Xmas Adventures Galore by Daquiri

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Last of the Summer Cruising (Haughtons Shore to Richmond Harbour) by Cosmo

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!!

End of the Navigation by Cosmo (Lough Allen)

So the weather forecast wasn’t looking particularly good bur we’d seen a notice online that one of the locks on the Lough Allen canal was closing for a couple of days for diving operations so we had to take the plunge & move. So mum got all kitted up in waterproofs & we settled in nice & dry & warm of the settee! Literally as soon as mum set off the heavens opened she’d only just turned the boat. Anyway brave (mad?) person that she is onwards we cruised. For a short distance back the way we came then a right up onto the Lough Allen canal. Soon we were at the first lock Battlebridge which has a fabulous glamping site opposite it.

We failed at radioing the lock keeper but managed to get them on the phone & they were out within ten minutes. It was funny & calm being back cruising on a canal well calm until the next lock that is!

Oh my goodness Drumleague lock! I think this is the closest we’ve ever been to sinking the boat. We were in position but because we’re so long & the paddles were operated electrically the water came in the front with such force it sucked the boat forwards & was soon crashing down on the bow. Golden Boyz’s engine was not powerful enough to reverse against it & we couldn’t hold it on the rope so the bow flung sideways, the whole boat tilted precariously as it hit the other side of the lock with a massive crash & we heard mum yelling to have the paddles dropped. Luckily it was over as fast as it began. We were shaking inside & most of the contents of most of our cupboards were now all over the boat. Mum, however, was calm & collected though I’m not sure we’re keen to come back up this lock again although it does have manual paddles so maybe we’ll insist on those next time. Hopefully going back down won’t be so scarey.

We were glad to be out of there & on our way again. We soon reached Acres Lake but we went straight across that as we intend stopping on the way back. We actually had a few rare moments of sun as we approached it.

We were then at our final lock Drumshanbo before our mooring on the approach to Lough Allen. We were very relieved to see it wasn’t very deep & all went smoothly. There was a nice mooring jetty below the lock beside a nice grassy area & path for us for walkies plus we had decent internet signal so mum was happy.

So having left Leitrim at the bottom of the map above we are now in the top corner at Drumshanbo. Drumshanbo is situated at the foot of Sliabh an Iarainn mountain and is the heart of traditional music in the area. Its position at the southern end of Lough Allen makes it a prized angling resort. The surrounding area is mountainous and hilly and there are excellent marked trails for walking enthusiasts, some of which are suitable for cyclists, An interesting point of interest in Drumshanbo is its unique High Street fronted by a stone wall and steps that lead down to Ireland’s shortest Main Street. St John’s Church of Ireland – A gothic structure that dates back to 1829. Drumshanbo is also the only remaining town in Ireland to still celebrate An Tostal, a festival inaugurated all over Ireland in 1953, as a celebration for Irish life.

We spent a couple of days at Drumshanbo so mum could catch up on work & get some shopping in & we had a few walkies up along the Lough. Then a 3 day calm weather window appeared so mum decided we’d cruise up Lough Allen in case we didn’t get another chance. So we set off first up the west coast to Spencer Harbour. We had excellent conditions calm & no rain. It was a fabulous tranquil mooring with its own picnic spot. We were even allowed off our leads here as noone was around & we went for a couple of dips in the lough. The view was amazing across Lough Allen. We loved Spencer Harbour.

The next day we cruised across to the eastern bank of Lough Allen but first we went on a mission to find the End of Navigation which is the most northern official navigable point of the River Shannon.

Mission completed it was down the eastern shore to Cleighran More. Another remote mooring. This one was nearer the road & was a bit bumpy overnight despite the breakwater so we preferred Spencer Harbour. We were amazed though to get the final part of the sunset as late as 11pm at night.

The weather was now forecast to turn windy again so mum had us up at stupid o’clock for walkies & we were off down the lough at sunrise. It was still a bit choppy then so its a good job we didn’t leave it any later. We then moored at Drumshanbo again & waited a couple of hours for the lock to open at 9.30am. Just as it did it started to pour with rain again so mum got absolutely soaked on our short cruise up to Acres Lake.

Drumshanbo marks the start of the Shannon Blueway and Acres Lake is home to Ireland’s first floating boardwalk. The 600m boardwalk extends over the lake and is part of a 6.5 km linear walking and cycling trail from Acres Lake in Drumshanbo to Battlebridge Lock, near Leitrim Village.

It rained most of the time we were here & mum went through 3 sets of clothes getting soaked to the skin so our boat looks like a laundry with everything drying. We do have the bonus of electricity here though so that’s cheered mum up. Not long after we’d arrived we got a knock on the boat & a lovely lady called Anjela popped to say hello as she follows our blog. So a big shout out to Anjela & hope you had safe onward cruising.

We’ll be headed back to Carrick soon as we have friends arriving from the UK in the next few days so no doubt there’ll be a few drinks drunk & pubs visited!!

Onwards up the Shannon in Leaps & Bounds by Daquiri (Lanesborough to Leitrim)

Oh my goodness we’ve been doing so much adventuring we’ve not been able to keep up with our blog. It’s been all go but here we go with our latest cruise adventures.

We very sadly parted company with Nuala as she was heading south & we were off north. To beat the weather we set off very early on an overcast day a short hop up the River Shannon to Tarmonbarry. It’s here that the Clondra Canal meets the River Shannon. So we just moored here for one night ready to set off up the Clondra Canal & then onto the Camlin River the next day. We moored for the night in the short entrance to the private marina.

The next morning we traversed the River Shannon & entered the Clondra Canal & up the one lock. At the end of this you can turn right to Richmond Harbour & the start of The Royal Canal which is hopefully our plan for winter. Today we turned left onto the very pretty Camlin River which winds round & then joins the River Shannon further north above Tarmonbarry.

Once we’d rejoined the River Shannon it was actually quite busy & we passed several boats. We continued north up across Lough Forbes & up Roosky lock to moor up on one of the fabulous jetties along the bank.

We stayed here a couple of days & mum was able to get a few top up supplies from the shop. Then we made the short hop up To Dromod. On the way mum stopped for diesel I think she nearly fainted as she only needed half a tank & it was 243euros!!! Apparently we’re trying to only run our engine days we move now as its longer days for the solar & the fire isn’t going on till at least November at these prices!

