience on the quayside in New Ross. The flame now burns permanently to remember all emigrants throughout the world. The journey of the Flame also symbolically fulfilled President Kennedys promise “to return to Ireland in the springtime”.

We had a wander along the waterfront to see the Kennedys connection with New Ross with the statue & the microphone.

In October 1848, a young man of 25 years of age walked five miles from Dunganstown in rural Co Wexford to the port of New Ross. It was a walk this young man had made many times before, but he knew he would never make it again. The young man had chosen to emigrate and leave behind an Ireland that was experiencing the worst trauma any nation can endure – Famine. His name was Patrick Kennedy and the Ireland he left behind saw, over a short number of years, one million of its people die from hunger and another million leave to build new lives elsewhere. Before emigrating, Patrick Kennedy had been employed by Cherry Brothers Brewery in New Ross and the skills that he learned there stood to him in the United States. He found employment as a cooper at Daniel Francis’s on Sumner Street, Boston, where he made beer and whiskey barrels. Patrick Kennedy did his best to provide for the young family he started in the United States, having married another Wexford emigrant, Bridget Murphy, only five months after arriving in America. But Patrick’s American dream of greater opportunity and prosperity eluded him in his lifetime. The poverty that he thought he had fled from in leaving Ireland were never far away in the immigrant tenements of east Boston. Adult life expectancy was devastatingly low. According to one researcher’s work, the average Irishman who immigrated to America only survived 14 years after he came ashore. Even by that grim statistic, Patrick Kennedy fared badly. He died almost destitute, aged just 35, less than a decade after he first set foot on American soil. Patrick Kennedy’s death occurred on November 22nd, 1858 – exactly 105 years to the day when the entire world would be stunned by the murder of his great-grandson, the 35th president of the United States of America.

The Kennedy Homestead can also be visited near New Ross – maybe on a another day.

Next on the list was the beautiful village of Inistioge on the River Nore which branches off the River Barrow north of New Ross. The Nore is navigable by boat up as far as the boat slip in Inistioge.  The river is tidal, however, so trips need to be made at high tide.  Despite this many boats travel to the village each summer and the trip to Inistioge is a fun excursion for more experienced boating enthusiasts.

Mum is hoping to cruise to Inistioge with the other Lowtown boaters who are making their way down but we have to cruise in at high tide & then the river drops us onto the bottom & we have to wait for the next high tide to leave so mum wanted to suss out how we’d get off. The verdict is it’s not going to be easy but it won’t be impossible not sure we like the sound of that! Mum thinks she’s going to have to lower us out on harness I am not going to be happy might cross my legs for 24 hours!! The photos below are at low tide where the boats will be.

On the final day of our family’s visit it was Colettes big birthday so there was cake & birthday banners & champagne!

The final days was spent visiting Hook Lighthouse the oldest operational lighthouse in the world. Although the lighthouse itself was closed we could wander around the grounds of it.

Then it was back to base for a final night drinkies of champagne with fish & chips or kebab & chips – we know how to live the high life!

All too soon it was time for a final paly on the field with Daquiri performing a stunning leap manoeuvre that he’d learnt from Enzo which we suspect is a once in a lifetime feat & also a complete accident! So we waved farewell to our furry & non furry friends. Thank you for visiting. We hope you enjoyed Ireland & please come back soon.

Oh & the mouse – well so far he’s not been seen or heard of again so we’re hoping he’s jumped ship but mum is still sleeping with one eye & one ear open!!

Back in the Uk well the Irish bit of it by Daquiri (Belfast & Beyond)

After 3 & a bit hours in the stupid van we arrived at our holiday destination a former coastguards cottage right on the shore of Belfast Lough & by right on the shore we really do mean it. It was a fabulous little property doggie friendly of course & right on the beach for us.

We loved it. Then we had an even bigger surprise so mum told us to wait at the door.

Then oh my goodness Auntie Joy turned up. Auntie Joy was the last person we saw from the UK in Feb 2020 when she dropped us off in Ireland not knowing that we wouldn’t see anyone then or another 17 months due to Covid. We were straight off on walkies up the beach!

Auntie Joy then went up to stay with some friends & we had a quiet night in chilling & enjoying our cottage as it was the July 11th bonfires.

Next day we were up & out early to avoid the July 12th parades & wow our holiday just got even better. We arrived at mums friends Lisa & Terry where there was to be a big goldies party! There was us then Quaker the labrador who is a very clever guide dog, Rio & Daisy 2 goldies then Charlie another goldie then Jo’s 2 doggies. It was doggie heaven. Mum & auntie Joy went off on an adventure & we got to enjoy an amazing goldies party in a huge garden with lots of toys & a big paddling pool to drink out of.

While we were there mum & Auntie Joy went on the Gobbins clifftop walk. The Gobbins is a cliff-face path at Islandmagee, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, on the Causeway Coastal Route. It runs across bridges, past caves and through a tunnel, along The Gobbins cliffs. The cliffs are recognised for their rich birdlife, important geology and notable species.

When Mum & Auntie Joy came back Lisa prepared a fabulous paella & BBQ spread, a few drinks were drunk & mum was in her element as she got to go in the hot tub! We even got to stay over at Lisa’s that night we slept well as we were shattered from all our partying

The next day we bade our farewells & returned to the cottage. We had another good snooze while mum & Auntie Joy went off looking at big boats in Belfast.

