Duracell Bunny’s Twin by Daquiri (Dublin)

Mum was aptly described at the Rally Reception as the Duracell Bunny’s twin & she has been living up to her name. For this blog we thought we’d share primarily a photo blog with links where we can to all the places mum has visited & activities she’s done. Some of activities don’t ave direct websites but mum uses Viator & Get Your Guide apps to find & book them.

Stroll into town passing Sweny’s (Famous in James Joyce’s Ulysses) & Merrion Square with Oscar Wilde Statue for the Viking Splash Tour

Dinner in The Hairy Lemon famous from The Commitments film followed by theatre production of Shawshank Redemption at The Gaiety Theatre

River Liffey Boat Tour passing the French Navy!!

Jeanie Johnston Tour – one of the famine ships. Miraculously everyone survived on this ship.

Mum was helping bring one of the grand Canal boats in before disaster struck & one of the locks broke meaning all the other boats coming in from the Grand Canal were effectively stuck!

Trip on the DART along the coast then walk from Sandycove to Dalkey via Forty Foot & a few fabulous swimming areas

Dinner at the very posh Indian restaurant Rasam that Nigella Lawson likes!

Then the true Duracell bunny came out as mum went kayaking with seals

Lunch at Gallaghers Boxty House followed by a Street Art Tour of Dublin

Trip on the Old Liffey Ferry out through Dublin Port to Poolbeg Power station & we even saw a rainbow

Rooftop Cocktails at Marker Hotel

Wheely Boat – open access trip boat by Blackwater Community Barge

Phizzfest – Music onboard Jennys boat & a fascinating walk & tour of the history of the Royal canal

Rally BBQ at Poolbeg Yacht Club

Brunch at Brewdog with views of Grand Canal Dock & the River Liffey

Night time lights at Charlotte Quay – amazing being moored in Dublin city

So as you can see mum has been very busy. We’ve had a few play dates too in our special off lead park.

We’re now half way through our time in Dublin & mum still has plenty planned.

The good news though is… remember the boats that were stuck…. well Waterways Ireland moved heaven & earth & got the lock fixed so they’re now on their way & should be with us tomorrow hurray!!!


Drumroll…. Finally We’re on the Dublin Rally by Daquiri (Castleknock to Dublin)

For those who have been following our blogs a while you may recall when we first came over to Ireland our first event was to be the Dublin Rally. We went to a planning meeting for it 2 days after we were craned in at Sallins. Sadly all events were curtailed just 2 weeks later at the start of the pandemic. So today was massive for us as we set off finally on the 37th Dublin Rally.

To explain the Dublin rally & many other events are organised by IWAI (Inland Waterways Association Ireland). IWAI is a voluntary body of waterways’ enthusiasts, founded in 1954. It was formed to promote and encourage the use and development of Ireland’s navigable waterways. It has several branches who organise different events in their area & this one is organised by the Dublin branch. Note IWAI are different to WI (Waterways Ireland) Waterways Ireland is one of six North/South Implementation Bodies established under the British-Irish Agreement of 1998.    It is the cross-border navigational authority responsible for the management, maintenance, development and promotion of over 1000 km of inland navigable waterways, principally for recreational purposes.

The Dublin Rally for us is a 4 week long event. You can enter Dublin city centre from either the Grand canal or the Royal canal & you can exit by either. Some people come in pn one & out on the other doing a cruising loop getting a special award called the Green & Silver Award. As we did a lot of the Grand canal numerous times during lockdowns we’re coming in & going out on the Royal canal. The route via the Royal is a little bit more technical as firstly there is a rail bridge that has to be lifted specially for us & this is only done 6 times a year plus the Royal canal comes in on the opposite side of the tidal River Liffey so the passage involves 2 sea locks & a short traverse across the River Liffey. The way the rally works is the boats from the Royal come in one weekend then the boats from the Grand come in the next weekend. We have 3 weeks together with a fabulous programme of events organised for us. Then the boats leaving on the Royal leave with the boats on the Grand leaving the weekend after. At least that was how it was supposed to be but things didn’t quite go to plan!!

So early on the morning of 29th April my crew of Wendy & Nuala embarked & we were off down the first of the 12 canal locks into Dublin in a convoy of 7 boats. This was the double lock at Castleknock.

Out rote along the Royal is shown below.

Waterways Ireland provided an amazing team of staff who did all the locks for us so it was a very smooth operation with them ensuring water levels were maintained with so many boats making the passage at once. As you can see we drew quite a crowd of gongoozlers.

Our first excitement was crossing the M50 aqueduct.

Then we proceeded in our convoy down to lock 4 where we all moored up for the night & we finally got cockaleggies. The wine was opened & a late lunch of sausages butties was had & yay we got sausages too. In fact we did rather well as a couple of fellow boaters John & Shauna have a little doggie called Teddy & he sent us some treats along. We like Teddy!!

Of course mum & Auntie Wendy later went to the pub too!

We were up early again the next day as this was the bigger exciting day of the two. Again off in our convoy firstly down the four canal locks.

The journey gradually got more urban & we passed right underneath Croke Park. Croke Park is a Gaelic games stadium in Dublin, Ireland. Named after Archbishop Thomas Croke, it is referred to as Croker by GAA fans and locals. It serves as both the principal national stadium of Ireland and headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association.

Those of you with a really good memory will remember mum did a skyline tour of Croke Park during covid when she’d fractured her elbow tripping over her mooring rope!

The next excitement came as we passed the lifting rail bridge; Newcomen Bridge or as its commonly known Effin Bridge!

We arrived in Spencer Dock at about 11.30am where we moored up to await the tide so we could get out onto the Liffey. It gave us time for cockaleggies & mum, Wendy & John time to get a rope off the prop.

At about 1 pm the first 4 boats including us proceeded into the first sea lock & the level was dropped so we could exit our onto the big River Liffey.

We exited by the iconic Samuel Becket Bridge & turned left heading towards Dublin Port & the Irish sea!!!

Thankfully mum turned right before we went out to sea & we were raised in the next sea lock at the entrance to Grand Canal Docks. Grand Canal Dock, also known as Silicon Docks, is a hub of modern condos and office towers on the redeveloped River Liffey waterfront. Well-dressed Dubliners head to concerts at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre and drink cocktails on the terraces of upscale bars. Canal history is outlined in high-tech displays at the floating Waterways Ireland Visitor Centre.

From here it was a short cruise to our wonderful berths on Charlotte Quay. We’d done it Dublin Rally finally conquered.

So just to show you where we are on the maps. We are the blue dots below. How exciting to have 4 weeks in Dublin.

Now the icing on the cake happened the next day. Mum had been concerned (as she always is) about us being in a city. Just up the jetty there are a few trees with little tufts of grass for cockaleggies but mum had seen a park on the map only about ten minutes walk away. So on the first day we toddle off up there. Well you never guess whet they only flipping have a doggie off lead hour in the morning & another one in the evening & there’s always other dogs in there for us to play with & steal balls from in my case, Oh we are 2 very happy golden retrievers now.

So a huge thank you to Waterways Ireland, IWAI Dublin, all our boat convoy pals, our crew Wendy & Nuala but especially the main man Jim O’Riordan from IWAI Dublin who kept us all in line… Heres a happy mum below achieving her dream.