Dromod was one of harbours mum had recce’d on her holiday & she knew there was a smaller side harbour which had a lower bank for getting us off. She was also uncertain if she’d be able to turn in there so she did a reverse manoeuvre with an audience of hire boats who had all looked out when she turned up probably wondering how she was going to fit in the main harbour. Anyway we got moored perfectly & we could get off fine here.

The wind picked up a bit across the weekend so we stayed a few days at Dromod. The pretty town of Dromod is situated on shore where Lough Boderg (Lake of the Red Cow) and Lough Bofin (Lake of the White Cow) intertwine. Mum had a nice evening our at Coxs steakhouse & visited the wonderful Cavan & Leitrim Railway. It is  is a unique family attraction being the only location in Ireland where visitors can board an airplane cockpit and view heritage steam and diesel locomotives. There is a massive eclectic collection of vehicles and mum even got a little train ride. Heres a few photos to give you a flavour.

We were also treated to a spectacular sunset whilst at Dromod.

After the weekend the wind calmed & the forecast for the next week was very calm. So we decided to continue northwards & skip Kilglass & Grange as we’ll save those for our way back as we’d like to spend a few days there & we didn’t want to miss this current good cruising window. From Roosky northwards we’ll be able to visit again on our way back down at the end of the summer. So it was full steam ahead across 3 loughs: Bofin, Boderg & Tap to Drumsna.

We were very relieved to see there was space by the steps as again the wall would be too high for us to get off. We actually got a rare bit of sunshine while we were moored there too.

Next day we headed back down the river & turned onto The Jamestown Canal. We were hoping to moor at the end of this but alas the wall was too high so we continued onto Carrick praying that there was room as it was late afternoon. We normally try & arrive in the mornings to ensure we can get our long boat in at places. Anyway we needn’t have worried as there was loads of space. We did have to moor on short finger moorings here that we only get just under half of our length on. Luckily as it was a calm forecast we were fine.

Carrick-on-Shannon is the county town of County Leitrim in Ireland. It is the largest town in the county of Leitrim. A smaller part of the town lies in County Roscommon. It is situated on a strategic crossing point of the River Shannon & is a mecca for Hire boats.

Carrick-on-Shannon is the county town of County Leitrim in Ireland. It is the largest town in the county of Leitrim. A smaller part of the town lies in County Roscommon. It is situated on a strategic crossing point of the River Shannon. Carrick on Shannon is known as ‘the marina capital of Ireland‘ and the Marina is an attractive focal point of the town with many hire boat companies & a daily trip boat running. It has a beautiful riverside park & boardwalk over the river that we enjoyed for walkies.

It also has the Costello Chapel which is the smallest chapel in Europe & the second smallest in the world. The Chapel is sixteen feet long by twelve foot wide and thus covers an area of 192 feet. The Costello Memorial Chapel was erected by Edward Costello to mark his devotion to his wife, who died in 1877 at the age of 46. On the death of his wife, Mary Josephine, he had work on the memorial Chapel started. It was to be both a monument to his love and a last resting place for his wife and himself. The little building was dedicated on April 22, 1879 and after the consecration ceremony, the body of Mrs Costello was placed in a sunken space to the left of the entrance, and covered over with a thick slab of specially made glass. The body, which was interred in a metal coffin, had been embalmed when Mrs Costello died, and had been cared for in the interim by the marist nuns. Mr Costello himself died in March 1891, and his remains also in a metal coffin were placed in a sunken space to the right of the entrance. A thick glass lid was placed over this vault too, and today the inscriptions on both coffins can be read with the aid of a torch.

On a slightly less sombre note Carrick has many pubs & restaurants which no prizes for guessing mum was off visiting!

Now we didnt want to spend too long at Carrick as we’ll be back here in a couple of weeks to meet friends & you’re only allowed to moor at the harbours for 5 days. So after the important task of an online shopping delivery of 4 large bags of dog food we set off northwards to Leitrim. We’ve now ended up very ahead of schedule as Leitrim & Lough Allen were our end goal this summer. Ah well we can always go to our favourite places again or move our goals.

Leitrim is a small village at the start of the Shannon-Erne waterway which is our 2023 goal. It is just on a canal section & we found a perfect mooring with grass right next to us.

Unfortunately it did nothing but rain all the time we were there & its one of the first places we had a very poor internet signal. Of course this meant mum had to go to the pub to use their wifi! Mum had hoped to cycle further up the canal to have a look at the locks but given the weather that plan was shelved.

We’re now quite a way up the waterways as can be seen from the map below. This blog has taken us from Roosky to Leitrim. Lough Allen is next & then we also have Lough Key to explore which we’re really looking forwards to.

We decided to move onwards from Leitrim & have a quick look up at Lough Allen as there’s a festival on at Drumshanbo then we’ll possibly come back & do more time on Lough Allen in August. We’ll fill you in on our Lough Allen adventures in the next blog.

The Funky Boyz Convoy by Cosmo (Glasson to Coosan Point to River Inny)

After a lovely few days at Glasson we had a very small very early calm window so we set off just after sunrise for Coosan Point.

Coosan Point was only a short cruise but it had water that we needed. So we were soon moored up safely as the forecast was for a few very windy days.

Coosan Point was a fabulous spot for us with little trails through the woods, beautiful views along the shore of Lough Ree, lots of informative signs about the geography & wildlife of the area, both BBQ & picnic areas, playground for the kids, a pub & the newly opened Lough Ree Lifeboat station. Ireland does do these areas so well.

It was quite a busy spot with swimmers & lots of coats cruising past of all shapes & sizes. As well as the ones pictured we saw the Viking Boat & the Hot Tub Boat again plus the magnificent Shannon Princess.

While we were at Coosan Point our new friend Nuala aboard Funky Duck arrived who is going to cruise with us across Lough Ree. Her boat is amazing with great big windows so particularly good for socialising on summer evenings & the best bit is we’re allowed onboard so we had great nights with mum & Nuala.

We had to wait quite a few days before there was a gap in the wind conditions but one evening mum was taken on a trip out across the bay to the wonderful chalets restaurant at Killinure. It had its own small private harbour which was quite tricky to get into. Nuala managed it superbly but we’d never have got Golden Boyz in there.

Eventually the wind calmed in our favour & the day dawned of our big cruise up Lough Ree – well partway up it. So ropes were cast off, life jackets donned & vhf radios tuned in & we were off. It was an absolutely stunning day for a cruise in our Funky Duck Convoy.

We made our way up the lough & headed east across the bay towards the River Inny.

