Many people are looking for things to do during the Corona virus lock down. As we can currently only travel a limited distance I would suggest fishing. Whether you're looking for things to do in Kildare, things to do in Kilkenny, things to do in Carlow or things to do in Laois, most places are still closed. However, one thing all these counties have in common is access to either the river Barrow, river Nore or Grand canal. Fishing is fantastic pasttime and costs very little. Whether you catch anything or not, that doesnt really matter. Once you're out enjoying the outdoors. Today was spent on the canal bank of the Barrowline. I caught nothing but the bird song was fantastic. Managed to get a lovely picture of a Yellowhammer. Great day.
Another cracking day for the Grand canal. Perfect for a ramble and keeping the head in good shape. #gowalking #mentalhealth #getoutdoors
With the lockdown getting to us all and no boats moving, I've decided to revisited the blog. However, I'll be keeping things short with a more of a day to day diary of fixing boats and being out on river bank, than anything else.
The result of the recent vote to rename the boat is as follows. We'd just like to thank every one that suggested names for the short list and to everyone that took the time to vote. Much appreciated.
4 % Eva (as was the name of a boat owned by Arthur Kavanagh of Borris)
6 % Deirfiúr (Sister)
9% An Bhearú (The Barrow)
10% Lady Barrow
10% Gráinne Mhaol (after the famous Irish pirate queen)
29.5% Barrow Boy (In recognition of the men that once worked the barges. They were known as barrow boys)
31.5 % Cara (Keep the name as it is)
This came as a little surprise to us but the result was to keep the name as Cara. However, we had got one or two messages and emails from people explaining that they believed it was bad luck to change the name of a boat. This might explain the result. Either way, the name is here to stay. Cara.
Many thanks again everyone. We will pick someone at random from everyone that liked or commented on our Facebook page for a free trip over the summer.
We'd a lovely ramble today starting on the river Barrow in Athy and taking the canal up to Churchtown in south west Kildare before heading across the border into Laois to do a lap of Kellyville lake in Ballintubbert. Perfect day for snapping birds !!
Today I had the pleasure of a day out with my brother Patrick Reid of Wicklow Willow. Setting out from Athy in county Kildare at 6am, I made my way up into the beautiful Wicklow mountains and into Larragh. My only stop on the road was to briefly take in the snow speckled scenery as I traversed the Wicklow Gap and to have a look at the Ballinagee river as it flows under the Ballinagee bridge before joining the Kings river. The mountains here contained the remains of the weekends snow with Carrignagunneen high above me and buried deep in the white stuff. Picking up Paddy in Laragh, we continued to the Vartry Resevoir and then onto Newcastle. Here we spent the day harvesting willow for basket making. Depending on the size needed, two people can usually harvest up to 1000 in about 4 hours. However, today we were also collecting larger willow poles for fencing and structure making. This is a much more time consuming process as the poles need to be stripped of all side shoots and branches. In total, we collected approximately 800 rods & poles and took all the daylight hours to complete the work. This evening after the two very hungry bellies were fed and watered, we set about making some traditional Irish willow baskets. Paddy is a master of the art and I like to think of myself as the apprentice. As the baskets began to take shape, two bottle of Aldi's fine Rioja kept us company.
The work is now done, my basket is complete and the fire is blazing. Paddy is about to open another bottle!!
PS if you'd like to try you hand at basket making, check out www.wicklowwillow.ie
With traditional March weather forecast, we left the boat moored and took to the van for a road trip following some of the local rivers in Kilkenny. A grey start to the day brought a mixed bag of blinding sunshine, hail, rain, snow, sleet and vivid blue skys as the late morning unfolded. We started in the city and journeyed north west, roughly following the river Nore. It took us to Three Castles in the parish of Odagh in Co Kilkenny. Here the river had broke it banks and stretched far and wide across the green fields. In places, the Nore cut a strong flow as it pushed further out into the surrounding countryside. We parked on a dogleg bend and made our way up the moss covered steps to the Church and Castle of Three Castles. The graveyard was overgrown and the gate to the church, locked; but that didn't stop us snapping a few pic's. Picking back up the N78, we headed for Castlecomer, meeting the Dinin river at Dysart Bridge, just north of Julianstown, county Kilkenny. The river, like the Nore was in a large flood and pumping water between the old pillars which looked like they once took a rail line. A couple of yards north on the N78, a second bridge spans another river joining the Dinin. On the maps I've looked at both rivers are marked as the Dinin river. However, both travel in completely different directions so I would be interested to hear from anyone local that might be able to shed light on the situation. On google maps, the river flowing from Castlecomer is called the river Deen. But I wouldn't put much faith in google in this regard. We then made our way into Castlecomer for lunch and a local lady told me that she always knew the river as being the Comer river. We had a fantastic lunch in the Lime Tree restaurant(and will certainly be back), and afterwards as we headed north out of the town, a pedestrian crossing the bridge near Castlecomer Discovery Park informed me that the river was just called the Dinan river. He proceeded to spell it out to highlight that it is not spelled Dinin. It was back onto the google machine and we discovered this link and the map below, which explained things a little further.
