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.

Two Leeks into Lockdown by Cosmo (Cruised Nowhere!!)

Well as mum kinda suspected not long after we posted our last blog Ireland went into full lockdown.

We entered Tier 5 & the Waterways pretty much closed. Mum is only allowed within a 5km (3mile) radius of the boat.

Luckily mum had picked a good spot here at Gallen, Ferbane, County Offaly. We are right by a tap so our water is unlimited, it’s a nice bike ride into Ferbane which has smaller shops for mum, mum has found a local diesel company who will deliver to the boat, we have our own big garden right outside the boat, we’re allowed off lead every day & I can sprint really fast up the towpath as noone comes up this side, Mags is not too far away if we need anything & best of all Ann opposite has been our saviour. Taking deliveries & post in for us & once a week she gets a bigger shop in for mum & every week she sneaks a little chocolate treat in mum’s box. It’s the highlight of the week 🙂 Here’s us chilling outside the boat while mum fills up with water.

So what have we been up to – well we’ve been mainly snoozing apart from the fact mum is still trying that dog training with us. We’re currently working on leg weaves. Daquiri is doing quite well with it but I just run round the back of mum instead. The only bonus is we get extra biscuits for the training. Here’s me being a good boy waiting with the ball although I did get a tad muddy!

Mum is still on a massive mission with her goals. She’s working on 12 goals before Xmas though we think we’re going to fail our cruising one which is normally the one we easily achieve. She’s doing really well on her virtual cycling Ring of Kerry Challenge & has now done 88% of it in 33 days & she set herself 10 weeks to do it initially. She’s contemplating the Grand Canyon virtual challenge next.

She’s found some new places on her bike rides including the beautiful Cloghan lake which is one of her favourite to cycle around.

She braved going in the water again & got red oxide on Golden Boyz’s treated rust patches. Not sure she’s going to get much further this side of winter but she has made a start on painting & freshening up inside the cratch which is also on the goals list. She actually bought the paint for this during last lockdown in Edenderry.

Halloween came & went no trick or treating this year but mum saw some houses decorated up as she was cycling around. We were treated to a full moon which was a blue moon on Halloween. On clear nights here because there is no light pollution we can see so many stars in the sky at night when we go out for our last night cockaleggies. Its very pretty.

What else has she been up to? Well she’s learning lots of new things. As well as that blasted tin whistle which we have to endure a new tune every week, she’s been doing an iphone photography course plus she’s doing some courses for work. Mum luckily works online & has enough work to keep going & buying us dog biscuits. She’s been practising with her sunset photos on her iphone.

She’s continuing on her crochet blanket & has done over 90 squares now & in the evenings she’s rewatching Game of Thrones. We’ve got a coastguards cottage booked over New Year near Belfast so mum was hoping to visit the Game of Thrones locations & Giants Causeway. It is of course doggie friendly & only a few metres from a beach so we’re really looking forward to it. We don’t know if we’ll be able to go or not with the virus but we’re keeping fingers & paws crossed.

Mum is on a heath kick & noone was more shocked than us when these arrived!

We’ll soon be chewing those! She’s even been baking which is very rare for mum she likes cooking but is not prone to baking. Apparently these were high protein heathy chocolate brownies. Do we believe her??!!

So we are one third of our way through lockdown & have another 4 weeks at least but it’s not so bad here. Ireland’s cases & R rate have been going down so fingers & paws crossed the country is moving in the right direction.

So my goal – well it’s a big one; sleep as much as possible, beat up the cushions on the boat & bark at dogs across the other side of the canal. Daquiris goal is to eat as much horse poo as he can from up the towpath & mount me as many times as possible. Here’s me accomplishing my goals!

Kind of in Limbo by Daquiri (Clonony to Ferbane)

We enjoyed our time at Clonony & mum managed another bus trip to Athlone with the bus picking her up at the canal bridge. However, on Sunday news came out in the evening that NPHET was recommending the whole country move to level 5 which is effectively full lockdown again.

We were currently at level 3. This was a bit of a shock & we didn’t know if it meant the locks on the canal would close so in the morning mum thought we’d better move. She rang the lock keeper & he agreed it’d be wise to move so off we set to meet him

First it was back up through the staircase lock that is operated with the middle gates open.

