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.

Definitely Not The Luck of the Irish by Cosmo (Sallins to Robertstown)

Well we returned onboard from our fabulous stay at Wooffys & Snuggles & had 4 weeks in Sallins looking after mum. We did let her out one day & she went off on a train journey seeing as cycling & cruising were off the agenda & there’s a very convenient train station in Sallins. We were still on county restrictions then so mum couldn’t go into Dublin so she headed out the other way taking in Monasterevin where we’ll pass through on our Barrow cruise if we ever get going, Kildare & Newbridge.

Monastarevin has the lift bridge pictured above which is operated by Waterways Ireland so until the lock keepers come back we won’t be able to go through there.

After 4 weeks mum decided to try a ride out on Falcon as she’d been eyeing up Blessington Lake on the map & decided it was just about doable. She ended up doing just under 50km nothing like breaking herself in gently. We give up telling her you all know what she’s like!

Set in the Wicklow Mountains, the Blessington Lakes cover 5000 acres water. The Lakes were formed 50 years ago by the building of the Poulaphouca Dam and hydroelectric station. The Poulaphouca reservoir is the largest man made lake in Ireland and is a great base for various outdoor activities. The road around the lake offers amazing views over the reservoir and the Wicklow Mountains & there’s the Blessington Greenway that you can cycle along.

Mum had picked a superb sunny day & was blessed at Blessington (see what I did there!) with wonderful view. She was also blessed with a wonderful lunch from the Texas BBQ bus but unfortunately we weren’t blessed as none of it made it back to the boat where we were left behind starving away.

As the bike ride was deemed a success & it was looking likely Ireland might see a bit of lockdown easing we decided we’d set off in the direction of the Barrow. We just went ten minutes up the Grand Canal as we’d heard a rumour of a new cafe at Digby Bridge and we weren’t disappointed. And best of all it gives out dog biscuits to well behaved dogs who visit that us that is!!!

We had a couple of days at Digby Bridge & Daquiri launched a major ball retrieval mission. Well this entails him standing at the edge barking at the ball until mum retrieved it with a stick. He was happy once he had it though he’s easily pleased.

We were luckily able to go up the three locks to Robertstown with Billie on another boat who had a lot of crew onboard. It was lovely to cruise in company for a change.

So Ireland has now announced some lockdown easing. We’re nowhere near the UK who have pubs & shops open but for us the waterways are reopening & the lock keepers are coming back which makes us very happy or it did till disaster struck.

That night after letting us out mum decided to take a bit of rubbish to the bin but ended up attempting a somersault up the towpath after tripping over the mooring rope. She knew she’d hurt herself but dosed up on painkillers immediately & went to bed. She awoke the next morning in agony so sent out a plea for help on the local boaters whatsapp group. Paul from Lowtown arrived fairly quickly & mum was whisked off to Naas A&E. After 4 hours there & an Xray it was thought mum had just got a badly bruised & swollen elbow so she came home with a sling on & painkillers. Of course its her right elbow & she is right handed. Luckily though we’re moored in quite a good spot as theres a tap here & 2 local shops & a takeaway & best of all just 100m back from the boat away from the road we can be let off lead as its no easy walking us one armed!

But the lack of Irish luck continues as mum got a call from the hospital recalling her as they’d found something on the Xray. This time it was Erin to the rescue. It really is a wonderful boating community here. Anyway the hospital gave mum the bad news that she’d actually fractured her elbow. She doesn’t need a cast on it but has to keep the sling on until her appointment at the fracture clinic ten days later, Needless to say she’s not happy! As soon as we can finally set off cruising after months of lockdown this happens.

So we’re now in Robertstown for a bit longer. Mum has also been able to register for her covid vaccine but so far has been rung up twice to clarify her details so we’re not sure if or when that’ll happen. She also has her followup appointment after surgery at the end of May in Tullamore so her diary is just full of medical appointments. Must be because she getting old!!!!

While we have been moored at Robertstown we’ve had the boat serviced & our gas switched over to the Irish bottles so that should make life a bit easier so Golden Boyz is ready to go when we can. Also we’re moored right next to a bus stop so mum has been taking advantage of that & going into Dublin now that county lockdown has been lifted. Shops & pubs are still closed but some of the museums have reopened. They all have to be prebooked online so mum has to be very organised.

So Trip one to Dublin mum had a quick walk along the Liffey up to Grand Canal Dock.

Then it was a visit to EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum It’s an excellent museum with a huge amount of interaction including getting a passport to stamp in each room. It’s the closest mum will get to needing a passport currently so she had great fun doing that.

She then wandered around Temple Bar for a while before catching the bus back.

Dublin Visit 2 mum went back to Grand Canal Dock but had more time this time to wander around & have lunch on the quayside. At some point in the future when boat rallies return we’ll join in the Dublin boat rally & cruise into Grand Canal Dock.

Next mum got her first glimpse of the Royal canal which comes out of Dublin to the north of the Grand canal & is part of the Green & Silver route which again we hope to do in the future. She also got to see the Effin Bridge which is the rail bridge that has to be operated by waterways staff to pass through.

Mum had booked a skyline tour of Croke Park. Croke Park is a Gaelic games stadium in Dublin, Ireland. Named after Archbishop Thomas Croke, it is sometimes called Croker by GAA fans and locals. It serves as both the principal national stadium of Ireland and headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association. To be honest mum wasn’t really interested in the sports side of it she wanted the views of Dublin & she wasn’t disappointed. She was the only one booked on the tour so she got her own personal guide. Obviously with no tourism currently everywhere is quiet so it is good to support venues reopening where mum can. Mum can highly recommend this tour & they offer dusk tours in the autumn so mum would love to go back & see the sunset over Dublin from above Croke Park as you know how she likes her sunsets.

Next it was a long walk to her next destination of Dublin Castle where currently you can have a wander around the state apartments although the guided tours aren’t back in operation yet. Erected in the early thirteenth century on the site of a Viking settlement, Dublin Castle served for centuries as the headquarters of English, and later British, administration in Ireland. In 1922, following Ireland’s independence, Dublin Castle was handed over to the new Irish government. It is now a major government complex and a key tourist attraction.

Then she finally just had time for a quick walk to find the quirky umbrellas street the most instagrammed spot in Dublin apparently! We have found no explanation or reason for them being there though.

So after a busy day mum was back onboard with a couple of blisters from so much walking to add to her ailments.

Now we’re awaiting the fracture clinic verdict on Monday to see if we can set off finally on our Barrow adventure. So keep your fingers & paws crossed for us everyone that we’ll be back to cruising again properly very soon.