First was the SS Nomadic; Tender to RMS Titanic and the last remaining White Star Line ship in the world! Restored to her original glory and back home in Belfast’s historic Hamilton Dock.

And of course a visit to The titanic Experience was a must in Belfast. As Northern Ireland’s signature tourism project and one of the most dramatic tourism projects opening anywhere in the world, find out more about how Titanic Belfast came to be the iconic building it is today

They both returned having had a good day & we had walkies on the beach. Then it was the novel experience of having an Indian meal inside a restaurant for them. Indoor dining still isn’t open in Ireland but it is in Northern Ireland.

The next day we were bundled into the stupid van for a very long day although we did have a lot of walkies. Its quite exhausting this holiday lark!

Across the day mum wanted to see some of the Game of Thrones filming locations. She had been booked on a tour but it was cancelled due to low numbers so it was a DIY Version. There were information boards at each site. Here’s us recreating the scene when Arya crawls up the Harbour steps away from the Man with no Name.

And here’s Us & Auntie Joy at the cave where Melisandre gave birth to a terrifying shadow baby

And of course we had to visit the iconic Dark Hedges site.

Now that may sound a lot already but we did way way more – I’m telling you we walked our paws off.

We visited The Carick-a-Rede Rope bridge which was sadly closed due to covid but we could walk to it. The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is a rope bridge near Ballintoy in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The bridge links the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede. It spans 20 metres and is 30 metres above the rocks below. The bridge is mainly a tourist attraction and is owned and maintained by the National Trust. We were rather pleased it was closed though I doubt doggies can go on it anyway. Daredevil mum would be straight across it without a doubt if it had been open!

Then we had a nice stop at the beach for walkies & a cool down

And our final destination of the day was a big goal for mum. In fact it was the main attraction & reason we’d come to northern Ireland; The Giants Causeway. The Giant’s Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic fissure eruptThe Giants Causeway comprises around 40,000 thousands of mostly hexagonal basalt columns descending gently into the sea. Depending on who you believe, the stones were formed either by an underwater volcano’s geological actions or by a giant named Finn McCool, who lived and battled along the north Antrim Coast.

“You are standing on, or are about to visit, one of my favourite places. The jewel in the crown of the fabulous coast of Antrim. A site of World Heritage and therefore ranked alongside Mount Everest and the Giant Redwoods of California for it’s importance to humankind. Volcanic activity helped Finn Mc Cool forge this wonder of the World some 60 Million years ago. It is today the habitat of rare plants and animals. Please treat their home with the pride and the care it deserves.”

– David Bellamy

Another long walkie to see it. I’m sure I must have lost a stone with all the walkies today!

Finally we set off home & there we had another of our favourite activities a BBQ!!

Luckily the next day we were given a day of rest as mum & Auntie Joy went into Belfast again this time to do the hop on hop off bus tour. In fact they did it twice once sitting in the left side & once on the right side with a break inbetween to visit The Crown Bar. The Crown is both ageless and priceless, a gem of Victoriana and one of the great bars of the world. Formerly known as The Liquor Saloon in Great Victoria Street, it was one of the mightiest Victorian gin palaces which once flourished in the industrial cities of the British Isles. Dating back to 1826, it is now owned by the National Trust and has been sympathetically restored over the years.

Mum particularly found going past the Peace Wall & all the murals interesting. You’re allowed to paint a mural anywhere as long as the property owner doesn’t mind & there are professional mural painters for whom its their full time job.

When they came back after walkies we had another BBQ. Oh boy this is turning into a good holiday.

Friday we had a gentle morning as it was mums birthday. In the afternoon they headed into Belfast this time on the bus so mum could have drink. Mum really wanted to hear some live music so they booked Granny Annies. Unfortunately they were only allowed to stay 90minutes. So mum being mum managed to fit 3 cocktails into that time!! They wandered round a few other pubs after that but they all had big queues so mum came back & drank her baileys instead

Saturday was our last full day & it dawned sunny & hot. The weather had got increasingly warmer all week & by now was very hot. At our beach cottage there was quite a nice breeze & we could go for paddles in the sea to keep cool. The weather was forecast to get even hotter on Sunday & given our check out was 11am mum was worried about us being in the van across the heat of the day so mum decided we’d go home Saturday evening when it was cooler. She does have a sensible side occasionally. So we had a chill out day at the cottage Saturday & set off home at tea time after saying goodbye to Auntie Joy who is continuing her explorations of Northern Ireland. We arrived back to nb Golden Boyz late at night in Bagenelstown. We were very glad to see the back of the stupid van although we do admit it took us to some very nice places.

So now we have a few days of rest while mum returns the hire van, moves the boat & catches up on a load of work. We need to conserve our energy as we have a very important furry visitor arriving next week on his holiday to visit us. We’ve not met him before & we’re very excited to see him.

A Wheely Good Time by Cosmo (Leighlinsbridge to Bagenalstown)

We reluctantly left our idyllic mooring at Leighlinsbridge as we needed to be by a train station as mum had a stupid hire van booked. It was only one lock down so Billy was as ever there to help. On leaving the river onto Rathvellin cut the channel was pretty overgrown in fact we had to just hope there was water below us!