Continuing the Royal Journey by Daquiri (Mullingar to Castleknock)

We arrived home around lunchtime exhausted so we had a nice rest. When I say we I mean just me & Cosmo as mum had to unpack, do the shopping, fill the boat with water & catch up on work emails!

The next day we had a wonderful surprise when Mark on the boat next to ours & our pal the goldendoodle Bear returned as there was a second goldendoodle called Teddy who we found out was his brother. 2 sets of twin boys what could be better, We were ecstatic 4 goldies running around Mullingar harbour together. Lots of barking & ball chasing was done!

The next day we did a lot more playing & mum & Mark took Toddy back to the garage again as his new windscreen is leaking!

Sadly we then had to set off as we’re on a mission to get up the Royal canal to the 12th lock at Castleknock ready to join in the IWAI Dublin rally later this month. We had our lovely crew of three booked for the locks on Easter Sunday so we cruised nearer to our meet point. On the way there’s a lift bridge which WI have to lift but luckily it was deemed we’d be able to get under it. We moored at it for the night then set off under it the next day. As you can see we did fit.

We arrived nice & early to meet our crew of Nuala, Cian & Oisin so moored up at Mary Lynch’s pub which is now closed. Our crew soon had us down the 8 locks & onto a fabulous mooring right outside Nanny Quinns pub.

We had a couple of good nights & meals in Nanny Quinns as Nuala had booked the wonderful apartment there. She was also left in charge of the after pub drinks arrangements lol

We had a lovely few days there as it was a great grassy spot for us & mum could catch up on work after Easter. We were then on a long level stretch so could progress under our own steam along the Royal canal for a while. Our first hop took us past the Hill of Down & we moored at Longwood for the night.

Next we progressed further aiming for Enfield as we needed to be near a train station to collect Toddy. Passing Fureys at Moy Valley we made it to the lovely harbour at Enfield but we had terrible trouble mooring. The harbour & tap were taken up by a permanently moored boat & we tried all along the bank with mum leaping off & throwing pins & hammer & planks off but she just couldn’t get us in close. Eventually she decided the best bet was to reverse to a small jetty which although we were way too long for it we should at least get the bow in as it was an official jetty. Wrong!! Again we were way out. By now mum had had enough so she just moored it with the bow 5 feet from the jetty & the stern right in the middle of the canal & we just hoped a wide boat didn’t need to get past. It’s a shame as Enfield harbour was such a perfect spot in so many ways.

Anyway mum picked Toddy up & went for a day out up to Salt Cave Paradise which she’d been wanting to go to for a while. It was a nice day so she got a stroll in along the beach & called in at Marine Parts on the way back to get a few things for the boat.

After Enfield the locks started again with 2 double locks down to Kilcock so we got assistance from Waterways Ireland. We were surprised to see a massive long jetty there but only a couple of short spots at the end with bollards for boats to tie to. So much room for the canoe polo but barely any for the boats travelling the canal. It was a lovely kept jetty & finally an easy spot for us to get on & off after the horrors of walking long planks at Enfield.

Sadly our joy was short lived as the next day we got a call from Waterways Ireland telling us we had to move for a canoe polo match. We now didn’t really have anywhere to go as we’d been warned not to moor in Maynooth harbour over a weekend because we’d get antisocial behaviour plus it’s against railings so mum didn’t think we’d be able to get off. So we arranged to go down a couple of locks & stayed on the lock landing for a couple of days. Maybe we’ll get chance to look round Kilcock on the way back instead.

After the weekend we set off on the final section of our journey down to Castleknock. This time we picked up new crew of Aine & Laura at Maynooth & cruised past Toddy as mum had parked him there the day before.

We just had one lock to do today & then we stopped at Confey for lunch & to fill up with water as there’s no tap at Castleknock. We then progressed through a beautiful part of The Royal Canal called the Deep Sinking. The Deep Sinking itself is a cutting through the limestone quarry which was blasted and dug through at great expense. At certain points through the Deep Sinking the towpath can rise up between 8 and 9 metres above the canal. A perilous danger for the horses pulling the barges below.

With the towpaths being so high the best way to see the Deep Sinking is by boat & there’s a marvellous trip boat that runs trips through it by the fabulous Jenny Wren. Royal Canal Boat Trips

So we arrived at Castleknock a couple of days before our Dublin Rally so in good time. Mum caught the train back to pick up Toddy & he has gone into a different garage for a month while we are in Dublin to start work on the long lost of things that aren’t working in him but most importantly the heaters so he’ll be ready for winter adventures. He’s also due his MOT soon so he’s been reregistered in Northern Ireland & booked in for that so we’re also getting a few bits done that have been advisories in the past hoping that he won’t fail. Interestingly the lady on the phone told us he’d been registered in NI before in 2002 so he’s obviously been over here a few times now.

We are almost at the end of our Royal canal journey now just the final stretch as part of the Dublin rally left to do; Castleknock to Grand Canal Dock. There is a wonderful series of videos by Dick Warner that you might enjoy watching which are much more knowledgeable than we are about the anal. Royal Canal Video series.

We visit the Isle of Man by Cosmo

We departed the UK by ferry again but we were surprised when we got off that we weren’t back in Ireland but were in the Isle of Man! Mum had worked out it only cost £18 more to stop here on a 5 day special than it did to take the ferry straight back to Ireland. She’d never been so it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss. Although the ferries run all year Belfast to UK the ferries don’t start running to Dublin until early April so mum had timed it so we’d then be able to catch the first ferry back to Dublin.

We arrived early evening & as we weren’t sure about how acceptable wild camping was mum had found a great campsite that wasn’t expensive so we went all posh this week with water & electric. Our campsite was at Cronk Aashen farm which although it was across the other side of the island took less than 30 minutes to get to. It was very quiet as we were pretty much still out of season but we had a lovely grassed area right by Toddy & a lovely view.

In a contrast to last week in Lancashire our first day dawned bright & sunny. So mum was off on a great mission to find beach walkies for us. We actually did rather well on walkies over here. Our first beach wasn’t far away at Glen Wyllin. We had a great sniff & run around well maybe not so much running we’re getting on a bit now!

Next mum was off to have a look round Peel & luckily got a parking spot on an end right near the castle. We were quite happy to snooze in the van. Peel is the island’s main fishing port and Peel Cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of Sodor and Man. Peel is sometimes referred to as the “rose red city”, due to the red sandstone used to build the castle and other important buildings. As it is in the west, it is also called the “sunset city”. Peel is the third largest town in the island after Douglas and Ramsey, Mum was also very happy as she met up with a lady, Helen who she’d had contact with on a Facebook group who also had a camper so they went our for drinks & dinner. In fact mum met a few lovely lady campervan owners so she was very happy. We were much more excited about the Manx smoked bacon that mum bought as she doesn’t like kippers!

The next day we headed north via more lovely beaches but we were most impressed at the most northerly point The Point of Ayre. Yet again we were lucky with the weather.

The Point of Ayre is the northernmost point of the Isle of Man. Point of Ayre lighthouse, the oldest  lighthouse on the Isle of Man, is located here. There is also a smaller light called The Winkie so we had a walkie to the Winkie!! It is the closest point on the Isle of Man to  Great Britain being 16 miles (26 km) south of  Burrow Head in Scotland. Here mum met anther lovely lad in her van Vik. We did our best to be sociable & say hello by jumping up at the van!

