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
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.
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’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…
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.
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!!!!
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.
It feels a while since we’ve blogged mainly as we’ve just been backtracking our route heading onto The Royal Canal for winter. But us being us with mum at the helm we’ve still had plenty of adventures along the way.
Firstly we headed back to Ballinamore for their festival. It was a week long celebration with free acts on every night on a stage in the main street from rod Stewart Tribute to Garth Brooks Tribute & mum’s favourite the Tumbling Paddies. There were lots of other activities during the day but mum was there really for the music. The week fell on the really hot week in Ireland & we couldn’t have been in a better spot right by some grass which was shaded by trees so we could sit out & there was a great group of boaters & folks in motorhomes there too.
We had visitors Helen Marie & John at Ballinamore which we especially liked as they brought us treats. We cruised with them back to Keshcarrigan where we also caught up with Nuala again. A night out was had in Gerties when the heavens opened with a huge thunderstorm that we didn’t like at all.
We had a girl power lock relay going on then down to Carrick as mum helped Nuala down the locks & cycled back up then the next day Georgina helped us down while Nuala grabbed our ropes at Carrick. The jetties at Carrick are the hardest place for us to moor as the current swings us round before mum can get off the boat so we really need someone to grab our ropes as we come in.
We all parted company again & we cruised back to one of our favourite spots Lough Key. Mum had finally managed to hook up with one of the IWAI Carrick events & this one was a cracker. Once a year they organise a Carrick Cares Day where they invite lots of adults & their carers to Lough Key for the day & put on a day of activities. IWAI members volunteer their time & lots of businesses donate prizes & food for the BBQ as well as Lough Key providing the venue & Lough Ree Access for all providing a boat that’s adapted for trips.
It was a lovely day & everyone enjoyed themselves. Whilst we were at Lough Key mum was out on Falcon doing some geocaching exploring new areas. She found the hidden derelict Kingston Hall. This house was built by the King family of Boyle in the early 1770’s. The Kings completed the magnificent John Nash designed Rockingham House, close to Kingston Hall in 1817. After the family moved to Rockingham Kingston Hall became the residence of the Land Steward for the estate. Rockingham is gone and Kingston Hall is in complete ruin. It is ironic that the Kings first residence in Boyle, King House, is now the only building still standing, thanks to commendable foresight by Roscommon Co, Council.
She also made it to Cloontykilla Castle whish she’d been hoping to find. This was featured on Grand Designs & all the fascinating info about it can be found here including the episode of Grand Designs: CloontyKilla Castle
We were also pleased to finally meet Josh & Sophie on Narrowboat Qisma. We’ve been friends for many months through instagram but as they’re in Northern Ireland we didn’t think we’d get to meet until next year. Josh & Sophie bought Qisma off our friends Jan & Alistair who we’ve mentioned in our blog before who now own First Lady. Luckily Sophie & Josh were on a 2 week holiday & their days in Lough Key coincided with us. You can read all about them here: NB Qisma & follow them on instagram @cruisingqisma We had a lovely couple of days together & a fabulous last night in mums favourite Carrick bar Mchughs.
We then headed south as they headed north. We had a few days in Drumsna then we headed for Carnadoe waters which was a section of loughs off to the west that we bypassed on our way upriver so we had something new to cruise on the way back down. We set off on a glorious sunny afternoon so glorious in fact mum was in her Tshirt & didn’t even bother having a coat to hand. BIG Mistake!! Carnadoe waters entry point is at the bottom of Lough Boderg & we had a lovely cruise down there. We passed Carnadoe as as we expected the wall looked too high for us & crossed Black Lough. True to its name as we were cruising a huge black cloud developed. Bad weather hadn’t been forecast or so we thought – ANOTHER mistake!! Mum hoped it was going the other way no such luck. There were a lot of tight turns & as we took a sharp turn onto Grange Lough all the reeds literally bowed down flat either side of us as the wind swept past & 30 seconds later the heavens opened & thunder rolled loud above us.