After about an hour & 40mins we turned left onto the winding River Inny which again was spectacular cruising.

Just for reference we are about where the number 13 is on the map below.

In the past you’ve needed to do bankside mooring along the Inny but Waterways Ireland have installed a very swish new jetty at Red Bridge which is the end of the navigation. We moored on the end with a fabulous view out up the river.

Now we had the best time there as we had not one but two BBQs! Mags came to visit one night & brought Baileys cheesecake but we weren’t given any of that!!! It was a beautiful setting with a fabulous sunset view. Now we were also very excited each night as it got dark as the jetty has these amazing motion activated solar nights. They only come on when people are on the jetty. How ingenious. We tested them each night when we went for late night cockaleggies!

One day mum disappeared off on a Falcon adventure as she discovered we were near to both The royal Canal & the Irish Center Parcs. We won’t say too much about those places here as we should be on The Royal Canal this winter so hopefully we’ll be able to visit them all again but here’s a few photos of her day.

After a couple of days work the forecast is now looking good again so the Funky Boyz convoy will be bidding farewell to the Inny & heading northwards soon.

A Corking Time in Cork by Cosmo

Finally Calendar Club was over & mum didn’t have to go out to work every day anymore & we don’t have to go for silly walkies in the dark in a morning. I mean we’re getting on a bit now we need our rest!

So pennies earned we decided we’d treat ourselves to another little Irish break. Its often not easy finding a doggie friendly cottage that will take 2 dogs most only specify one. Some even say small dog only & we don’t think we quite fit into that category. Now I suggested leaving Daquiri at home but mum wasn’t having any of it. Mum had set her heart on Cork & she finally found a cottage though it was rather a long way way away. We stayed just south of Skibbereen in Cork & once mum later started researching she was delighted to find out it was actually a top location to stay as there was lots to visit nearby.

The day dawned & we had to get in that stupid van. Mum broke up the journey partway by ticking something off her bucket list & we got to stop for cockaleggies. We stopped for a quick visit to Blarney Castle as mum wanted to kiss the Blarney Stone.

As the rumour goes, the Blarney Stone bestows the gift of gab on whoever kisses it. For all that it seems like the stuff of fairytales, the stone is comfortably lodged at Blarney Castle, a medieval fortress near Cork, Ireland, and it’s considered a world landmark that thousands of travelers have flocked to every year since the 1800s. The Discovery Channel even lists it as one of the things you should do before you die. Oh God as if she doesn’t talk enough!!

Anyway from the photos the Blarney Castle looks nice as we weren’t allowed in. Built nearly six hundred years ago by one of Ireland’s greatest chieftans, Cormac MacCarthy, and has been attracting attention ever since. Over the last few hundred years, millions have flocked to Blarney making it a world landmark and one of Ireland’s greatest treasures.

But the more fun was the kissing the stone. Mum came back puffing from climbing all the steps saying she’s going to have to get fit again (again??!! thats what we said when she said that!) but oh my giddy aunt the photos were hilarious. Wish we’d been there to see it mind you she might have hung us upside down too.

Kissing it is not an easy feat. You have to endure a steep climb that involves 127 steps from spiral staircases. Once you get there, a bit of flexibility is required. Visitors lie on their back, hold on tight to an iron railing to avoid falling, and lean backwards a lot, all while handling the dizzying sight of the ground from 100 feet up. A practiced attendant was there to guide through the process. One century back, travellers weren’t as lucky. The old-fashioned way was to hold people’s ankles and then hang them upside-down so they could kiss the stone, but this practice came to an end when a traveller slipped free from his friend’s grasp and hurtled down to his death. Luckily that didn’t happen to mum or we could have been trapped in that van forever.

After all mums acrobatics we were on our way & arrived at our cottage. It was very remote just as we like it & had a nice doggie there. Mum soon settled in & was up in the bath with a glass of Prosecco while we snoozed in front of a roaring log fire.

Now the next day we were up & off early as we woke mum up so we all got to see the sunrise.

As its out of season a lot of places are closed but a few are only open at weekends so mum had prebooked tickets for today so no resting. We set off to Clonakilty stopping at Warren Beach on the way.

Now Clonakilty is famous for sausages something mum & we are very partial to.

The sausage story begins in the 1800’s in Philip Harrington’s butcher shop in sovereign street Clonakilty. Johanna O’Brien, a farmer’s wife, from Sam’s cross wanted to subsidise the household income making black pudding for Harrington’s butcher shop. When Johanna retired Philip Harrington continued to make the popular black pudding. The recipe which included a secret spice mix was faithfully handed down to Philip’s family and for over a century, the black pudding was made by Dan Harrington, Con O’Callaghan, Paddy Allman. Not only was it sold from the butcher shop it was sent in parcels to Clonakilty people both at home and abroad. In 1969, the butcher shop was sold as a going concern to Patrick McSweeny. In 1976 the butcher shop which included the black pudding recipe was bought by his nephew Edward Twomey.

But surprisingly it wasn’t the sausages mum had come to Clonakilty for it was West Cork Model Railway Village Ireland’s only Model Village in Clonakilty is a fully scaled handmade model of the historic West Cork Railway Line with fully working miniature trains and the towns that the railway served during the 1940s. Handcrafted model buildings and figurines tell the story of how people lived and worked in days gone by.

Then we whizzed down to another beach for walkies Incheydoney Beach before our drive home. Mum was trying to take selfies with us but we weren’t so keen! That’s me on the left the handsome one & Daquiri on the right.

Next day we stayed closer to home with a visit to Baltimore. In the summer this is a busy village with lots of ferries coming & going especially with whale & dolphin watching trips. In winter its a bit like a ghost town so we headed up to Baltimore Beacon instead. The Baltimore Beacon, a whitewashed tower guarding the entrance of the harbour, is Baltimore’s major landmark. The locals call him Lot’s Wife with a wink after a biblical figure that solidified into a pillar of salt.

Now as on our Ring of Kerry holiday way back last Xmas we’re often driving along the Wild Atlantic Way which is a superb if sometimes hairy route around the west coast of Ireland. Its extremely well done with lots of well signed stopping places with information boards all signified by the familiar ZigZag name pole like below. There really are some breathtaking views as you drive. During the week we drove most of the West Cork section.