We drove home via Ramsey as mum has spotted a gelaterie there she wanted to visit!

The next day mum exchanged Toddy’s wheels for steam transport & she went off from Douglas on a quick steam train trip to Port Erin.

On the way back mum ended up having to make numerous phonecalls to vets to try & get us booked in for our horrible worming tablets on the way home. It seemed none of the vets were at all geared up for this saying we’d have to go on a waitlist to register. We ended up speaking to the government department & even they didn’t seem to know what we needed to do! Good old Brexit!! Although the nice lady did find out & ring us back to confirm exactly what mum was trying to sort. Eventually mum spoke to an equine vet who knew exactly what we needed so an appointment was booked. We were a tad worried we’d come back with saddles on.

Next we met up with another lady Tina who mum had contacted on Facebook again. Tina had planned a lovey afternoon & camp out with us & she had 2 furpals too; Tilly & Doona. We camped out at a perfect remote spot but it was accessed by a very narrow bumpy road right along an edge. We were clinging on with our claws as we though Toddy might topple over but luckily we made it to our beautiful spot at Scarlett. A fabulous evening was had over a chilli & a couple of bottles of wine. Plus Helen came & joined us & brought Maltesers!!

The next day we explored the south of the island after bidding farewell to Tina. Unfortunately the weather started to turn a bit but we can’t complain we’d had a good run for April. We headed first for Calf Sound with its spectacular view of Calf of Man. Calf of Man is a 2.50-square-kilometre island, off the southwest coast of the Isle of Man. It is separated from the Isle of Man by a narrow stretch of water called the Calf Sound. In 2006 Manx National Heritage employed the charity Manx Wildlife Trust as the Calf Warden Service Provider, but it retains ownership. The island has been a bird observatory since 1959 and welcomes visits from volunteers and ornithologists. Calf of Man is home to a breeding population of Manx shearwaters, a seabird which derives its name from its presence in Manx waters. Unfortunately we were too early in the season for the boat trips but we had a lovely walkie instead.

On the way back we stopped at the small olde worlde village of Cregneash that we’d driven through for a quick look round. Cregneash (Creneash) is a living illustration of a farming and crofting community in the 19th and early 20th century.

Our next stop was possibly our most idyllic spot we found at the tiny Niarbyl Bay. Niarbyl, meaning “the tail” in Manx for the way it extends into the Irish Sea, is a rocky promontory on the southwest coast of the Isle of Man between Port Erin and Peel. There were quaint thatched cottages, which were featured in the film Waking Ned.

After a long day we headed back to the campsite where mum chilled with a homemade curry & her DVD series. Oh & the obligatory glass of wine!

All too soon it was our final full day on the island & unfortunately our worst weather day which wasn’t good as mum wanted to do the mountain railway. She decided being her she’d still do it for the experience so we set off to Laxey. Laxey is a village on the east coast of the Isle of Man. Its name derives from the Old Norse Laxa meaning ‘Salmon River’. Its key distinguishing features are its three working vintage railways and the largest working waterwheel in the world.

First on mum’s agenda was the Snaefell Mountain railway. we were too early in the season for the horse drawn railway. Mum got a great view of the Laxey Wheel out of the window but then everything became very cloudy. The train station staff kept her entertained though!

Once down mum walked up to & then up the marvellous Laxey Wheel again in the pouring rain. We were nice & dry in Toddy! The Great Laxey Wheel is the Isle of Man’s most iconic landmark and the largest working water wheel in the world.  At 72 feet 6 inches in diameter, this extraordinary feat of Victorian engineering has brought tourists flocking to the picturesque village of Laxey for almost 170 years. 

After all her exertion mum was looking for somewhere to eat but not much was open but good old Google found a very mum appropritate spot as she discovered the Victory cafe. We had a devil of a job getting up there as it was really foggy so mum could barley see but she persevered & it was well worth it. Victory Cafe is based in a crazy ex Cold War Rotor Radar Station overlooking the 31st Milestone of the TT Racecourse serving homemade British style canteen food. The cafe is also based just by the Bungalow on the Snaefell Mountain Railway. Mum got warm with a lovely pie & mash & lashngs of gravy. Note none made it back to us!

Of course the Isle of Man is most famous for the TT race. We for obvious reasons avoided that season. Many campsites just open for the TT. The Isle of Man TT or Tourist Trophy races are an annual motorcycle racing event run on the Isle of Man in May/June of most years since its inaugural race in 1907. The event is often called one of the most dangerous racing events in the world as many competitors have died.

On our last night we had an early night as we had to be up at 4am to drive across & check in on the 7am ferry back to Ireland. It has been an amazing visit & so easy (& cheap when you’re doing that crossing anyway) so I think we may well visit the Isle of Man again. Of course all the fabulous beach walkies may sway us as well.

Catching up with The Naughty Pirate by Daquiri (** with special video link**)

Yay after just over 3 years we have popped back to the UK for the first time. Now we have Toddy we can accompany mum as she normally flies & we have to stay in kennels. So we got to use our new EU pet passports (Not that anyone checked them)

The ferry was just about 3 hours & we stayed in the van while mum went upstairs. Somehow she’d managed to book herself into the plus lounge with free snacks & drinks so she returned with 23 packets of crisps, 10 cans of pop, 16 packets of biscuits, 3 bananas & 2 apples!! She was upset though that she couldn’t drink the free wine as she was driving.

On arrival in the UK we parked up at Holyhead & mum had chips & meat & potato pie for her final night with Christine & Sheila. We were very happy to get out of the van after the ferry.

The following day we bade farewell to Christine & Sheila & we set off for our packed schedule meeting up with friends. Our first stop we were very excited about as we visited Uncle Toastie & he had ham lots of ham!! Then the next morning it was off to Sheffield staying with Stef & Sharon & meeting lots of friends in the city centre for a meal out. Just don’t mention the large Clean Air Zone fine that mum got afterwards for taking Toddy into Sheffield!!

Next hop was off to see mum’s aunt Joan who lives on a narrowboat in Lancashire to collect a gas bottle (one with English connectors so we have a spare)

Then it was off to Plank Lane as The Hippie Boat & The Art Boat were trading there. We got to catch up with our doggie pals Millie, Eric & Polly who came to see us in January & also meet Tilly from The Art Boat.

And finally after a long day & lots of driving we pulled up at our park up spot where the Ribble Link crossing starts. This was one of our first adventures after we’d moved onboard in May 2013. You can check out our blog of that here: Golden Boyz does the Ribble Link

No sooner than we had arrived a twin van to Toddy arrived. And oh my goodness you’ll never guess who got out of it Auntie Heidi the naughty pirate. We couldn’t believe it & apparently she’s going to be with us a few days.

The first day we headed off to see mum’s Dad & left auntie Heidi working but we met up later on at Pilling; a spot we’ve parked at before by the beach. Mum had commandeered a bottle of toffee vodka from her Dad so it wasn’t long before they were sampling that of course!!

That was pretty much the last sunshine we saw that week as it seemed to rain non stop from there in. Day 2 saw us visiting Guys Thatched Hamlet then a game of crazy golf at Barton then we headed off to park along the Morecambe. We found a great spot by some grass for us.

