Medical Procedures all Round by Daquiri (Lowtown to Sallins via Naas)

We bade farewell to Lowtown & cruised all of ten minutes to our favourite little Robertstown jetty where we even got a bit of sunshine.

We spent a few days here while mum was working & she also cycled to Newbridge for shopping & to check out the Whitewater shopping centre which could be a potential calendar club option if it happens here this year. Mum came back ecstatic as she found an M&S with a food section. I think this has been her highlight of 2021!!!

Mum also finally finished her next virtual cycling challenge so she has now virtually cycled the Grand Canyon. She embarked straightaway on the next one which is Lands End to John O Groats back in the Uk. Although sadly this has had to be put on hold for reasons we explain lower down.

Robertstown is nice for us as we get off lead walkies up the towpath. Here’s Cosmo in action & me… well um… not in action…. yawning!!

After a few days mum moved round to the harbour wall to fill up with water & most importantly she stocked up on dog food from the local shop & the nice man even wheeled it across for mum on a trolley. We like him!

I think mum must have come over ill as she decided to wash the boat too & that doesn’t happen often! But it turned out a fortuitous move as a lovely couple were walking past & got chatting to mum. Anyway they very kindly offered to help mum with the next locks so arrangements were made & the next day we set off to meet Sarah & Declan at the first lock. Now we nearly didn’t make it as Golden Boyz unusually was misbehaving & kept losing propulsion. We’re desperate to get the boat serviced but engineers are only covering emergency work during lockdown & mum suspects it needs a fuel filter change. Anyway we made it. We had a fabulous day as at the first lock we also met Michael the grandson of one of the old lock keepers who also helped us. It was a lovely sunny day & we had quite an audience at most of the locks. We were soon tied up at Digby Bridge & Sarah & Declan even kindly took our diesel cans to fill up.

It was a nice spot there & mum deemed it a perfect boat painting spot so she finally finished the side that she’d started way back in Oct in Ferbane so we are no longer spotty & looking smart (well on one side only). We stayed at Digby a few days & had nice walkies in both directions. Look at us being brave crossing the lock gates.

Heading in the Sallins Direction we crossed Leinster Aqueduct. It looks a long way down!

A few days later we tootled to Sallins for water & pumpout & then onwards to the next lock at McCreaveys where a few of our boater pals were moored. It was a great spot for us next to a stunning golf course & no nearby roads so lots of offlead time for us.

It was nice for mum to catch up with friends too & one day they set up an amazing Art session for the big & little kids using clingfilm between the trees & spray paint.

Mum cycled to nearby Straffan & then back via Sallins on St Paddys day which was sadly for the 2nd year running cancelled but she got a few photos of a few decorations. She also stopped at a little cafe & had Irish stew for lunch in celebration even though she did have to sit on a bench outside to eat it. Next year surely it has got to happen!!!

Then after a few days at McCreaveys our original mission sadly beckoned which was to get us to the vets for our booster jabs so we headed back to Sallins & then turned onto the Naas Branch at Soldiers Island. Soldier’s Island is a small island at the conjunction of main line of Grand Canal and the Naas branch. The triangular island at the junction is known locally as Soldier’s Island. Some say the name comes from the ghost of a soldier who hung himself there; more likely it refers to the location of a guard post during the 1798 disturbances when the canal barges were often raided by rebels.

We were then on the Naas branch & new waters for us.

The Naas Branch was constructed by an independent company in 1786, with pick and shovel. The purpose was to carry trade from Kilcullen along the Herbertstown/Corbally Branch and onwards to the main line of the Grand Canal through Sallins and onto Dublin. In the end, the canal was only built as far Corbally Harbour, a further 8km from Naas Harbour, where the water source is located. Trading ceased altogether on the Grand Canal in 1959 and the canal gradually became derelict.

In 1977, Dublin IWAI began work to restore the Naas Branch of the canal. Regular campaigning at Boat Rallies over the following years pushed for restoration of the Naas Branch. Much of this restoration work took place during the tenure of the OPW. In 1984, Kildare IWAI was formed and in 1987, the Naas Branch of the Grand Canal was officially reopened. Leinster Leader  It was 2002 when Naas Harbour was finally reopened. However, the Herbertstown/Corbally Branch has remained closed to navigation because of the obstruction and culvert under the Limerick Road.

The above exert & further info on the Naas Branch can be found here on the IWAI Kildare Page : Naas Branch

It is not used much so we were keen to travel it on the basis of use it or lose it. We were pleasantly surprised with our journey.

We spent our first night moored by the first lock N1 & wandered backwards to look at the remains of Sallins Dry Dock for which further info can be found here: Sallins Dry Dock

The next morning our hero Ais arrived to do the locks for us. They were easier than we expected since they’re barely used. There’s five in total with the second one N2 passing by Leinster Mill.

We’d fallen lucky as it was a sunny day & 2.5hours later & after passing the Naas goats we arrived in Naas harbour.

We moored up in a great spot by the Youth Centre & popped out for coffee & cake. It was great to be in a town with supermarkets & takeaways galore. Ais performed surgery on Falcon who had succumbed to a puncture from a thorn. Luckily there was a bike shop right near the canal so a puncture kit was purchased.

Naas Harbour is as far as is navigable by narrowboat. Naas Harbour is a real gem of Kildare’s county town. It boasts safe mooring in the shadow of the restored Canal Stores and is located only a short distance from all that Naas has to offer. The canal harbour at Naas is of considerable social and historical importance, having been built in the early eighteenth century, promoting the commercialisation and industrialisation of the locality. The construction of the harbour and canal section is a feat of technical engineering merit, while the cut-granite retaining walls attest to the high quality of stone masonry practised in the locality. Closed to commercial traffic in the 1961, the canal harbour has nevertheless been well maintained ever since and is an attractive and picturesque feature in the centre of the town

The harbour was even illuminated at night looking very pretty.