We cruised onwards & were soon passing the outdoor swimming pool that mum had cycled to. Billy had warned us that there was quite a flow on Bagenalstown cut & he was there to meet us & grab a rope which was a good job as we’re not sure we’d have stopped & would have ended up moored at the lock!

We had a lovely welcome at Bagenalstown as Mark from the coffee shop brought mum a coffee across & Christy Kane came to visit & brought mum a wonderful book all about the bridges on the Barrow, It was a very handy mooring straight opposite a big Aldi. We endeared ourselves to the locals by performing a special golden retriever duet!!

We are now halfway down the non tidal section of the River Barrow. Bagenalstown, otherwise known in its Gaelic version as Muine Bheag is sited on a pleasant stretch of the River Barrow and derives its name from Walter Bagenal, who, in founding the town, had visions of mirroring the city of Versailles, in northern France.

Mum had a few days working then on Friday caught the train to Waterford to pick up the van. She had a quick stroll round & was impressed to see two narrowboats there. Hopefully we won’t be going that far its practically out at sea!! Of course Waterford is famous for its Crystal but it has an impressive number of museums & a Viking quarter with a virtual reality experience that mum wants to do one day.

We had the van for our holiday but mum booked it for an extra week as we were hoping to do the mega lock at Ardnacrushna with Rosie & Steve but the timings didn’t work for us so mum planned lots of other adventures.

So day one of the van adventures we were bundled into the back on the promise of going to the seaside. Mum kept her promise & we arrived at Courtown. It was very much a tourist spot & very busy but we had some nice walkies & a bit of mums ice cream.

Then mum disappeared for an hour before coming back & then we had chips sitting out on the beachfront. Mum told us about a Seal Rescue centre she’d been to visit. The Seal Rescue Centre rescues stranded seals & rehabilitates them. As the only seal rescue facility within the Republic of Ireland for over ten years, SRI has taken on the responsibility of responding to all seal stranding calls across the nation. They start off in the seal hospital where they are initially fed fish soup (yuk!) then they work up to fishes on a string & frozen in ice to make them work for their food. They progress through 4 pools with less & less human interaction so they don’t become attached to humans before they’re released back into the wild. Mum had a great experience & luckily didn’t bring one home though I think if we’d have had a bath onboard we might have had a flippered friend on Golden Boyz! Seal Rescue Centre has lots of info if you want to learn more.

After a big day we were relieved the next morning when although mum got up mega early & took us out on walkies she let us go back to snoozing! She shot off in the van this time to A Donkey walking experience. This is held at Clissman Horse Drawn Caravans which offers the horse drawn caravan experiences as well as donkey walking. Mum has done that twice before once in the Cotswolds & another time here in Ireland. So today mum got to go walking with Ringo the donkey & she was the only one booked so got a tour to herself.

Luckily Ringo wouldn’t fit in the van so he didn’t come back to Golden Boyz either.

Then mum shot off a bit further north as she’d been reading about how a small village in Ireland called Enniskerry had been transformed for the new Disney movie Disenchanted & that between filming stints you could have a look round. It was very busy but really well managed & an amazing experience to see.

Now we’re going to have to watch the Disney film! Mum also wants to see Enniskerry as it normally is so that’s gone on the ever growing list of things to see. Here’s a video of the transformation Enniskerry Transformation

After all her adventuring mum had a day of rest doing some wok on Monday but Tuesday she was off out again. This time she went back to Borris & the viaduct we’d driven past as she’d read you can walk across it.

Then it was a drive down to St Mullins to see where the non tidal bit of the river becomes tidal. It was stunningly beautiful down there but no room to moor so mums glad she drove down as we’ll likely not be able to moor there.

Then it was 2 busy days working trying to get everything finished before our holidays, Friday mum dashed over to Lough Derg & firstly caught up with Liam & Yogi on their new boat & then Wendy. Rosie & Steve at Killaloe & she finally collected all her post & other bits that had come over with Rosie & Steve from the Uk in March.

Whilst mum was at Killaoe she got a message from Susie asking if she’d like to go out the next day on 45M one of the Grand Canal Company barges. So it was all panic stations as mum had planned to do shopping & packing on Saturday but this was an opportunity that couldn’t be missed especially as they were setting off from where we spent lockdown 2 moored at Ferbane. Apparently this has been renamed to the English lady with the 2 golden retrievers mooring!!

Anyway mum was again up at the crack of dawn & had an amazing day aboard 45M. 45M we have mentioned before in our blogs as its the barge that sank off Parkers Point on Lough Derg. It was raised & subsequently restored 29 years later. You can read her fascinating story here : 45M

So after an incredibly busy week we were almost relieved to get away on holiday…. But as ever mum packed lots in. This is the holiday that we’d booked over last New Year at a Coastguards Cottage right on the edge of Belfast Lough that we had to postpone due to covid. We went off then on the Ring of Kerry instead. Tune in next time to hear how we got on as we had our first UK visitor after 17 months!

An idyllic Mooring by Daquiri (Carlow to Leighlinbridge)

After mum had been all jabbed up it was time to wave goodbye to Carlow. Here’s me waiting to set off.