Medical Procedures all Round by Daquiri (Lowtown to Sallins via Naas)

We bade farewell to Lowtown & cruised all of ten minutes to our favourite little Robertstown jetty where we even got a bit of sunshine.

We spent a few days here while mum was working & she also cycled to Newbridge for shopping & to check out the Whitewater shopping centre which could be a potential calendar club option if it happens here this year. Mum came back ecstatic as she found an M&S with a food section. I think this has been her highlight of 2021!!!

Mum also finally finished her next virtual cycling challenge so she has now virtually cycled the Grand Canyon. She embarked straightaway on the next one which is Lands End to John O Groats back in the Uk. Although sadly this has had to be put on hold for reasons we explain lower down.

Robertstown is nice for us as we get off lead walkies up the towpath. Here’s Cosmo in action & me… well um… not in action…. yawning!!

After a few days mum moved round to the harbour wall to fill up with water & most importantly she stocked up on dog food from the local shop & the nice man even wheeled it across for mum on a trolley. We like him!

I think mum must have come over ill as she decided to wash the boat too & that doesn’t happen often! But it turned out a fortuitous move as a lovely couple were walking past & got chatting to mum. Anyway they very kindly offered to help mum with the next locks so arrangements were made & the next day we set off to meet Sarah & Declan at the first lock. Now we nearly didn’t make it as Golden Boyz unusually was misbehaving & kept losing propulsion. We’re desperate to get the boat serviced but engineers are only covering emergency work during lockdown & mum suspects it needs a fuel filter change. Anyway we made it. We had a fabulous day as at the first lock we also met Michael the grandson of one of the old lock keepers who also helped us. It was a lovely sunny day & we had quite an audience at most of the locks. We were soon tied up at Digby Bridge & Sarah & Declan even kindly took our diesel cans to fill up.

It was a nice spot there & mum deemed it a perfect boat painting spot so she finally finished the side that she’d started way back in Oct in Ferbane so we are no longer spotty & looking smart (well on one side only). We stayed at Digby a few days & had nice walkies in both directions. Look at us being brave crossing the lock gates.

Heading in the Sallins Direction we crossed Leinster Aqueduct. It looks a long way down!

A few days later we tootled to Sallins for water & pumpout & then onwards to the next lock at McCreaveys where a few of our boater pals were moored. It was a great spot for us next to a stunning golf course & no nearby roads so lots of offlead time for us.

It was nice for mum to catch up with friends too & one day they set up an amazing Art session for the big & little kids using clingfilm between the trees & spray paint.

Mum cycled to nearby Straffan & then back via Sallins on St Paddys day which was sadly for the 2nd year running cancelled but she got a few photos of a few decorations. She also stopped at a little cafe & had Irish stew for lunch in celebration even though she did have to sit on a bench outside to eat it. Next year surely it has got to happen!!!

Then after a few days at McCreaveys our original mission sadly beckoned which was to get us to the vets for our booster jabs so we headed back to Sallins & then turned onto the Naas Branch at Soldiers Island. Soldier’s Island is a small island at the conjunction of main line of Grand Canal and the Naas branch. The triangular island at the junction is known locally as Soldier’s Island. Some say the name comes from the ghost of a soldier who hung himself there; more likely it refers to the location of a guard post during the 1798 disturbances when the canal barges were often raided by rebels.

We were then on the Naas branch & new waters for us.

The Naas Branch was constructed by an independent company in 1786, with pick and shovel. The purpose was to carry trade from Kilcullen along the Herbertstown/Corbally Branch and onwards to the main line of the Grand Canal through Sallins and onto Dublin. In the end, the canal was only built as far Corbally Harbour, a further 8km from Naas Harbour, where the water source is located. Trading ceased altogether on the Grand Canal in 1959 and the canal gradually became derelict.

In 1977, Dublin IWAI began work to restore the Naas Branch of the canal. Regular campaigning at Boat Rallies over the following years pushed for restoration of the Naas Branch. Much of this restoration work took place during the tenure of the OPW. In 1984, Kildare IWAI was formed and in 1987, the Naas Branch of the Grand Canal was officially reopened. Leinster Leader  It was 2002 when Naas Harbour was finally reopened. However, the Herbertstown/Corbally Branch has remained closed to navigation because of the obstruction and culvert under the Limerick Road.

The above exert & further info on the Naas Branch can be found here on the IWAI Kildare Page : Naas Branch

It is not used much so we were keen to travel it on the basis of use it or lose it. We were pleasantly surprised with our journey.

We spent our first night moored by the first lock N1 & wandered backwards to look at the remains of Sallins Dry Dock for which further info can be found here: Sallins Dry Dock

The next morning our hero Ais arrived to do the locks for us. They were easier than we expected since they’re barely used. There’s five in total with the second one N2 passing by Leinster Mill.

We’d fallen lucky as it was a sunny day & 2.5hours later & after passing the Naas goats we arrived in Naas harbour.

We moored up in a great spot by the Youth Centre & popped out for coffee & cake. It was great to be in a town with supermarkets & takeaways galore. Ais performed surgery on Falcon who had succumbed to a puncture from a thorn. Luckily there was a bike shop right near the canal so a puncture kit was purchased.

Naas Harbour is as far as is navigable by narrowboat. Naas Harbour is a real gem of Kildare’s county town. It boasts safe mooring in the shadow of the restored Canal Stores and is located only a short distance from all that Naas has to offer. The canal harbour at Naas is of considerable social and historical importance, having been built in the early eighteenth century, promoting the commercialisation and industrialisation of the locality. The construction of the harbour and canal section is a feat of technical engineering merit, while the cut-granite retaining walls attest to the high quality of stone masonry practised in the locality. Closed to commercial traffic in the 1961, the canal harbour has nevertheless been well maintained ever since and is an attractive and picturesque feature in the centre of the town

The harbour was even illuminated at night looking very pretty.

Interestingly opposite us a swan had made her nest on some flowerbeds right by a busy path so the council arrived & put barricades up to protect them.

Whilst we were moored at Naas Harbour we fleetingly appeared in a local comedians video. We’re at about 3mins 40secs blink & you’ll miss us!

Black Paddy in Naas

From Naas Harbour you can walk or canoe along the Corbally Branch. We walked! The recent history of Corbally goes back to 1811, when the canal was first built as a transport hub for Tuthill & Reeves, the Mill located 2 miles away in Athgarvan near Newbridge.  Its industrial history revolved around the shipping of goods to Newbridge, Kilcullen and Athgarvan and the transport of malt along the Harbour Road to Corbally, where it was loaded onto barges in the Harbour, and then carried along the Grand Canal to the Arthur Guinness Brewery in Dublin. Today unfortunately, the culvert at the R445 makes it impassable to walkers, cyclists and boaters. It still acts as a feeder for the Naas branch.