We recently launched the boat in Athy, county Kildare in the hope of bringing it back down river to Carlow in the coming weeks. However, given the recent snow and lashings of rain, the Barrow is now in full flood. We've been checking out www.waterlevel.ie for the past few days now and waiting for the river to drop. Although, I think we could be waiting. So today, instead of the river, myself and the dogs decided to take a ramble around Kellyville lake at Ballintubert County Laois. This is one of our favourite spots as its full of birds and wildlife. The ducks are fed regularly and this bring in many varieties of birds to feed. Here are some of the shots I got today during both the sunshine and rain. Perfect Irish weather or as my mother would say “March of many weathers”.
Far too cold for the river so we took a ramble around the lake. However, these little fella's were glad to be home before the snow became too heavy.
This week brought the news that we are now live on a couple of more tourist websites and directory websites. The first call came from Discover Ireland. They now have us listed here https://www.discoverireland.ie/activities-adventure/boattrips-ie/97142
The next was a call from the Golden Pages and they kindly listed us in the phone directory and website here https://www.goldenpages.ie/boattripsie-carlow/
The last was an email from Ireland's Ancient East to confirm that we are now live on their website here https://www.irelandsancienteast.com/see-do/adventure/activity-operators/boattripsie
All these are now linking to this website and helping to send customers our way. Looking forward to the season ahead.
Its been a very busy winter carrying out the maintenance and upkeep of our boats. All boats are traditional Irish Open-Boats. They were originally built by the renowned boat builder Jackie Mons of Glann Oughterard in Galway. Each year, we take them out of the water to be stored indoors for the winter. Over the dark months, we strip them back and carryout any repair that are needed. Then they are repainted and refitted out to comply with the various legislation that is required of companies carrying passengers. During this period, we usually organize a visit from the Department of Marine to come down and survey the boats while they are out of the water. This includes testing the boats timbers and condition overall.
We now have the first of our boats back on the river Barrow in Athy Co. Kildare while it waits for its “On Water” survey. We hope to have a second boat on the river in the next few weeks. This week we also bought a new two stroke 9.9 horse power Tohatsu Outboard motor. Oscar and his humans joined us for a spin up the river to test and break in the engine on Wednesday. After a few long months of working in a cold shed, it was a fantastic feeling to get back on the water. Now looking forward to the warm summer ahead and many day spent cruising up and down our beautiful Irish waterways.
Before we get out on the water after a long winter, its important to test run our engines. Here we are running the Tohatsu 9.9 two stroke outboard motor. The blue recycling bin always comes in handy for this. :-)
Click here for our top 5 things to do in Carlow. Hope its of use.
We'd a couple of 3 hour trips to Milford this month. The most recent being yesterday. Its a fantastic time of the year to be on the water. All the trees have taken on their autumnal colours and the river is slow and lazy as it waits for the first flood of winter. The river bank is less active with fewer people taking to the towpath. This allows nature and the grassy bank wildlife to be a little braver. On our trip we saw several kingfishers, one otter, two egrets, a host of swans and mallard, a buzzard, a kestrel and numerous reed buntings. Down at Milford itself, while the passengers went exploring on foot, I did a little exploring myself. Under the Mill bridge, I spotted a number of brown trout resting in the eddy's behind large boulders. It was great to see as it had been reported to me several times from local anglers that they were concerned for the number of trout in the river. From under the bridge also, the river takes of a golden hue, as its tunneled southward reflecting the beach and ash leaves of autumn. Pure bliss. Milford is one of my favourite places in Carlow. Its a magical part of the river.
We'd a fantastic trip today as we headed up river to Athy in county Kildare. On route we took in the river Barrow's 'Haunted lock', the beautiful mill at Levitstown and spotted loads of wild life including Peregrine Falcons. It took us approximately 4hrs, including a stop off for a quick break and stretch of the legs. Here as some great pic's sent into us from John Fagan.
We had Richard and wife, Ann, along with us on a trip recently. Here is a small selection of some of the fantastic pictures Richard took on their evening cruise up to Maganey lock and back from Carlow town. Many thanks again to both for their support and for letting us use the photos. Cheers guys.
Thursday evening we had our last 3hr evening trip of the summer. The autumn is drawing in and its getting darker that little bit earlier so the 3hr trips tend to put everyone under pressure to get back before sunset and collect cars etc. However, we did have the perfect Sunset cruise with some fantastic weather. It took just over 1hrs 30min in total to reach Maganey lock from Carlow town. On the way, we passed through the haunted lock at Bestfield and shared/speculated on the various stories associated with the lock and how it became haunted. Continuing up river we also passed the confluence of the river Lerr and Barrow, followed by the river Greese. Along this stretch, the Barrow separates the counties of Laois and Carlow. Once we pass the river Lerr, the Barrow divides Laois and Kildare as the Lerr is the border between Carlow and Kildare. As a result, this area and Maganey are often referred to locally as the three counties. At the lock in Maganey, we disembarked to stretch the legs and take in the views of Maganey weir. Several passenger also brought a mini lunch or a small picnic. With a bright sun resting low over the horizon, it was the perfect spot for a Salmon sandwich while listening to the falling whitewater of the weir. Once rested, it was back into the boat and homeward bound. On the return leg, we spotted several Kingfishers, Cormorants and Grey Herons that we failed to notice on the way upstream. We were back at the Jetty in Graiguecullen for 8.15pm just in time before it got dusky.