Interestingly opposite us a swan had made her nest on some flowerbeds right by a busy path so the council arrived & put barricades up to protect them.

Whilst we were moored at Naas Harbour we fleetingly appeared in a local comedians video. We’re at about 3mins 40secs blink & you’ll miss us!

Black Paddy in Naas

From Naas Harbour you can walk or canoe along the Corbally Branch. We walked! The recent history of Corbally goes back to 1811, when the canal was first built as a transport hub for Tuthill & Reeves, the Mill located 2 miles away in Athgarvan near Newbridge.  Its industrial history revolved around the shipping of goods to Newbridge, Kilcullen and Athgarvan and the transport of malt along the Harbour Road to Corbally, where it was loaded onto barges in the Harbour, and then carried along the Grand Canal to the Arthur Guinness Brewery in Dublin. Today unfortunately, the culvert at the R445 makes it impassable to walkers, cyclists and boaters. It still acts as a feeder for the Naas branch.

We walked as far as Jigginstown Castle which was buried under scaffolding for refurbishment.

Each year there is a big Naas Rally in October & we’ve got our fingers crossed that maybe just maybe that one will happen this year. Here’s the programme from the last rally Naas Rally

Anyway sadly our reason for being at Naas loomed large & we were frogmarched off to a vets within walking distance. I went in first as mum rudely said I was the worst behaved!! The vet said I was very good or something along the lines of I’ll do anything for a treat!! Anyway there’s fabulous news as I’m no longer fat!! Apparently I’m only 0.7kg heavier than Cosmo now so yay I can have bigger dinners & more treats I reckon!!

Sadly our visit to Naas was cut short as the day we arrived mum got a surprise phonecall from Tullamore Hospital to say that she could come in for her gall bladder operation the next week. We expected there to be a massive backlog & to be honest expected to wait until 2022 for the op. Now although this cut our visit short the timing is so much better than getting the call just as we come out of lockdown so mum grabbed the opportunity. She thought as there was noone else moored at Naas it was better to return to Sallins to be by other boats as she will have no heavy lifting for 4-6 weeks which we presume includes a 16 tonne boat! So a rallying cry for help was sent our & Damien from Sallins kindly came down with his 2 boys & whizzed us back up the locks. So Naas has gone on our list to go back to when we can so we can explore properly.

So it was operation operation if you get my drift! Two lovely boater friends Erin & Dave who have recently had a baby have hired a cottage for a few weeks & so kindly offered for mum to stay with them as she’s supposed to have someone with her the night of the op & Dave ferried mum to & from the hospital. We were booked into kennels as apparently we pull – us as if!!!

So Monday mum was off to the hospital for her pre op of an ECG, covid swab & blood tests. It was hilarious she came back having had something stuck up her nose – we have no sympathy as she knows how we feel having the kennel cough squirty thing up our noses every year. Tuesday we were shipped off to Wuffys & Snuggles & boy oh boy it was fantastic. We have a huge paddock to run around & other doggies come & visit on daycare. We might stay here & not go back to the boat!

So while we were here mum was shipped off to Tullamore Hospital. She hadn’t realised that keyhole surgery meant you got a general anaesthetic & put on a ventilator so it was a bit bigger procedure than she’d realised.

She has 4 little insertions in her tummy & her gall bladder has now been removed. Apparently we don’t need it anyway bit like our appendix. She’s very fragile & was woozy for a day or two but is recovering while we’re partying at Wuffys.

Once we’re back we’ll have to stay put for a few weeks as mum can’t manage pulling the boat in to moor up but as the lockdown in Ireland is never ending we’re not missing much. Mum is hoping to get the boat serviced before we move & then we’ll be off adventuring again.

The big news is some friends of ours from the UK have just arrived with their boat & they have a fab doggie called Philpot so here he is making his debut in the Golden Boyz blog. Oh & his mum & dad Steve & Rosie!!

So although yet again its been a period of minimal cruising we’ve still had some adventures. Now for a change we haven’t got our usual sunset photos but mum did get some fantastic shots of a swan in flight at McCreaveys so we’ll finish with those this time and with an Irish Toast that we think you’ll like.

Our One Fecking Year Anniversary by Daquiri (Tullamore to Lowtown)

Well it’s hard to believe but today is exactly one year since we arrived in Ireland & what a fecking year. Little did we know at that time that we’d only get 4 weeks cruising & then the waterways would be closed. Then opened again briefly in the summer (which we made the most of on Lough Derg) then closed again in October & as we stand currently no chance of even being considered to be reopened until at least April. So its a year since we’ve seen any of our friends & so many of them had plans to come over. We’re not sure when that will happen but we cannot wait & it’ll be a mega time when it does. We miss everyone so much over here. And the pubs are closed I mean how unlucky is that to be in Ireland for a whole year & the pubs are closed for a year!! And St Paddys day cancelled for not just one but now 2 years!!! That was mums big dream to get over here & be in an Irish pub with music playing on St Paddys day. Paws crossed for 2022.

So we thought as its our anniversary we’d better update our blog not that we’ve done much or gone far. We had to leave Tullamore as we needed pumpout & the one in the harbour there is broken. We had a choice of 35km back to Shannon harbour & lots of locks or 50km up to Lowtown & less locks with most of them being all together. With the restrictions Waterways Ireland were unable to help mum with the locks so we decided less locks the better. Luckily Tom from IWAI Offaly came to mums rescue as we didn’t really know how we were gonna manage & try as we might we couldn’t persuade mum to start cocking her leg up a tree! So on a beautiful sunny but vey cold day we bade farewell to Tullamore & headed up to Ballycommon.