We walked as far as Jigginstown Castle which was buried under scaffolding for refurbishment.

Each year there is a big Naas Rally in October & we’ve got our fingers crossed that maybe just maybe that one will happen this year. Here’s the programme from the last rally Naas Rally

Anyway sadly our reason for being at Naas loomed large & we were frogmarched off to a vets within walking distance. I went in first as mum rudely said I was the worst behaved!! The vet said I was very good or something along the lines of I’ll do anything for a treat!! Anyway there’s fabulous news as I’m no longer fat!! Apparently I’m only 0.7kg heavier than Cosmo now so yay I can have bigger dinners & more treats I reckon!!

Sadly our visit to Naas was cut short as the day we arrived mum got a surprise phonecall from Tullamore Hospital to say that she could come in for her gall bladder operation the next week. We expected there to be a massive backlog & to be honest expected to wait until 2022 for the op. Now although this cut our visit short the timing is so much better than getting the call just as we come out of lockdown so mum grabbed the opportunity. She thought as there was noone else moored at Naas it was better to return to Sallins to be by other boats as she will have no heavy lifting for 4-6 weeks which we presume includes a 16 tonne boat! So a rallying cry for help was sent our & Damien from Sallins kindly came down with his 2 boys & whizzed us back up the locks. So Naas has gone on our list to go back to when we can so we can explore properly.

So it was operation operation if you get my drift! Two lovely boater friends Erin & Dave who have recently had a baby have hired a cottage for a few weeks & so kindly offered for mum to stay with them as she’s supposed to have someone with her the night of the op & Dave ferried mum to & from the hospital. We were booked into kennels as apparently we pull – us as if!!!

So Monday mum was off to the hospital for her pre op of an ECG, covid swab & blood tests. It was hilarious she came back having had something stuck up her nose – we have no sympathy as she knows how we feel having the kennel cough squirty thing up our noses every year. Tuesday we were shipped off to Wuffys & Snuggles & boy oh boy it was fantastic. We have a huge paddock to run around & other doggies come & visit on daycare. We might stay here & not go back to the boat!

So while we were here mum was shipped off to Tullamore Hospital. She hadn’t realised that keyhole surgery meant you got a general anaesthetic & put on a ventilator so it was a bit bigger procedure than she’d realised.

She has 4 little insertions in her tummy & her gall bladder has now been removed. Apparently we don’t need it anyway bit like our appendix. She’s very fragile & was woozy for a day or two but is recovering while we’re partying at Wuffys.

Once we’re back we’ll have to stay put for a few weeks as mum can’t manage pulling the boat in to moor up but as the lockdown in Ireland is never ending we’re not missing much. Mum is hoping to get the boat serviced before we move & then we’ll be off adventuring again.

The big news is some friends of ours from the UK have just arrived with their boat & they have a fab doggie called Philpot so here he is making his debut in the Golden Boyz blog. Oh & his mum & dad Steve & Rosie!!

So although yet again its been a period of minimal cruising we’ve still had some adventures. Now for a change we haven’t got our usual sunset photos but mum did get some fantastic shots of a swan in flight at McCreaveys so we’ll finish with those this time and with an Irish Toast that we think you’ll like.

Our One Fecking Year Anniversary by Daquiri (Tullamore to Lowtown)

Well it’s hard to believe but today is exactly one year since we arrived in Ireland & what a fecking year. Little did we know at that time that we’d only get 4 weeks cruising & then the waterways would be closed. Then opened again briefly in the summer (which we made the most of on Lough Derg) then closed again in October & as we stand currently no chance of even being considered to be reopened until at least April. So its a year since we’ve seen any of our friends & so many of them had plans to come over. We’re not sure when that will happen but we cannot wait & it’ll be a mega time when it does. We miss everyone so much over here. And the pubs are closed I mean how unlucky is that to be in Ireland for a whole year & the pubs are closed for a year!! And St Paddys day cancelled for not just one but now 2 years!!! That was mums big dream to get over here & be in an Irish pub with music playing on St Paddys day. Paws crossed for 2022.

So we thought as its our anniversary we’d better update our blog not that we’ve done much or gone far. We had to leave Tullamore as we needed pumpout & the one in the harbour there is broken. We had a choice of 35km back to Shannon harbour & lots of locks or 50km up to Lowtown & less locks with most of them being all together. With the restrictions Waterways Ireland were unable to help mum with the locks so we decided less locks the better. Luckily Tom from IWAI Offaly came to mums rescue as we didn’t really know how we were gonna manage & try as we might we couldn’t persuade mum to start cocking her leg up a tree! So on a beautiful sunny but vey cold day we bade farewell to Tullamore & headed up to Ballycommon.

Mum enjoyed being able to cruise again but we were quite happy in by the fire as she came in looking frozen. It didn’t take us too long to do all the locks & we were moored up by early afternoon. Mum was straight out again as she’d been dying to cycle up the old Kilbeggan branch as last time she was here she didn’t have Falcon. She came back frozen again & then spent the evening hanging out of the window taking photos of the lights on the big radio mast here right next to the boat odd woman!

The next morning dawned even colder & there was a touch of ice on the canal. We had quick walkies along the Kilbeggan Branch well we did when we stopped doing rolypolys & then we were off again.

We then hit a bit more ice which was the cue for mum to start whinging about her blacking & Cosmo to start trembling like a wuss as we cruised through it. So we only went as far as Daingean & tied up on the mooring there. As we were tying up two lovely ladies came across to say hello as they said they followed us on Instagram & they’d wanted to meet us. Yay we’re famous!

The next morning we woke up & it had snowed!! Mum made us sit for photos in it. Does he not realise how cold it is on our bottoms?! But the canal had unfrozen itself & mum had been struggling for signal at Daingean so yet again we were off.

It was a much longer day today with the Ice Queen out the back on the tiller & us snuggled by the fire.

Mr Heron didn’t seem bothered. he was out without even any slippers on! Mum had intended to stop at Edenderry but as she started to take the sharp turn under the bridge she could see the arm was iced over so it was a quick reverse out & we went up to the lock at Ticknevin. By now mum really was cold & could barely feel her fingers to tie the boat up. But she soon warmed up by the fire. Now those of you who have followed our blog for a while may remember we moored here some of the time during the first lockdown also on the way to the pumpout! It is here that mum has taken some of her most spectacular sunset shots. We didn’t quite get the sunsets but we did get some beautiful wintry photos. Note Cosmo posing I was too busy doing rolypolys so mum gave up taking my photo!