Then just a single lock which got us on a along flat level. Mum was aiming for a nice jetty she’s spotted in June but not stopped at. Unfortunately we couldn’t get the boat in anywhere near it was too shallow & too far for our 8ft planks so sadly we had to cruise on. On the way down mum had spotted a tap at the next bridge so we next aimed for there as if we were going to be locked down we needed to be by water. We also couldn’t get anywhere near the bank there but by fluke a chap was just returning to his car parked nearby & saw mum struggling so he came to help. So mum threw ropes at him & between them managed to get planks in situ so ta da we’re moored up!

So we’re having to be brave & use planks again. It’s a lovely little spot but fairly remote. Nobody comes this side of the canal at all & there’s a nice big grassed area for us. Theres a bungalow opposite & the lady there has shouted across a few times to check we’re OK.

There’s nice walkies up the canal both ways & even a big stone picnic table but mum says its too cold for picnics!

The village of Ferbane is about a ten minute bike ride away & has a garage, a Centra shop, a pharmacy, a hairdressers, a pub or two & a dentist & drs. The tap works so mum has deemed it a place to stop whilst the government decides if we’re going into lockdown or not. Our friend Mags has said she’ll help us get diesel & if we need pump out its only a day back to Shannon Harbour. So the government didn’t put us into full lockdown then but all social mixing indoors has been stopped not that that really affects us & we’re not allowed to travel out of the county currently. We’re now in County Offaly.

Mum finally got to visit Lough Boora. She’d wanted to visit on the way past before but due to the virus none of the buses were running but now she has Falcon she’s been able to cycle there.

Transformed from its previous incarnation as a commercial bog where peat was harvested to heat homes around the country, today Lough Boora Discovery Park is home to countless species of birds and wildlife, fish-filled lakes and a permanent exhibition of huge outdoor sculptures. These sculptures give the park an other-worldly feel, created using the old industrial materials of the bog such as locomotives, rail-line and timber, all crafted into magnificent works of art. The raised bogs of the Midlands of Ireland evolved after the last Ice Age, around 15,000 years ago. Mesolithic people wandered through Ireland and one of the most important Mesolithic sites in Ireland is at Lough Boora.

It has 3 different cycle routes & lots to see & do. Mum only saw part of it & hopes to go back if permitted.

Lough Boora Discovery Park

Now mum being mum is as busy as ever. She has set herself 12 goals to accomplish over winter although we may fail the cruising one if lockdown arrives. One of them though is a virtual cycling challenge. She’s loving it you pick your route so she’s doing The Ring of Kerry & you can walk run or cycle it. You log your distances & it tracks you on a map so you can see where you are on Google streetview & you get postcards along the way & a medal when you complete it. Well it’s keeping her out of our fur anyway.

My Virtual Mission

One of her other goals is some boat painting – she’s going to freshen up all the paintwork inside the cratch over winter but more of a priority she wants to sort out the scrapes & bumps from the season between the waterline & the gunwhales before they go rusty. She had this bright idea that because we can’t get into the bank its an opportunity to get in the water as its not very deep & get this side done. Well it might not be very deep at the front or the middle of the boat but the level dropped suddenly towards the back so that was mum soaked. Oh how we laughed!!

The water was freezing too! Anyway she’s happy as she’s got it all fertaned & our rust patches have turned a nice black colour. She’s hoping to get a few nice days to put the paint on but the rust treatment was the most crucial.

Unfortunately one of her other goals is to learn that blasted tin whistle. I tell you it sounds worst that a cat with its tail stood on! I wouldn’t mind but she seems to think as long as folks can recognise the tune she’s doing OK!! Me & Cosmo may need to invest in some ear plugs.

So for now we’re staying here whilst we see if we get locked down or not. Even today as we type this there’s government meetings about the possibility of level 5.

Slowing the Pace Down by Cosmo (Shannon Harbour to Clonony)

Now we’re back on the canal we will be just hoping vey slowly eastwards over winter with our stops mainly dictated by our need for water. We moved up one lock off the waiting jetty at Shannon Harbour. Amusingly it was the first lock mum singlehanded as it wasn’t so deep so she could climb off the roof as Ireland doesn’t have ladders in the locks. No sooner had she done than she had other boaters kindly rushing to tell her the lock keeper would help. It still takes some getting used to having locks done for you here. Anyway we got through fine & moored just above on a grassy bank with our planks out.

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We’ve got so confident now with the planks we performed a daring escape while mum was chatting to someone. We were soon rounded up & put back onboard.