Travelling the Wild Atlantic Way from Durrus to Kinsale

The Mizen Peninsula located in the south west of Ireland is a special trip and tip. It encapsulates all the special elements that makes the Irish west coast so unique – wonderful beaches, dramatic cliffs, magical fishing villages and a light tower majestically standing watch over a raging Atlantic. Fastnet Rock, which was known as „The Teardrop of Ireland“ as it was the last image of Ireland the emigrants had when sailing for the New World, houses Ireland’s highest lighthouse at 54 metres.

The Wild Atlantic Way continues along in an easterly direction towards Baltimore where the ferries depart to the islands of Roaring Water Bay (also available from Schull, Mizen Head Peninsula). Baltimore Beacon, a signal tower offers the perfect view over the islands in the bay. On the one hand this area benefits from a mild climate due to the presence of the Gulf Stream enjoying a lush vegetation, but on the other hand it is exposed to the elements of nature.

The Old Head of Kinsale – a narrow tongue of land, is flanked by preciptious rocks and with a lighthouse at its most southerly tip. An idyllic dramatic promontory mostly enjoyed by golfers as this land is owned by the well-known local golf course.”

Day 3 we had a chill out day at the cottage with mum watching her Xmas DVDs & us well errr … Snoozing of course!

The next day we ventured the other way along the WAW stopping first at Browhead. Brow Head is the southernmost point of the Irish mainland. Guglielmo Marconi came to the Mizen peninsula to try to get his first radio message across the Atlantic. He had arrived in England in 1896 and filed the world’s first patent application for a system of telegraphy using Hertzian waves. The British patent was granted on June 2nd. In 1897 he established contact across the Bristol Channel and the Solent (from the Isle of Wight to Bournemouth) He formed The Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company. In 1904, Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Co. Ltd. entered into a contract with the Commissioners of Irish Lights to put telegraphic equipment and aerials on the Fastnet Rock. The telegraphic station was moved up to Brow Head where the signal tower equipment had been used for so long to contact passing ships. Messages were sent to the Fastnet Rock Lighthouse by signalling methods and then relayed to the Brow Head station by wireless telegraphy for relaying on to the recipients. In 1904 a ship broke a shaft eighty miles out from Crookhaven. She was fitted with Marconi equipment and soon hundreds of messages were streaming back and forth to her as the passengers contacted their families and friends. Assistance was sent immediately and she was back on course without mishap. Marconi’s invention had taken much of the fear out of the sea.

After a walkies stop & another beach we like beaches it was onto Crookhaven then to Mizen Head. Unfortunately being out of season the visitor centre was closed so mum couldn’t walk across the bridge like she wanted to.

Our final stop of the day was at Bantry Bay as in the famous song as mum wanted shopping we’d run out of sausages!! Only joking!

Now although we had the cottage till Saturday there were a couple of places near Cork city mum wanted to see plus see a bit of Cork itself. They were all about 1.5hours drive in a homeward direction so after a bit of research mum decided we’d leave the cottage a day early & stay in a doggie friendly hotel in Cork centre.

We firstly visited the colourful town of Kinsale which is the beginning or is it the end of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Then it was off to our lovely hotel. It worked out perfect as it had its own garden behind the hotel & our room was right next to the door out to the garden. Couldn’t have been better. Mum went out for a meal at night & a cocktail!! She said she was celebrating the news of Irelands restrictions being lifted which was announced tonight. So she got to see a little bit of Cork city by night.

Then we had one final stop as we started our journey home I think we saved the best till last the beautiful town of Cobh. Cobh is a town in Ireland, on an island in Cork city’s harbour. It’s known as the Titanic’s last port of call in 1912. Titanic Experience Cobh is a themed attraction in the former White Star Line ticket office. Also Cobh: the town’s Deck of Cards is a series of 23 candy-coloured houses with the church towering above. These houses were built in 1850 and are called the Deck of Cards because, as the locals joke, if the house at the bottom fell down, all the others would pile on it, just like a deck of cards. The row of house features on many Irish travel sites. You can also do trips to the famous Spike Island in season too.

Mum also managed to capture her favourite photo of the trip here which is below as it looks like the left hand side of the photo is in colour & the right hand side in black & white. Quite incredible!

So we arrived back to the boat & the van was returned so we’re back to normal Golden Boyz life now. Most restrictions have now been lifted yippee so we’re hoping mum finally 3rd time lucky gets a proper St Patricks day in Ireland. We’re hanging around the Grand Canal till spring then the boat is booked into dry dock at Shannon Harbour for blacking before we head northwards up the River Shannon this year. We hope you’ll join us in our blogs when we restart our adventures.

REVIEW OF 2021 BY COSMO & DAQUIRI (THE YEAR OF THE RIVER BARROW WITH A POORLY MUM & AN UNWANTED VISITOR)

As we traditionally stop our blog across winter as we’re not travelling so much last year we did a photo review of the year which we enjoyed doing & we hope you enjoyed reading so here’s the 2021 offering.

January 2021

We started the year in lockdown again moored at Tullamore as we’d been awaiting mums gallbladder operation at the end of Jan but that was cancelled as Covid cases rocketed. Then although we were in a 5km restriction it soon became apparent as this was ongoing that we needed to move 55km to get pumpout as the holding tank would never last. As Waterways Ireland lock keepers were under covid restrictions we were extremely grateful for Tom from IWAI taking us up the Ballycommon lock flight. It was a stunning but freezing cold day. From there we were onwards through to a snowy Daingean & eventually a frosty Ticknevin.

Eventually we made it back to Lowtown where we got the necessary pumpout & we initially moored just up the arm but the internet signal was too poor for us there so we moved slightly further along down the old Main line of the Barrow navigation.

February 2021

Mum was busy completing lockdown projects of her painting by numbers giraffe picture & macrame plant holders. We also finally got our Christmas pressies delivered by Santa Jimmy the lock keeper after Ann from Ferbane had kindly brought them up to him.

We cruised around the little loop of the Barrow old & new lines a couple of times & walked past the wonderful Hendys castle each day. Also mum experimented with a technique for managing the locks by herself using an old anchor warp, a length of chain & a magnet as lockdown was going on & on & on… We celebrated our one year anniversary in Ireland by errr staying in as that’s all we’re allowed to do!

March 2021

We next caught up with the Sallins gang down at McCreaveys for a subdued 2nd St Paddys day in lockdown

As a year had passed since we first arrived that fateful date of the year when our annual injections are due dawned. Last year we had them at Edenderry this year mum cruised down the Naas branch as there was a vets within walking distance of the harbour. We told her we didn’t mind not having them but mum insisted & as it turned out we needed them much sooner than we thought. This time Ais was our lock wheeler down the Naas flight & she even performed surgery on Falcon who had a puncture. We loved the mooring in Naas Harbour & had intended to stay a couple of weeks but best laid plans & all that!