We stayed a few days there & mum went on a nice cycle ride up to Derrinturn & Carbury then we tootled along to another favourite mooring at Allenwood. Mum was able to catch the bus here right from the bridge & go into a big supermarket in Edenderry to buy the funny stuff she’s now eating on her funny diet. She had a rather smashing time as she bought some new dishes for the boat but they fell out of the bottom of her bag on the bus & smashed all over the floor so don’t think she was so impressed at that.

We started to see in the weather forecasts that the big Beast from the East Two was due & as we were playing Russian roulette on the toilet filling mum thought she’d better move up to Lowtown & get pumpout as we might have been frozen in for weeks according to the newspapers!!! We have fond memories of Beast from the East 1 when we moored at the wonderful Campbell Park in Milton Keynes so we had lots of great walkies in the snow.

There are a lot of boats moored at Lowtown & a few of our friends who we’d met in the summer so it was nice for mum to have a bit of company as she spends so much time with just us & we’re not great at chatting! Lowtown is the junction of both the Old & New Barrow Lines with the Grand Canal. We’d come straight through Lowtown earlier in the year so we were actually now on new waters for us as we moored just up the Barrow Old Line.

As it was quite full we had to moor a bit down the arm on quite a long plank but the snag was the plank was going uphill. Now for once we were Ok but as it was frosty it was slippy for mum so you’ll never guess what she did! She took a leaf out of our book & went in & out of the boat on all fours crawling along the plank. We asked her if she wanted to go out for walkies like that too but she didn’t seem keen. Well it was a good job we got to Lowtown as the Beast from the East 2 hit with full force when morning when we had to clear about 1mm of slush off the planks!!!!

Now while we were at Lowtown an exciting event happened as our Xmas presents from Grandad (Mums Dad) arrived. Now these presents have been doing more travelling than the rest of us. They left Preston travelled to York with mums brother Andrew & were then posted to Ireland only to get caught up in the whole we’re not delivering to Ireland Brexit fiasco! After sitting in a postal depot for weeks they were finally en route & made it to Athlone only to promptly have their tracking status changed to Returned to Sender! So off they went back to York. Andrew reposted them with a different carrier & this time they made it to their end destination c/o Ann in Ferbane who was bringing them to us at Tullamore as thats where we were originally moored at the start … are you following this? Of course we’re now 50km away. Anyway crisis solved as Ann dropped them up Jimmy the lock keepers house & he brought them up when he was covering Lowtown. So many weeks & a lot of miles later our Xmas presents parcel arrived at Golden Boyz. Cosmo has a new mate Mr Turkey!!!

So inbetween our few days cruising what else has been happening apart from walkies & cycle rides. Mum has finished her macrame plant holder for in the cratch & she has done a multicoloured giraffe in paint by numbers which actually looks surprisingly good as long as you don’t look too close.

Mum is also incredibly busy with work. In the first lockdown Ad-extra decide to expand into offering Facebook advertising as well as Google advertising & this now seems to be paying off as mum has a lot of new customers coming onboard. Unfortunately we need a good internet signal for that as mum uploads lots of photos & videos & the trees were not helping that at Lowtown so we moved slightly down the Barrow Old Line to the next lock & the signal was much better here. It’s a nice rural spot though the path is a tad on the muddy side! This is where the old & new lines meet.

Just a short walk along the canal is Hendys or Ballyteague Castle.

“The castle at Ballyteague was designed as a genuine looking three storey Norman style Castle that was pleasing to the eye in a bucolic setting. It is thought that some of the original stone of the earlier medieval tower house may have been incorporated into the building of this folly. The tower was owned by the Thornton family in the early part of the last century and eventually came into the hands of Tom Hendy a well thought of and noted historian who collected and kept many local historical artefacts within the castle. Tom unfortunately died in 2010. “

Upon researching about the castle we heard that a relative Anita Hendy still lives in the area & is the author of some delightful books & there is a local trail that you can cycle that follows through the books after a visit to the Authors House in non Covid times. The books are The Magic of an Irish Castle which is based on Ballyteague Castle, The Magic of an Irish Cottage based on a thatched cottage nearby, The Magic of an Irish Church, The Magic of an Irish Bog & The Magic of an Irish Canal with the tale of Ramble McShambles & his barge. However, it is a very special barge owned by an even more special man, Rambles McShambles, that they are always on the look out for. This kind old man keeps many pets on board and he makes friends with all the children living along the canal. He’s very high in mums estimations as he plays a tin whistle!!!

Excerpt from ‘The Magic of an Irish Canal .’

“After a while, and tired from playing, Rambles put the tin whistle back in his breast pocket. Taking a long drink of cool water, he wiped his moist brow with a cotton hanky. The children hopped quickly down from the table, and settled around. With the glow of a candle throwing out shadows on the walls, they made an Allen Little Theatre Group all of their own. Sitting up close to Rambles, tiny fingers, with a light angel’s touch, fidgeted with the flap of his deep-patched pockets. Rambles looked down tenderly at the darling little ones and remembered his childhood. Then, a great silence hung in the air. The old man was about to tell one of his great canal stories. His mischievous eyes began to glow with the passionate wisdom of a master bard. Precious words, formed like bubbles by his breath, rode out on his tongue. Then, like daisies in a chain, the words made long and short sentences.

The lilt of his Irish accent echoed around the walls of the cabin. Seeing the children’s eyes open wide with wonder or close tight with fright, only spurred him on. He just kept inventing more characters, delicate fairies, ghostly creatures, and brave guards carrying blunderbusses to protect canal passengers from wicked highwaymen. Because the whole story came from Rambles good heart, the children truly felt as if they were living it. And so, they cried in the sad part and fell about laughing in the happy bit. But it was only when they felt the love the hero had for the heroine that their ripe red hearts truly blossomed.”

Mum is itching to get hold of the books & cycle along the trail now. Lots more info here : Anita Hendys Books

As we are moored above a lock again mum has been out snapping some of her sunset photos. Hendys Castle is just to the right of the canal in the distance on these photos

Now mum being mum is getting a bit frustrated sitting staring at a lock not being able to use it so her mind has been working overtime plotting how she can singlehand the locks without ladders. Anyway a plan was hatched ( well 4 plans were but the first one worked so we’ve not tested the rest yet) & mum has managed to get through the lock by putting a second centre line on the boat with a chain on the end then she can lean over the bridge with her magnet & pull the chain & the attached rope up & then pull Golden Boyz through the bridge. Although it may not work at every lock if it works at some its a bonus & it worked here so we’ve dropped down the lock & are now moored on a jetty rather than planks & a muddy towpath. So mums hairbrained scheme worked. We will head back to Lowtown shortly as we’ll need water again soon.

