The Scariest Weather EVER & The Arrival Of Falcon by Daquiri (Killaloe to Garrykennedy)

Little did we know it when we arrived at Killaloe that we’d be spending quite a while there due to the weather! So the first day mum went off exploring the twin towns of Ballina & Killaloe on either sides of the river. She also decided to enjoy a trip boat cruise aboard the Spirit of Killaoe so she could hear the commentary & enjoy the lough without panicking about where the next marker was.

She got to cruise right past Golden Boyz too so she gave us a wave! Mum had planned next to go to LImerick on the bus but unfortunately that evening it was announced we couldn’t use public transport anymore except for essential travel so that was that plan scuppered.

Mum is finding all the different lockdown measures quite hard when you don’t have transport so she popped into the bike shop at Killaloe to see if they had a folding electric bike not really expecting them to. And surprise surprise they said they could order one. It was ordered on Tuesday & arrived by Thursday. So without further ado mum was kitted out with a bike, helmet, lock, pump & lights & she was off like Evil Knievel on the roads of Killaoe as Falcon became the new addition to the Golden boyz crew!

Mum says its really easy to ride but is heavy lifting it on & off the boat but it will open new adventures for mum sightseeing plus she’ll be able to cycle to the shops, Her first jaunt was to the popular swimming area Two Mile Gate.

Then on the weekend she went on a round trip of about 25km down one side of lough Derg to O’Briensbridge then over the other side past Parteen Weir with a quick stop for a picnic & then returned back via the Riverside park at Ballina.

Now one of the big things mum had hoped to do whilst we were down the south end of the lough was the huge 100ft Ardnacrushna lock. But sadly after chatting to Pat who runs the boat underneath it & considering the truly awful weather that was due it was decided sadly we couldn’t do it. We’re quite pleased but mum isn’t lol. Just have a look at the photos on this link!!!!

Ardnacrushna Lock

Anyway to the weather. During our time at Killaoe we have 2 horrendous storms first Ellen then Francis. Anyone would think it was November not August. Elen hit during the night & brought Force 10 winds with her.

We were absolutely terrified even though we were in a relatively sheltered spot. The waves were slapping the side of the boat & it sounded like they were going to come in through the cupboards. I got up on the bed with mum & mum tried to make Cosmo a cushion nest on the floor as he was panting & pacing. I don’t think any of us got much sleep that night. We were very relieved in the morning to see we were still moored in the same spot with no damage. Then a couple of days later Storm Francis hit which although was also forecast to be force 10 didn’t feel so bad as the wind direction was different.

There was also a few days of just rain rain & more rain so ow all the rivers are starting to flood just as Offaly lockdown is lifted, On one of the drier days we managed a walk to Brain Boru’s fort.

Brian Boru’s fort is a large ring fort between the River Shannon and the Killaloe to Tuamgraney road. It has long been identified as the ancient seat of Brian Boru, the most famous High King of Ireland.Brian Boru’s fort is located in a very serene and spectacular setting, overlooking Lough Derg on the River Shannon, just one mile north of the picturesque village of Killaloe. Beal Boru, as it is more commonly known, stands on a spur of land which commands the point where the lake narrows into the River Shannon. Brian Boru (Bórumha, bóraimhe, meaning a cattle tribute) was either born or reared at this mystical location, according to folklorist Daithi O hOgain, and the placename, Béal Bóramha, means the ‘port of the cattle tribute’. Boru was high-king of Ireland from 1002 until his death in 1014AD.

On one of our last nights in Killaoe we were abandoned as mum was invited out for dinner at Brian & Daniella’s house who we met at Rossmore. It was nice for mum to get out with company though & she didn’t come back drunk so that was a relief!

Finally we got a small pocket of less windy weather so we set off cruising again after being at Killaoe for just under 2 weeks. Now we had intended to go to Scarriff next but we had word that the river was flowing fast so we opted to go further back up the lough to Garrykennedy that we’d missed on the way down.

All was good & calm as we set off but then the rain started & the lough started getting choppier. Mum had to abandon the map as it was getting too wet so she was using her Navionics app to track where we were on the lough as visibility was hard too in the rain. She wasn’t so keen on going past Parkers Point as the waves picked up but after a couple of hours cruise we had Garrykennedy in sight.

We had 2 options of mooring there in the main public moorings or the old harbour. On the public moorings we’d be right on the front albeit behind a breakwater & its forecast windy again so we opted for the old harbour. We were praying there as room at the steps & luckily there was only one boat there so we just tucked in nicely. The other boat moved after about an hour (must have heard about 2 furry hooligans arriving!) so mum decided she’d try & turn in the harbour whilst noone was there as it only just looked wide enough plus we could then tuck further in the harbour. Of course typical just as we’d untied 2 boats arrived but they waited for us to turn so all was Ok.

Again here the walls are very high but there are steps for us but we’re a tiny bit too long for the steps facing this way so mum puts the planks out diagonally & we just manage it. Well I do Cosmo makes a right fuss as ever.

Mum is happy though as we’re moored next to the remains of Garrykennedy castle & its even lit up at night!

Garrykennedy Castle was built in the late 15th century on the banks of Lough Derg by the O’Kennedy and the O’Brien Clans. The Tower House was badly damaged by Cromwellian troops in the mid 17th century. Some stones from the rubble of the castle may have been used in the building of a new harbour in 1857. This is a gorgeous harbour with a modern marina to the east. There may not be much left of the castle but it is still a beautiful place to stop and relax, maybe even take a picnic.

We’re also right next to Larkins pub so mum has a table booked there. She’s also pleased that internet signal isn’t so bad here as we were expecting it to be bad like in Dromineer so hadn’t planned to stay here too long. I think a day out on Falcon is planned & walkies round the Forest trail for us then we’ll move onwards,

Now the lockdown in Offaly has been lifted we could have moved off the lough – note we say could have! With all the rain the River Shannon is now flooding where we had intended to go next so we need to wait for that to subside a bit but then even if it did the road bridge at Portumna (the timed bridge we had to come under to enter the lough) has now broken & they’re thinking a couple of weeks to fix it. We think the Lough Derg fairies don’t want us to leave!!

A Poorly Golden Boyz & to the bottom of the Lough by Cosmo (Mountshannon to Killaloe)

One of highlights for mum of staying at Mountshannon was the opportunity to go on a boat trip to Holy Island. And luckily we weren’t taken along.

The island’s name, Inis Cealtra, means the “island of the burials”; or “of monastic cells”. Holy Island is a historic place with its roots in early Irish Christian times. Pilgrims travelled here for hundreds of years right up to the mid 19th century. Inis Cealtra is associated with several Irish saints of the sixth and seventh centuries most notably St Caimin who founded a monastery here during that period. The 50 acre site boasts the remains of no less than 6 churches, an early monastic cell, a cemetery with more than 80 recumbent  graves with an inscription or cross , the most recent of which dates to the 12th century. In one of the graves lie the remains of 10 men, who were probably butchered together by the Norsemen. The dominant feature on the island is an 80-foot tall round tower. You can walk among the ruins of churches, the round tower and several crosses, all built before the year 1000.  Romanesque arches from the twelfth century can also be seen. It continued as a place of pilgrimage up until fairly recently and is still very much revered as a holy place by people of the locality.