After only a few days at Naas Mum got a phonecall from Tullamore hospital to say they could do her op at the end of March. Not wanting to miss the slot mum grabbed it so we were off back up the Naas flight to moor at Sallins near a tap & other boaters as mum wasn’t going to be fit enough to cruise for a while. We were bundled off to Woofys & Snuggles Kennels & mum was bundled off to Tullamore hospital. We were very grateful to Erin & Dave for running mum to the hospital & looking after her the night of her op.

April 2021

We had a gentle month with mum recuperating although there was excitement when Rosie, Steve & Philpot arrived with their boat from the Uk.

Mum went on quite a few day trips to Dublin by bus & train visiting Grand Canal Dock, Croke Park, Dublin Castle, EPIC Museum & Dublin Zoo as well as a long cycle ride to the beautiful Blessington Lake.

May 2021

Well we were still in lockdown 5 months into 2021 when we saw a glimmer of hope as it was announced some restrictions were to be lifted early May which meant the waterways reopening & the lock keepers coming back on full duty. Yippee!!! We can set off cruising. We made our way up to Robertstown via Digby Bridge as mum decided as the year was starting late we’d do the River Barrow this summer rather than shooting along the Grand canal to Shannon harbour. Then disaster struck & mum tripped over her own mooring rope in the dark & fractured her elbow. So after barely seeing a Doctor in the 7 years living aboard in the UK so far in Ireland we’d had fractured ribs, a gallbladder op & now a fractured elbow. Let hope that’s her three! Then another disaster struck you almost couldn’t make this up. We’d been delayed awaiting mums appointment at the fracture clinic when there was a huge cybersecurity alert as hackers got into the Irish HSE websites & yes you’ve guessed it mums appointment was cancelled on the morning of it. As it wasn’t looking hopeful mum would get another appointment anytime soon she decided to set off one armed on our cruise down the Barrow. Good job she did as we never heard from the hospital again! So finally we were Barrow bound.

Our first stop was Rathangan & then it was onto Monasterevin under the lift bridge & crossing the River Barrow as we were still on the Barrow Navigation ie canal at this point.

We enjoyed our stay down at the harbour under the lock & mum got a visit to Kildare Stud & Japanese Gardens in. Then it was off to Fisherstown & Vicarstown where we caught up with Marie & Sally.

June 2021

Then our last stretch of canal cruising as we traversed Athy & dropped down onto the River Barrow at Ardreigh. Here we met the amazing Bernie & Charlie who invited us all for dinner & joy oh joy the pubs finally opened outdoors so we sampled the delights of the Auld Shebeen. It was a wonderful mooring at Ardreigh & it was hard to drag ourselves away but further adventures beckoned. It’s then we met the wonderful lock keeper Billy who became such a huge help to us most of our way down the Barrow.

So we were off downstream stopping first at Maganey Bridge. We had to be very brave on the planks there & mum had her first dip in a rather chilly River Barrow.

Then it was onto Carlow where mum needed to be to catch a bus back to Dublin for her 2nd vaccine. Not such good moorings for us here but the park was nice & mum had a few drinks out & even went to the cinema.

Next was the stunning Milford after passing the scarey Carlow Weir.

Then next stop became our favourite on the whole River Barrow the beautiful Leighlinsbidge – it had it all a castle, fab grassy mooring, a tap, beautiful bridge with pink flowers tumbling down it, pubs, & a super corner shop & butchers. We were also blessed with absolutely gorgeous weather so we could sit out by the boat with a view to die for.

July 21

We were so happy there & again had to drag ourselves away. From here it was a short hop to Bagenalstown which was convenient for supermarkets & a safe place to leave Golden Boyz whilst we went on holiday for a week. And what a month July turned into!

Now mum was clever & hired her van for an extra week so we went off on a few adventures even before our holiday started. Mum went donkey trekking, we visited Courtown beach & mum went to a seal sanctuary & we went to the amazing village of Enniskerry which was being used as a Disney film set.

Also as an added bonus to our adventure mum got the chance to have a trip on one of the heritage barges 45M. Big thanks to Susie for the opportunity.

We finally got to go on our long awaited trip to Belfast which had been postponed from New Year due to covid. We stayed in a gorgeous Coastguards cottage right on the beach.

And surprise surprise we had a visitor up there a whole 17 months after we’ve arrived in Ireland & it was auntie Joy who’d brought us over all those months ago. We were so excited to see her.

We had a wonderful week with many adventures including Games of Thrones sites, Giants Causeway, Gobbins clifftop walk, Belfast city & Titanic Experience & mums birthday. Heres a few photos from our week.

Gosh what a lot we packed in but the absolute highlight of our week was the big golden retriever party we had at Lisa & Terrys!

What a splendid holiday! And the fun didn’t stop there. We moved the boat onwards to Goresbridge which although it was a fantastic spot for us it became a not so good spot due to a stowaway! More later..

It was absolutely scorching weather & Goresbridge was a popular swimming spot so mum was in her element. We even dipped our paws in.

Then there was much excitement as we finally had visitors from the Uk as mums cousin Colette arrived with husband Stu & mum Jeanette (mums real auntie) & best of all we got to meet our new cousin Enzo. They arrived in a huge 7 berth motorhome.

It was soooo good to see them all & we had a mix of chilling out & BBQs & swimming and sightseeing in our private tour bus. We visited Blessington Lake & hired a hot tub for a while, Hook Lighthouse, Inistioge & New Ross. Auntie Joy also joined us for a few days. It was Colette’s 50th while she was over so we celebrated that too.

All too soon all of our guests departed except one unwanted one! Here’s the tale or should it be tail!! One night late suddenly our waterpump started pulsing which was odd as that normally signifies a water leak & it was hot weather & we weren’t running any water. Mum turned off the water & assigned the task to Stu! However the next day when it was turned back on it sounded like a waterfall was running through the boat. Mum pulled the bathroom apart & quickly found that water was pouring out of around the back of the washing machine. Stu went into investigate & pulled out a chewed pipe it appeared we’d got a hungry mouse onboard. At that point mum remembered she’d heard scratching & had shouted at us the night before – typical we always get blamed for misdemeanours. Anyway luckily the pipe was easily replaced with another one which Stu advised was less tasty to mice. But our stowaway was still onboard. so all manner of traps were bought plus ultrasonic devices to try & catch him. Mum hated this whole experience & barely slept as he was often scratching at night. She taped up all the vents near the bed as she was terrified he’d get in her bed & every night we were all shut up in the bedroom so he couldn’t get at us! To be continued…

Aug 2021

We left Goresbridge having fallen out with it due to our unwanted guest & moved onwards to Graiguenamanagh. Here we had trouble mooring but eventually got our stern on a mooring which actually had a view to die for.