We have had our lockdown extended again this time for another 6 weeks so the waterways aren’t opening anytime soon. On an unfortunate downside of us being here a year now means that our annual booster vaccinations are due so we’re going to slowly move to a town where we can be walked to the vets for our ordeal!

So we don’t really know our plans yet for 2021 as we don’t know when the waterways will reopen but it’s another year cut short already so we’re contemplating doing the River Barrow this year & hopefully 2022 will be better & we’ll be able to explore further afield & maybe just maybe some of the boat events & rallies will be back on. Fingers & Paws crossed.

Review of 2020 by Cosmo & Daquiri (UK to Ireland!!)

We were reminiscing yesterday & looking back through photos so we thought we’d do a photo blog review of the year. It feels like we’ve had the worst year & our dreams been shattered but when we look back the whole goal of coming to Ireland has been achieved & we’ve had many many wonderful experiences & met the most wonderful people. We hope you enjoy our trip down memory lane of 2020.

January 2020

As is normal for us the year starts with the last few days of Calendar Club & the massive closedown task. We bade a sad farewell to our assistants & drinking partners Jan & Haydn. We had fully intended to do a shop in Ireland in 2020 but sadly none were opened this year

Then started the rounds of farewell get togethers the first with our boating pals when we hired two double decker buses with hot tubs for a special farewell weekend.

Golden Boyz was moved through Milton Keynes so it could be blacked & craned out. Unfortunately the boatyard that we’d booked months previous let us down with 2 weeks to go so it was a mad scramble to find elsewhere. On the way we bade farewell to our very special furry pals Sylahra Golden Retrievers (& now there’s even more of them arrived since we left!)

February 2020

February was a flurry of farewells as we counted down the days till our departure on 26 Feb. Sorry couldn’t get everyone’s photos in but here’s a few

Then the big day dawned. Us, mum & Auntie Joy went on a big boat (ferry) from Fishgaurd to Rosslare & Golden Boyz went on the overnight ferry from Holyhead to Dublin & we were reunited at Sallins for crane in. Our biggest moment of 2020!

March 2020

A couple of days later we started our mega Ireland waterways cruise not knowing we’d soon be halted in our wake.

Our first mooring was at Robertstown & from there mum caught a bus into Dublin had lunch in a pub & took part in a hilarious silent Disco tour of Dublin. None of which would normally be that monumental but it became the last meal we had in a pub & last time mum danced for quite some time not that we knew that then. We attended at IWAI meeting to hear details about the Big Cruise 2020 which we’d come over to join in. What twists & turns life takes. We bade farewell to Auntie Joy not knowing she would be the last of our friends that we’d see for at least a year. Many friends at this stage had plans to come over & visit us.

Next cruising stop was Allenwood as there were rumblings on the news that Ireland would maybe go into a lockdown. Coincidentally we read recently that the first case of coronavirus in Ireland was detected on 27 Feb which was the same day as we arrived! It wasn’t us that brought it honest!!

We mastered the planks which we’d never done before so this was a huge achievement & would prove to be a very necessary skill in Ireland.

Our house Holly Cottage was finally put on the market for the third time. This time mum had it staged so it didn’t look so tired after the various ravages of tenants. It looked amazing & was definitely a good move as we got 54 viewings in 2 weeks (we actually stopped them at this point) & it sold at considerably more than the asking price hurray!!!!!!

Lockdown rumours were rumbling stronger & not knowing the area at all we made for the nearest town so we had shops & water which was Edenderry. The waterways were closed down & we were only allowed 2km away from our boat.

April 2020

I think we ended up spending nearly 6 weeks here. We were bewildered & lonely & felt completely out of our depth with everything happening. We’d ended up in a new country & every mechanism for exploring & making friends had been removed from us. All the events we’d planned to join in one by one were cancelled. It really was the most bizarre of times.

But it was here we started to experience the true spirit of Irish people. IWAI put Sean & his wife Ger in contact with us & they did a marvellous job of helping mum. Sean fetched gas & diesel for mum & even fixed her waterpump when it started leaking. Some of the locals started to get to know mum & us & we got a wonderful surprise Easter Gift & some home baked cookies (we liked those a lot!)

We were given permission to move by Waterways Ireland towards the end of April to go & get pumpout. We had to track backwards to Lowtown & we spent a few days moored at Ticknevin. It was so good to be back out in countryside. We are very nomadic in nature rarely stopping in one place for too long so the lockdown had totally removed our essence of freedom that we thrive on. Whilst here we saw the first of the many spectacular sunsets we’d experience in Ireland.

May 2020

Still in lockdown we took part in the fantastic fun event: a Virtual BCN Challenge Cruise. Each year there’s a 24 hour cruising challenge around the Birmingham Canal Networks that boat teams compete in but this year it was all done online.

Lockdown was loosened slightly & we cruised further along the Grand Canal enjoying stops at Rhode, Daingean & Ballycommon & seeing for the first time the peat bogs of Ireland.

June 2020

At Ballycommon we found out that the pumpout at Tullamore wasn’t working so we had to turn round & go all the way back to Lowtown again. But all was not lost as we met up with the lovely Sallins crowd who had started moving again now lockdown loosened so we continued on along the Grand Canal now in company which was wonderful for a change.

We travelled along the Grand Canal taking in the new stops of Tullamore, Pollagh, Rahan & finally arriving at Shannon Harbour.

Lockdown was eased further & joy oh joy we were allowed to go the pub for a meal. It was such an exciting wonderful happy evening.

At Shannon Harbour we went our separate ways as the others were completing the Green & Silver route encompassing both the Royal & Grand canals & passage through Dublin whereas I decided to explore Lough Derg for the summer.

July 2020

So its at this point that mum had to pull up her big girl pants & brave river cruising on her own as we set off on the mighty River Shannon. It was only a short but scarey for us cruise to the first stop at Banagher as we got used to navigating between the red & green markers.

We stayed there a couple of days then hopped down a bit to Meelick Quay. We loved the mooring there.

Then the fear factor went off the scale as we ventured further down river & out onto Lough Derg. We met the amazing Wendy & Fergal at Portumna who became very good friends of ours & give mum lots of invaluable help & advice on Lough Derg. Daquiri also took a shine to Sophie their little doggie. To get onto Lough Derg we had to pass through the timed opening of Portumna Bridge which unfortunately for us meant lots of other boats coming through at the same time. Being very green we also hadn’t picked the calmest of days & between that & boats racing past both sides of us our initial journey out onto Lough Derg was nothing short of terrifying. With great relief we tied up at Portumna Harbour.