It was a quiet week with mum working & walkies up & down the towpath. We actually didn’t see another person to talk to for a whole week. We had our first frosty morning which was beautiful but brrrrr!

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Mum & Falcon went out on an expedition to Shannonbridge the next stop up the River Shannon. The river was still quite high so we’re glad we’d not gone up there.

On Saturday mum availed of the wonderful local link bus service again this time to Athlone. The bus runs once a week on Saturday afternoons & she was picked up outside the pub at Shannon harbour. It took about an hour inti Athlone picking up a few people along the route & pulling up at a shopping centre. Unfortunately the return time had been brought forward so there wasn’t much time for mum to explore so she just ran up river to a cafe on the bank of the Shannon for a coffee & a sandwich & then came back to get her shopping done. Athlone looked amazing & mum wants to go & spend more time there so its definitely on our mooring bucket list for next year. Anyway we’re nicely stocked up on food including a roast chicken our favourite!

Sunday we moved up a lock & got water & pumpout this time with the help of Jason the lock keeper. There are hardly any working pumpout facilities along the canal so we emptied the toilet after just a week to give us another weeks leeway. We’re praying the Tullamore pumpout might be fixed but we’re not optimistic. If not the next one isn’t until Lowtown & we weren’t planning on being there for a while yet. We then went up the next lock & moored at Clonony. It was quite an overgrown bank & mum still isn’t good at managing singlehanded to get off & tie up when we need planks. And of course it all has to be done so we can get off! So about an hour later we were sorted & of we trotted to sniff around.

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Our nearest village is now Belmont. We passed through but didn’t moor here on the way down – it’s the one with the double lock that they use with the middle gate open here. On Monday mum cycled up to the little shop on Falcon to check out what it had for reference. She then cycled back along the towpath but it was quite muddy & Falcon’s back wheel kept skidding so mum has deemed roads a safer option even if they are further.

It’s a nice remote spot here barely anyone walks past & we’re allowed off lead on walkies so that’s a bonus.

On Tuesday mum decided to go on another big Falcon expedition to the monastic site of Clonmacnoise. She could go in a big loop via Belmont on the way there & Shannonbridge on the way back. The map below shows all the places we’ve visited over the past week or two; Shannon Harbour, Shannonbridge, Athlone, Clonony, Belmont & Clonmacnoise.

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Clonmacnoise was a spectacular monastery on the banks of the River Shannon. There are moorings right next to the site so again we hope to moor there in the future.

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This sixth century monastic site, located on the banks of the River Shannon is home to three high crosses, a cathedral, seven churches and two round towers. This great monastery was founded in 548- 9 by St. Ciarán Mac a tSaor (“son of the carpenter”), who studied under St. Finian at the famous Clonard Abbey. The strategic location of the monastery at a crossroads between the major east-west land route through the bogs of central Ireland and the River Shannon helped it become a major centre of religion, learning, craftsmanship and trade by the 9th century. Alongside the ruined churches and round towers are three ancient high crosses; two are complete high crosses plus the shaft of another.  But you don’t have to be a history buff to simply enjoy the peace and tranquillity of Clonmacnoise, nestling as it has done for centuries past, on the banks of the majestic Shannon. No visit to Offaly would be complete without a visit to this most special of destinations – even Pope John Paul II stopped by when he visited Ireland back in 1979.

Mum took loads of photos but we’ve made her select just a few for our blog.

After exploring mum popped into the shop & bought a coffee & shamrock shortbread biscuits none of which made it back home! But worse than that she made a disastrous purchase – we may need rescuing & transporting back to the Uk! Us doggies have sensitive ears so this couldn’t be worse – she says it’ll give her something to do on winter evenings. We can think of better pastimes!! Luckily so far it hasn’t made it out of the packet thank God.

On the way home mum cycled via Shannonbridge & back along the main road past Clonony Castle. The castle is only open by appointment but mum saw the gates were open so he popped her head round. Oscar the schnauzer soon came bounding & barking at her with his owner in hot pursuit.

The history of this castle is equally as interesting as the building itself.  It was built by the MacCoughlan clan the early 16th century and was the first place in Ireland to practice musketry but was then ceded to Henry VIII in early 17th century.  The castle passed into the hands of the Boleyn family.  It was given as a gift to Thomas Boleyn by Henry as he wanted to marry Anne Boleyn.  In fact, cousins of Anne are buried in the grounds underneath a hawthorn three.  The writing on the stone has eroded away but may still be recovered with a rubbing.  Luckily this castle escaped the campaign of Cromwell and is in relatively good condition. The castle did become ruined but the excellent renovation work of the present owner is slowly restoring this castle to its former glory.