Despite the lack of population, the cemetery on this island is still in use. Coffins and mourners are transported the short distance from County Clare in small boats.

Gerard Madden, local historian and author of the histories of Holy Island, Scariff, Mountshannon and Tuamgraney, offers boat trips and guided tours of Holy Island from Mountshannon Pier.

One wonderful evening we were just chilling on our boat when we heard a few notes of traditional Irish music. A few boats who’d arrived that day were all sat out along the harbour front singing & playing music so mum wandered round with her chair & had a lovely evening listening to them.

The weather was very mixed while we stayed there ranging from extremely windy with the water lapping over the harbour wall to wonderful hot sunny days where the beach area was packed. Mum kept disappearing off to the visiting ice cream van but that was good as we got a few licks too. Mum also went swimming most days & she loved swimming in the lake with a view of Holy Island.

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On Saturday the weather forecast was perfect for a calm flat lake with lots of sunshine so mum was up & ready for action with lifejacket on. But….. upon starting the boat we had a suspected alternator fault. Liam popped across with a multimeter & confirmed it was probably best to stay put. We definitely don’t want to risk going onto the lake with a poorly boat. So then it was operation Fergal to the rescue. Fergal came out & the problem was diagnosed as a poorly alternator so it was sent off for refurbishment. A week later it was back & fitted. Luckily we were in a good spot to breakdown as we had shore power. Unfortunately we did end up staying over our 5 days but Waterways Ireland were very understanding.

Talking of being stranded should the worst happen you can call the coastguard either on your vhf radio or on 999 & the RNLI Lough Derg station do an amazing job.

One of the nights at Mountshannon we saw blue flashing lights out of the window as the RNLI Boat towed in a boat that had engine failure.

So 2 weeks after we arrived we were able to set off on our adventure again. We set off early again on a misty morning bound for Killaloe.

A friend of ours Susie had recommended we pull into the canal section rather than moor on the public moorings jetty on the river & Tony kindly ran mum round in his van the night before so she could suss out the moorings. This is definitely a much better option for us.

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On the map above we left Mountshannon at the top cruised across Scariff Bay & down to the bottom of Lough Derg where it becomes the River Shannon again into Killaloe & eventually Limerick.

So we are now at the very bottom of Lough Derg. We’ve not stopped everywhere (yet) as some places we’ll stop on our way back up.

Lough Derg is the largest lake on the longest river in Ireland (the Shannon), and with its wooded isles, rocky bays and tree-lined shores is an enchanting place. The lake is about thirty miles long and is three miles across at its widest point. Four counties, Galway, Clare, Tipperary and Limerick, border it. Portumna and Killaloe are picturesquely situated at its northern and southern ends, respectively. The lake contains approximately 13,000 hectares of non-tidal waters and extends 38.6 kilometres from Portumna to Killaloe. It is about 13 kilometres at its widest and is 36 metres at its deepest. The lake derives its name from an ancient Irish legend. Lough Derg, which means the Lake of the Red Eye reminds us of the influence of poets in ancient Ireland and the merciless way they exercised that power. A king, living near here had but one eye. His name was Eochy Mac Luchta and he lost one eye in a battle. Aithirne a famous poet visited him and when leaving he asked him for the other eye. The King immediately plucked it out and gave it to him. While washing the blood from his face the lake turned red. The King said, “let the lake be called Loch Dergdheirc, meaning ‘the lake of the bloody eye’, and so it is to this day.

As we cruised down the lake the waterways got narrower as Lough Derg ends & we’re just on the river Shannon again. Killaloe lies on the River Shannon on the western bank of Lough Derg and is connected by Killaloe Bridge to the “twin town” of Ballina on the eastern bank of the lake.

This is the narrow bit in the photo lol compared to the expanse of the lough. Susie got some great photos of us passing by.

We turned right into Pier Head & by magic Susie appeared to help us tie up

We are literally just off the river into a canal section which bypasses a section of the river but is rarely used these days. Now although the harbour wall is high we were able to strategically moor right by some steps so I can still get off thank God!

The canal runs parallel to the river & most boats moor on the long jetties as can be seen below but the jetties wouldn’t be so good for us when we needed a cockaleggie plus you get a lot of wake from passing boats so we have a perfect spot for us.

There’s a fab bit of land between the canal & river that has a gate so we are allowed off lead there to have a run around. It’s like a secret island.

Now bet you thought we’d forgotten about sunsets didn’t you?? oh no! Although the weather isn’t looking too promising here this week we did get some amazing sunsets at Mountshannon so here’s a fab photo of 2 handsome fellas posing in the setting sun!

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A real local bus & busy bank holiday harbours by Daquiri (Dromineer to Mountshannon)

Mum had thought that there was a little shop at Dromineer but on arrival discovered there wasn’t. Never fear we’ll do an online order but that failed too doesn’t look like supervalu deliver to Dromineer & Tesco wouldn’t let mum proceed without a landline number. Plan C – explore walking, public transport & taxis. Nearest town was one hours walk – doable if stuck but then mum discovered there was a bus once a week & it was the very next day called Local Link. Mum thought she’d better contact them as timetables may not be so reliable during virus plus she couldn’t find where bus stop was. Well what a pleasant surprise we discovered you had to book the bus & they took mums phone no in case of problems. The bus was going to a larger town called Nenagh & mum would have 3 hours there plenty of time for shopping & looking round. And what a pleasant experience it was the driver turned up spot on time, took mums temperature & santitised hands, mum had her mask on, There was only mum & one other passenger & they all chatted amiably during the 20 minute journey. Then the bus driver gave mum a little orientation tour of Nenagh before dropping her off in Nenagh,

Nenagh meaning “The Fair of Ormond” or simply “The Fair”, is the county town and second largest town in County Tipperary in Ireland.

Ooh that brings a song to mind Its a Long Way to Tipperary Sorry couldn’t resist!!!

Mum wandered around first looking at the castle. As is normal during these times we couldn’t go in it.

Nenagh Castle was built by Theobald Walter (the first of the Butlers of Ormond) around 1200. To this day the cylindrical keep adorns the town and like most keeps it formed part of the perimeter of the fortress. The walls have now almost disappeared, but fragments remain. Built from limestone Nenagh Castle measures fifty-five feet in external diameter at the base and rises to a height of one hundred feet. The Castle features four storeys and thanks to a recent renovation this wonderful landmark now represents the town’s premier tourist attraction.

There was also remains of a Franciscan Friary in Nenagh.