At this stage mum was seriously thinking she’d made a big mistake coming to Ireland on her own. But with lots of coaching from Fergal mum picked the calmest of days for her next journey & although not sleeping at all the night before we eventually braved the next hop down the lough to Rossmore. The journey although still quite scarey for us was a million times better than our entrance onto the lough. Rossmore was a divine mooring & we finally felt as if our Irish dream had come true & mum particularly enjoyed the wild swimming in the lough being able to swim around Golden Boyz. Magical. We were also blessed with gorgeous hot weather.

Wendy & Fergal joined us at Rossmore & we cruised together a couple of days later to Drumaan Harbour. Mum was starting to feel a lot more confident with the navigating & weather judging now so the cruises were becoming more enjoyable. Wendy & Fergal took mum for a little trip on their zoomy boat to see the next couple of harbours.

After Drumaan we cruised across to Dromineer then down to Mountshannon where we met the fantastic Liam & Yogi who helped us tie up & introduced us to the delightful Brid from Holy island tours who was an angel getting us shopping as needed.

August 2020

Unfortunately we ended up staying longer at Mountshannon than intended as our alternator went. Luckily we were on shore power. It was Fergal to the rescue again as the alternator was refurbished. Whilst there we had a fabulous trip across to Holy Island & spent many an evening swimming within its view. Also one night a group of boaters sat out on the harbour wall & played traditional music which was fantastic. It was one of the things we’d come over for but so far not experienced.

We were eventually shipshape again & set off to Killaloe at the very bottom of Lough Derg.

Whilst at Killaloe mum went on a cruise of Lough Derg & we got an addition to the Golden Boyz crew – Falcon an electric bike!

Now we’d specifically only ventured onto the lough during summer so we had kinder weather but 2020 had other plans. Whilst at Killaloe we had 2 massive storms which would be scarey enough on the canals but on the lough??!! We were in as sheltered a spot as we could be on the excellent recommendation of Susie & we lived to tell the tale although not much sleep was had those nights!

After Killaoe we started our return back up the lough stopping at Garrykennedy & Terryglass before returning to Portumna where we’d started.

September 2020

After all the storms the River Shannon was flowing much stronger when we departed the Lough but we decided to try & get off as we didn’t want to get stuck there as they turn off all electric & more importantly water over winter on the lough. So we had a final meal with Wendy & Fergal & made our way slowly off the Shannon & back to Shannon Harbour,

We started to make our way slowly back along the Grand Canal the way we’d come out in June. With mum having Falcon now she was able to go on bike rides to nearby places & she particularly enjoyed visiting Clonmacmoise & the rather splendid Clonony Castle.

October 2020

Rumblings of another lockdown started so we headed to Ferbane as we knew there was a water tap there & mum could cycle into the village from there.

Sure enough another 6 week lockdown was announced on 23 Oct so we stayed at Ferbane 7 weeks in total. Ann in the bungalow opposite was amazingly helpful taking post in for mum & getting extra shopping for her. Mum did a few cycle rides to nearby Lough Boora & she took part in a virtual cycling challenge doing the Ring of Kerry.

November 2020

Mum hadn’t been feeling well recently so whilst in one location she registered at a Drs. After bloodtests & a scan mum has to have a small operation next year at Tullamore so we’ll be staying roughly in this vicinity for a while now. Whilst at Ferbane we discovered a local fuel company who would deliver diesel to us which is a relief as our stove runs on diesel.

Dec 2020

On 1st Dec lockdown was lifted so we could now cruise within our county. We had to turn round & head back to Shannon Harbour as the pumpout at Tullamore is still broken. Just after having sorted that as we were leaving Shannon Harbour our alternator belt went. So we pulled up there for a couple of days & a fellow boater fixed it for us. Then we were off again back the way we’d come up to Pollagh for the Xmas lights switch on.

Then finally it was up to Tullamore for the Xmas period.

We’d booked to go away to near Belfast for New Year but this was cancelled so we hastily boked a break across Xmas to see the Ring of Kerry instead. Unfortnatley mum fell off her bike just before we set off & we think she may have broken a rib or two so although we went a lot of the break was spent in pain for mum. However we did get to drive around the Ring of Kerry & see some amazing scenery.

We returned home & the very next morning we got our first Irish snow.

As we type this we have just gone back into lockdown again & the waterways have closed for the third time.

So despite coronavirus & injuries & breakdowns we have truly had the most amazing year. We have no idea of plans for 2021 hopefully some new cruising routes. We hope you’ll join us along the way & if you do happen to see us on the journey please do stop us & say hello & if you have any unwanted dog biscuits…. just saying!!!

Xmas Holidays by Cosmo (The Ring of Kerry)

We were doing well at our mooring at Tullamore & mum was happy as she had access to shops & could cycle to the swimming pool. That was until disaster struck & mum fell off Falcon. Her back wheel went down a gap in tarmac & mum fell right near the boat. Luckily in one way as she hit the railings so didn’t go in the canal But she banged her back badly on the railings & her thigh hit the tarmac got a massive bruise. Her back was quite sore but dosed up on painkillers she was able to function although our lead pulling was apparently not helpful!

Unfortunately things started to go astray at this point. In the summer mum had booked a lovely coastguards cottage up near Belfast doggie friendly of course for over New Year. Once Xmas restrictions had been announced that they were being lifted we paid the balance & the security deposit. However, then the situation deteriorated in Northern Ireland so it was decided they were going into lockdown from Boxing Day which meant our holiday was no more. Mum then decided to book somewhere in southern Ireland instead as we were still allowed to travel. She struck upon the idea of going to Kerry so she could see the Ring of Kerry that she’d cycled around virtually & even maybe cycle a part of it. It’s not easy finding doggie friendly cottages that will take 2 dogs the limited number that take dogs often state one dog only. I suggested we leave Daquiri on the boat for the week but mum wasn’t impressed with that idea!

Anyway the situation was saved as mum found a lovely cottage right on the coast at Portmagee which actually took up to 4 dogs! Daquiri wanted his girlfriend Sophie to come but her mum was working over Xmas. Here’s our little well actually quite big cottage!

Pattys Portmagee

So a stupid van was hired & we were packed into it along with Falcon & lots of bags of food & bubble bath. We still don’t like going in those van things. And off we set on our 4 hour drive to Portmagee. We made it just before dusk which was a good job as it was quite remote so we found it ok in daylight.

It was really nice with all mod cons for mum microwave, washer, tumble dryer & even a dishwasher but of course she was most excited about the bath & was straight in there with a glass of wine! Marie had lit the fire for us for our arrival so we chilled out in front of that very cosy it was.