We had a week at Graiguenamanagh awaiting a little convoy of narrowboats who we planned to do the exciting tidal section of river to Inistioge with. Inistioge is tidal so when we’d visited with family the tide was out & we effectively walked where we’d be floating. Below are the photos with the tide out.

It was hard to imagine we’d be moored there.

Anyway a good cruising day dawned so the three intrepid boats cruised down to St Mullins us still with an extra crew members cratching away every night!

The next day we were up bright & early for our scarey but exciting tidal cruise firstly to New Ross to await the next tide then to our end destination of Inistioge. I picked up 2 very wanted members of crew who were a fabulous help to me Billie & John. It was an amazing experience & one we’ll treasure forever.

And eventually we were all moored up where we’d been standing in the previous photos awaiting teh tide going out.

And here are all the intrepid explorers. A big well done & thank you to my fellow boaters Gerry, Alessandra, Neil & Claire as well as our 2 crew members Billie & John. We expect this will be one of the most memorable cruises in Ireland by the time we leave.

The next day we refloated & did the cruise in reverse back to St Mullins. It was a late tie up after a long day but even though we were exhausted we didn’t get much sleep due to the party our unwanted visitor was having.

In the morning we awoke & made a horrible discovery. We found droppings on our settee except they were too large for a mouse so at that point we realised that it wasn’t a mouse it must be a rat! I think at that point mum nearly quit boating she wasnt happy is an understatement. It was time to call in the experts & a phonecall to Rentokil was made.

Well to cut a long story short we made our way back up the river still with our elusive visitor onboard. We had a 350euros Rentokil bill (& I have to say they were fantastic we don’t begrudge them the payment at all) & after ten visits from Rentokil & a massive destruction on our boat including chewed cupboards, curtains, settee, floorboards, insulation, pipe lagging & other electrical cables he was finally no more when we were back up at Ardreigh after being onboard for over 6 weeks! We won’t go into all the details except it is probably the lowest point in our boating lifetime where we barely slept for weeks & we would never ever wish the experience on anyone.

So at last being back on to a crew of three saw us moored up next to Margaret & John at Ardreigh also in the company of Charlie & Bernie. We were there for 4 weeks as the canal levels were too low for us to continue. Ironic as we’d been panicking about getting off the river before it rose! Whilst we were there mum had fun playing on some new electric boats up at The Auld Shebeen with Charlie & Bernie.

Sept 2021

After 4 weeks we were able to get back up onto the canal & we reversed our journey up to our end destination of Robertstown. Ironically this was our first mooring after setting off from Sallins in Feb 2020 & now we’d be spending the winter here. We had been offered an Irish calendar club store at Whitewater shopping centre in Newbridge so mum decided to do that to keep her out of mischief over winter.

Oct – Dec 2021

Calendar Club is a seasonal job that operates as a franchise on a self employed basis for about 12 weeks running a unit that surprise surprise sells calendars, diaries & a few other gifts. They have loads of doggie calendars & we heard the golden retriever ones were very popular. It is 7 days a week & long days without any breaks but mum loves it as it gets her meeting people over winter & of course it puts pennies in the bank account. This year mum had 2 staff; another boater Sarah & a local lady who’d helped there in previous years Natalia. Mum did the lions share of the hours but it was handy to have help on some of the late night openings. The Xmas hours were the most we’d ever had to do (its our 5th season for Calandra Club) & mum was worried about leaving us so much so we went on holiday to a nice resort called Blackberry Kennels.

So we ended 2021 knee deep in calendars moored at Robertstown. Just ten days to go until mum was free again & we had a little holiday to Cork planned to look forward to so we’ll let you know soon how that went.

We’ll leave you with our most liked image of the year on Facebook! Hope you enjoy!!! Lots of love The Golden Boyz. See ya around in 2022.

A Wheely Good Time by Cosmo (Leighlinsbridge to Bagenalstown)

We reluctantly left our idyllic mooring at Leighlinsbridge as we needed to be by a train station as mum had a stupid hire van booked. It was only one lock down so Billy was as ever there to help. On leaving the river onto Rathvellin cut the channel was pretty overgrown in fact we had to just hope there was water below us!

We cruised onwards & were soon passing the outdoor swimming pool that mum had cycled to. Billy had warned us that there was quite a flow on Bagenalstown cut & he was there to meet us & grab a rope which was a good job as we’re not sure we’d have stopped & would have ended up moored at the lock!

We had a lovely welcome at Bagenalstown as Mark from the coffee shop brought mum a coffee across & Christy Kane came to visit & brought mum a wonderful book all about the bridges on the Barrow, It was a very handy mooring straight opposite a big Aldi. We endeared ourselves to the locals by performing a special golden retriever duet!!

We are now halfway down the non tidal section of the River Barrow. Bagenalstown, otherwise known in its Gaelic version as Muine Bheag is sited on a pleasant stretch of the River Barrow and derives its name from Walter Bagenal, who, in founding the town, had visions of mirroring the city of Versailles, in northern France.

Mum had a few days working then on Friday caught the train to Waterford to pick up the van. She had a quick stroll round & was impressed to see two narrowboats there. Hopefully we won’t be going that far its practically out at sea!! Of course Waterford is famous for its Crystal but it has an impressive number of museums & a Viking quarter with a virtual reality experience that mum wants to do one day.

We had the van for our holiday but mum booked it for an extra week as we were hoping to do the mega lock at Ardnacrushna with Rosie & Steve but the timings didn’t work for us so mum planned lots of other adventures.

So day one of the van adventures we were bundled into the back on the promise of going to the seaside. Mum kept her promise & we arrived at Courtown. It was very much a tourist spot & very busy but we had some nice walkies & a bit of mums ice cream.