The Franciscan Friary was founded here by the Bishop of Killaloe, Donagh O’Kennedy, in 1250AD. It was the chief house of the Irish friars and a provincial synod was held there in 1344. The friary was destroyed during the reign of Elizabeth I and then rebuilt and subsequently suppressed during Cromwell’s Ireland campaign. 

Of course mum also found a coffee & cake shop! She also bought a new phone (well a secondhand one but new to her) as her touchscreen has been going on her older one. She currently uses 2 one on her Uk no & one on an Irish no! She says its in case she drops one in the water as she can’t survive without a phone as its also her internet. Mum got her food shopping & successfully got the bus back. The driver drove her right down to the boat & the other passenger insisted on carrying her shopping to the boat. Such fabulous Irish hospitality & all for the princely sum of 6 euros return. Mum deemed it an excellent day.

The weather whilst we were at Dromineer was more like November than July/August but the harbour was still really busy especially across the August bank holiday which is the first weekend in Aug in Ireland. The harbours are real watersports hubs & especially at Dromineer with the Aquasplash.

We did have one glorious evening where we were rewarded with another fabulous Irish sunset. We couldn’t see it from our boat so we sat on a bench at the beachfront & watched it. All was going so well until Cosmo emerged from the bushes with an enormous fish head in his mouth!

And then to top it all on our last night we even saw a rainbow

We did our early morning departure routine again as this is when the wind is lowest especially as we had to reverse all the way out of the harbour. Mum didn’t want any witnesses if it went wrong!

Mum is using 3 weather apps – Met Eireann, windguru & her favourite is Weather XC.

She’s trying to cruise on a F2 or below although today had changed to F2 gusting to F3 & F4 when we got up gulp! Anyway mum did fine although we did have a bucking bronco moment when a boat crossed right in front of us at speed. Cosmo the wuss wasn’t happy!

had a longer way to go today across 2 pages of the map book!!

This included passing the notorious Parkers Point which is a junction in the lake where the wind can come from all directions. The story below didn’t help!

“On Sunday morning December 1st, 45M travelled down the lake from Portumna heading for Killaloe. Opposite Parkers Point 45M was struck by a gale that passed over the lake. The high winds caused the cargo to shift. The tow rope, connected to the St. James snapped as large waves swept across the deck and the barge heeled over and sank. When she went down “Red” Ned Boland, Jack Boland and Jimmy McGrath (who was Webbing) all died. Tony Brien swam to safety and was the only survivor. 45M lay at rest for the next 29 years at the bottom of Lough Derg.”

In 1975 after buying it from CIE for £20 Donnacha Kennedy salvaged 45M from where she rested in 80ft of water. When she was brought up from the bottom the general condition of the hull was beyond their dreams as a thin crust of lime formed over everything and when that was knocked off the original paint showed underneath. 45 M is now owned by one of our new Irish friends Susie & took part in last weekends barge lineup. In fact we’ve seen 45M as it was the Guinness barge moored at Wendy & Fergals moorings that we were running around next to.

Anyway mum stayed well away from Parkers Point. It is the spur of land below in this photo.

As we approached Mountshannon mum got a fabulous view of the Holy Island through her binoculars. She’s intending to visit it this week as there are boat trips to there. She chatted to the man running them today whilst walking us & he said we could go too in the boat Ha ha could you imagine Cosmo the wuss in a little speedboat?? Luckily mum said she wouldn’t take us which is a good job as Cosmo was already booking his ferry tickets home & was off to Auntie Joys!!!

We managed to find our way round the markers easily into Mountshannon where 2 boaters Liam & Dave & Yogi the doggie kindly met mum & guided her in.

Liam took a fabulous photo of us coming in.

We’e even got electricity here so that’s mum happy. There’s a nice little park opposite so we went for walkies there & then mum brought us back as she wanted to go round the maze & dogs aren’t allowed.

 The maze is built in the centre of town in a small park with views of Lough Derg. The maze features information about the development of the Irish spiritual tradition. Alongside is a picnic area made out of wood carved by local artists, encircled by willow hedging. In the entrance is a stone with a hole facing toward Holy Island. The island can only be viewed by the most penitent by kneeling on a stone in order to view the through the hole. To the rear of the maze is a labyrinth consisting of the lawn being cut at different heights, flower beds and hornbeam hedging. It is modelled on the pavement labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France

She also had a wander around Mountshannon village.

The village was designed and built from scratch by Alexander Woods, a Limerick merchant, who intended it as a purely Protestant settlement from which the surrounding Catholic population would be so impressed by the thrift and industry of the settlers that they would quickly convert to the Reformed Church; even as late as the 1830s there was not a single Catholic resident in the village. In fact the reverse happened – it was the Catholics who colonised the village, and the Protestant church in a wooded churchyard bears mute testimony to Woods and his scheme. Mountshannon was home to the last manually operated telephone exchange in Ireland. The exchange was finally converted to automatic service at noon on May 28, 1987.

Mountshannon also has the largest recorded Oak tree in Ireland.

On her wanders mum got some fabulous photos of Golden Boyz from a distance. Makes us look tiny! It’s a great shot with the view of the lake behind though.

Gaining Confidence & an Anniversary Barge LineUp by Cosmo (Rossmoor to Drummaan & Dromineer)

We left Rossmoor early in a convoy with Wendy & Fergal. It was a beautiful morning & mum felt much more confident travelling with another boat should anything go wrong plus she didn’t have to worry about whether navigating either

The entrance into Drummaan Harbour was well marked a bit like doing a narrowboat slalom.

There was a good sized mooring along the back wall & it wasn’t too high for me to get out.

We were taken for quick walkies & then mum abandoned us as she set off on Wendy & Fergals boat to see Dromineer & Garrykennedy Harbours.

Their boat went much much faster than Golden Boyz.

They were not gone too long & mum really appreciated being able to see the layout of the harbours before she arrived.

Drummaan is the quietest harbour on the lough. It doesn’t have the usual electric hook up although there is a new toilet block there. There.s also picnic benches & a slipway.

It was a fabulous spot for us as we could go for walkies either up the road towards Williamstown Harbour or either side of the harbour along the quay wall where we were allowed off lead as the water contained us mum said! We could also go for a daily dip at the end of the harbour. We liked Drummaan a lot!

Whilst we were at Drummaan there was a big anniversary event on the waterways as it was 60 years since commercial traffic finished. In recognition of this there was a big lineup of barges by Portumna bridge. Mum had hoped to go but there were no taxis running on a Sunday.