Mum enjoyed being able to cruise again but we were quite happy in by the fire as she came in looking frozen. It didn’t take us too long to do all the locks & we were moored up by early afternoon. Mum was straight out again as she’d been dying to cycle up the old Kilbeggan branch as last time she was here she didn’t have Falcon. She came back frozen again & then spent the evening hanging out of the window taking photos of the lights on the big radio mast here right next to the boat odd woman!

The next morning dawned even colder & there was a touch of ice on the canal. We had quick walkies along the Kilbeggan Branch well we did when we stopped doing rolypolys & then we were off again.

We then hit a bit more ice which was the cue for mum to start whinging about her blacking & Cosmo to start trembling like a wuss as we cruised through it. So we only went as far as Daingean & tied up on the mooring there. As we were tying up two lovely ladies came across to say hello as they said they followed us on Instagram & they’d wanted to meet us. Yay we’re famous!

The next morning we woke up & it had snowed!! Mum made us sit for photos in it. Does he not realise how cold it is on our bottoms?! But the canal had unfrozen itself & mum had been struggling for signal at Daingean so yet again we were off.

It was a much longer day today with the Ice Queen out the back on the tiller & us snuggled by the fire.

Mr Heron didn’t seem bothered. he was out without even any slippers on! Mum had intended to stop at Edenderry but as she started to take the sharp turn under the bridge she could see the arm was iced over so it was a quick reverse out & we went up to the lock at Ticknevin. By now mum really was cold & could barely feel her fingers to tie the boat up. But she soon warmed up by the fire. Now those of you who have followed our blog for a while may remember we moored here some of the time during the first lockdown also on the way to the pumpout! It is here that mum has taken some of her most spectacular sunset shots. We didn’t quite get the sunsets but we did get some beautiful wintry photos. Note Cosmo posing I was too busy doing rolypolys so mum gave up taking my photo!

We stayed a few days there & mum went on a nice cycle ride up to Derrinturn & Carbury then we tootled along to another favourite mooring at Allenwood. Mum was able to catch the bus here right from the bridge & go into a big supermarket in Edenderry to buy the funny stuff she’s now eating on her funny diet. She had a rather smashing time as she bought some new dishes for the boat but they fell out of the bottom of her bag on the bus & smashed all over the floor so don’t think she was so impressed at that.

We started to see in the weather forecasts that the big Beast from the East Two was due & as we were playing Russian roulette on the toilet filling mum thought she’d better move up to Lowtown & get pumpout as we might have been frozen in for weeks according to the newspapers!!! We have fond memories of Beast from the East 1 when we moored at the wonderful Campbell Park in Milton Keynes so we had lots of great walkies in the snow.

There are a lot of boats moored at Lowtown & a few of our friends who we’d met in the summer so it was nice for mum to have a bit of company as she spends so much time with just us & we’re not great at chatting! Lowtown is the junction of both the Old & New Barrow Lines with the Grand Canal. We’d come straight through Lowtown earlier in the year so we were actually now on new waters for us as we moored just up the Barrow Old Line.

As it was quite full we had to moor a bit down the arm on quite a long plank but the snag was the plank was going uphill. Now for once we were Ok but as it was frosty it was slippy for mum so you’ll never guess what she did! She took a leaf out of our book & went in & out of the boat on all fours crawling along the plank. We asked her if she wanted to go out for walkies like that too but she didn’t seem keen. Well it was a good job we got to Lowtown as the Beast from the East 2 hit with full force when morning when we had to clear about 1mm of slush off the planks!!!!

Now while we were at Lowtown an exciting event happened as our Xmas presents from Grandad (Mums Dad) arrived. Now these presents have been doing more travelling than the rest of us. They left Preston travelled to York with mums brother Andrew & were then posted to Ireland only to get caught up in the whole we’re not delivering to Ireland Brexit fiasco! After sitting in a postal depot for weeks they were finally en route & made it to Athlone only to promptly have their tracking status changed to Returned to Sender! So off they went back to York. Andrew reposted them with a different carrier & this time they made it to their end destination c/o Ann in Ferbane who was bringing them to us at Tullamore as thats where we were originally moored at the start … are you following this? Of course we’re now 50km away. Anyway crisis solved as Ann dropped them up Jimmy the lock keepers house & he brought them up when he was covering Lowtown. So many weeks & a lot of miles later our Xmas presents parcel arrived at Golden Boyz. Cosmo has a new mate Mr Turkey!!!

So inbetween our few days cruising what else has been happening apart from walkies & cycle rides. Mum has finished her macrame plant holder for in the cratch & she has done a multicoloured giraffe in paint by numbers which actually looks surprisingly good as long as you don’t look too close.

Mum is also incredibly busy with work. In the first lockdown Ad-extra decide to expand into offering Facebook advertising as well as Google advertising & this now seems to be paying off as mum has a lot of new customers coming onboard. Unfortunately we need a good internet signal for that as mum uploads lots of photos & videos & the trees were not helping that at Lowtown so we moved slightly down the Barrow Old Line to the next lock & the signal was much better here. It’s a nice rural spot though the path is a tad on the muddy side! This is where the old & new lines meet.

Just a short walk along the canal is Hendys or Ballyteague Castle.