Straightaway we had to pass the big scarey weir to get to Carlow Lock

We made it past without incident & were soon en route for Milford again with the fabulous assistance of lock keeper Billy. We just had Clogrennan Lock to do before Milford & as we left it we were greeted with a marvellous view. Again we’d picked a fabulous cruising day weatherwise.

Before long we approached MIlford with the mill & weir on the left & the entrance to the cut on the right.

The cut was quite narrow after the big River Barrow & took us past the remains of the old lifting bridge now replaced by a foot bridge. Billy met us to moor us up just on the end of the lock mooring. It was perfect in the sunshine.

Cosmo was very pleased after our urban mooring at Carlow to have grass to do rolypolys on!

After a cuppa & a bite of lunch we set off to explore Milford. Milford Mills is an 18th-century watermill which sits on the banks of the River Barrow at Milford, County Carlow. Originally built as a flour mill and malting house, it was later employed as a hydroelectric power station with Carlow being the first town in Ireland to have electric street lighting. As at all our little lock stops there is of course a weir. This one is a popular spot for visitors swimming in the river.

We wandered around to the car park area & all our prayers were answered. There was a little coffee van there so mum bought an ice cream & joy oh joy the young lad serving uttered the immortal words “Would you like 2 free puppicinos?”” Would we ever??!! So we were given a cup each with doggie biscuits in with a squirt of cream on top. We like Milford a lot!!!! Thank you BarrowBrew

We hoped to stay at Milford a few days but unfortunately mums internet signal wasn’t good enough & she had quite a lot of work to do so after a day we were on our way to our next stop of Leighlinbridge.

This time we were mooring on the river so after passing under the bridge we did a 180degree turn to moor against the flow & so that mum had a better view of the castle! Billy was there to help us tie up.

Now if Carlsberg did moorings this would be it. It was an absolutely idyllic spot with a castle right opposite – we know how mooring by castles is mums big thing, a good stretch of grass for us to be let off our leads right by the boat. pretty flowers tumbling down the bridge & walls, multicoloured pubs, a takeaway, a couple of shops including a very friendly butchers who even gave us some free bacon as a gift, a good internet signal, lots of nice walkies for us & a tap! We’ll let you judge for yourself how absolutely gorgeous it is from our photos.

Leighlinbridge is steeped in history & is really well presented with numerous interesting noticeboards around the village. It is also the garden village with 4 small themed Garden; Vivaldi Garden, Memorial Garden, Millennium Garden complete with buried time capsule & Sculpture Garden.

Black Castle was right opposite us and is also known as Leighlinbridge Tower House. The original Black Castle, built in 1181, was one of the earliest Norman fortresses in Ireland. Black Castle was granted to John de Claville by Hugh de Lacy, the powerful Norman baron who governed Ireland for Henry II. The present castle was built by Sir Edward Bellingham in 1547 and fell to Cromwell’s forces in 1650. The site was long held by the Kavanaghs and the Butlers and was also occupied by Sir Peter Carew and the Bagenals. All that remains today is the west half of a 14th Century round tower and part of the bawn.

We spent quite a few days here. In fact it was a really tough decision to leave. Mum got lots of work done & went out on Falcon one day to our next 3 mooring spots to suss them out: Bagenalstown, Goresbridge & Clashganny but we’ll save photos of those spots till we’re actually there. Mum treated herself one night to dinner & a cocktail on the terrace at the Lord Bagenalstown Inn/Hotel. We’re still on outside service only in Ireland & not sure yet if indoor dining is resuming but we’ve had some good weather recently so mums been lucky. So far the River Barrow levels have been ok as we’re aware it can sometimes be shallow in summer.

So tomorrow we set off again & although we are sorry to leave Leighlinsbridge we have lots & lots of exciting plans ahead hopefully including a holiday up to Belfast to stay in a coastguards cottage right by the sea, a visit from Auntie Joy, maybe a visit from family, a trip to see Rosie & Steve on Lough Derg and linking up with a little convoy of boats further down the Barrow for a bit of tidal cruising. Summer 2021 is going to be a good one. Oh happy days!

Madness in Maganey & Cocktails in Carlow by Cosmo (Athy to Carlow)

So we departed Ardreigh with the help of lock keeper Billy this time. We dropped down the lock & were now properly doing some river cruising. It was quite a breezy day so with a current quite different to canal cruising but nothing like riding the waves of Lough Derg last year thank God!

After Ardreigh Lock we just had Levitstown lift bridge & lock today as we passed Levitstown Mill. Levitstown Mill (former) is a fine and imposing stone building of the early nineteenth century that forms an imposing landmark in the locality. The building, although now disused, is of considerable social and historic importance for originally having served as the industrial centre in the region  c.1820, with three-bay seven-storey side elevations to east and to west, single-bay two-storey return to rear to south and battlemented roof parapet. Disused, 1909. Burnt, 1943. Now in ruins.

The bridge at Levitstown is a rare example of a guillotine bridge. The platform rises vertically within a metal frame, unlike a swing bridge which moves horizontally or a drawbridge, which pivots about a hinge. The bridge is in good condition but is probably not of great antiquity, dating possibly from the early 20th century.

After Levitstown we approached Maganey Bridge our next stop. First we had to make sure we passed under the correct marked arch on the bridge (remember the green & red markers on the River Shannon & Lough Derg? Same colour coding used here).