There are about 40 retired canal boats in the country. In 2013 Waterways Ireland decided to auction the last remaining seven, five of which had been raised from the bottom of Tullamore Harbour. The Heritage Boat Association (HBA), lobbied the State body to consider the boats’ cultural and historic value when finding buyers. To the considerable gratitude of the association, it did. The barges, correctly called canal boats, fell out of favour in the 1950s when road and rail decimated the traditional transport network. Mostly run by the Grand Canal Company, they had been known as “Guinness barges” because stout was often their cargo. Many of the boats were eventually sunk, or allowed to sink, to preserve them and as a means of clearing the waterways. Piece by piece, Ireland’s canal history was cast to the depths, or sold for scrap. You might remember us passing the Peter Farrell on the Grand Canal which was a Guninness barge.

I have mostly been seeing the old M barges – there’s a useful glossary here explaining the different boat terms. Golden Boyz is officially a narrowboat but many people over here call her a barge as they’re not so used to seeing English narrowboats.

Boats Glossary

While I was at Rossmoor I saw the fabulous 4 barges belonging to the Burke family go past & two of them moored up in Drummaan after the Portumna line up. There is a fabulous youtube video about the inspirational Aoife Burke one of Ireland’s young barge owners which is well worth watching although she is not I believe the youngest now as that honour falls to Ben Treacey who is one of the most helpful people on the waterways.

Ireland Youngest Barge Owner

According to records of June 1951, Aoife’s boat, the 33M (the M being for motor), carried just over five tons (4.5 tonnes)of tobacco, glass and wheat to Limerick; 13 tons of manure to Kilgarvin and a row boat to Dromineer.

I’ll try & get more info about the barges off mum to tell you in future blogs as we get to find out more about them although we’re not sure about the story of the sinking of 45M by Parkers Point as we’re already nervous of passing there!!

We stayed a few days at Drummaan awaiting a no wind day for mum to brave the next jaunt which was going right across to Dromineer on the other side of the lake.

Wednesday morning had a 2 hour calm slot at 6am so again we were up early ready to set off. Mum was a tad disconcerted as we went for walkies first as there were waves lapping the quay wall which there hadn’t been before. She then decided it was because the wind had changed direction & was headed from east now which was good as we were going east. This means we’re going against it so we don’t arrive in the harbour with the wind behind us having built up the waves as we’re trying to moor. We’ve been learning that the direction of the wind of course is important as well as how strong it is. Anyway mum deemed it ok & off we went with not another boat in sight at this early hour.

We arrived safely into Dromineer to the splendid view of Dromineer castle in front of us & the Aquasplash park to our right & the sailing school to our left.

Luckily the spot we’d identified as Golden Boyz friendly up the side of the canal stores next to Barge Miranda was free so mum glided into there.

Dromineer is a much busier harbour with the Aquasplash park inflatables course, pedalos, canoes & paddleboads right by the canal stores, a large sailing school past the castle, B&B & hostel accommodation & a cafe. There were food vans – sweets, burgers & ice creams there & a busy picnic area with BBQ grills & a toilets & shower block. It was quite a hub of waterways activity & the polar opposite to Drummaan & Rossmoor.

Dromineer Castle/towerhouse began as a 13th-century hall house, and was later converted into a tower house in the 15th/16th century. It was built by followers of Thomas Butler Esq. in the 13th century. The hall house was originally only two storeys high, but two additional storeys were later added, and vaults added to the ground floor. In 1650, the castle was seized by Cromwellian forces and garrisoned. It was returned the Earl of Ormond following the occupation by Cromwell. It was occupied until 1688. The castle/towerhouse fell into ruin in the late 17th century and was sold by the Earl of Ormond in the late 19th century.

We’re spending a few days here before going on a slightly longer cruise across & down the lake to Mountshannon.

We’ll leave you with an absolutely fabulous photo that Wendy took of the good ship Golden Boyz on Lough Derg. Its not often we get photos of our own boat cruising.

A Dream Come True by Daquiri (Portumna to Rossmore)

Well the day came when mum decided we had to risk moving & go sailing off into the sunset well sunrise actually the time we got up! Mum had got more & more nervous as the week got on & contemplated coming off the lough & even going back to the UK! But after studying the weather & routes incessantly for 5 days she decided the water was calm enough for us to go the next hop & we had to at least try again before giving up. We decided to skip the busy Terryglass as we were getting stressed about if we’d get a mooring so we decided to confront one fear at a time. We’d been told Rossmore was very quiet & we’d definitely get a spot there so that became our mission

So to set the scene. Here’s a map of the whole lough. Today we went from Portumna at the top to Rossmore about a third of way down on the left.

And below are the more detailed maps of our route today

So there was an early morning window of calm wind so mum had us up at the ungodly hour of 5.30am. She anxiously frogmarched us to the lough edge to check visually the water looked calm. It was a grey day but calm enough it was deemed. So after a bowl of cereal mum prepared herself like a military operation. I mean we have 3 weather apps, a tracking app & a paper map all on the go and that’s after shes been zooming in on Google maps to suss out the moorings & googling photos. You can’t say mum didn’t prepare. Here’s the tracking app in action.

So we slipped out of the harbour quietly while most folks were still in bed & set off like intrepid explorers. Farewell Castle Harbour Portumna.

We were soon underway & the lough was like glass very different to when we arrived on it. I swear to God we heard mum sigh from inside the boat. Mum soon found her binoculars were invaluable for spotting the markers that marked our way & passing each one was an achievement & confirmation we were on the right track. The lake is vast it would be easy to stray away from the route & find yourself in trouble on rocks & shallows. Mum was eternally grateful for Fergal’s coaching on all the routes from the other evening.

Mum started to relax a bit as the sun came up & enjoy the cruise.

After about 1.5 hours we rounded the marker that indicated we needed to head inshore towards Rossmore. We found it really hard to work out which bit of shore we needed to head for & this is where the tracking app came into its own. We followed it & sure enough we soon spotted the markers to pass through for Rossmore.

And soon we were tied up on Rossmore Quay. There was a lovely couple in a motor home there with 2 black labs & a schnauzer.

The location is literally just a T shaped quay & a car park but that was perfect for us. And the bonus was the quay wall wan’t high so Cosmo the wuss could easily get off.

It was an absolutely amazing view & we finally felt we were in the moment that we’d dreamed off when mum first started thinking of coming to Ireland. Its been a huge achievement & not an easy route with cancelled cranes, the whole world going into lockdown & a terrifying first cruise on the lough but here we are… This is what it was all for.. so mum celebrated with a glass of bucks fizz.

And we celebrated with a dip in the lake.

We spent most of the day chilling & pinching ourselves that we were really here. The sun came out & we sat by the picnic table on the lough side.

We were shattered so spent a good portion of the day snoozing.

A few other boats came & went. Two boats with 2 lovely families on came & stayed the night & they kindly invited mum to sit out & join them for drinks. They gave mum lots of tips about places to visit on the lake & even took our rubbish for us as we’ve been struggling with no bins. But the even better bit is they’ve agreed to hopefully meet up with mum again to crew for her when she does the mahoosive lock at the bottom of the lake – but more on that when & if we get there. It’s another mad thing on mums stupid bucket list! Talking of bucket lists mum had on it to go wild swimming in the lake & she managed to do that & even swim right by the boat. We were locked indoors cos we keep barking at people swimming by the boat & I can tell you for sure we’d have barked double loudly at mum!