Then mum disappeared for an hour before coming back & then we had chips sitting out on the beachfront. Mum told us about a Seal Rescue centre she’d been to visit. The Seal Rescue Centre rescues stranded seals & rehabilitates them. As the only seal rescue facility within the Republic of Ireland for over ten years, SRI has taken on the responsibility of responding to all seal stranding calls across the nation. They start off in the seal hospital where they are initially fed fish soup (yuk!) then they work up to fishes on a string & frozen in ice to make them work for their food. They progress through 4 pools with less & less human interaction so they don’t become attached to humans before they’re released back into the wild. Mum had a great experience & luckily didn’t bring one home though I think if we’d have had a bath onboard we might have had a flippered friend on Golden Boyz! Seal Rescue Centre has lots of info if you want to learn more.

After a big day we were relieved the next morning when although mum got up mega early & took us out on walkies she let us go back to snoozing! She shot off in the van this time to A Donkey walking experience. This is held at Clissman Horse Drawn Caravans which offers the horse drawn caravan experiences as well as donkey walking. Mum has done that twice before once in the Cotswolds & another time here in Ireland. So today mum got to go walking with Ringo the donkey & she was the only one booked so got a tour to herself.

Luckily Ringo wouldn’t fit in the van so he didn’t come back to Golden Boyz either.

Then mum shot off a bit further north as she’d been reading about how a small village in Ireland called Enniskerry had been transformed for the new Disney movie Disenchanted & that between filming stints you could have a look round. It was very busy but really well managed & an amazing experience to see.

Now we’re going to have to watch the Disney film! Mum also wants to see Enniskerry as it normally is so that’s gone on the ever growing list of things to see. Here’s a video of the transformation Enniskerry Transformation

After all her adventuring mum had a day of rest doing some wok on Monday but Tuesday she was off out again. This time she went back to Borris & the viaduct we’d driven past as she’d read you can walk across it.

Then it was a drive down to St Mullins to see where the non tidal bit of the river becomes tidal. It was stunningly beautiful down there but no room to moor so mums glad she drove down as we’ll likely not be able to moor there.

Then it was 2 busy days working trying to get everything finished before our holidays, Friday mum dashed over to Lough Derg & firstly caught up with Liam & Yogi on their new boat & then Wendy. Rosie & Steve at Killaloe & she finally collected all her post & other bits that had come over with Rosie & Steve from the Uk in March.

Whilst mum was at Killaoe she got a message from Susie asking if she’d like to go out the next day on 45M one of the Grand Canal Company barges. So it was all panic stations as mum had planned to do shopping & packing on Saturday but this was an opportunity that couldn’t be missed especially as they were setting off from where we spent lockdown 2 moored at Ferbane. Apparently this has been renamed to the English lady with the 2 golden retrievers mooring!!

Anyway mum was again up at the crack of dawn & had an amazing day aboard 45M. 45M we have mentioned before in our blogs as its the barge that sank off Parkers Point on Lough Derg. It was raised & subsequently restored 29 years later. You can read her fascinating story here : 45M

So after an incredibly busy week we were almost relieved to get away on holiday…. But as ever mum packed lots in. This is the holiday that we’d booked over last New Year at a Coastguards Cottage right on the edge of Belfast Lough that we had to postpone due to covid. We went off then on the Ring of Kerry instead. Tune in next time to hear how we got on as we had our first UK visitor after 17 months!

An idyllic Mooring by Daquiri (Carlow to Leighlinbridge)

After mum had been all jabbed up it was time to wave goodbye to Carlow. Here’s me waiting to set off.

Straightaway we had to pass the big scarey weir to get to Carlow Lock

We made it past without incident & were soon en route for Milford again with the fabulous assistance of lock keeper Billy. We just had Clogrennan Lock to do before Milford & as we left it we were greeted with a marvellous view. Again we’d picked a fabulous cruising day weatherwise.

Before long we approached MIlford with the mill & weir on the left & the entrance to the cut on the right.

The cut was quite narrow after the big River Barrow & took us past the remains of the old lifting bridge now replaced by a foot bridge. Billy met us to moor us up just on the end of the lock mooring. It was perfect in the sunshine.

Cosmo was very pleased after our urban mooring at Carlow to have grass to do rolypolys on!

After a cuppa & a bite of lunch we set off to explore Milford. Milford Mills is an 18th-century watermill which sits on the banks of the River Barrow at Milford, County Carlow. Originally built as a flour mill and malting house, it was later employed as a hydroelectric power station with Carlow being the first town in Ireland to have electric street lighting. As at all our little lock stops there is of course a weir. This one is a popular spot for visitors swimming in the river.

We wandered around to the car park area & all our prayers were answered. There was a little coffee van there so mum bought an ice cream & joy oh joy the young lad serving uttered the immortal words “Would you like 2 free puppicinos?”” Would we ever??!! So we were given a cup each with doggie biscuits in with a squirt of cream on top. We like Milford a lot!!!! Thank you BarrowBrew

We hoped to stay at Milford a few days but unfortunately mums internet signal wasn’t good enough & she had quite a lot of work to do so after a day we were on our way to our next stop of Leighlinbridge.

This time we were mooring on the river so after passing under the bridge we did a 180degree turn to moor against the flow & so that mum had a better view of the castle! Billy was there to help us tie up.

Now if Carlsberg did moorings this would be it. It was an absolutely idyllic spot with a castle right opposite – we know how mooring by castles is mums big thing, a good stretch of grass for us to be let off our leads right by the boat. pretty flowers tumbling down the bridge & walls, multicoloured pubs, a takeaway, a couple of shops including a very friendly butchers who even gave us some free bacon as a gift, a good internet signal, lots of nice walkies for us & a tap! We’ll let you judge for yourself how absolutely gorgeous it is from our photos.

Leighlinbridge is steeped in history & is really well presented with numerous interesting noticeboards around the village. It is also the garden village with 4 small themed Garden; Vivaldi Garden, Memorial Garden, Millennium Garden complete with buried time capsule & Sculpture Garden.

Black Castle was right opposite us and is also known as Leighlinbridge Tower House. The original Black Castle, built in 1181, was one of the earliest Norman fortresses in Ireland. Black Castle was granted to John de Claville by Hugh de Lacy, the powerful Norman baron who governed Ireland for Henry II. The present castle was built by Sir Edward Bellingham in 1547 and fell to Cromwell’s forces in 1650. The site was long held by the Kavanaghs and the Butlers and was also occupied by Sir Peter Carew and the Bagenals. All that remains today is the west half of a 14th Century round tower and part of the bawn.