Then we had the fun of mooring up. We needed to swing sharp left to get on the jetty & dependent on current we might have needed to turn the boat to be facing upstream to moor up. This is a common technique on river mooring so you’re not approaching the mooring at speed with the water flow with you you moor up against it slowly. However today we managed to get towards the jetty fine.

Now all may look normal from the photos above but they hide the problem that it was too shallow for Golden Boyz to get near. Now if you can imagine mum has to somehow get off to tie the boat up & normally we use planks but she has to put those out from an unsecured boat so it might move as she’s walking them. This is difficult enough on a canal but now we’re on moving water. Anyway after much shuffling up & down the gunwhales & 23 million attempts to lasso the mooring bollards Golden Boyz was tied up a distance from the bank. Now if the planks were put up to the jetty they were too steep to mum put them onto the jetty support so we had to step up & down to get on & off. I was very good at it but Daquiri wasn’t keen. Mum also looped a spare anchor warp through our plank loops & fastened it to the front of the boat so if the river went up or down our planks might fall in the water but they’d be attached to the boat so we wouldn’t lose them. As it happened it turned out we were most definitely sat on the bottom & we never moved an inch while we were there.

Although it was a lovely spot we had a really bad signal there so mum couldn’t do her work. We decided to still stay a few days though as mum had cycled to Carlow & its not such a good spot for us & of course we’re her top priority. It was glorious weather & we enjoyed lots of nice walkies & a BBQ. A lovely couple pulled up one night & moored with us who were on their first outing on a boat they’d just bought. They invited mum to join them for a wine or two.

Then Maganey Madness struck. Now the sun must have gone to mums head as she decided she’d go for her first wild Barrow River swim. We’re often in there but we have have furry coats. Mum deemed it invigorating & fecking freezing!!

After a lovely few days we untied & pulled in the planks & set off again with the help of Noel & Billy en route for Carlow. It was a gorgeous day & was stunning for cruising the River Barrow.

Today we just had 2 locks (meaning 2 weirs to avoid) & soon we were approaching Carlow town. We had to be mindful of all the rowing boats & canoes who were also out enjoying the good weather. The rule of thumb is powered craft ie us gives way to unpowered craft & we slow down passing them. With it being a rowing club we’re especially mindful that it could be a novice crew just learning & big a narrowboat cruising by might frighten some of them.

Billy really kindly met us at Carlow to help us tie up as its a very narrow mooring ledge plus he showed us where the tap was at the rowing club. Our mooring was basically up the side of the rowing club building. The other moorings on the park are too shallow for narrowboats & to be honest were packed with noisy youths almost all the time so we were in the best spot we could be.

Now although it wasn’t as picturesque a mooring on disembarkation side it was a lovely view up & down the river from the hatch & we had a good internet signal so Mum got loads of work done. Also we were right in a town with shops & takeaways & restaurants & cocktail bars!!!

Mum went off for a wander round Carlow to get herself oriented ie suss out the bars! On her way back she saw Cliff who runs the boat trips out of Carlow & Kilkenny passing by so she got a couple of good photos especially of them passing the huge Carlow weir that we have to cruise past when we next set off. So if anyone fancies a little trip up the Barrow check out Boat Trips Ireland

It wasn’t too bad here as once we’d got used to balancing along the ledge to get of the moorings we got nice walkies round the park. Mum was able to get some shopping done including getting a much sought after sink plunger as the bathroom sink was draining slowly & no amount of white wine vinegar & baking soda had worked. Well one plunge & we have a fully draining sink again!

Mum was also hitting the town whilst here with a night at the cinema & a tapas restaurant with a Bellini cocktail AND wine!! Then another afternoon off she trotted to try & sort an issue with her phone & to view the sensory gardens – did she do either NO – apparently it was deemed too hot to walk that far so she detoured to a terraced bar for a Romeo & Juliet & a Passionfruit Poptail!!!

Anyway she didn’t seem too drunk when she finally came back! The main reason we were in Carlow was mum had been texted for her 2nd covid jab so needed to get to Dublin for that. Unfortunately last time she had a really late appointment this time it was a really early appointment so we were horrifically woken at 5am & taken out for walkies. And you know the worst of it the park doesn’t even open till 7am so we only went to a nearby little patch of grass!!!!!

Down onto the River for some Irish Craic by Daquiri (Fisherstown to Athy)

We headed off from Fisherstown on a breezy afternoon & it was a flat cruise so no locks to Vicarstown Our one armed skipper manged to tie us up fine despite the wind onto the jetty.

That night was Maries birthday so mum was invited round for drinks & got to meet 2 new furpals Millie & Frankie. It’s the first time mum has been able to sit out & have drinks with friends since last August & you know how she likes a drink! We had nice walkies up the canal over Carmac Aqueduct to Ballymanus Bridge which is an excellent example of scoring by rope marks from when the boats were horse drawn.

Friday Marie & Sally kindly took mum to a big Tescos so we’re now nicely stocked up on food & dog biscuits & we have plenty of coals for summertime BBQs. We like BBQs! We also moved the boat onto the water tap & through the bridge which was a very nice spot for us to sit out. That night mum was invited out again to Marie & Sallys as they had friends visiting. This is it she’s on a roll now!!!