“The castle at Ballyteague was designed as a genuine looking three storey Norman style Castle that was pleasing to the eye in a bucolic setting. It is thought that some of the original stone of the earlier medieval tower house may have been incorporated into the building of this folly. The tower was owned by the Thornton family in the early part of the last century and eventually came into the hands of Tom Hendy a well thought of and noted historian who collected and kept many local historical artefacts within the castle. Tom unfortunately died in 2010. “

Upon researching about the castle we heard that a relative Anita Hendy still lives in the area & is the author of some delightful books & there is a local trail that you can cycle that follows through the books after a visit to the Authors House in non Covid times. The books are The Magic of an Irish Castle which is based on Ballyteague Castle, The Magic of an Irish Cottage based on a thatched cottage nearby, The Magic of an Irish Church, The Magic of an Irish Bog & The Magic of an Irish Canal with the tale of Ramble McShambles & his barge. However, it is a very special barge owned by an even more special man, Rambles McShambles, that they are always on the look out for. This kind old man keeps many pets on board and he makes friends with all the children living along the canal. He’s very high in mums estimations as he plays a tin whistle!!!

Excerpt from ‘The Magic of an Irish Canal .’

“After a while, and tired from playing, Rambles put the tin whistle back in his breast pocket. Taking a long drink of cool water, he wiped his moist brow with a cotton hanky. The children hopped quickly down from the table, and settled around. With the glow of a candle throwing out shadows on the walls, they made an Allen Little Theatre Group all of their own. Sitting up close to Rambles, tiny fingers, with a light angel’s touch, fidgeted with the flap of his deep-patched pockets. Rambles looked down tenderly at the darling little ones and remembered his childhood. Then, a great silence hung in the air. The old man was about to tell one of his great canal stories. His mischievous eyes began to glow with the passionate wisdom of a master bard. Precious words, formed like bubbles by his breath, rode out on his tongue. Then, like daisies in a chain, the words made long and short sentences.

The lilt of his Irish accent echoed around the walls of the cabin. Seeing the children’s eyes open wide with wonder or close tight with fright, only spurred him on. He just kept inventing more characters, delicate fairies, ghostly creatures, and brave guards carrying blunderbusses to protect canal passengers from wicked highwaymen. Because the whole story came from Rambles good heart, the children truly felt as if they were living it. And so, they cried in the sad part and fell about laughing in the happy bit. But it was only when they felt the love the hero had for the heroine that their ripe red hearts truly blossomed.”

Mum is itching to get hold of the books & cycle along the trail now. Lots more info here : Anita Hendys Books

As we are moored above a lock again mum has been out snapping some of her sunset photos. Hendys Castle is just to the right of the canal in the distance on these photos

Now mum being mum is getting a bit frustrated sitting staring at a lock not being able to use it so her mind has been working overtime plotting how she can singlehand the locks without ladders. Anyway a plan was hatched ( well 4 plans were but the first one worked so we’ve not tested the rest yet) & mum has managed to get through the lock by putting a second centre line on the boat with a chain on the end then she can lean over the bridge with her magnet & pull the chain & the attached rope up & then pull Golden Boyz through the bridge. Although it may not work at every lock if it works at some its a bonus & it worked here so we’ve dropped down the lock & are now moored on a jetty rather than planks & a muddy towpath. So mums hairbrained scheme worked. We will head back to Lowtown shortly as we’ll need water again soon.

We have had our lockdown extended again this time for another 6 weeks so the waterways aren’t opening anytime soon. On an unfortunate downside of us being here a year now means that our annual booster vaccinations are due so we’re going to slowly move to a town where we can be walked to the vets for our ordeal!

So we don’t really know our plans yet for 2021 as we don’t know when the waterways will reopen but it’s another year cut short already so we’re contemplating doing the River Barrow this year & hopefully 2022 will be better & we’ll be able to explore further afield & maybe just maybe some of the boat events & rallies will be back on. Fingers & Paws crossed.

Review of 2020 by Cosmo & Daquiri (UK to Ireland!!)

We were reminiscing yesterday & looking back through photos so we thought we’d do a photo blog review of the year. It feels like we’ve had the worst year & our dreams been shattered but when we look back the whole goal of coming to Ireland has been achieved & we’ve had many many wonderful experiences & met the most wonderful people. We hope you enjoy our trip down memory lane of 2020.

January 2020

As is normal for us the year starts with the last few days of Calendar Club & the massive closedown task. We bade a sad farewell to our assistants & drinking partners Jan & Haydn. We had fully intended to do a shop in Ireland in 2020 but sadly none were opened this year

Then started the rounds of farewell get togethers the first with our boating pals when we hired two double decker buses with hot tubs for a special farewell weekend.

Golden Boyz was moved through Milton Keynes so it could be blacked & craned out. Unfortunately the boatyard that we’d booked months previous let us down with 2 weeks to go so it was a mad scramble to find elsewhere. On the way we bade farewell to our very special furry pals Sylahra Golden Retrievers (& now there’s even more of them arrived since we left!)

February 2020

February was a flurry of farewells as we counted down the days till our departure on 26 Feb. Sorry couldn’t get everyone’s photos in but here’s a few

Then the big day dawned. Us, mum & Auntie Joy went on a big boat (ferry) from Fishgaurd to Rosslare & Golden Boyz went on the overnight ferry from Holyhead to Dublin & we were reunited at Sallins for crane in. Our biggest moment of 2020!

March 2020

A couple of days later we started our mega Ireland waterways cruise not knowing we’d soon be halted in our wake.

Our first mooring was at Robertstown & from there mum caught a bus into Dublin had lunch in a pub & took part in a hilarious silent Disco tour of Dublin. None of which would normally be that monumental but it became the last meal we had in a pub & last time mum danced for quite some time not that we knew that then. We attended at IWAI meeting to hear details about the Big Cruise 2020 which we’d come over to join in. What twists & turns life takes. We bade farewell to Auntie Joy not knowing she would be the last of our friends that we’d see for at least a year. Many friends at this stage had plans to come over & visit us.

