Ireland again…this time on a boat going down the Shannon.

Nov14carrmarina                                                  Carrick on Shannon Boat Yard.

It looked a breeze in the brochure ‘Collect your cruiser from our boatyard for an unforgettable voyage down the magical Shannon’. The first inkling that ‘unforgettable’ might be the truth, came with the basic instructions for handling the boat. We were lead on a tour round the boatyard, there seemed to be an inordinate number of battered vessels, some with holes in the part below the waterline. MMM! Worrying! ‘Excuse me’ I said politely ‘could I ask why so many cruisers seem to be damaged?’ ‘Oh well you know, it’s the rocks isn’t it’  Rocks? We had previously cruised on the Thames, the Broads and in Holland and had never encountered a single rock. Admittedly we occasionally got stuck on the mud, this was another kettle of fish, as it were. Apparently lurking below the watery surface of both the river and the lakes were rocks laying in wait for the unwary voyager. ‘Now don’t you be trying to moor anywhere except on landing stages, if by any chance you get stuck on a rock in mid stream, don’t attempt to get off it, stuff the mattress in the hole and run the red flag up the signal mast and wait for rescue’

nov14carrick                                                                  Carrick Bridge

The first evening was idyllic as we glided on a mirror surface like water boatmen. There was the perfect landing stage at the edge of a small lake. Paradise.

During the night a force 7 gale began to blow. We were snug and smug, safe on our mooring in comparative shelter. We watched fascinated as several boats tried to make the perilous crossing and were blown into the dense reed beds or were swallowed up by the water lily roots. Then it happened, there was a boat in the middle of the lake not moving, then the unmistakable red flag.


It was sinking in spite of the mattress plug. The nearest yard was six miles away. We were towing a dinghy that we had hired as an extra. Ken instantly became a male Grace Darling as he rowed backwards and forwards through the storm to rescue two soaking adults and a dog. My hero!Incidentally, they gave us a dreadful old dinghy all battered.


Below…our snug mooring, one boat in the distance has already been blown on the reeds.nov14snugmoor



The shrine tree.

That evening we went for a breezy walk to collect blackberries that were abundant and there, in the middle of the brambles was a small tree. Someone had made a homemade shrine in the branches. It was laden with trinkets and bore a hand written message ‘Blessings to all who travel by water, may you find a safe haven’ It didn’t mention rocks!


For most of your time on the Shannon you are in the countryside, there are no big towns till you get to Limerick, the end of the navigation. We had taken our Irish music hoping we could join in but we didn’t hear any in the whole trip. But we did sit on deck and play in the evenings


Below…Loch Derg is huge, almost like being on an inland sea

Nov14 lough dertg

Below someone has gone aground on the rocks. The Lough Derg lifeboat has loads of call outs.


We had to cross it on a stormy rainy day. You are given binoculars and you have to follow a buoyed course. Once again you have been warned about the rocks around the edges. It was really hard in the teeming rain to pick up the next one.nov14lockboyle

My drawing of the entrance to the River Boyle. It’s a relief to get back to a normal river.

The strange thing about all this is that I have always wanted to be Irish. I love and play Irish music I’m delighted when Irish dancing comes up on Facebook, and it often does as Facebook soon gets to know your likes. When I went to Ireland as a student and later as a kind of tour guide it seemed to be drawing me especially Kerry. My mother’s maiden name is Kerry. Imagine my disappointment when I bought one of those cards giving you the origin of your name when I heard it was Welsh, a person from the Kerry Hills. Sorry all you Welsh people out there but my illusions were dashed, it’s not quite the same. I hope it was wrong.


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