The next morning we set off up the lane on our first walkies to the Cliffs of Kerry which were literally 5 minutes from our cottage. Sadly they were closed which was shame especially as we were bundled into the stupid van instead.

Kerry Cliffs

First mum drove down to the village of Portmagee.

Portmagee is a little bit special. It’s often described as “a picturesque and sleepy little fishing village on the South Western most tip of the Iveragh peninsula, just off the Ring of Kerry. The village is located on the Iveragh peninsula south of Valentia Island, and is known locally as ‘the ferry‘, in reference to its purpose as a crossing point to the island. Access to Valentia Island is now via the Maurice O’Neill Memorial Bridge from Portmagee, which was built in 1970 and named in memory of a member of the IRA executed in 1942 for his part in the shooting dead of Detective George Mordaunt in Dublin. The name Portmagee (Port Magee and Magee’s Port as it was formerly known) comes from Captain Theobald Magee, a notorious 18th-century smuggler.

Portmagee was a key filming location for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi in recent years. Star Wars fanatics have the option of sailing around the isolated island of Skellig Michael, on an organised boat trip from Portmagee. This rocky and uninhabited island is located 12 miles off the southwest of Co Kerry and where ‘The Force Awakens’ and ‘The Last Jedi’ were filmed. At certain times of the year, you can also dock at the Unesco World Heritage Site and visit the stone beehive-shaped huts, that were built as part of a monastery in the 6th century. These huts were also used in the filming of the last Jedi as the island is the location of the first Jedi temple in the film.

We drove across the bridge to Valentia Island & the first photo stop was Bray Head the most westerly point on the Island. The western part of the island is dominated by the barren, dramatic cliffs of Bray Head which command spectacular views of the Kerry coastline. It was a wet & windy day. The Island is approximately 11 kilometres (7 miles) long by almost 3 kilometres (2 miles) wide

We then continued up to Fogher Cliffs where we were released from our van prison for walkies yay

It was very high up & mum made us sit at the top for a photo good job there were railings there.

The we continued our climb up the Geokaun Mountains & we got another walkie this is turning into a rather good day. The highest mountain on Valentia Island and the sea cliffs of 600 feet (180 m) on its northern face. That’s Daquiri doing roly polys I’m being a good boy.

The scenery was stunning even us furpals could appreciate it. Although it is winter it’s quite nice to see the Island without any other tourists. We had all the stops to ourselves.

The weather now started to deteriorate so mum drove to the east of the island & had a quick stop at Knightstown.

Valentia was the eastern terminus of the first commercially viable transatlantic telegraph cable. The first attempt in 1857 to land a cable from Ballycarbery Strand on the mainland just east of Valentia Island ended in disappointment. After subsequent failures of cables landed at Knightstown in 1858 and Foilhommerum Bay in 1865, the vast endeavor finally resulted in commercially viable transatlantic telegraph communications from Foilhommerum Bay to Heart’s Content, Newfoundland in 1866. Transatlantic telegraph cables operated from Valentia Island for one hundred years, ending with Western Union International terminating its cable operations in 1966.

 A car ferry also departs from Reenard Point to Knightstown, the island’s main settlement, from April to October.

We continued our circuit of the island & stopped off at Valentia Lighthouse which of course was closed. Built on the site of a 17th century fort, Valentia Island Lighthouse at Cromwell Point has stood against sea and invader for hundreds of years.

We then returned back to our cosy cottage so we could snooze & mum was straight back in the bath!

Next day was deemed a chill out day but then disaster struck. It started with a fairly innocent event – Mum sneezed!!! Well whatever she had done to her back falling off the bike was just made a million times worse. She nearly shot through the ceiling with pain. She could barely move we were quite concerned for the future of our walkies. She spent the rest of the day dosed up on painkillers & in a pretty bad way.

That night she thought she was stuck in the bed it took her about 30mins to get up & the pain had got much worse. She managed to speak to Marie next door who very kindly went & got her stronger painkillers, voltarol & lent mum a heated back brace. Over the course of the next 3 days mum barely moved around. We missed our Xmas day dinner as mum wasn’t up to eating much but eventually the pain got a bit more manageable. poor mum we think she’s probably cracked a rib when she fell & the sneeze has either cracked it further or broken it. There’s not much you can do for ribs so its just rest & pain relief. It wasn’t the Xmas we’d planned that was for sure. We were taken on very short walkies or shuffles up the lane each day & we got shouted at a lot if we pulled on the lead!

On Boxing Day or St Stephens Day as it’s referred to here in Ireland mum thankfully managed to cook our Xmas dinner. It’s always dinner for three! There was trouble at the mill though as Daquiri finished his first & then tried to eat mine!!! Mum soon put him in his place cheeky monkey!

On 27th Dec mum decided she’d try to drive the van as our departure was looming & at this point we weren’t sure if she’d be able to. So we were loaded into the van prison & off we set. She did better than expected she was worried about using the gears as its her left hand side that’s hurt but she managed that Ok the only painful manoeuvre is the handbrake. As she was doing Ok she decided to drive the Skelling Ring.

The ring of Skellig is an extension of the famous Ring of Kerry (which is our ultimate goal) and is a real hidden gem – a small, 20 mile (app 32km) route .The Skellig Ring (or Ring of Skellig), detours west off the N70 just north of Waterville, and hooks back up to the Ring of Kerry just south of Caherciveen. It was a stunning drive & a real tonic for mum after her 3 days of confinement. Here’s a few of the amazing photos she took.

The next day we had a rest day as mum wanted to see how her back held up (& really she wanted to watch a few more episodes of Downton Abbey tucked up in front of our lovely warm fire!).

On our final day mum decided to go for it & drive the full Ring of Kerry. This had been her initial goal coming here. She had hoped to cycle a bit of it but that was definitely off the cards & Falcon never even made it out of the van! She had chosen well as for the main part it was a stunning day.

In essence, the Ring of Kerry is the ring road that follows the coastal contours of Kerry’s Iveragh Peninsula. The Ring of Kerry is one of Ireland’s most famous circuits and a popular holiday route to drive. Much more than a simple driving route, the Ring of Kerry is an iconic destination wrapped in a stunning visual history, with diverse wildlife scattered across Ireland’s lush green hills. The Ring of Kerry circuit measures 179km (111 miles) in length and the route takes around 3.5 hours to drive around without stopping.

Ring of Kerry

It is somewhere we’ll have to come back to as there’s many places we’d have liked to explore further on the route. We drove along the coastal section & passed through the very pretty colourful village of Sneem.