Mum could barely see past the front of her boat & given she was soaked to the skin in 2 seconds flat decided there was no point even attempting to get a coat. She had no choice but to just cruise on as there was nowhere to stop hence a lack of photos of this cruise! Please note Daquiri & I were lovely & warm & dry on the settee inside !!! Mum finally reached her destination of Grange & we got a lovely grassy bank mooring for a change. So on re-examining our weather app which we’d set for Kilglass as this was the nearest place it had picked up we discovered that there are 2 Kilglass’s in Ireland & we had it set on a completely different county hence why we had the wrong forecast.
Sadly once we moored up we heard the very sad news that HM Queen Elizabeth had died so it ended up being a kind of subdued week consumed by sad news from home.
Grange is a pretty remote mooring but does have a pub! Mum visited The Silver Eel one night for a meal & a cocktail & she managed to cycle to nearby Strokestown one day.
After a few days we set off to the other mooring on these waters Kilglass (& not the same as the one we had in the weather app). Kilglass was very pretty & accessed by the narrow Carrigeen Cut.
Kilglass was again mooring fingers with a current like Carrick but luckily there was just one boat there with someone on & he ran & caught our ropes. The wind picked up while we were there so we were stuck for a few days. A few hire boats came in & out & struggled to moor in the wind with one full of French hirers hitting us firstly side on & then straight up the stern!! Luckily no damage done but mum went out & got them to slow down on their approach as both times they just came in too fast & lost control. This reinforced our decision to stay put.
Although Kilglass was a lovely remote spot it was at the bottom of a big hill which even with Falcon was difficult to get up & being at the bottom of a hill also meant we had barely any signal there. So far its just been here & Leitrim that we’ve struggled for signal.
We need a new map book as ours is a bit weathered after the summers cruising!
We departed Kilglass on a lovely calm day & enjoyed our cruise out without being chased by a black cloud. After a very tricky reverse mooring we moored up at Dromod in the little harbour again. Unfortunately despite me jumping off the boat fine twice I then decided I didn’t like doing it as my back legs are not so strong now. So I point blank refused to get off mum tried everything trying to lift me disassembling the settee to use the foot stool as a step but I wasn’t having any of it. Eventually she put the 2 short planks down but they were very steep. She lifted me onto them then pushed my bottom right up along the planks till I fell off the top!! We had to do it again the next morning but then mum said we’d have to leave as I couldnt get off so we set off down to Rooskey.
Rooskey isn’t far & we hadn’t long left the harbour when alarms starting sounding & lights flashing showing we were overheating. Mum turned the engine off (after having a heart attack) & we drifted for a bit praying another boat would come so we didn’t have to ring the RNLI. Nobody did so mum tried starting it again & there were no alarms so she went very very slowly & pulled in at Rooskey. Once the engine had cooled we looked & somehow we had lost all the water so we topped it up & the next day it was still there. We topped up with diesel at Rooskey & the chaps there very kindly went & got us some coolant as we’d lost all ours & the garage didn’t have any. Mum was watching the engine closely & every time we ran it it would lose its water gradually. A few days later a leak was found out through a bolt which is now in the process of being fixed.
We were intending on hanging out at Rooskey, Tarmonbarry & Lanesborough before heading up onto The Royal canal for winter in October. Unfortunately we got a call from Waterways Ireland to say they were closing the summit level from October & the water levels were already too low for us to get very far along. Our only option was to get up off the river onto the canal & into Richmond Harbour. Mum rang Paddy at the harbour & he advised we get there as soon as possible if we wanted a spot as he was expecting it to start filling. So that afternoon we set off (with a big container of water to keep topping the engine up) & redid the Camlin River & moored up late below Richmond Harbour. In the morning we moved up & have a nice spot across the disused dry dock. Its very nice walkies for us here, Esay for me to get on & off & has an excellent pub. Its a bit of a way from shops but mum can cycle to the garage for some supplies & further into Longford if needed. We’ve also managed to book a Supervalu delivery to here with our all important dog food!
So sadly our winter cruising plans have been stopped before they’ve started. We are still hoping at some point that we will be able to progress along The Royal Canal this winter though its highly unlikely to be before Xmas. Mum has decided she wasn’t doing calendar club this year luckily as we’d have not got there now but she does have some exciting land adventures planned for us. We are also having a little bit of a lifestyle change over winter & mum has got a different winter job sorted. All I’ll say is watch this space & I swear to God she’s as mad as a box of frogs!!