We had nice log walkies on the beach the next day before we headed off to our next location. Mum & Auntie Heidi had a look round Carnforth Station where parts of the film Brief Encounter were filmed & then we headed for the end of the Lancaster canal at Tewitfield. Of course we’ve cruised all this route in summer 2013 but Auntie Heidi has never been here.

That night we headed off to a pub parkup which was nice as we got some peace while they were in the pub! The next day still in the rain we headed for Devils Bridge & a look round Kirby Lonsdale.

For our final night together we got another mahoosive surprise. We parked up at these lodges called Pinecroft Lodges in Ingleton which mum used to use for her previous events job; long before we were born! Well you never guess who walked out of the lodges only Uncle Jim!! Auntie Angela, Uncle Glynn & daisy were there too. We all had a lovey night together & Auntie Heidi & mum managed to partake of a bath. We were watching Auntie Angela warily as she has twice now tried to shower us previously. Luckily we escaped this time. The next morning it was a big farewell as we all went our separate ways. It was Auntie Heidi’s first time in her van which is called Polly & she loved it. Her & mum are planning an even bigger adventure next. Watch this space.

So as promised we have a special video link for you. Auntie Heidi does video blogs called vlogs of all her adventures & this week was no exception. Her channel is called The Narrowboat Pirate so do go & check it out. It’s very funny & a bit naughty!! Here’s the link with our adventure in it: When Polly Met Toddy

Our “Second” Paddys Day in Ireland by Cosmo

We’re a bit behind with our blog we’ve been soooo busy!! As per our last blog we made it to Mullingar in time for Paddys day so our plans are back on schedule. We had 2 friends arrive Christine & Sheila both single handed experienced boaters from the Uk. They came in Christine’s campervan so we had a mini convoy a couple of days. Mum finally got Toddy back from the garage but he now had a new windscreen leak even worse than the one that had been fixed. We had no time to return him as we have adventures aplenty planned so we’ve been driving round with a bucket under it when it rains until we get back.

We took our friends firstly to visit Seans bar in Athlone – it just had to be done.

Then in the afternoon we went back to Mullingar to get the boat ready for the evenings flotilla. Unfortunately there was no turning point for our 57ft boat so mum had to reverse the 1km to get into starting position. Always fun as boats don’t steer in reverse. We set off at dusk & the boat in front of us picked St Patrick up then delivered him to the crowds waiting at harbour accompanied by a flotilla of canoes too.

The next day was the actually St Patricks Day parade so they headed into Mullingar to watch the parade & partake of an odd drink or two

The following day when heads had recovered mum took us all on a little tour of some of the waterways harbours & moorings. Then we headed to a pub mum had on her bucket list; Andersons Thatched pub which has campervan parking & is renowned for its impromptu live music nights. Sheila & Christine had a little practise on their ukuleles whilst we awaited the pub opening at 9pm. It was a brilliant night where we were welcomed by the amazing host Ger. We spent the night listening to various musical instruments being played & songs being sung including Christine doing both a tin whistle number & singing a song. Mum was banned from taking her tin whistle. It was a fabulous evening & mum says anyone that visits in campers will have to stop there now on their itinerary. In the morning we even got a free bread delivery on each van. We had our beady eye on that straightaway!

After that the ladies headed off for a couple of days of exploring Ireland while we went back to the boat as mum had work to do. We met up at Castleknock for one last night before we ALL headed off for the ferry the next day. Yes after over 3 years we’re finally getting to go back to the UK on a visit now we can travel in Toddy & have our Irish passports. So lots more details of our UK adventures in the next blog…

Finally on the Move by Daquiri (Cloondra to Mullingar)

Yay we’re so happy to be typing this our cruising for 2023 has finally begun. We came into Richmond Harbour last September so its just short of 6 months that we’d been there. Now it’s quite the norm for there to be a boating season in Ireland but its something we’re not used to & its the longest we’ve ever stayed in one place since moving on the boat. Talking of moving on the boat last year was our TEN year anniversary of moving aboard. Of course we were just cute fluffy puppies then all scared of the boat & for those who remember we had wise old Barney dog teaching us the boating ways. In those days there were 3 Golden Boyz onboard.

So that also means our blog is 10 years old. Happy 10th Birthday blog!

So the reason for our extended mooring has been due to winter maintenance on The Royal Canal. There was some before Xmas then some after Xmas. We’d been waiting for the one at Killashee to be finished & ringing weekly for updates when we got the bad news a leak had been found further up the canal at Ballybrannigan. This meant that Waterways Ireland would fill the levels up after the lower down repair meaning draining the levels higher up so we wouldn’t be able to get very far. This meant we wouldn’t make quite a few events we’d planned as it’d put us so far behind schedule that The Royal Canal route would have to be given up on. Then we had an amazing stroke of luck as Paddy the lock keeper arranged for us to go effectively the day between the 2 stoppages. They ran enough water down just to get us up although we were warned levels would be pretty low. We were ecstatic to be off & now able to join in all the events along The Royal Canal, Yahoo!!

So we departed Richmond Harbour & were ready & waiting early for Paddy on the first day. The plan was to get to Mosstown Harbour. We had 5 locks & 2 lift bridges to do. Waterways Ireland accompanied us all the way operating the locks & bridges. Although it was pretty cold it was a glorious sunny day so we had a great cruise.

We made really good time To Mosstown & the levels weren’t too bad for us.

As it was a nice day we decided to push on to Ballybrannigan. This was only another lock but the water level became increasingly challenging. We crawled along to the next lock with very little water under us it makes steering very difficult & its really important to stay aligned in the centre of the channel. We had a very tight right turn under Pake Bridge & Golden Boyz almost didn’t come round with the water so low but she just made it. The low water also makes the tiller very heavy so mum was doing a Popeye impression using all her power to steer. We made it to the next lock & were floating properly again for a few minutes as we came up the lock.

Then we were warned the next stretch was going to be harder so we literally dragged the boat along the bottom with Paddy tracking us in his car. If we felt the slightest tilt of the bow it was really important to nudge off it so the stern didn’t end up grounded as that’s deeper in the water. This was tougher than doing Savick Brook on the Ribble Link crossing in the UK, But we finally made it & it was a bit better through the next bridge. With the worst behind us we moored up on a beautiful winters evening at Ballybrannigan. 23.7km & 6 locks & 2 lift bridges

Now we’d normally spend longer at spots to explore but were on a mission to get up the canal so the intention is we’ll be able to look round properly on our way back. So the next day we had a much shorter day & better water levels up to Abbeyshrule. 9.1km & 1 lock.

This effectively had got us off the level that Waterway Ireland are needing to drain so they were planning on starting that literally as soon as we left. Mum had a lovey evening in The Rustic Inn as Michael & Donna from Richmond Harbour came over to see her. Thursday was a planned day off as mum had work to do & as luck would have it the weather absolutely dire. Mum had an early start Friday so we had thought about tootling up to the next lock but the wind snow & rain were absolutely bitingly cold so we decided to stay put.

So we were up & out on walkies at 7am & mum started to untie the boat at 7.30am. All the ropes had frozen solid around the bollards so mum had a devil of a job untying & she had to be very careful not to slip along the edge. But eventually she pushed the boat off wrapped up like the Michelin man while we chilled nice & warm in front of the stove!