The following day the BIG B day dawned the day we’d drop off the Barrow Line onto the River Barrow. Mum was up at the crack of dawn as she’d not slept; she can never decide if she’s nervous or excited on big cruise days. After walkies the anchor was wrestled out of its hiding place in the gas locker & attached ready for river cruising. The life jacket was on & we were off.

There were 3 locks today with the final lock at Athy dropping us down onto the River but it was a 2 hours cruise to the first lock. It was lovely to catch up with our pal Joe at the first lock who’d had a stressful week with a poorly Monasterevin Bridge. We bade him farewell & said we’d see him at the end of summer when we’ll return with tales aplenty of our Barrow adventures. The next 2 locks we were seen through by lockie Noel to take us through the 2 locks at Athy. We were instructed as soon as we left the lock to turn right & get right over the other side of the river to avoid the L shaped weir. And there we were down on the River Barrow cruising – another dream & goal coming to fruition. Looking left upstream is the Horse Bridge & White Castle which is quite an iconic sight often seen on Irish photos

So we sneaked past the weir keeping well over to the left. The weirs here are unguarded so a bit more scarey whereas often in the UK they have big orange booms across them so you can’t go white water rafting over them by mistake. Mum says we’ve got even bigger weirs coming up!

Now we have to confess we were only on the River proper for abut 2 minutes before we entered one of the many lateral cuts along the River. These cuts are where the river changes gradient over the weirs & we traverse around via locks as shown on the map below.

We were soon at our highly recommended mooring on the jetty before Ardreigh Lift Bridge. We’d been recommended to stop here as not only is it a picturesque safe spot within walking distance of Athy but also Bernie & Charlie in the canalside property are boat owners & make everyone exceptionally welcome. Mum spotted Bernie as she was approaching & waved & we were soon moored up chatting. Bernie certainly lived up to her friendly reputation & made mum very welcome inviting mum for dinner at theirs one night & an arrangement was made for the very special day on Monday when the pubs finally opened here after being closed since Mar 2020. The mooring is an absolutely superb spot & we were all feeling very happy to be down on the Barrow finally after all our trials & tribulations getting here. We had great off lead walkies every day along the river bank.

After lunch mum wandered back along the River into Athy for a stroll around. Athy (the ford of Ae) has been an important river crossing from early times with White Castle dominating the Horse Bridge. White’s Castle was built in 1417 by Sir John TalbotViceroy of Ireland, to protect the bridge over the Barrow and the inhabitants of the Pale. Built into the wall on either side of the original entrance doorway are two sculptured slabs. On the right of the former doorway is the Earl of Kildare’s coat of arms, signifying the earl’s ownership of the castle in former days. The slab on the left bears the date 1573, and the name Richard Cossen, Sovereign of Athy.

That evening she was in bed early due to her not sleeping the night before! The next morning we all sat out & had breakfast al fresco & we barked at all the local dogs walking by to let them know we’d arrived. After all our barking we were but back onboard & mum was off out on Falcon sussing out our next 2 moorings. She cycled all the way to Carlow & back but we’ll fill you in on that section of river when we cruise it.

That afternoon we were delighted to discover not only was mum invited round for tea but we were on the invitation too. Bernie & Charlie live in a gorgeous house that they’ve owned for 32 years (it was their house anniversary that weekend) & they’ve done a marvellous job in creating a very special home. We all sat out in their lovely garden ok well we didn’t do much sitting we did a lot of running around sniffing & causing mayhem. Mum had taken our dishes round so we had our tea outside while Mum was treated to a wonderful Lebanese banquet. We then wound the evening down watching the starling murmurations & the farmer bringing in his Hyland Cattle across the canal.

Next day was big P day!!! Finally the PUBS WERE OPEN. Bernie & Charlie had managed to get us a booking at the Auld Shebeen Bar for lunchtime. They’d done a fabulous job of converting it to have loads of outside space with tables outside, a rooftop bar where we were booked & pods along the canal. Mum had to start off with my namesake of course as she’s not a Guiness Drinker so she had a Mango Daiquiri. The Irish Craic had finally begun 18 months after we’ve arrived in Ireland.

After a few drinks & food the merry trio made their way up to Clancys which was one of the pubs mum had visited in her 2009 travels. Mum then came home to tend to us two which was a good job as it was our teatime!

After a day working we’re sadly going to have to depart this wonderful little spot but we still have the rest of the River to explore so we have the lock keeper booked for tomorrow as we head onwards in the Carlow direction. We’ll look forward to catching up with Bernie & Charlie on our return.

A Bridge Manoeuvre, a Drone, Horses & the first BBQ (Rathangan to Fisherstown) by Cosmo

We had a bit of a soggy time at Rathangan with monsoon rains on several days. Mum checked the forecast & Tuesday looked the driest so we were up & off early to meet PJ at the first of the two double locks today at Spencer Bridge. It was drizzling. Spencer Bridge is named after a local landowner James Spencer who was killed by pikemen in the Battle of Rathangan in 1798. He was reputedly a distant ancestor of Lady Diana.