Next cruising stop was Allenwood as there were rumblings on the news that Ireland would maybe go into a lockdown. Coincidentally we read recently that the first case of coronavirus in Ireland was detected on 27 Feb which was the same day as we arrived! It wasn’t us that brought it honest!!

We mastered the planks which we’d never done before so this was a huge achievement & would prove to be a very necessary skill in Ireland.

Our house Holly Cottage was finally put on the market for the third time. This time mum had it staged so it didn’t look so tired after the various ravages of tenants. It looked amazing & was definitely a good move as we got 54 viewings in 2 weeks (we actually stopped them at this point) & it sold at considerably more than the asking price hurray!!!!!!

Lockdown rumours were rumbling stronger & not knowing the area at all we made for the nearest town so we had shops & water which was Edenderry. The waterways were closed down & we were only allowed 2km away from our boat.

April 2020

I think we ended up spending nearly 6 weeks here. We were bewildered & lonely & felt completely out of our depth with everything happening. We’d ended up in a new country & every mechanism for exploring & making friends had been removed from us. All the events we’d planned to join in one by one were cancelled. It really was the most bizarre of times.

But it was here we started to experience the true spirit of Irish people. IWAI put Sean & his wife Ger in contact with us & they did a marvellous job of helping mum. Sean fetched gas & diesel for mum & even fixed her waterpump when it started leaking. Some of the locals started to get to know mum & us & we got a wonderful surprise Easter Gift & some home baked cookies (we liked those a lot!)

We were given permission to move by Waterways Ireland towards the end of April to go & get pumpout. We had to track backwards to Lowtown & we spent a few days moored at Ticknevin. It was so good to be back out in countryside. We are very nomadic in nature rarely stopping in one place for too long so the lockdown had totally removed our essence of freedom that we thrive on. Whilst here we saw the first of the many spectacular sunsets we’d experience in Ireland.

May 2020

Still in lockdown we took part in the fantastic fun event: a Virtual BCN Challenge Cruise. Each year there’s a 24 hour cruising challenge around the Birmingham Canal Networks that boat teams compete in but this year it was all done online.

Lockdown was loosened slightly & we cruised further along the Grand Canal enjoying stops at Rhode, Daingean & Ballycommon & seeing for the first time the peat bogs of Ireland.

June 2020

At Ballycommon we found out that the pumpout at Tullamore wasn’t working so we had to turn round & go all the way back to Lowtown again. But all was not lost as we met up with the lovely Sallins crowd who had started moving again now lockdown loosened so we continued on along the Grand Canal now in company which was wonderful for a change.

We travelled along the Grand Canal taking in the new stops of Tullamore, Pollagh, Rahan & finally arriving at Shannon Harbour.

Lockdown was eased further & joy oh joy we were allowed to go the pub for a meal. It was such an exciting wonderful happy evening.

At Shannon Harbour we went our separate ways as the others were completing the Green & Silver route encompassing both the Royal & Grand canals & passage through Dublin whereas I decided to explore Lough Derg for the summer.

July 2020

So its at this point that mum had to pull up her big girl pants & brave river cruising on her own as we set off on the mighty River Shannon. It was only a short but scarey for us cruise to the first stop at Banagher as we got used to navigating between the red & green markers.

We stayed there a couple of days then hopped down a bit to Meelick Quay. We loved the mooring there.

Then the fear factor went off the scale as we ventured further down river & out onto Lough Derg. We met the amazing Wendy & Fergal at Portumna who became very good friends of ours & give mum lots of invaluable help & advice on Lough Derg. Daquiri also took a shine to Sophie their little doggie. To get onto Lough Derg we had to pass through the timed opening of Portumna Bridge which unfortunately for us meant lots of other boats coming through at the same time. Being very green we also hadn’t picked the calmest of days & between that & boats racing past both sides of us our initial journey out onto Lough Derg was nothing short of terrifying. With great relief we tied up at Portumna Harbour.

At this stage mum was seriously thinking she’d made a big mistake coming to Ireland on her own. But with lots of coaching from Fergal mum picked the calmest of days for her next journey & although not sleeping at all the night before we eventually braved the next hop down the lough to Rossmore. The journey although still quite scarey for us was a million times better than our entrance onto the lough. Rossmore was a divine mooring & we finally felt as if our Irish dream had come true & mum particularly enjoyed the wild swimming in the lough being able to swim around Golden Boyz. Magical. We were also blessed with gorgeous hot weather.

Wendy & Fergal joined us at Rossmore & we cruised together a couple of days later to Drumaan Harbour. Mum was starting to feel a lot more confident with the navigating & weather judging now so the cruises were becoming more enjoyable. Wendy & Fergal took mum for a little trip on their zoomy boat to see the next couple of harbours.

After Drumaan we cruised across to Dromineer then down to Mountshannon where we met the fantastic Liam & Yogi who helped us tie up & introduced us to the delightful Brid from Holy island tours who was an angel getting us shopping as needed.

August 2020

Unfortunately we ended up staying longer at Mountshannon than intended as our alternator went. Luckily we were on shore power. It was Fergal to the rescue again as the alternator was refurbished. Whilst there we had a fabulous trip across to Holy Island & spent many an evening swimming within its view. Also one night a group of boaters sat out on the harbour wall & played traditional music which was fantastic. It was one of the things we’d come over for but so far not experienced.

We were eventually shipshape again & set off to Killaloe at the very bottom of Lough Derg.