It really was cold as we cruised over Inny aqueduct & past Abbeyshrule airfield but the sun was peeping our & the wind had thankfully dropped.

Our original plan ad been to go to Ballynacargy on Friday spend the weekend there then up to Coolnahay on Monday but it worked better for WI staffing if we could do it in one day. Something to do with Cheltenham next week lol!! SO we had a long day ahead & 13 locks to climb. We turned up at the first lock just before 9am literally just as our Wi crew of Mick, Sam & John arrived. Between us we made great progress & were soon passing Ballynacargy which looked like a winter wonderland.

We progressed like a slick oiled machine & incredibly reached Coolnahay for lunchtime. That was the last of the locks & where we bade farewell to our fantastic lock crew. A quick glance at the weather showed us that it was due to deteriorate across the weekend so despite already doing 5 hours at the tiller in the freezing cold mum decided to carry onto Mullingar. So mum the brave warrior manged 7 hours straight at the tiller as we pulled into Mullingar. 13 locks & 27.3km.

It was defintely a wise move though as Saturdays weather brought more rain wind & snow.

We’re now all moored up in position to enjoy the Paddys Day celebrations at Mullingar which we’re really looking forwards to & we have visitors arriving soon. So a big thank you to Waterways Ireland for getting us here.

Oh & we haven’t got Toddy back yet which was kind of a blessing as moving him & the boat would have been hard on timings but we are now quite a long way from him. So now it’ll likely be a train journey for mum to collect him. Fingers crossed he’s back soon.

Toddy’s Winter Adventures by Cosmo

While we’ve been unable to cruise due to canal maintenance on The Royal Canal we’ve been having adventures aplenty in Toddy instead. Here’s a quick photo blog of all we’ve got up to.

After the Hippies had left us mum hot footed it down to Athlone for a Santa & Elves Xmas party & caught up with Mags & Daisy.

Then she cycled to Strokestown House to have a look around & investigate the start of The Famine Trail.

At Strokestown House there is also The Famine Museum & it is the start of The National Famine Way. The National Famine Way is a 165km trail that traces the footsteps of the Strokestown tenants, men, women and children who were marched from Roscommon to Dublin in 1847 after they failed to pay their rent. In Dublin, they boarded a ship to Liverpool before journeying to North America on board some of the worst coffin ships of the time. Not all of them made it alive. They became known as the ‘Missing 1490’. The trail is really well done with 30 bronze shoe sculptures along the way, a passport to get stamped & a fabulous app with recordings of historic stories at each stop. Mum is hoping to cycle it in stages.

The first week of February heralded a new bank holiday for Ireland. The first Monday in February ahs now been added as St Brigids Day. This year being the first there were many events happening. Mum popped along to the illuminating of the St Brigids Cross by the River Shannon at Tarmonbarry & watched the am dram performance in Keenans afterwards.

Next Toddy had to go into the garage for some work on his brakes & suspension so mum cycled back along the Longford branch of the canal ticking off some of the Famine Trail Bronze Shoes. right at the start were some clever suitcase scupltures depicting immigrants & their occupations.

Next up was a full weekend away in Toddy but we were actually very close to home. We started at Sliagh Bown Wind Farm Trail. The amenities include a trim trail for fitness, an equestrian trail, six looped walks, a raised viewing platform and a picnic area. Unfortunately it wasn’t a very nice day so we had to shorten our walk much to Daquiri’s relief as he doesn’t like long walkies these days . It was fascinating getting so close to the wind turbines though.

In the afternoon we went & sussed out a potential wild parking spot on the shore of Annaghmore Lake before mum went to a candlelit tales event at Strokestown House in the evening. The parking spot turned out to be amazing tucked just off the road so noone even knew we were there with a spectacular view of the lake. We woke up to a frosty morning & a beautiful sunrise, Mum cooked breakfast in Toddy & chilled with her book while we ran around the area.

Then we went up to have a look at the nearby Elphin Windmill which it seems is now permanently closed.

Next was Roscommon Castle & Scuplture trail

Before we drove to our night time park up this time on the shores of Lough Owel just north of Mullingar. It was a peaceful spot until some hooligans came & set fire to a load of tyres.

The following day a visit to Belvedere House was on mums radar. She’d been wanting to go here in daylight since visiting in the dark for the Land of Light in November. We were especially impressed wit the dog chill out zone which meant mum could go inside & get a coffee at the cafe. Unfortunately she had to bring it outside to drink as Daquiri wouldn’t stop barking naughty boy!

We then had a grand total of 2 days back at the boat before mum had us all packed up again. But we discovered we were off to visit our favourite boat – Funky Duck!!! Yay we got to catch up with Nuala & we got sausages & were allowed in the boat & up on the settee. I was a good buy & didn’t touch a single cushion & there’s a lot of them in Funky Duck so tempting!

The next day mum caught up with Erin & Dave & little Luke who is growing fast. They went to an amazing ranch themed restaurant & mum was very excited that big Yorkshire puddings were on the menu!

We again got 2 days at home before we were off on tour again! I tell you I’ll be glad when she can move the boat again & we get a rest!! This time we headed up to meet Jan & Alistair at Enniskillen who took us on a whistlestop tour of Upper & Lower Lough Erne so mum could recce all the moorings. We also managed to catch up with Sophie & Josh from Qisma too.

The highlight of the tour being where mum got to go on the little ferry across to Lusty beg Island. We cant wait to be moored there although we’re a bit worried about that sign saying must be on best behaviour at ALL times??!! I mean surely the odd indiscretion would be forgivable??

Back again at the boat mum gave us a rets & went off in pursuit of a fiddle related geocache on the main road out of Longford. Apparently a fiddle was dug up when they were constructing the road & the sculpture is to mark that.

And then we’ve saved the best adventure till last. Mum took us off on one last weekend away in Toddy before he went back into the garage for some bodywork repairs which have proved to be a very long job so we’re currently without wheels. But before that just check out this amazing log cabin we stayed again north of Mullingar, It had no electricity & gas cooking stove outside. It was truly like stepping back in time. It had a lovely stove to keep us warm & mum built a campfire at night to sit round.

Once us cowdogs & cowgirl returned back to the boat we had a week or so in Richmond Harbour where mum actually finally got the gunwhales painted with antislip paint – well one side at any rate that’s progress! Then we received the news we’d been waiting for that we could move up The Royal Canal finally – yay Golden Boyz cruises begin again. So catch up with us in the next blog as we start our way on new waters for us headed firstly to Mullingar & then hopefully onwards into Dublin itself – how exciting!!!!

The Happy Hippie Convoy by Daquiri

Well we were back home for a grand total of 2 days before we were off on our next adventure. Not much settee snooze time at all we’re complaining to the management. But it was worth it as we got a very big surprise as Auntie Jules & Uncle Pete from The Hippie Boat turned up in their motorhome. They brought our old friend Polly who at 15 is a very old lady now blind & deaf but still going strong. In addition there were 2 pals; naughty little Millie & noisy Eric who barked more than us. Yes its possible!! They’d come over for 2 weeks to explore part of Ireland in a convoy with us. Here’s them in The Richmond Inn straightaway on the Guinness!!