Well after a couple of days adventuring & with a storm on the way we’re hibernating & snoozing (while mum is working earning the pennies) for the next few days.

Farewell Lough Derg by Daquiri (Terryglass to Portumna to Meelick to Banagher to Shannon Harbour)

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.

Lough Derg in the Bag by Cosmo (Garrykennedy to Terryglass)

It was quite choppy in the harbour at Garrykennedy so mum couldn’t leave the planks out so everytime we needed to get off it was a right rigmarole so we didn’t stay too long. However during the time we were there we think Mum decided she was an Olympic athlete or something as she went off on a mega bike ride.

She set off to a quarry & then a viewing point called The Lookout. But her excuse is that although she’d found lookout point on her map on her tablet on the boat her phone didn’t recognise it so she had to go from memory & she ended up going to another viewing point much higher at the Graves of the Leinstermen.

It is a spectacular location and in legend is associated with a high-status Leinster king who was killed here with a small group of his men in the early eleventh-century. One story has it that the Leinster men were visiting Brian Boru in Kincora to pay tribute but became embroiled in a dispute ostensibly about a chess game. The Leinster men departed, but were caught up with by Brian’s men; a skirmish followed, and the Leinster men were killed.

Another story says that the king was on his way to marry the daughter of Brian, but that Brian’s wife Gormfhlaith, who didn’t approve of the match, arranged to have the party ambushed on their way to Kincora. The reality, of course, is that the grave was here some 3000 years before the birth of Brian Boru. Very little is known of the tomb builders, their language, beliefs, or customs.

Mum left the viewing point & started her steep descent & then by fluke came upon the Lookout so at that point realised her error when she saw the map on the board!

Anyway she survived & came home with heroic tales of scaling mountains so we humoured her as she did look a little red in the face!!

Apart from the disembarkation palava it was nice at Garrykennedy for us as it had a lovely forest trail for walkies right by the harbour.

Mum made it to Larkins for tea one night & when she came out was rewarded by a rainbow & a wonderful sunset simultaneously.

We left Garrykennedy on a perfect still sunny cruising day & we haven’t had many of those. The flow on the River Scarriff was still too high for us so sadly we’e had to miss Scarriff out from our Lough Derg tour this year. We were going to head across to revisit Drummaan but we heard the harbour was full so we decided as cruising conditions were so perfect it was a good day to do a longer cruise & we went up to Terryglass 3 hours away at the top of the Lough. This will be our last “new” stop on the Lough having done a complete circuit now. We’ll hopefully pop across to Portumna before we leave which was of course our first stop on Lough Derg in July. It feels like so long ago now.

We were very relieved when we got to Terryglas sthat there was plenty of room & we got a perfect spot on a long jetty with electric, water & dead dead easy for us to get out hurray!!

Almost 1.500 years old, Terryglass was founded on a monastery that is one of the centrepieces of Ireland’s cultural history. The village has a long history dating back to the mid-6th century when an abbey was founded by Saint Columba, who was one of the twelve apostles of Ireland (pioneers of Christianity throughout Ireland). The famous Book of Leinster which is a Celtic treasure was scribed here by monks in the mid 12thcentury. Shortly after this time the abbey was burnt down by the ever-present Viking raiders. This book is currently housed at Trinity College Dublin. A wall from the abbey is still present in the town. There are also two holy wells in the area; one is said to cure ailments of the eyes and the other headaches, but sadly not hangovers!

Terryglass has 2 pubs & a small shop attached to the pub which proved a godsend as we were there a week due to it being too windy to move. Fergal & Wendy came over for a couple of nights so of course mum went to have tea at the pub with them one night!

There’s also a little fairy trail at the harbour which was a bit underwhelming as it was completed in 5 mins lol

Mum was busy working on a big new account most of the week but she went to the Lakeshore Community market in the nearby village on Ballinderry on Falcon on Saturday.

We’re hoping to get across to Portumna soon on a less windy day & from there we’re waiting for the Shannon to be slow enough for us to make our escape from Lough Derg back onto the Grand Canal for winter. So keep your paws crossed for a kind weather September for us.

So to finish of course… a sunset photo from Terryglass Harbour!