We did an early morning flit from Terryglass across the lake to Castle Harbour at Portumna so we could await a window of opportunity to head back up the River Shannon.
After a bit of waiting at the entrance we got moored on the back wall again. We really like it at Portumna as it has amazing walkies in the Forest & the shops nearby.
Of course mum had Falcon this time so she went off to explore more of the forest armed with a picnic. She was gone for hours as it was so large (& she got lost several times!)
There’s also the castle overlooking the harbour so some days we had walkies in the grounds there.
After about a week & a few dry days mum nervously decided to make a run for it upriver as if more rain came it’d be even harder to get off the lough. We initially just headed the short distance off the lake through the timed Portumna Bridge to Emerald Star for the night so mum could have a last night out with Fergal & Wendy. We were early so pulled up on the waiting jetty. We were cockahoop to be let off without leads only to discover we couldn’t get anywhere!
We had a very noisy neighbour on the opposite jetty Mr (or Mrs) Goat!!
Once through the bridge it was a left turn & we were soon moored up at Emerald Star hire base so mum could get diesel & pumpout before we return to the canal where it’s hard to get either. Mum went out the evening to the wonderful Ferry Inn for a farewell meal with Wendy & Fergal. Hopefully we’ll all catch up another time.
The next day the day mum had been dreading soon dawned. The River was still flowing reasonably fast so we were unsure how Golden Boyz would manage. But we have to make a break for it at some point so we set off on a misty Thursday morning with mum feeling very sick.
Mum was very relieved that the first section was actually fine although she had been warned it was above Meelick lock that the faster section was. As we approached the lock which was ready for us with a smaller boat already in it the flow picked up & came at us sideways but mum managed to steer us through without disgracing ourselves. We ascended the lock & had a chat with the lock keeper about if we were sensible to proceed. His description was the River was lively particularly at Maddens Island but we should be able to manage. Our plan B would have been to wait at Meelick until flow eased If it did – of course it could get worse. Mum decided just to get it over & done with. Plan C is also to go as far as Banagher & pull in before the bridge if the flow through there was bad. We headed onwards giving the huge Meelck weir a wide berth & an evil eye & our progress was noticeably slower but mum felt under control. At Maddens Island we slowed more so mum went for full factor warp speed as fast at Golden Boyz will go & we progressed forwards steadily with mums heart rate going at the same pace. Eventually the familiar sight of Banagher bridge came into sight.
The next challenge was getting through the arch as the flow is concentrated there but it was actually relatively easy. We passed the two hire companies including Carrickcraft where we spent our first few nights on the River Shannon – it seems so long ago now. After that progress really slowed. The GPS showed us as doing 1.2mph & we were almost at full revs but relieved to just be going in a forwards direction so pushed on as the canal entrance wasn’t too far. It was with huge relief we turned right back onto the Grand Canal.
We tied up on the waiting jetty below the lock for the night & celebrated mission accomplished. It had been on mums bucket list to do an Irish Lough. Obviously we hope to do them all in due course but this was our first experience of this type of cruising so a big achievement for us.
We have only done a small section of Irelands navigable waterways & will be working our way around the others over the next Few years we’re in Ireland. Who knows how many years we’ll be here we’re in no rush!
“There are a number of inland navigable waterways in Ireland.
- Shannon System
- Limerick to Killaloe
- Lough Derg
- Portumna to Athlone
- Lough Ree
- Lanesboro to Lough Key
- Shannon Erne Waterway
- Lough Erne
- Lough Neagh
- Royal Canal
- Grand Canal
- Barrow Navigation”
For now we’ve returned to the safety of The Grand Canal for winter & we’ll be working our way back along it over winter with maybe a little detour or two!
Here’s us safely moored up back on still waters.