The next day we set off in our convoy of 3 humans, 5 doggies & 2 motorhomes for Cavan. Jules wanted to do some family history on her relatives with connections to Cavan so spent a bit of time in the genealogy department at the library.

Next we were off to Ballyconnell in pursuit of showers & mum wanted to look at the moorings there. The showers there were eventful. Mums door wouldn’t close properly & the light didn’t work. then they were press button showers so everytime auntie Jules pressed her button mums shower stopped & they were only luke warm but funniest of all Auntie Jules got stuck in the shower as her door jammed. Uncle Pete was just coming to the rescue with a screwdriver when Auntie Jules got out!

After all the excitement we headed further north to the shores of Upper Lough Erne as mum had researched a parking spot at Tiraroe Quay. It was a perfect spot for our 2 vans & we headed off in the evening to visit Jan & Alistair just up the road at Knockninny. Mum thought it was safe to let us off as we were enclosed by 2 cattle grids but oh no we’re cleverer than that. Firs Daquiri went across one & nearly broke his legs but mum coaxed him back. Then I went across & Daquiri did it again! So I’m stupid & Daquiri is doubly stupid!!

From here we headed up to Enniskillen. We fell very lucky here as we stopped again at a waterways mooring & it had a doggie park right next to it. Well it actually had 2 doggie parks one for small dogs & one for large dogs with a long list of rules which we broke straightaway as we all went in one doggie park!!

The humans then went off for a wander round Enniskillen starting at the castle.

Then of course they ended up in a pub citing some reason about trying to see Inspector Hastings from Line of Duty as he drinks there! Blakes of the Hollow is renowned for its traditional Irish heritage, Blakes of the Hollow Is one of the most famous and well recognised Victorian pubs in Ireland. It is a must see attraction which has graced Co.Fermanagh’s shores for over 125 years. It also has one of the Games of Thrones doors in it. These are mostly around the Belfast area.

In the evening we went off in pursuit of a parking spot right by a castle on the shores of Lough Erne. Tully Castle is a fortified house and bawn are set on Tully Point and were built for Sir John Hume who occupied the house until 1641 when it was attacked and burned on Christmas Eve by Rory Maguire and the inhabitants massacred. It was not lived in again. It was a great parking spot & we went on a great looped walk down to the lake shore the following morning to try & wear the youngsters out namely Eric!

From here we headed up to Donegal in search of coastline & beaches. We found one beach & had a great walkies on it then headed off to anther one which although was an amazing parking spot we decided to go back to the first one as the wind had really picked up & the first one was more sheltered. When we got back from walkies w ended up with a stowaway in our van naughty little Millie tried to be one of the Boyz1!

The next day we headed inland to avoid the worst of the wind & went too ne of our favourite moorings at Acres Lake at Drumshanbo just south of Lough Allen. First we had a visit to the Distillery there but after Uncle Pete nearly had a coronary at the price of the whiskey they found a pub for Sunday lunch. We had nice walkies round the boardwalk at Acres Lake & got a fabulous furry family photo shot – well Auntie Jules had a fluffy coat on so she counts too. From left to right we have Cosmo, Daquiri Polly, Jules, Millie & Eric!

Next it was off to a place on mums bucket list Achill Island. It was one of our longest drives & we’d unusually for us booked a campsite to stay in this time. We’d planned 2 nights there one to get there & one to look round which ended up being a very wise move as Auntie Jules & Uncle Pete were struck down by a nasty bout of flu. How mum escaped it after being in the small confines of the vans we’ll never know.

So on our day at the island we headed off in just our van while Auntie Jules & Uncle Pete rested. Achill Island lies off County Mayo on the west coast of the Republic of Ireland. Marked by rugged mountains and peat bogs, the island is known for its tall sea cliffs and clean beaches. Its breezy shoreline makes it a popular spot for water sports. The strand (beach) at Keem Bay inspired visiting writers Heinrich Böll and Graham Greene. Keel, the island’s main village, has a sandy surf beach. Achill Island and the Curraun Peninsula, in County Mayo, are the jewels in the crown of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. Soaring sea cliffs, Blue Flag beaches, mountains, lakes and big Atlantic skies. We weren.t disappointed though it was a particularly foul day. Mum drove a full circuit of the island including the scarey route up & down to Keem Bay until you reach the sign that motorhomes aren.t allowed to proceed past. There were sheep everywhere who were often just strolling along nonchalantly in front of Toddy. Here’s a selection of our photos. It was hard to pick there were so many fabulous views. I think we need to come back for a week to Achill.

The next day we were all back travelling together with Auntie Jules & Uncle Pete armed with flu remedies & tissues. We round the coastline & through the beautiful scenery of Connemara stopping at Leenaun for a pub stop & then onwards to our parking for the night at Letterfrack. Auntie Jules stayed in but mum & Uncle Pete him the local pubs.

The next day was quick walkies around Connemara National Park then onwards towards Galway. We stopped for a look round Clifden & yes you’ve guessed it a drink in the pub before eventually finding a sheltered parking spot at Ross Lake.

The next day Auntie Jules & Uncle Pete set off before us to use a laundrette as mum was working first thing then we reconvened & headed into Galway City. Mum love Galway & after a look at The Spanish Arch & the incredibly high & fast flowing River Corrib you’ve guessed it pubs! Firstly the Kings Head the oldest pub in Galway & then O’Connells the one mum visited in April with a street in its beer garden.

Then it was off to visit Santa Kevin who mum had worked with as Elf Lollipop at Center Parcs. Kevin lived just outside Galway near Tuam & had invited us to dinner & to stay the night. We had fun getting there as some of the roads were flooded but we eventually made it. We had a wonderful time dining on steak dinner & Pete is still talking about all the whiskies him & Kevin were sampling.

Luckily with not too bad heads in the morning we set off after a hearty breakfast cooked by Kevin for the Cliffs of Moher. We wound our way there up the adrenaline pumping corkscrew hill until we eventually reached the visitor centre. Now I really don’t think we could have picked a worst weather day to visit the cliffs if we tried. We parked up & it was blowing a gale both vans were rocking I thought Toddy was going to blow over. Then down came a huge hailstorm. It sounded like the roof was caving in. Once it stopped we were left in the van than God but the humans & the other 3 doggies set off up the cliffs. They could barely walk against the wind & at one point little Millie took off up into the air!! Anyway they made it for a short visit & got a few photo shots but mum says we’ll come back when its less windy as we want to visit Doolin too.

That night we went in pursuit of music & settled on the lovely town of Ennis. Again the weather was dire with hail & wind & rain but they managed a pub crawl around Ennis & found a bit of music in the last pub. Ennis ahs gone on our list to revisit in better weather too!

Next on the list was to see Lough Derg. We had a quick stop at Mountshannon then it was onwards up to Portumna. We had a walk round a bit of the forest then the friary & castle. Me & Cosmo had a fight to see who could get through the gap in the wall first. I won!! The evening was spent in the lovely company of Fergal, Wendy Emma & Sophie the jack russell (my girlfriend!). As ever many drinks were consumed!