We spent quite a few days here. In fact it was a really tough decision to leave. Mum got lots of work done & went out on Falcon one day to our next 3 mooring spots to suss them out: Bagenalstown, Goresbridge & Clashganny but we’ll save photos of those spots till we’re actually there. Mum treated herself one night to dinner & a cocktail on the terrace at the Lord Bagenalstown Inn/Hotel. We’re still on outside service only in Ireland & not sure yet if indoor dining is resuming but we’ve had some good weather recently so mums been lucky. So far the River Barrow levels have been ok as we’re aware it can sometimes be shallow in summer.

So tomorrow we set off again & although we are sorry to leave Leighlinsbridge we have lots & lots of exciting plans ahead hopefully including a holiday up to Belfast to stay in a coastguards cottage right by the sea, a visit from Auntie Joy, maybe a visit from family, a trip to see Rosie & Steve on Lough Derg and linking up with a little convoy of boats further down the Barrow for a bit of tidal cruising. Summer 2021 is going to be a good one. Oh happy days!

Madness in Maganey & Cocktails in Carlow by Cosmo (Athy to Carlow)

So we departed Ardreigh with the help of lock keeper Billy this time. We dropped down the lock & were now properly doing some river cruising. It was quite a breezy day so with a current quite different to canal cruising but nothing like riding the waves of Lough Derg last year thank God!

After Ardreigh Lock we just had Levitstown lift bridge & lock today as we passed Levitstown Mill. Levitstown Mill (former) is a fine and imposing stone building of the early nineteenth century that forms an imposing landmark in the locality. The building, although now disused, is of considerable social and historic importance for originally having served as the industrial centre in the region  c.1820, with three-bay seven-storey side elevations to east and to west, single-bay two-storey return to rear to south and battlemented roof parapet. Disused, 1909. Burnt, 1943. Now in ruins.

The bridge at Levitstown is a rare example of a guillotine bridge. The platform rises vertically within a metal frame, unlike a swing bridge which moves horizontally or a drawbridge, which pivots about a hinge. The bridge is in good condition but is probably not of great antiquity, dating possibly from the early 20th century.

After Levitstown we approached Maganey Bridge our next stop. First we had to make sure we passed under the correct marked arch on the bridge (remember the green & red markers on the River Shannon & Lough Derg? Same colour coding used here).

Then we had the fun of mooring up. We needed to swing sharp left to get on the jetty & dependent on current we might have needed to turn the boat to be facing upstream to moor up. This is a common technique on river mooring so you’re not approaching the mooring at speed with the water flow with you you moor up against it slowly. However today we managed to get towards the jetty fine.

Now all may look normal from the photos above but they hide the problem that it was too shallow for Golden Boyz to get near. Now if you can imagine mum has to somehow get off to tie the boat up & normally we use planks but she has to put those out from an unsecured boat so it might move as she’s walking them. This is difficult enough on a canal but now we’re on moving water. Anyway after much shuffling up & down the gunwhales & 23 million attempts to lasso the mooring bollards Golden Boyz was tied up a distance from the bank. Now if the planks were put up to the jetty they were too steep to mum put them onto the jetty support so we had to step up & down to get on & off. I was very good at it but Daquiri wasn’t keen. Mum also looped a spare anchor warp through our plank loops & fastened it to the front of the boat so if the river went up or down our planks might fall in the water but they’d be attached to the boat so we wouldn’t lose them. As it happened it turned out we were most definitely sat on the bottom & we never moved an inch while we were there.

Although it was a lovely spot we had a really bad signal there so mum couldn’t do her work. We decided to still stay a few days though as mum had cycled to Carlow & its not such a good spot for us & of course we’re her top priority. It was glorious weather & we enjoyed lots of nice walkies & a BBQ. A lovely couple pulled up one night & moored with us who were on their first outing on a boat they’d just bought. They invited mum to join them for a wine or two.

Then Maganey Madness struck. Now the sun must have gone to mums head as she decided she’d go for her first wild Barrow River swim. We’re often in there but we have have furry coats. Mum deemed it invigorating & fecking freezing!!

After a lovely few days we untied & pulled in the planks & set off again with the help of Noel & Billy en route for Carlow. It was a gorgeous day & was stunning for cruising the River Barrow.

Today we just had 2 locks (meaning 2 weirs to avoid) & soon we were approaching Carlow town. We had to be mindful of all the rowing boats & canoes who were also out enjoying the good weather. The rule of thumb is powered craft ie us gives way to unpowered craft & we slow down passing them. With it being a rowing club we’re especially mindful that it could be a novice crew just learning & big a narrowboat cruising by might frighten some of them.

Billy really kindly met us at Carlow to help us tie up as its a very narrow mooring ledge plus he showed us where the tap was at the rowing club. Our mooring was basically up the side of the rowing club building. The other moorings on the park are too shallow for narrowboats & to be honest were packed with noisy youths almost all the time so we were in the best spot we could be.

Now although it wasn’t as picturesque a mooring on disembarkation side it was a lovely view up & down the river from the hatch & we had a good internet signal so Mum got loads of work done. Also we were right in a town with shops & takeaways & restaurants & cocktail bars!!!

Mum went off for a wander round Carlow to get herself oriented ie suss out the bars! On her way back she saw Cliff who runs the boat trips out of Carlow & Kilkenny passing by so she got a couple of good photos especially of them passing the huge Carlow weir that we have to cruise past when we next set off. So if anyone fancies a little trip up the Barrow check out Boat Trips Ireland

It wasn’t too bad here as once we’d got used to balancing along the ledge to get of the moorings we got nice walkies round the park. Mum was able to get some shopping done including getting a much sought after sink plunger as the bathroom sink was draining slowly & no amount of white wine vinegar & baking soda had worked. Well one plunge & we have a fully draining sink again!

Mum was also hitting the town whilst here with a night at the cinema & a tapas restaurant with a Bellini cocktail AND wine!! Then another afternoon off she trotted to try & sort an issue with her phone & to view the sensory gardens – did she do either NO – apparently it was deemed too hot to walk that far so she detoured to a terraced bar for a Romeo & Juliet & a Passionfruit Poptail!!!

Anyway she didn’t seem too drunk when she finally came back! The main reason we were in Carlow was mum had been texted for her 2nd covid jab so needed to get to Dublin for that. Unfortunately last time she had a really late appointment this time it was a really early appointment so we were horrifically woken at 5am & taken out for walkies. And you know the worst of it the park doesn’t even open till 7am so we only went to a nearby little patch of grass!!!!!