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.
It was all go on the river today with barges and boats continually moving. Passengers on our boat trip were delighted to watch one of the barges from Barrowline Cruisers coming across the weir in Carlow town. It was being skippered by Philip Crean who owns Barrowline and knows the river like the back of his hand. Unfortunately we didn't get a chance for a chat and catch up but maybe next time on its return back up river.
Fantastic day on the river! We'd a number of trips throughout the day taking in the haunted lock at Bestfield. On our 12 noon tour, local amateur photographer Fergal Gleeson captured some excellent shots. Below are a small selection. I think they really highlight and capture the beauty of the river Barrow in Carlow. Many thanks again Fergal.
Wow! What a fantastic weekend we had at the Leinster Fleadh in Bagenalstown, County Carlow. A huge well done and congratulations must be given to the organizers and volunteers that made the weekend such a spectacular event. For ourselves at BoatTrips.ie the highlight of the weekend was the “Float to the Fleadh” which saw a procession of boats and barges enter the town via the river Barrow. All boats and barges carried musicians and singers as they left Leighlinbridge and headed for Muine Bheag. Here they moored up and were made very welcome throughout their four day stay. It was great to see boat owners from all over attending the event representing counties Kilkenny, Wexford, Waterford, Laois, Carlow and Kildare to name a few. We even had a couple the traveled down the Grand Canal from Dublin. Over the weekend, we ran short tours up and down the Barrow navigation and managed to facilitate over 150 passengers. TG4 picked up on much of the business we were doing and we featured on the Nuacht on Sunday night. A special word of thanks must also go the the Barrow Tourism Association for their part in helping facilitate the barge and boat owners, especially laying on a beautiful BBQ for us all. The weekend certainly highlighted all there is to see and do in Carlow, particularly on the river Barrow. Many thanks again to all involved in staging the weekend and we look forward to returning to Muinebheag soon. Check out some of the fantastic pictures of the weekend below. All pic's taken by Jimmy Cahill.