Whilst at Killaloe mum went on a cruise of Lough Derg & we got an addition to the Golden Boyz crew – Falcon an electric bike!

Now we’d specifically only ventured onto the lough during summer so we had kinder weather but 2020 had other plans. Whilst at Killaloe we had 2 massive storms which would be scarey enough on the canals but on the lough??!! We were in as sheltered a spot as we could be on the excellent recommendation of Susie & we lived to tell the tale although not much sleep was had those nights!

After Killaoe we started our return back up the lough stopping at Garrykennedy & Terryglass before returning to Portumna where we’d started.

September 2020

After all the storms the River Shannon was flowing much stronger when we departed the Lough but we decided to try & get off as we didn’t want to get stuck there as they turn off all electric & more importantly water over winter on the lough. So we had a final meal with Wendy & Fergal & made our way slowly off the Shannon & back to Shannon Harbour,

We started to make our way slowly back along the Grand Canal the way we’d come out in June. With mum having Falcon now she was able to go on bike rides to nearby places & she particularly enjoyed visiting Clonmacmoise & the rather splendid Clonony Castle.

October 2020

Rumblings of another lockdown started so we headed to Ferbane as we knew there was a water tap there & mum could cycle into the village from there.

Sure enough another 6 week lockdown was announced on 23 Oct so we stayed at Ferbane 7 weeks in total. Ann in the bungalow opposite was amazingly helpful taking post in for mum & getting extra shopping for her. Mum did a few cycle rides to nearby Lough Boora & she took part in a virtual cycling challenge doing the Ring of Kerry.

November 2020

Mum hadn’t been feeling well recently so whilst in one location she registered at a Drs. After bloodtests & a scan mum has to have a small operation next year at Tullamore so we’ll be staying roughly in this vicinity for a while now. Whilst at Ferbane we discovered a local fuel company who would deliver diesel to us which is a relief as our stove runs on diesel.

Dec 2020

On 1st Dec lockdown was lifted so we could now cruise within our county. We had to turn round & head back to Shannon Harbour as the pumpout at Tullamore is still broken. Just after having sorted that as we were leaving Shannon Harbour our alternator belt went. So we pulled up there for a couple of days & a fellow boater fixed it for us. Then we were off again back the way we’d come up to Pollagh for the Xmas lights switch on.

Then finally it was up to Tullamore for the Xmas period.

We’d booked to go away to near Belfast for New Year but this was cancelled so we hastily boked a break across Xmas to see the Ring of Kerry instead. Unfortnatley mum fell off her bike just before we set off & we think she may have broken a rib or two so although we went a lot of the break was spent in pain for mum. However we did get to drive around the Ring of Kerry & see some amazing scenery.

We returned home & the very next morning we got our first Irish snow.

As we type this we have just gone back into lockdown again & the waterways have closed for the third time.

So despite coronavirus & injuries & breakdowns we have truly had the most amazing year. We have no idea of plans for 2021 hopefully some new cruising routes. We hope you’ll join us along the way & if you do happen to see us on the journey please do stop us & say hello & if you have any unwanted dog biscuits…. just saying!!!

Released by Daquiri (Ferbane to Tullamore)

Well we managed our 6 weeks lockdown which meant we were actually at Ferbane for 7 weeks as we’d arrived a week earlier. Mum achieved lots of her goals; all of Game of Thrones has been watched, all the crochet squares are done for the blanket so they now need the big job of joining them all together when mum has got more wool & the big one mum finished her virtual cycle ride around The Ring of Kerry.

Of course never one to rest on her laurels she’s doing the Grand Canyon now. Mum has also progressed our cratch revamp; all the wood has been varnished & the paint redone with us getting a new colour of blue for the front door.

Mum also thought she’d make some plant holders for the cratch in macrame which is something she’d never tried before. These are still a work in progress!

Other goals are still ongoing including the blasted tin whistle one!

Partway through our stay at Ferbane we tried out the excellent fuel delivery services of Flaherty Fuels which turned out to be a vey good move. The lorry reversed down to the boat & we filled our tank & our cans so we can keep our stove on & stay toastie warm. No diesel boats here like in the UK.

As we had to untie to pull back a bit for fuel mum took the opportunity to go & turn round as we knew at some point we needed to head back to Shannon Harbour for pumpout. It was even harder to moor up the other way as water levels had dropped so we ended up right on the tips of our 8ft planks. Miraculously none of us went in.

The last few months mum hadn’t been feeing well so seeing as we were stuck in one spot she thought she’d try registering with a Dr here. What a difference to the UK where it is so hard to get on the books of any Dr. One phonecall then she was rung back in ten mins & an appointment the same day. No bother at all not having an address they just rung mum instead. Mum had to have full blood tests which all came back healthy & clear but she was also sent for a scan to Tullamore Hospital. The lovely Ann took mum in & she got to go in a supermarket too which was a major excitement. Anyway poor mum has to have an operation so we have an appointment to see a consultant & we’re hoping the op is done over winter so we can go cruising again. But until it is we will stay within reasonable distance of Tullamore. We’re being good boyz & looking after mum lol.

Anyway finally the big day of 1 Dec arrived & we went out of our level 5 lockdown which meant we were now allowed to cruise within our county not just 5km. So that was it we bid farewell to Gallen for now & we were off on a very misty day to Shannon Harbour.

Unfortunately there disaster struck. Mum had luckily just turned round & got pumpout & was setting off back past Ferbane towards Pollagh when Golden Boyz alternator belt went. Mum pulled up immediately as to be honest at least we were near help. Another boater Gavin on one of the barges took mum the next day to a place out past Banagher that was a treasure trove of supplies for vehicles & they had the right belt for us phew! We bought 2 so we now have a spare & Gavin fitted it for mum.