As the forecast was excellent for a few days we decided to stay till Tuesday at Rossmore plus we actually had a good internet signal so mum was able to get a load of work done on Monday.

We were glad we did as Wendy rang mum to say they fancied bringing their boat out & cruising to our next stop of Drummaan too. So Monday night they arrived with my new girlfriend Sophie so we all sat out on the quay having a drink & chatting that night.

So mum is now happy again in fact she’s very happy so here’s to the next instalment of the Golden Boyz adventure, Now of course the blog wouldn’t be complete without our obligatory sunset photos

And shock horror we actually got a sunrise photo though mum did go back to bed after taking it with a cup of coffee

A tad Choppy by Cosmo (Meelick Quay to Portumna)

We had a brilliant time at Meelick Quay with some lovely sunny days where we could sit outside.

One night some very funny ducks came swimming by our boat. We wouldn’t stop barking at them so ended up being put inside hmph!

At the weekend mum decided it was time to brave the lough so we set off first for an encounter with our first big Shannon lock. We passed the Meelick Weir that Waterways Ireland are constructing a walkway across. Mum wants to come back once it’s finished & walk across it but you know what a wuss I am that doesn’t sound good at all!

Meelick Weir Restoration Project

Very soon we were at the big Victoria lock which was lock keeper operated. It was like the big automated locks we were used to up in South Yorkshire.

Once through were off along The Shannon. It was a truly beautiful cruising day.

On the way we passed 4 herons together. We’ve only seen them in isolation before. Must have been a heron party!

We continued down the Shannon arriving in good time for the 11am Portumna Bridge opening. The bridge opens about 6 times a day.

Just as we moored up on the waiting jetty Wendy called us to say Castle Harbour was really busy but they could squeeze us in at Emerald Star moorings just before the bridge. So without further ado we were moored up for the night. Wendy very kindly drove mum around to Castle Harbour & to Terryglass to suss our the moorings. Both were absolutely rammed with boats, people & motor homes. It was all impounded by the fact that the lockdown had just been eased so folks could use their boats & motorhomes & the fact that it was a gloriously hot Saturday so we probably saw it at its worst. But we certainly weren’t relishing the fact of mooring at either place. So Wendy had a plan B for us & arranged that we could go onto a friends jetty just through the bridge if needed.

That night we went round to Wendy & Fergals moorings for a drink & we had a brilliant time running round everywhere & meeting a new chick called Sophie. Daquiri fell in love with her & when she disappeared into the boat barked at her to come back out!

Mum & Wendy just drank lots of wine. Notice 2 dogs in the background fighting over a branch!! Fergal very kindly went through the charts with mum of what to expect on the lough.

The next day mum decided she was going to cruise round to Castle Harbour & if it was full she’d come back to the jetty. So we got in the boat queue for the 11am Bridge opening.

One we were through it was like wacky races with cruisers tearing past us racing to get out on the lough. It was very scarey for mum trying to keep course through their wake.

And before we realised it we were passing through the red & green markers called The Goalposts & we were on Lough Derg! It was quite choppy & very scarey. We were gripping on with our paws.

Mum needed to turn right after the goal posts towards Castle Harbour which was made more pressured by cruiser being right up her stern obviously also going right & trying to get past mum on the inside. Mum signalled to him that she was going right so he didn’t cut her up but he still stayed right behind her.

Map of entrance to Lough Derg & castle Harbour at Portumna.

We negotiated the markers & cruised with relief into the harbour,

Luckily there was a spot right at the entrance so we tied up there. In the Harbours most of the jetties will be way too short for us so we have to tie to harbour walls which are high to get out so a complete trauma for me!

Just after we tied up it started to rain so mum came in & sat down to calm her racing heart & have a cup of coffee before she tackled the challenge of getting me off the boat.

It is predominantly cruisers over here & some big historic barges but on the lough we’ve yet to see another narrowboat. The harbours seem to also be well set up for Motorhomes too with parking bays & electric & shower blocks.

So it came time for me to have a cockaleggie. Luckily the bank dipped a bit at the back so we attempted to get me off there. It wasn’t easy but I did it after making a lot of fuss. I then can get back in on the front. It was a relief to be off on the nice grassed area by the boat.

We certainly had a fantastic view of the lough from our mooring.

Portumna (meaning ‘the landing place of the oak’) is a market town in the south-east of County GalwayIreland, on the border with and linked by a bridge to County Tipperary. This historic crossing point over the River Shannon between counties Tipperary and Galway has a long history of bridges and ferry crossings.

Mum went off exploring in the afternoon & left us snoozing. Firstyly she ca across Portumna Friary. Originally the Cistercian monks of Dunbrody Abbey in county Wexford possessed a small chapel here in the 13th century. It was dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. Sometime later it was abandoned by the Cistercians and the land was held by the O’Madden family. The land was granted by the O’Maddens to the Dominicans Friars who founded the abbey here in 1426, and dedicated it to St Mary and SS Peter and Paul. It was converted for use as a Protestant church in the 18th century.

Next she came across Portumna Castle. The castle is currently closed but the gardens were open as was the cafe where mum had coffee & cake – she says it was medicinal after her shock of cruising on the lough for the first time.

Portumna Castle is a semi-fortified house in PortumnaCounty GalwayIreland. It was built in the early 17th century by the 4th Earl of ClanricardeRichard Burke.

Portumna castle was built in the Renaissance style already prevalent in Italy and France for over a century, but not commonly found in Ireland or England at that time. The Renaissance features of the exterior are, strictly speaking, limited to the doorcase of the front entrance and the Tuscan gateway of the innermost courtyard, but the layout is an expression of Renaissance ideas. The castle is symmetrical in shape and consists of three stories over a basement with square corner projecting towers. The castle measures 29.7m by 21.2m and the corner towers are 6.5m square with gunports. A central corridor, 3m wide, runs longitudinally from top to bottom, supported by stone walls, which contain numerous recesses and fireplaces.

The castle was abandoned as a home following a fire in 1826. The Office of Public Works has re-built the huge chimney stacks. The estate grounds contain walled gardens, gate lodges, gateposts and a yard.

We all had an early night after our adrenaline filled day. Mum kept studying the map in horror as she saw she’d only been a short distance onto the lake & that was terrifying enough. I think we may be leaving the lough quicker then we came on it!!

The next day we had a nice non boating day exploring the vast Portumna Forest Park which mum had been recommended was very good for walkies for us. We liked the sound of that.

Portumna Forest Park is adjacent to Portumna on the northern shore of Lough Derg. At Portumna Forest Park there are forest and lakeside walks, car park, toilet facilities and observation points. Perfect for walking, cycling, picnicing, bird watching and anything you think you can do in nature. There is a viewing tower along the nature trail where one can get a bird’s eye view of the forest, lake and lakeshore. Portumna Forest Park consists of a forest road, a long walk and a Nature Trail.