The next morning the others headed off early to a vets in Athlone for tapeworm treatments before their ferry home in a couple of days. Thank God we escaped that. Mum had work to do so joined them in Sean’s Bar (where else?!) later. Our final evening together was spent at Abbeyshrule. We decided not to stay over that night as the temperature was due to drop a lot & as we have no heating. It proved a wise move as the fire had blown out in the boat too so we were glad to get that lit before any pipes froze. SO we enjoyed a fabulous final meal at The Rustic Inn & bade our farewells & drove back to Golden Boyz.

Auntie Jules & Uncle Pete set off early the next morning for Newgrange & then caught their ferry home the next day. So after 13 or so nights, lots of miles, 2 bad bouts of flu, numerous whiskeys, many walkies, Lots of Guinness & three hundred million pubs visited we are back snoozing on our settee in front of the fire. We had a fabulous time with the Hippies & are hoping they’ll come back & visit us in the autumn when the trading season is over.

Xmas Adventures Galore by Daquiri

It’s our 3rd Xmas in Ireland but the first one without Covid restrictions so we were determined to make the most of it & am sure as you’ll see from this blog we certainly did!

s you will have seen us mention in previous blogs mum was working at the Irish Center Parcs this winter. She initially wasn’t going to be doing a 2nd job across winter as we hoped to be cruising but as soon as she found out that the canal was closed she snapped this position up. Just as we think she can’t get any more eccentric she goes & finds herself a job working as an Xmas ELF!! Her name was Elf Lollipop. She was based in the fabulous winter wonderland section of Center Parcs helping Santa in his grotto. Duties ranged from elf playtime on the path approaching Santa’s workshop to meeting & greeting families at the door or in Santa’s clock room to manning the shop or accompanying families inside the actual grotto & handing presents out. She originally signed up just for 2 days a week but ended up working quite a few extra days. It was really hard work as you were on your feet all day being naughty & mischievous but mum did enjoy the perks of being able to use the swimming pool & spa for free. Mum also got to make lots of new friends & meet new people which was the main aim of the job.

During this time we had a very cold spell in fact the coldest we’ve known during our ten years living aboard. It dropped down to -9 degrees in Longford. Although the boat was nice & warm Mum wasn’t impressed having to de-ice Toddy on the mornings she was going into work. It didn’t actually snow in Longford but the frost was that had it almost looked like it had & the canal harbour froze solid.

Our first winter event was at Belvedere House & Gardens near Mullingar. Mum had bought the tickets ages ago thinking she’d be moored nearby but it was only about a 45 min drive in Toddy. As it was a freezing cold night we were left at home in front of the fire & mum ventured out alone. The event was Land of Lights & mum got to follow an illuminated trail around Belvedere Gardens. She hopes to return in daylight to see the gardens in the future.

Next was Palmerstown House Drive through Christmas but this one wasn’t so impressive.

That evening mum was off to the Sallins Liveaboards Xmas Party at the stunning Westgrove Hotel at Clane. Mum loved catching up with everyone & it was such a fabulous evening.

We found a great parking spot for Toddy just opposite the hotel by Clane Friary so we didn’t have to drive home.

The next day we set off to do something that mum had had her eye on since she first arrived in Ireland – The Nenagh Xmas Tractor Parade. A tractor run is about making money for charity, and is quite a sight for anyone waiting along the route as they catch a range of vintage and modern-day illuminated tractors driving by.

The parade was fabulous & we finished the evening off by having a takeaway in Toddy while the traffic queues subsided. Then we drove to park up in the pitch dark at at spot at Youghal Quay on the shores of Lough Derg, We couldn’t see anything at night but we woke up to a nice view.

As Xmas approached mum did her last shift as Elf Lollipop & we packed Toddy up & headed away on our Xmas break. We had a cottage booked at Castleisland but we broke up the journey visiting Wendy & Fergal then Susie & Liam all moored at Portumna. Continuing our route we got a mega surprise when we stopped on the outskirts of Limerick & picked a passenger up. It was none other than auntie Sally who we haven’t seen since we moved to Ireland!! We continued on our way the 4 of us & checked into Julie’s cottage on the outskirts of Castleisland. We’d chosen that spot so we could explore Dingle which we’d not been to yet & to revisit parts of Kerry.

As we normally arrange our cottage had a lovely open fire although mum was miffed to discover she’d misread the info & it didn’t have a bath!

On our first day Xmas Eve we had a more leisurely day & we’d all been travelling a lot the day before plus it was very very wet so mum & auntie Sally just had a look round the nearby town of Killorglin. Killorglin had been in the news a lot last year as they have a Killorglin Puck Fair where a goat is the centrepiece of the festival but last year the goat had to be removed as the weather was s hot. Representing King Puck is a proud bronze billy which stands as an eternal symbol of Ireland’s oldest festival, where a goat is made king.

For three days in August, a goat is crowned king of Killorglin and reigns over a street party where people trade cattle and sell wares. Puck Fair is the oldest festival in Ireland and coincides with the Gaelic celebration of Lughnasa. It is so old that academics disagree about exactly when the fair started and a number of conflicting origin stories have been handed down through the years. Puck Fair first officially appears in the written historical record in 1613, but the one thing scholars do agree on is that the fair would have been in existence well before that date, perhaps even originating in the pre-Christian era.

Xmas day was spent in the cottage in front of our roaring open fire & auntie Sally cooked a marvellous Xmas dinner which we got a portion of yum yum. We got lots of edible Xmas presents & mum bought us a toy elf each. The nose on Cosmo’s elf didn’t last very long!!

Boxing Day or St Stephens Day as it is in Ireland we were back at the exploring as mum had her heart set on turkey sandwiches & hot soup while parked up somewhere picturesque with a view & the lady who owned the cottage had told us about a special St Stephens Day festival in Dingle which we wanted to check out. First stop was the stunning Inch Beach for walkies & we managed to avoid the rain which became a rarity on this holiday!

Then it was off to dinge to get parked before the crowds arrived. Dingle is well know for Fungie the Dingle dolphin who sadly now is assumed to have died as he’s not been seen for so long. In 1984, Paddy Ferriter, the Dingle Harbour lighthouse keeper, first began watching a lone wild dolphin escort the town’s fishing boats to and from port. By August of that year, local Ministry of Marine manager Kevin Flannery was able to officially record the dolphin as a “permanent” resident of the entrance channel and self-appointed “pilot” of the fleet. The friendly dolphin Fungie who swims playfully alongside the boats in Dingle Harbour has been immortalised in a bronze statue at the harbour front close to Dingle Pier. American sculptor and environmentalist James ‘Bud’ Bottoms (1928 – 2018) created this much loved bronze sculpture, as Dingle town’s Millennium project.

Today we managed to catch the Dingle Wrens Day which I hadn’t heard of before. On St. Stephen’s Day , December 26th, crowds of people take to the roads in various parts of Ireland, dressed in motley clothing, wearing masks or straw suits and accompanied by musicians – remembering a festival with antecedents that long predate Christmas. The Wren – sometimes pronounced and written, wran – was once common all over Ireland. In some areas, the Wrenboys are called Mummers and the festival has a strong English influence, incorporating characters like St. George.