While we were stuck at Shannon Harbour we went for walkies down towards the Shannon where we’d been before & it was incredible to see how it had spread across all the fields. Apparently this is normal in winter without even flood conditions. It was amazing to see.

Mum also cycled down to Banagher to see the difference in river levels there too. The harbour walls were above our roof in the summer now you’d step down to them & apparently it sometimes gets much worse than that! Let’s just say we’re glad we’re on the canal for winter!!

We departed Shannon Harbour on a beautiful but bitterly cold morning headed for Pollagh.

We were nice & warm & cosy indoors by the fire while mum braved the arctic outside.

After Alan saw us through the three locks mum decided to keep going to try & make it to Pollagh in one day despite the cold so she could have a lie in & a nice warm day inside on Saturday. All was going well albeit cold till Derry Bridge when the weather got even worse. It started raining & the rain was so hard & cold it almost felt like hail & the wind picked up gusting across the bog & rocking Golden Boyz from side to side disturbing our sleep! Eventually after passing the guys working on the new greenway Pollagh jetty came into sight, However mum had real fun & game mooring up as the wind blew her across the other side. Anyway after nearly giving up & mooring diagonally she finally managed to use the centre line as a pivot & get the bow across the same side of the canal as the stern. None of it was helped that by now she couldn’t feel her fingers or her toes. Once tied up we were only let out for a quick cockaleggie as mum was too cold to walk us. I think we saw an icicle hanging off her nose!!

Anyway we’d achieved our mission as mum was aiming to get to Pollagh for the Xmas lights switch on & decorate our boat up too. So on Saturday we had great fun joining in with that.

And we got a huge bonus as Santa came to visit & brought us (well mum) a present too which has been put away till Xmas.

We also had another surprise as a boat pulled up next to us & it was Dennis & Mick so mum was invited onboard for a coffee before they departed for the night. It was lovely to have a chat & a bit of company. Sunday was another very foggy day but mum went out on Falcon & cycled up to the next mooring then round in a big circle to get some km towards her Grand Canyon challenge.

Monday morning early we set off in the freezing fog once again & made our way up to Rahan.

Mum wanted to moor there as it was right by the road so we could again get a fuel delivery. Of course Tuesday when we weren’t cruising was a nice day!

Mum also had a fair bit of work to do too. So we had a day stationary. Wenesday we were back off again up to Tullamore. It was finally not foggy just pouring with rain instead! We passed Ballycowan & Srah castles & tied up on our favourite jetty at Tullamore.

The plan is to stay here till after Xmas. Mum has her hospital appointment tomorrow so hopefully we might be a bit clearer after that whether we can cruise further or not. It’s nice for mum to be near shops & she’s hoping to visit the swimming pool here & there’s a good stretch of grass here for us & nice walkies up the towpath past the castles so alls good at our new home spot for a while.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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.

Our first Irish Cruise by Daquiri (Sallins to Robertstown)

After storm Jorge passed & before Auntie Joy left it was time to confront our fears & tackle a few Irish Locks. There are just 3 to Robertstown. We fell lucky as a fellow trader Julie was over for a few days so she joined us too enabling us first to do a car shuffle.

We’d not managed to see Waterways Ireland yet so we were going to give the locks a go with our English windlass. There’s quite a difference in size but the larger hole on the English one we thought might work.

English windlass on left. Irish Lock key on the right.

The weather looked promising so we had fallen lucky as we bid farewell to Sallins.

We were first tracking our morning walkies route with Auntie Joy passing over Leinster Aqueduct

Then it was onto new waters as we apprehensively approached our first lock at Digby Bridge. But like a guardian angel Martin from Waterways Ireland was waiting for us with the lock ready & 2 lock keys for us to purchase!

Now in a lot of ways the locks are not that different to U.K. ones. The gates are bigger & the ground paddle they call the land rack & presumably the gate paddle is referred to as the gate rack. A windlass is a lock key. The gates & racks & lock key are all much bigger, harder to move/turn but the principal is the same. But the BIG issue for mum is a lot of them are impossible to singlehand. None of them have ladders so the only option is bowhauling in & out but many of them have wide bridges (road bridges) over one end of them so that counts that out too. So Mum will be a bit more dependent on getting help from passers by, other boaters, crew or Waterways Ireland staff. In the guidebooks all the lock keepers tel no’s are there but We think with there being so few boats the lock keepers get to know who’s where. Martin said he’d tell (warn!!) next lock keeper about me travelling on my own lol

Martin left us to the next two locks as We had crew. The girls did the next one & mum did the third one. Boy were the racks hard to turn. Mum might be coming back to the UK eventually looking like Popeye!

It was a beautiful stretch to Robertown. Part of it was very shallow so slow going. I doubt We’ll be moaning about dredging in the UK when we get back!

Soon we were approaching Robertstown where we’d already sussed out a mooring by car. It was however shallow so we couldn’t quite get into the bank but with some creative ropework we’re settled & me & Cosmo can easily get off the front.

Robertstown is the kind of vision We had of Boating in Ireland. A small village or I think this is a township with 2 pubs (one which is combined with the stores & the otter with windows like someone’s front room), a post office, a Chinese take away & this one has a tiny coop type supermarket. The water here is so clear you can see the bottom of the channel & fish swimming around. Here’s a selection of photos from around Robertstown

It has great walkies up the canal towpath mum even let me off the lead. Not Cosmo though as she doesn’t trust him not to bomb off.