It was about 1.5hours cruise to the next double lock & the sun even came out. But then as mum was in the lock the heavens opened again. It was raining so hard it felt like hail. Well it did to mum we were all snug as a bug inside! So mum tied up at Monasterevin resembling a drowned rat. We found a nice spot not too far from the train station as mum had to go to Tullamore.

That night Colman from Monasterevin who is involved with the Barrow Blueway there. Colman was doing some drone filming to help promote the local Blueway & some of his photos of Golden Boyz & the local canoe club are below. Daquiri didn’t like the drone he gave it a good barking at & then hid in the bedroom & wouldn’t come out!

Blueways are a network of multi-activity recreational trails, based on or alongside idyllic lakes, canals and rivers in Ireland. They provide scenic routes into the heart of rural Ireland by canoe, bike or on foot. The development of Blueways presents valuable opportunities for rural communities to attract more visitors. These values lie not only in the recreational opportunities that they offer but also in their potential to stimulate local businesses and regenerate local areas.

Last time mum visited Monasterevin by train there were swans sitting on their nest. Well the cygnets have arrived & Colman got a cracking photo of them.

Thursday mum was off & out on the train to Tullamore for her post op gall bladder check up. All was good & mum was given the all clear. She managed to have a very quick catch up with Catriona while there.

Monasterevin has an unusual number of Bridges giving rise to the appellation of the Venice of Ireland. It’s here we cross over the River Barrow via an aqueduct. The lift bridge is now operated by hydraulic ram so doesn’t have cables any longer.

We’d arranged to with Colman to move through the bridge & lock Friday so we could be drone filmed but sadly the drone had other ideas & wasn’t playing ball today. Joe the lock keeper saw us through both. The current lock keeper in Monasterevin Joe Moore is the fourth generation of Moore’s to hold the lock Keepers position in, Joe took over from his father Peter who in turn took over from his father Jim, Jim’s father, Joe’s great grandfather was the first Moore to hold the position.

The English canal activist and historian L T C Rolt crossed the aqueduct in a boat just after World War 2 and remarked on the sight of the wheel of the drawbridge outlined against the great window of the church.

Once through the bridge the Mountmellick Canal which is no longer navigable branches off to the right & we took a left down the lock into the small harbour on the Barrow Line. The weather forecast was looking very good so mum thought this was an ideal spot for us all to sit out in the sun. Unfortunately the local youngsters had the same idea except they were accompanied by loud music & lots of inflatables whilst they jumped in the canal & threw stones at the boat. They did disperse once Joe called the Garda. We liked Joe he has 4 dogs who make as much noise as us. He has a rottweiler, 2 German shepherds & a chihuahua. The chihuahua is the boss apparently!

Whilst we were at the harbour mum cycled forward to Fisherstown to suss our next mooring out & see the legendary Thatched Inn pub. Pubs are still closed here so mum is hoping to catch it on her way back later in the summer.

Mum also had a day out at the Irish National Stud & Japanese Gardens. The Irish National Stud is a Thoroughbred horse breeding facility in Tully, Kildare, County Kildare, Ireland. It was formally established by incorporation on 11 April 1946 under the National Stud Act, 1945 and is owned by the Irish Government. The Japanese Gardens at Tully were created between the years 1906–1910. They were devised by Colonel William Hall-Walker (later Lord Wavertree), a wealthy Scotsman of a famous brewery family, and laid out by Japanese craftsman Tassa Eida and his son Minoru.

We left Monasterevin on a gloriously sunny day & cruised the lock free section to Fisherstown. Mum was planning a BBQ & thought it’d be quieter here. It’s become one of our favourite moorings as its pretty much fenced in so we can be off lead loads. And obviously the added bonus of a BBQ with extra sausages cooked for us has swayed it too!

The sun is due to end tomorrow so mum will have her head down working & we might catch up on some snoozing before we move onto our next stop at Vicarstown to catch up with friends Sally & Marie & their two furpals.

Barrow Adventures Begin by Daquiri (Robertstown to Rathangan)

Well mums appointment day for her fractured elbow that we’d been waiting got near & the lucky Irish leprechaun has definitely gone AWOL. We got a phonecall the day before cancelling it due to the current cyberattack on the Irish health system. They said that there was no clue when the computer systems would be back up & running & appointments rescheduled. Needless to say it was kind of the last straw for mum. So train & bus timetables & maps were consulted at length as mum decided we were not staying put any longer.

On Monday when the appointment should have been this was the first day shops could open in Ireland since Xmas so mum caught the bus to Newbridge for food shopping & a few treats for herself. We needed to wait just one more day before setting off as mum was getting her first vaccine in Dublin. However, her appointment was an evening one which was great for getting there but we she would have missed the last bus back to Robertstown so we moved down one lock to Lowtown where we needed to get pumpout anyway before setting off. Mum decided to go into Dublin a bit earlier & visit the Zoo which she thoroughly enjoyed. One advantage currently is because numbers are limited she could get to the front to see the animals better. If this has worked below should be a little slideshow of some of her photos.