We then drove on the inland section through Killarney National Park which was equally as stunning as the coastal sections.

Passing through the busy town of Killarney with some very big posh hotels we came back round to Killorglin which then joined the route that we had initially come in on from Tullamore. We returned to the cottage with a happy mum that her goal had been achieved. We highly recommend the Ring of Kerry as a must do to anyone visiting Ireland & Pattys cottage in Portmagee is an ideal base.

The following day we had to pack up & head on the 4 hour drive home. We really didn’t want to go home but with new restrictions imminent we had to face reality. Although our Xmas has not quite been as planned we’re very glad we got away as the virus news was not good upon our return back.

We were all tired once back & the boat was absolutely freezing. We had an early night & we awoke to our first Irish snow so it was a good job we’d come back the day before. The country has now gone into full level 5 lockdown so shops are now closed & we’re not allowed 5km away from the boat. This of course means for the third time since we arrived in Ireland the waterways have closed. 2020 has certainly not been the year we planned but we’ve still had lots of fun moments & met lots of wonderful people. Check out our next blog for a photo review of 2020. It seems a long time ago since Golden Boyz was craned in at Sallins.

Released by Daquiri (Ferbane to Tullamore)

Well we managed our 6 weeks lockdown which meant we were actually at Ferbane for 7 weeks as we’d arrived a week earlier. Mum achieved lots of her goals; all of Game of Thrones has been watched, all the crochet squares are done for the blanket so they now need the big job of joining them all together when mum has got more wool & the big one mum finished her virtual cycle ride around The Ring of Kerry.

Of course never one to rest on her laurels she’s doing the Grand Canyon now. Mum has also progressed our cratch revamp; all the wood has been varnished & the paint redone with us getting a new colour of blue for the front door.

Mum also thought she’d make some plant holders for the cratch in macrame which is something she’d never tried before. These are still a work in progress!

Other goals are still ongoing including the blasted tin whistle one!

Partway through our stay at Ferbane we tried out the excellent fuel delivery services of Flaherty Fuels which turned out to be a vey good move. The lorry reversed down to the boat & we filled our tank & our cans so we can keep our stove on & stay toastie warm. No diesel boats here like in the UK.

As we had to untie to pull back a bit for fuel mum took the opportunity to go & turn round as we knew at some point we needed to head back to Shannon Harbour for pumpout. It was even harder to moor up the other way as water levels had dropped so we ended up right on the tips of our 8ft planks. Miraculously none of us went in.

The last few months mum hadn’t been feeing well so seeing as we were stuck in one spot she thought she’d try registering with a Dr here. What a difference to the UK where it is so hard to get on the books of any Dr. One phonecall then she was rung back in ten mins & an appointment the same day. No bother at all not having an address they just rung mum instead. Mum had to have full blood tests which all came back healthy & clear but she was also sent for a scan to Tullamore Hospital. The lovely Ann took mum in & she got to go in a supermarket too which was a major excitement. Anyway poor mum has to have an operation so we have an appointment to see a consultant & we’re hoping the op is done over winter so we can go cruising again. But until it is we will stay within reasonable distance of Tullamore. We’re being good boyz & looking after mum lol.

Anyway finally the big day of 1 Dec arrived & we went out of our level 5 lockdown which meant we were now allowed to cruise within our county not just 5km. So that was it we bid farewell to Gallen for now & we were off on a very misty day to Shannon Harbour.

Unfortunately there disaster struck. Mum had luckily just turned round & got pumpout & was setting off back past Ferbane towards Pollagh when Golden Boyz alternator belt went. Mum pulled up immediately as to be honest at least we were near help. Another boater Gavin on one of the barges took mum the next day to a place out past Banagher that was a treasure trove of supplies for vehicles & they had the right belt for us phew! We bought 2 so we now have a spare & Gavin fitted it for mum.

While we were stuck at Shannon Harbour we went for walkies down towards the Shannon where we’d been before & it was incredible to see how it had spread across all the fields. Apparently this is normal in winter without even flood conditions. It was amazing to see.

Mum also cycled down to Banagher to see the difference in river levels there too. The harbour walls were above our roof in the summer now you’d step down to them & apparently it sometimes gets much worse than that! Let’s just say we’re glad we’re on the canal for winter!!

We departed Shannon Harbour on a beautiful but bitterly cold morning headed for Pollagh.

We were nice & warm & cosy indoors by the fire while mum braved the arctic outside.

After Alan saw us through the three locks mum decided to keep going to try & make it to Pollagh in one day despite the cold so she could have a lie in & a nice warm day inside on Saturday. All was going well albeit cold till Derry Bridge when the weather got even worse. It started raining & the rain was so hard & cold it almost felt like hail & the wind picked up gusting across the bog & rocking Golden Boyz from side to side disturbing our sleep! Eventually after passing the guys working on the new greenway Pollagh jetty came into sight, However mum had real fun & game mooring up as the wind blew her across the other side. Anyway after nearly giving up & mooring diagonally she finally managed to use the centre line as a pivot & get the bow across the same side of the canal as the stern. None of it was helped that by now she couldn’t feel her fingers or her toes. Once tied up we were only let out for a quick cockaleggie as mum was too cold to walk us. I think we saw an icicle hanging off her nose!!

Anyway we’d achieved our mission as mum was aiming to get to Pollagh for the Xmas lights switch on & decorate our boat up too. So on Saturday we had great fun joining in with that.

And we got a huge bonus as Santa came to visit & brought us (well mum) a present too which has been put away till Xmas.

We also had another surprise as a boat pulled up next to us & it was Dennis & Mick so mum was invited onboard for a coffee before they departed for the night. It was lovely to have a chat & a bit of company. Sunday was another very foggy day but mum went out on Falcon & cycled up to the next mooring then round in a big circle to get some km towards her Grand Canyon challenge.

Monday morning early we set off in the freezing fog once again & made our way up to Rahan.

Mum wanted to moor there as it was right by the road so we could again get a fuel delivery. Of course Tuesday when we weren’t cruising was a nice day!

Mum also had a fair bit of work to do too. So we had a day stationary. Wenesday we were back off again up to Tullamore. It was finally not foggy just pouring with rain instead! We passed Ballycowan & Srah castles & tied up on our favourite jetty at Tullamore.

The plan is to stay here till after Xmas. Mum has her hospital appointment tomorrow so hopefully we might be a bit clearer after that whether we can cruise further or not. It’s nice for mum to be near shops & she’s hoping to visit the swimming pool here & there’s a good stretch of grass here for us & nice walkies up the towpath past the castles so alls good at our new home spot for a while.