We went on very long walkies round it with several stops at the lake for drinkies. Daquiri got quite tired & mum came home with blisters but I loved it.

We’re liking this Portumna place now!

Another day we went to a different part & found the bird hide where you can try & spot the white tailed eagles. Mum wished she’d taken her binoculars.

About the white tailed eagles

We ended up staying a Portumna 6 days (naughty us you’re only allowed to stay 5 days) but the weather was pretty windy all week & mum definitely wanted to wait for a calm day before she could pluck on courage to go back on the lake again.

We were moved off the entrance onto the back wall by waterways Ireland but it was actually quite nice there.

Now back to the important subject of my disembarkation. The whole process is stressful for me & mum. Not for Daquiri who just steps onto the side of the cratch & then jumps off. I try & leap the whole lot in one go & often fail. Then one morning mum had a brilliant idea. Our settee isn’t really a settee its 2 chairs with only one arm on each with 2 footstools inbetween. You can’t tell cos its covered up with our blankets. I obviously have no problem getting on & off the settee. So mum moved one of the footstools into the cratch trying to get me to step onto those first. Of course I made a real meal of it. I got my front paws on but mum had to lift my bottom up then I could jump off. Anyway I’m pleased to report after a few days of practicising I am now getting off the boat all by myself using the footstool. Mum says if we get an even higher wall we can use both footstools as 2 steps but I say lets take it one footstool at a time. Not sure Daquiri is so impressed with our new seating arrangements though as only one of us can fit on a chair at a time if mum is sitting on one of the, Though of course mum could always sit on the floor!

So that’s planks & harbour walls I’ve mastered since getting over here. There’d better not be anything else!

Where The River Shannon Flows by Daquiri (Shannon Harbour to Meelick Quay)

After a few days at Shannon Harbour we bade farewell to most of our cruising gang as they set off north up The Shannon. The next day although a bit drizzly very low winds were forecast so mum decided to go for it & make her first cruise onto the River Shannon headed south to Lough Derg. We were stowed away inside & mum set off with her life jacket on. So on Saturday 4th July 202 Golden Boyz made her first voyage onto the River Shannon. Jason the lock keeper dropped us down the last two locks off The Grand Canal & then it was a left turn onto the River Shannon,

We feel this momentous occasion calls for a good old Irish Song. So have a listen;

Where The River Shannon Flows

On the map above we come in from the right & head left towards our first destination Banagher. We use the red & green markers to navigate with green to the left & red to the right when heading downstream.

It was only a short distance to Banagher about 30 mins cruise but it was enough for mums racing heart she said. Here we can be seen approaching Banagher.

The harbour walls were too high for us to get off so mum had spoken to the hirebase & they said no problem paying to moor on their jettys.

Mum pulled into one of the bays doing a perfect reverse mooring & just got tied up when they came & asked her to move to the jetty on the outside as we were so long they were worried one of the new hirers might hit us. We’d avoided there on purpose as really bad winds were forecast so we were hoping for a bit of shelter. But we moved & got moored up fine & mum disappeared off to pay for 3 nights moorings.

We were taken for a quick walkies onto the grass at the top. We had to be very brave walking along wobbly jetties but it was better that high walls.

Mum then went to suss out the Park which was across the bridge to see if it was suitable for our walkies. Luckily it was deemed suitable.

Banagher Bridge is located northwest of the town of Banagher, and carries the R356 road across the River Shannon between Counties Offaly and Galway in Ireland. The present bridge, constructed between 1841 and 1843 has six masonry arches and had an opening section which has been replaced by a permanent beam.

Oh go on then I’ll make it easier here’s a zoomed in photo lol

Here is an aerial shot of the marina, bridge & harbour.

As you cross the bridge you leave County Offaly & enter the next County of Galway.

The park was very nice for walkies & even had an outdoor swimming pool. Just a shame the weather is currently like November! Maybe on our way back mum can have a dip.

The weather was truly dreadful while we were at Banagher with really strong winds. It was quite scarey on the boat bobbing about like a cork at the end of the jetties. Mum seemed to find it amazing fun & kept hanging out of the window trying to video the waves – she’s mad I tell you!! Cosmo & I just kept our paws gripped up on the settee. It was really tough for the hireboats going out in it. One came back with all its side windows smashed as it’d been swept sideways into an anchor on a larger boat & another one was escorted back by the patrol boat. I think a few got stranded & were brought back the next day. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to be cruising in that.

After 4 days at Banagher the winds dropped though it was still wet & drizzly but mum was itching to get going so we set off for our next little hop down river to Meelick Quay. Mum promised us it was nicer there for us. Anyway the rain doesn’t matter to us as we’re snug & warm inside it’s mum that does the drowned rat impression.

First we moved forwards a jetty to get diesel & pumpout having filled with water the night before so we were tickety boo to go. Mum got onto the jetty fine having to do a 180 degree turn so our pumpout was on the right side. The lads at Carickcraft sorted the boat out. Carickcraft have been so helpful & friendly during our stay despite the fact they were quite busy having only just opened for business again after lockdown. On setting off mum got it wrong & tried to turn against the current rather than with it but she quickly realised her error & went the other way. We don’t think anyone noticed it’s all a new learning cure for us.

So off we set under Banagher Bridge further down The Shannon.

It was only about an hours cruise to Meelick Quay. Mum managed fine though going past other boats was a bit scarey at first but mum got used to turning slightly into their wake so it didn’t hit us sideways. We were very brave on the settee inside!

Mum soon spotted Meelick Quay & pulled in fine. It is lovely here & great for us. The rain is forecast to stop tomorrow & we plan to stay here a couple of days as mum has work calls to make.

Here is the map of today’s route. Next time we encounter our first River Shannon lock & make our way to the town of Portumna as we enter te big scarey Lough Derg gulp!

Out on That Dreary Grand Canal by Cosmo (Pullough to Shannon Harbour)

Well luckily it wasn’t dreary on the day we moved in fact the sun came out later in the day. We set sail early well 9.30am that’s early for us in a little convoy of 4 boats. It was quite a decent days cruise for us after we’ve been village hopping for 4 months – 2 pages of the map book in fact!

We had 4 locks to do today with one being a double at Belmont ably assisted as ever by Waterways Ireland. it was interesting & scarey that they didn’t close the middle gates in the double lock in fact mum was convinced he’d forgotten but apparently it is the way that locks done.

We paused below the double lock for lunch & a little explore of Belmont & we were taken for walkies up the canal. Mum says we’ll stop here on the way back up The Grand in the autumn.

We were in one of those mooring spots that mum finds hilarious when the bow of the boat is out in the water so we can’t get off the front. She thinks its funny watching us sit there knowing we can’t get out grrr!