We are going to stay here a week while mum sorts the rest of the boat out & catches up on some work to pay the bills. Auntie Joy is with us for a final night & her & mum bombed off into Dublin to find out about the events taking place on the waterways as part of the 2020BC (2020 Big Cruise) programme. We’ll let you know all about those in our next blog. But we leave you with the sublime view out of our window here in Robertstown. We think we’re going to like it here a lot!

Back to Where we Started by Cosmo

Yay we have escaped city centre London. We set off on a sunny Monday & met up with Auntie Heather who did the locks for mum on the way out. Last cruise past Regents Park & the zoo. We bade farewell to Heather at Little Venice & continued chugging outwards through the carpet of green duck weed. Six hours later we moored up back at one of our favourites spots from the way in Paradise Fields. We had a lovely couple of days there enjoying free runs in the fields & mum got some internet work done.

Then we were off again stopping right outside the big Tesco’s at Yiewsley so mum could do a big shop including the all important dog food of course.

Then it was off up Cowley lock to Uxbridge. Mum had booked into Denham Yacht services so Jason the guru of bubble stoves could service our stove for over winter. We want to be nice & toasty when it gets cold.

The next day we were off & up early up lots of locks to Rickmansworth. We moored just above Stockers lock where we’ve never tied up before. It was great no other boats there & lots of nice walkies round the lakes. We’d stopped there so mum was near the train station to catch a train to Aylesbury to look at her new. calendar club shop. Wow it’s so big! Much bigger than previous years. We think mums gonna have her work cut out lol we’ll just enjoy winter snoozing in front of the fire as usual!

Mum wanted to move that afternoon but it was really windy so she chickened out. That meant she had to set off the next morning in the pouring rain! Another stop at another Tesco’s & more bags of dog food bought. You can never have too many stocked up! Onwards trying to beat the winds up to Cassiobury Park. This is where we started our London adventure way way back in March at the Easter Floating market. It was windy & rainy then too! We moored up below the lock in case above was full which it was.,

As soon as we were tied up mum messaged Mutleys mum Sally & we had a Doggie rendezvous at our favourite stream. We had such a great time. Of course Daquiri had to get himself filthy didn’t he?!

The next morning the first boat above the lock moved so we upped pins & were up the lock faster than a fast thing & we slid into our old favourite spot where we spent a lovely Xmas four years ago.

So here ends our amazing London adventure. We achieved our big 2018 goal of braving central London & doing all the Rivers Lea & Stort. It’s been the most amazing weather to be on the rivers. We were able to do so much swimming which we wouldn’t have done in the canals.

Over winter mum will be running the Aylesbury calendar club shop for Calendar Club so if anyone is in the area do pop in & see her. We’ll be sleeping by the fire so if you pass Nb Golden Boyz in the Marsworth/Tring areas over winter don’t make too much noise & wake us up!

We’re not sure of 2019 routes … mum has three areas she wants to do… so she’s not sure which to tackle next

1. River Avon, River Severn all the way down to Gloucester & then up the west of the country onto the Llangollen

2. The South Oxford & the Thames between Brentford & Oxford

3. The Middle Levels out from Northampton including Peterborough & Cambridge…

So who knows where we’ll end up could be none of those! That’s the true advantage of living on a boat… we are free to choose.

So we’ll bid your farewell for now my friends as we close our blog down for winter. For some reason mum thinks we’ll have no time to write it! Have an amazing rest of 2018 & we’ll be back with our Watery Tails in 2019.

Lots of love, wags & licks

Cosmo & Daquiri xxxx

A Trip Down Memory Lane by Daquiri

We left Leighton Buzzard & cruised along in the pleasant company of Sheila & Smiffy on The Vapes Boat. It was great having some company. We had extra company at one lock as we pulled up a cheeky llama climbed on top of something in the field & watched us over the fence. You can only just see him in the first photo. |A boat we passed wasn’t looking quite so seaworthy!

llama VapesSunken Boat


We moored up just as we entered Marsworth. Sadly the next day Smiffy & Sheila and Ash & Soloman continued south as we stayed put as we need to head home to hand over the housee to the agents. Part of boating that we all come & go in our transient lifestyles. The next day we went for walkies & mummy found a better mooring one lock up right by a car park as she’d be bringing Dads car back. So we moved up one lock but mum got in a right knot in the big lock by herself. She couldn’t keep the boat to one side (we were going uphill) everytime she climbed up to get off on the ladder we just drifted out of reach. Eventually a gongoozler took pity on mum & took the rope & pulled us into the side. Our new mooring was lovely right by the reservoirs. Shame we had to leave it to go back to Sheffield.

Early the next morning mum got a  hire car from Aylesbury & had to remember how to use gears again as the only car she’d driven for ages was dads & that’s automatic. Anyway we made it up safely to Sheffield. Mum dropped us off at one of those kennel places where we bark a lot at all the other dogs. She continued on to a hotel in Sheffield for her 25 year University reunion. She may not look it but once upon a time our mum was dead clever & did a degree in electronics.  She had a really lovely time at the reunion seeing some of her friends for the first time in 25 years. They had a Chinese meal on the Friday night, then Saturday was spent on tours of various parts of the university including the engineering department & riding up & down the jumpy on & off lift in the Arts Tower. They finished off by a formal dinner in Firth Hall where they sat some of their exams & a then a good old boogie at the pop tarts disco at the students reunion. Here’s some photos from mums fun weekend of her & her uni friends.

uni1 Uni6 UNi7 Uni9uni2

uni4 Uni8uni3


And here was the little writeup afterwards with the official photos that they starred in:

Uni reunion


And all this time poor us were stuck in kennels … but what happens next is even worse … see our next blog for the horror!