Lá an Dreolín, or Wrens Day, is an Irish tradition that takes place on the 26th of December each year. The tradition of Lá an Dreoilín, is thriving in the town of Dingle, with residents of the town taking part in a number of Wren groups, parading around the town, while hundreds line the streets and join in the festivities. Traditionally musicians would march wearing straw ‘rigs’, and other accessories made of straw, but now, anything goes! From glitz and glam, to the downright bizzare, as each street in Dingle town wear  colours indicative of the Wren they represent. The Green and Gold Wren HQ is in O’Flaherty’s Pub; among their ranks is legendary broadcaster Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh. We managed to watch the Green & Gold parade after a quick drink in O’Flahertys.

As the festival goes on all day & well into the night we then escaped to the more peaceful route of Slea Head. Mum achieved her goal of hot soup & turkey sandwiches with a view & we drove around the stunning scenery of Slea Head before returning to the cottage.

Next day we set off for another big day to drive part of the Kerry Ring. Unfortunately a warning light came on on Toddy’s dashboard which after some research later we discovered meant he needed the brake fluid topping up. We managed to find a Halfords open in Tralee & had a look around Tralee instead. Tralee is famous for the song Rose of Tralee.

The Rose of Tralee is a nineteenth century Irish ballad about a woman called Mary, who because of her beauty was called The Rose of Tralee. The song tells the tale of a doomed love affair between Tralee merchant William Mulchinock and kitchen maid Mary O’Connor in the 19th Century. William’s family were wealthy brogue and linen merchants, Mary was the daughter of a poor brogue maker and lived with her family in a thatched cottage on Brogue Lane in the middle of Tralee. At 17 Mary got a job as a kitchen maid in the grand Mulchinock family home, West Villa and when William met her it was love at first sight. William and Mary would meet secretly each day by the well in the grounds of West Villa and sometimes they would stroll together up Lover’s Lane and go to the dance at Clahane. One night under a pale moon William proposed to Mary. But William’s family deeply disapproved of his marriage to a broguemakers daughter. Although Mary loved William, she declined his proposal as she didn’t want him to be disowned by his family. William wrote the song to try and convince her to marry him, but she still refused. Heart broken William left the country only to return to Tralee six years later with Ireland in the midst of the Great Famine. William was intent on seeing Mary again only to find that she had died from tuberculosis.

The Rose of Tralee festival had been inspired by the ballad. The Rose of Tralee is held in the Co. Kerry town of Tralee each August and has evolved into much more than a simple beauty pageant. From its humble beginnings in 1959, when the festival budget was just £750, the Rose Of Tralee has emerged as one of the most important events in the Irish social calendar, second only to St Patrick’s Day for its colour, fervour and popularity. The highlight of the Festival is the hugely popular Festival Fashion Show as the Roses model the latest collections from Ireland’s top designers.

The next day we set off again on our Ring of Kerry exploration. Firstly we took in Kerry Cliffs which mum was pleased to visit as last time we were there they were closed due to covid. It was very very windy & we all laughed when auntie Sally’s bobble hat blew off her head!

Next we went down to Portmagee for lunch & a quick drive over the Valentia Island before winding our way home. We had stayed at a cottage at Portmagee during the first Xmas lockdown in 2020

On the way back we stopped at The Red Fox pub & Kerry Bog Museum & were surprised to find this slightly hidden tourist attraction.

Our final day in this area was a biggie. We spent the day firstly exploring Killarney National Park. Starting with a soggy walk to Torc Waterfall. At least there was plenty of water to see cascading down. Torc Waterfall is a 20 metres high, 110 metres long cascade waterfall formed by the Owengarriff River as it drains from the Devil’s Punchbowl corrie lake at Mangerton Mountain. The waterfall, which lies at the base of Torc Mountain, in the Killarney National Park, is 4.3 miles from Killarney in County Kerry, Ireland.

Killarney National Park, Ireland’s oldest National Park is located in Killarney, all the while adjacent to the town. Killarney is also Ireland’s Oldest National Park, formed in 1932 when Senator Arthur Vincent and his family entrusted Muckross House & Estate into the care of the Irish State. Now the focal point for many visitors to Killarney, Muckross House & Gardens has been entertaining as a 19th century mansion, containing all original pieces of furniture, artwork, trophies and many other furnishings from that period. The Park is currently managed jointly by the National Parks & Wildlife Services and the Trustees of Muckross House, Killarney. Killarney National Park was deemed a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1981 due to the quality and high ecological diversity, extensive habitats and range of species found that in the park, some of which are quite rare.

We drove around Killarney National Park taking in a few view points & stopped for lunch at the stunning Ladies View. Back in 1861, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert came to visit the region by horse and carriage, accompanied by her ladies-in-waiting. While on their way to Muckross House, where they were staying as guests, the Queen and her companions decided to stop for a picnic. It’s said that the group were so stricken by the view, that it was named after them. We were lucky enough not only to get the only open table upstairs in the verandah at the cafe but also to be treated to a rainbow whilst we were there.

Next it was onto Killarney town as we had something special planned which we needed carrots for!

No visit to Killarney would be complete without taking a Jaunting Car Tour of Killarney National Park. Renowned for their wit and charming storytelling, a local jarvey will guide you through the park on a horse drawn cart regaling you with local history, stories of old and Irish legends. The Jaunting Car is an absolutely unique way of touring the National Park, Now as it was Christmas the Jaunting cars are transformed into sleighs & we had as sleigh ride booked to the nearby Ross Castle ably transported by Ginger our horse who enjoyed her carrots. Ross Castle perches in an inlet of Lough Leane. It is likely that the Irish chieftain O’Donoghue Mór built it in the fifteenth century. Legend has it that O’Donoghue still slumbers under the waters of the lake. Every seven years, on the first morning of May, he rises on his magnificent white horse. If you manage to catch a glimpse of him you will enjoy good fortune for the rest of your life.

So all too soon our final day at Julie’s cottage dawned but our adventure didn’t finish here oh no. We set off across country bound for a couple of days in Dublin for New Year. En route we called in at a couple of our previous mooring spots to show Auntie Sally.

We arrived at our airbnb accommodation mid afternoon. It was an ecelctic room in an eclectic cottage at Clontarf on the outskirts of Dublin. It was doggie friendly & a much better price than the extortionate prices in central Dublin. We literally checked in had a quick drink then were off out again. Negotiating the Dart & the Luas then a walk brought us up to Dublin Zoo. Tonight we had the absolutely spectacular Wild Lights booked.

We then had a late tea in the Brazen Head Dublins oldest pub & attempted & have up at getting into a rammed pub at Temple Bar!

The next day to give Sally a whistlestop tour of Dublin we did the Hop On Hop Off bus before returning back to our airbnb to prepare for the big night our for New Years Eve. We had tickets for the big outdoor party with Lyra & Gavin James playing & Westlife headlining. It was a fabulous show & certainly we’ll remember New Years Eve 2022. Unfortunately all the buses home were packed so we ended up walking all the way in just under an hour. Mum ended up with blisters on her blisters!!

All too soon our holiday was over & auntie Sally was boarding her flight back to the UK as we drove back across country to the good ship Golden Boyz & a bit of a rest before the next adventure. Well we’re having a rest mum is frantically doing washing & filling the boat with water & diesel unpacking & packing again while we snooze on the settee!

So to all our blog readers we hope you’ve had a absolutely wooferful Xmas & we wish a furry fun filled 2023.