We were soon onwards again one last lock before we reached Shannon Harbour the last stopping place before the River Shannon. There’s 2 locks here that drop down onto the river but the harbour moorings are above. After seeing barely any boats for weeks we found where they’d all been hiding! It was choccabloc here with not much room for arrivals so we are moored quite a bit back. it’s a good job we pulled up when we did as there is no space in front at all. But we’ve put our new short planks to good use & we’re OK here for a few days.

We all had an early night after our long days cruise. The next day we awoke to rain but we went on an explore of the Harbour area.

Shannon Harbour is unique. A purpose built village, it was designed, constructed and operated as a trans shipping centre. Situated on the Grand Canal at its terminus where it joins the Shannon at the mouth of the Brosna river. Shannon Harbour was original, a town constructed to meet the requirements of accommodation and storage of its lifeblood, the Grand Canal.

Built in 1830, Shannon Harbour was once a thriving and vital place. Over 250,000 people used the canal passenger barges, many of them to emigrate from Limerick and Cobh, to America, Canada and Australia. In one year in the 1840’s, 300,000 tons of produce was transhipped in Shannon Harbour’s ware-houses. The village boasted a bonded warehouse, a customs and excise post, a large Royal Irish Constabulary barracks complete with holding cells, the Harbour Masters house, boat and barge repair dockyard and drydocks, a small school, several taverns, a smithy and livery, many cottages and of course the standard Grand Hotel. At its peak over 1,000 people lived in Shannon Harbour and its hinterland. Today less than 30 people live in the village.”

During the day a lady called Mags kindly dropped some shopping over to mum & she ran mum into Banagher to look at the moorings as we’d been warned the wall was very high for getting off & you know how I don’t like that. Anyway it has been deemed well out of the question to moor there phew! Apparently there’s two other options one with another wall but steps down through the bridge or we can go on the hireboat jetties & pay 10 euros without electricity or 15euros with electricity. I’ve kinda got a feeling the electricity will sway it for mum & she’ll be having one of those mass washing sessions alongside microwaved jacket potatoes & toast cooked in the toaster. She gets ever so giddy when she gets electric! Although there have been mutterings about the cost coming out of my biscuit allowance so I may have to go on protest about this!

Mum has been busy working whilst here as she has a new account to build but she did manage a bit of a break as finally the pubs have opened here. So off the little boat convoy crew set in a taxi to Banagher village ( which will be our first river mooring). Mum was amazed the taxi didn’t want paying when he dropped us off he just said pay on the way back. I could never imagine that in England! They’d had to book a table at the pub & they had to eat which was no hardship (not that any of it made it’s way back onboard to us hmph!). It was a different experience but still really nice to finally be in an Irish pub. There were fewer tables all spaced out, hand sanitiser as you went in, disinfectant spray in the toilets & the staff all wearing face masks. The pub wasn’t actually that busy so I hope their trade is enough for them.

Mum didn’t appear to be too drunk when she returned & seemed to negotiate the planks ok but we did hear singing from Ritchie & Mark on the boat in front which sounded like they were having fun 🙂

The next day on walkies we walked further down past the next 2 locks towards the river. Mum is now itching to get on there but the weather forecast is not so favourable until early next week so she’s grounded until we get a nice day!

So all being well our next blog should come to you from the shores of the River Shannon gulp! Life jacket & anchor are at the ready!

Animals & Churches & Castles Galore by Daquiri (Tullamore to Rahan to Pollagh)

After ten days moored at our little urban spot at Tullamore we decided we needed to get cruising again. The lock was just in front of us but the first job for mum was getting some cans of diesel as there was a diesel depot right near the lock. She trundled off with her cans & her wonky trolley that she got out of the bins at Braunston. Anyway said wonky trolley did the trick & we were stocked up. The lock keeper then arrived & we were off en route to Rahan. First passing Shra Castle that we’d walked to.

Then after the next lock we passed Ballycowan Castle.

This castle was built in 1589 as a fortified house by Thomas Morres on the site of a former O’Molloy castle called Baile-mhic-Abhainn which was destroyed by fire in 1557. The five storey tower of the castle was built in 1626 by Sir Jasper Herbert and his wife Lady Jane Finglas. A very interesting aspect of this castle is its chimneys. There are six visible chimney stacks. Three are bunched together, two sit together and one sits on its own. These are visible from quite a distance and led to the castle being nicknamed the 3-2-1 after its chimneys and it became a meeting point along the canal.

We crossed 2 aqueducts & approached Rahan just as the wind picked up. Luckily there was a fisherman on the jetty who leapt into action helping mum moor up. There doesn’t seem to be the same animosity towards boaters here maybe because there are fewer boaters interrupting their fishing. Tying up was interesting as the mooring points just had a little hole to thread the rope through. Mum managed some inventive tying as she needed to use centre line as stern was off the jetty & the centre line end was too thick to thread through the hole. Anyway we didn’t drift off anywhere so her rope work worked!

It was a nice mooring spot though quite close to a road & sadly a pub that has been closed for 8 years.

Our first walkies we went back the way we came as mum had spotted a nice selection of wild flowers she wanted to look at. Only thing was she made us sit by them for our photos making us look like right girlie wusses. We’d rather eat them than sit by them!

We also made friends with the horses in the nearby field. One of them tried to snog Cosmo. He was scared at first but then he admitted afterwards he’d quite liked it!

There was a very very posh dog bin right by our moorings with posh doggie bags called Mutt Mitts.

We did our best to contribute to it!

Mum then abandoned us & went off in pursuit of a church she’d heard about it. It wasn’t far but the route was on a windy country lane with blind bends hence we couldn’t go. She also discovered when she got there it was through a field with sheep in too so that would have been tricky with too!

The Monastic site at Rahan has been a place of Christian worship for over 1,500 years. St Carthages church at the centre of the large circular enclosure dates to the 12th century. The Church of Ireland still hold service there. On the east end of this church is a circular window dating to the 12th century. With its vivid carvings it is unique in Ireland.

The next day we went for walkies the other way & met some new furry neighbours (are donkeys furry or maybe hairy??!!)

But nothing could prepare us for what we saw that night. We were just going out for our last cockaleggie when we glanced across to the towpath on the opposite side to the boat & there were three hundred million cows walking up it! They stretched as far as the eye could see presumably on the way back from milking. Then funnily we spotted several white goats amongst them who seemed to be leading them & then right in the middle we spotted a llama. I kid you not. It was like Noahs Arks day trip out! Oh & it was a rather nice sunset too which kept mum happy.

The next day we set off to our next location of Pollagh. Just 2 locks & a stop for water.

Another nice mooring jetty in immaculate condition.

Aerial Photo of the Moorings at Pollagh

We moored up right next to an interesting bog sculpture of a turf cutter which is made out of 3-4000 year old bog oak.