Mum had a fair bit of time between the Zoo closing & her vaccination over at the other side of Dublin at the Aviva stadium so she decided to try & make it on public transport. She negotiated the Red Line fine to Connolly station but on exiting it the heavens opened well & truly. Mum could barely see beyond her nose & couldn’t work out where the next stage of transport the DART even left from so she leapt in a taxi. Now it was going to be tight to get the vaccine (15 mins registration & vaccine 15 mins sitting) & she had 40 mins to the 7.30pm bus. However, the taxi driver said he’d wait as he was very quiet & they could chase the bus as if mum missed it near Aviva she could catch it further on. Well mum went in & basically joined a never ending constantly moving queue that wound itself round & round up & down escalators inside the Aviva stadium. Eventually mum got her vaccine well over an hour later. She ditched her 15mins sitting & bolted outside needless to say & we don’t blame him the taxi driver had gone. It was now 8.20pm & never mind the 7.30pm bus the 8.30pm was in jeopardy! Mum found the Dart & leapt aboard for 4 stops & by the skin of her teeth leapt off, ran round the corner & found the bus stop just as the bus arrived. The bus journey back to Allenwood was 1hr15mins then a 30mins walk back to the boat so she got back at10.15pm to us sat with our legs crossed but we were good boys & there hadn’t been any accidents! We’d actually been asleep the whole time but don’t tell her that!! Lets hope mums second appointment is a bit earlier in the day as we’ll be further away by then.

Mum didn’t sleep well as she was excited about us starting our new adventures the next day. So this summer we’re doing the River Barrow. The top part of it is canal until Athy & then non tidal river to St Mullins. Below St Mullins its tidal river. Today we were off just to the first Village of Rathangan 3 locks down the Barrow Line. The River Barrow forms a major part of Ireland’s inland waterways network, providing an inland link between the port of Waterford and the Grand Canal.

There are three sections to the navigation:

  • The tidal River Barrow, which together with the tidal reaches of its tributaries, the River Suir and River Nore, constitute 88 km (55 miles) of tidal river navigation.
  • The non-tidal river navigation featuring 23 locks, continuing 66 km (41 miles) inland from the tidal limit of the Barrow at St Mullin’s to Athy.
  • The Barrow Line of the Grand Canal connects to the river at Athy and continues northwards a further 45 km (28 miles) with 9 locks, connecting to the mainline of the Grand Canal at Lowtown.

Mum is still one armed but she can drive the boat still. She’d arranged for the lock keeper PJ to meet us at the first lock so that’s it finally after months & months we’re off…

The very first section we’d cruised when we moored at Lowtown but here’s us exiting the Barrow New Line onto new waters hip hip hooray!

We firstly passed Ballyteague Castle by boat. Some of you may remember from previous blogs we’d been on walkies many time to there. We’d picked a lovely sunny day to move too.

All three locks were expertly operated for us by PJ & we made our way along the Barrow Line in the sunshine.

We moored up nicely at Rathangan. A lady helped mum pull the boat in, It’s a fantastic little spot right next to a park for us & lots of pokestops for mum.

Mum was cheered up even more as she rang the hairdressers in the village & managed to get an appointment for Saturday & the village has an Indian takeaway now she’s very happy!

Rathangan is a small town on the edge of the Bog of Allen, located about 9 miles from Kildare Town. The town gets its name from the Rath of Iomghain (c. 600AD) which sits just outside the town on the Offaly border. The Rath is approximately 55 metres in diameter, 13 metres from base to summit is encircled by a large ditch which is about 230 meters in circumference. There’s a wonderful little video of Rathangan here: Rathangan

Rathangan has a literary connection with the poet William A Byrne. His most famous poem is The Bog Lands posted below:

The purple heather is the cloak
God gave the bogland brown,
But man has made a pall o’ smoke
To hide the distant town.

Our lights are long and rich in change,
Unscreened by hill or spire,
From primrose dawn, a lovely range,
To sunset’s farewell fire.

No morning bells have we to wake
Us with their monotone,
But windy calls of quail and crake
Unto our beds are blown.

The lark’s wild flourish summons us
To work before the sun;
At eve the heart’s lone Angelus
Blesses our labour done.

We cleave the sodden, shelving bank
In sunshine and in rain,
That men by winter-fires may thank
The wielders of the slane.

Our lot is laid beyond the crime
That sullies idle hands;
So hear we through the silent time
God speaking sweet commands.

Brave joys we have and calm delight—
For which tired wealth may sigh—
The freedom of the fields of light,
The gladness of the sky.

And we have music, oh, so quaint!
The curlew and the plover,
To tease the mind with pipings faint
No memory can recover;

The reeds that pine about the pools
In wind and windless weather;
The bees that have no singing-rules
Except to buzz together.

And prayer is here to give us sight
To see the purest ends;
Each evening through the brown-turf light
The Rosary ascends.

And all night long the cricket sings
The drowsy minutes fall,—
The only pendulum that swings
Across the crannied wall.

Then we have rest, so sweet, so good,
The quiet rest you crave;
The long, deep bogland solitude
That fits a forest’s grave;

The long, strange stillness, wide and deep,
Beneath God’s loving hand,
Where, wondering at the grace of sleep,
The Guardian Angels stand.

Now Rathangan also has an extra meaning for mum as in 2009 she hired a boat with friends Alan, Gerry, Gill & Andy for a week & they set off from the Canalways Ireland hirebase at Rathangan which is no longer in operation. So mum plans to have fun retracing their route. Below is a photo of the gang about to set off & a photo of us sat in the very spot where their journey began.