Oscar the Boat Dog gained a gold star today at his second swimming lesson. He was too nervous for the canal or river Barrow so we started him with a pond at Kellyville in County Laois. He loved it. It will be interesting now to see how he gets on over the next few weeks but he is off to a good start. Well done Oscar!!!!
You never know what you'll see on the way to work. Here we have a pair of Peacocks using the Zebra Crossing in Graiguecullen.
We'd a fantastic evening on the river yesterday with Dr Derek Coyle from Carlow College/St Patricks. Our trip upstream to Bestfield involved Derek leading a creative writing and poetry workshop as we travelled. For inspiration, Derek focused writers attention on the surrounding wildlife and retold local stories that highlighted the unique history and heritage that the river Barrow holds. It was in the haunted lock of Bestfield that we moored in with a group of holiday makers travelling the Barrow onboard a hired Narrow Barge from Barrowline Cruisers, which are located in Vicarstown, county Laois. They were making the return trip up river with local lock-keeper, Billy O'Neill. Here, one of the passengers retold the story of the lock's haunted status and explained the mysterious banging that often occurs on the hull's of vessels as they pass through. To get the creative juices flowing, Derek and passengers recited poems themed with water by Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes and Elizabeth Bishop to name a few. This certainly worked and throughout the return trip back to the Jetty at Graiguecullen in Carlow, both pens and eyes were fixed firmly on the worksheets in hand. While a great evening of nature, history and poetry was had by all, most left having either penned a verse or two, or gained a collection of themes upon which to build. Many thanks to all who attended and to Dr Derek Coyle for facilitating a fantastic evening.
We heading down stream today on a most peaceful and tranquil trip to Milford in County Carlow. Here we stopped at the 18th century watermill for a picnic. The mill which was originally used to produce flour was later changed over to a Hydroelectric Power station. It belonged to the Alexander family and provided Carlow town with electric street lighting. Under the shadow of the mill, we spotted a gentleman Fly fishing and so it was here we sat for a while watching him ply his art.
Many thanks to Goresbridge Rural Development Group for a fantastic evening at the “Party in the Park” yesterday evening (Wed 1st August 18). We left Carlow town early that morning carrying a boat load of passengers on what was a wet and windy, warm summers day. Passing through the town of Leighlinbridge, we continued to Bagenalstown where a number for passengers departed and more stepped aboard. Continuing on, we came to the magical, hidden lock of Slyguff, where we were joined by a number of other boats and barges, all heading for Goresbridge. Lock Keepers Paul and Billy were on hand to help out and by 5.30pm we'd reached the jetty of our destination. The party kicked off at 6pm, and despite the weather, a large crowd gathered as the smell of burgers and barbecue smoke filled the air. For ourselves at BoatTrips.ie, the job was only beginning as we ferried passengers upstream to Upper Ballyellen and back. This continued all evening till 9.30 when we finally moored up and enjoyed a well earned beer around the campfire with several friends, boat owners and Indians, Sarah and Alison. Throughout the evening we managed to introduce over fifty boating newbies to the Barrow and share a little of the great history/heritage that the river holds. A special word of thanks must go to the people of Goresbridge and in particular Colette Murphy for inviting us down and making us feel so welcome. Early this morning (August 2nd ) we headed back up stream, collecting several passengers in Bagenalstown. After a few hours in the familiar summer, sun we reached the Town Park in Carlow just before 4pm. It was a tiring few days but extremely enjoyable.
Oscar and his master Cliff made the newspapers this week. Here they are pictured at the “Float to the Fleadh” which was run as part of the Leinster Fleadh weekend in Bagenalstown, County Carlow recently. Many thanks to Michael O'Rourke on taking the pictures. As part of the weekend, boats and barges from all over Leinster, including counties Laois, Kildare, Kilkenny, Wexford and Waterford made their way to the town for a weekend of music and fun. Having recently established the business, BoatTrips.ie, Cliff and Oscar were honoured to be invited to lead the procession in to town on the Friday morning of the weekend. Its fair to say, a fantastic weekend was had by all that attended and already plans are afoot to reunited in Bagenalstown next year for a boating regatta. Many thanks again to all involved for a great weekend.
Tired of the boating life, Oscar decided to hitch a lift with Waterways Ireland's local Lock Keeper, Billy O'Neill earlier today.
About Oscar & Cliff
This is the blog of Oscar the boat dog and his human, Cliff Reid. Oscar and Cliff own and operate BoatTrips.ie and this is a diary of setting the company up and the adventures they are having messing about on boats, river and anything else.