Pollagh was a really friendly little village with a small community shop that mum could top up on essentials like milk, bread & malteser cake!!!! Quite a few of the local community welcomed mum & said they didn’t get may boats there. It felt like the kind of place where they’d help you out with anything you needed.

It also of course had another church St Marys which is renowned for its Bog Yew Altar & Stained Glass windows. Saint Mary’s in Pollagh is an important church architecturally with its converging transepts. The idea behind the converging transepts was that the men sat in one aisle and could not see the women sitting in the other aisle and visa versa. Both, however, could see the altar. With its pair of studio of Harry Clarke stained glass windows on chancel wall of church flanking altar, representing The Virgin Mary and The Sacred Heart. Bog yew altar, tabernacle, ambo and chair from local bogs. Created by sculptor Michael Casey and the students of The Celtic Roots Studio Lemonaghan. Through the process of carbon dating the age of the woods is 4,800 years.

We didn’t meet any other animals here though apart from the German Shepherd up by the pub!

The rest of the gang have now caught us up so we’ll now cruise onwards towards the Shannon & the big loughs of Ireland with them. At the moment the plan is to part company with most of them there as they’re going northwards up the Shannon then back along The Royal to complete the Green & Silver triangle whereas mum would like to do that with the Dublin Rally next year. So our plan is to turn left at the Shannon & do Lough Derg this summer & hopefully meet up with other boaters & make friends along the way. Then we’ll come back onto The Grand Canal for winter & hopefully catch up with the gang who will have come from the opposite Dublin direction & hear there stories over a int or two in the pub by then.

And yes the big news is some of the restrictions here are being lifted on Monday so pubs can open if they serve food & we can now cruise outside County Offaly so mum’s hoping for some nice meals accompanied by a drink or two along the shores of Lough Derg.

The Irish Adventure begins Properly by Cosmo (Edenderry to Tullamore)

Second time round in Edenderry well actually third time was quite different. A few of the lockdown measures were eased which meant some of the shops opened. Having spent so many weeks in a virtually closed Edenderry it was nice to see a few more shops open. It was also lovely to have company & one day mum enjoyed a free audio tour around Edenderry & a canalside takeaway curry with the cruising gang.

We didn’t stay too long in Edenderry as we had spent long enough there so we set off ahead of the rest of the group to Dainean. We had to wait a couple of days as the barge that had passed us The Peter Farrell had got grounded due to low water levels & so was blocking the canal. Once they’d managed to get it unstuck we were able to slide by.

We were of course back on a familiar route to us. The water was pretty weedy & shallow in parts but we made it back to Daingean eventually to our nice meadowside spot though of course facing the other way.

We were pleased to see the joinery place right by the mooring was open so mum rang them to see if they could sort some planks out for us all. Our skip attained one is great but our other is a bit rotten plus mum wanted 2 shorter ones too. Daingean joinery swiftly got us sorted & we had holes drilled in the 2 longer ones so mum can put a rope through them for handles.

Another job ticked off the list. We’ve got quite good at walking the plank now! So without further ado we were off ready to cruise new waters hurray!!!

We cruised the short distance to Ballycommon where Jimmy the lock keeper met us & worked us down the first 5 locks towards Tullamore. He accompanies us in a car seeing us through the lock then whizzing off along the canal to have the next one ready for us. Such a fabulous service from Waterways Ireland.

At the final lock Bolands lock we changed lock keeper to Leo. We’d seen photos of this lock & had been looking forward to coming through & seeing the Roundhouse lock keepers cottage. It didn’t disappoint.

“Built circa 1800 & Located on the 26th Lock of the Grand Canal, “Boland’s Lock” just outside of Tullamore, the Roundhouse was built as a lock-keeper’s house. During the period when the canal was a busy transport route for goods, the locks had keepers living nearby to operate them. In this case the lock keeper was Mr. Boland. It is a two-story building with an unusual combination of rounded ends and a projecting castellated (with battlements) bow to front. It features a hoodmoulding made of tooled limestone. The very features that make this house special today are what caused great displeasure to the Canal Company directors. They refused to pay the extra 42 pounds for the extras associated with this house which they deemed to be extraordinary and unnecessary.”

In non lockdown times you can sometimes look around the cottage. We’ll have to come back to do that.

Once we’d dropped down the lock it was full steam ahead to Tullamore harbour which was a left turn under the bridge. Thankfully not quite as sharp a turn as at Edenderry.

Tullamore is the county town of county Offaly & the biggest town we’ve been in since arriving in Ireland. We initially tagged onto the end in the harbour but then we moved next to Catriona & John who mum had chatted to on facebook but hadn’t met so they came down to see us several times during our stay in Tullmore so it was nice to meet them in person. The next day on walkies though we spotted a nice mooring jetty by the Tullamore DEW Whiskey centre which was a bit better for us as it had a small park next to it so we settled into our third Tullamore mooring. We stayed a while at this one!!

So on the canal map below we’re moored just above lock 27 by the house symbol (the whiskey museum) but before you all start getting excited about alcohol I know what you humans are like the whisky centre is still closed due to the virus! I don’t think mums that bothered as she doesn’t like whiskey & its probably made our mooring quieter with it being closed.

Of course most people have heard of Tullamore because of the whiskey. The whiskey was originally produced at the old Tullamore Distillery which was established in 1829 & the canal was used for its transportation. Its name is derived from the initials of Daniel E. Williams (D.E.W.), a general manager and later owner of the original distillery. The full story is here:

Interestingly on their website they have a cocktails page but they have failed big time as there are no Cosmopolitan or Daquiri cocktails!! However all is not totally lost as apparently there’s a pub in Tullamore that delivers beer or Daquiri cocktails & its only one minute from our mooring. Only thing is the minimum purchase is four!!!! I see disaster ahead!

Mum has enjoyed being in a town & disappeared off with a very random shopping list the other day & came back chuffed to bits that she’d managed to get all the items on it including a pair of binoculars ready for seeing the buoys on the River Shannon (we did originally have some binoculars on the boat but a very naughty puppy called Daquiri ate them in 2013 & we haven’t replaced them since). She also found a funny sized battery for her bank login device & a big extra strong extender lead as some doggie pulled a bit too often last week & strained the mechanism in the last one (who me??!!). Mum carries a spare but now we needed to replace that. She also came back with a very fetching doggie themed facemask – thank God dogs don’t have to wear those we’d chew that straightaway that’s for sure!!

We found a nice walkies route each day along the towpath of The Grand Canal with mum getting very giddy as she found a castle: Shra Castle although is some places it’s spelt Srah.

Daquiri wasn’t very interested in the castle though & had more fun paddling in the canal then rolling in the dirt!

We’ve been here a week & the rest of our cruising gang have only just started arriving into the harbour but we’re quite settled here & mum has a good internet signal for work so she’s happy. So we’re not sure yet when we’ll be moving onwards… but that’s the beauty of our flexible lifestyle.