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Displaying items by tag: Lough Derg

#Coastguard - Two people on board a 30ft cruiser were rescued by the Irish Coast Guard's Killaloe unit yesterday evening (Monday 23 May), as the Irish Examiner reports.

The coastguard team towed the boat into deeper water after it ran aground on Lough Derg before 6pm - and an ROV was used to confirm there was no damage to the underside of the vessel.

Published in Coastguard

Lough Derg RNLI launched following a report of a vessel aground and taking on water at Carrigahorig Bay, at the northern end of Lough Derg yesterday.

Lough Derg RNLI Lifeboat was requested to launch by Valentia Coast Guard, following a report from a member of the public that a boat was seen aground and apparently taking on water in Carrigahorig Bay, close to Terryglass, at the northern end of Lough Derg.

The lifeboat, with helm Ger Egan, Dom Sharkey and Lorna Walsh on board, launched at 3.01pm. Winds were south-easterly, Force 4-5, gusting 6, visibility was good.

The lifeboat arrived at Carrigahorig Bay at 3.20pm. Crew located the 14ft motor boat tucked in close to the shore, near the cardinal mark at the entrance to the river, by Portumna. The boat was listing and taking on water. A volunteer RNLI crew member waded in to the boat to make sure that no one was trapped in the cabin.

Once it was confirmed there was no one on board, the lifeboat was stood down by Valentia Coast Guard. The boat's owner made arrangements for its recovery.

Lifeboat Operations Manager, Liam Maloney said 'the person who made the call to the emmergency services did the correct thing, vigilence from the public can save lives'.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Lough Derg RNLI Lifeboat launched to rescue a horse reported to have fallen into the Nenagh River and carried downstream into the Lough Derg.

At 12.35pm today, January 1, Lough Derg RNLI Lifeboat was requested to launch by Valentia Coast Guard following a report that a horse was seen in the Nenagh River, which is in flood, and was being swept downstream into Lough Derg.

The lifeboat, with helm Eleanor Hooker and crew Ger Egan and Keith Brennan on board, launched at 12.45pm. Winds were south-easterly, Force 2-3, visibility was very good.

After using the lifeboat to encourage the horse to swim towards shore, crewmen Ger Egan and Keith Brennan waded in and holding a tow line between them to discourage the horse from swimming back out into the lake and herded him into the shallows.

On shore a person coaxed the horse from the water with a bucket of oats. The animal had wounds to its chest and knee and Valentia Coast Guard arranged for a vet to go to the location.

With some difficulty, the young horse was enclosed in a field.

The lifeboat returned to Station and was ready for service again at 2.15pm

Deputy Launching Authority, Pat Lynch advises ‘caution close to river banks, particularly while in flood with the increased danger of soft verges’.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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#InlandWaters - Waterways Ireland has gone on site at Castle Harbour in Portumna, Co Galway with a programme of works to expand the recreational and tourism capacity of the harbour area.

The programme involves improvements to the harbour, service block and car park and is funded by Fáilte Ireland under the Lough Derg Stimulus Fund.

The project is a partnership between Galway County Council and Waterways Ireland who each own different parts of the site.

The service block, car park and boat pump-out are currently leased and maintained by Galway County Council, while the harbour area and existing moorings are owned and maintained by Waterways Ireland.

Castle Harbour is in the grounds of the Portumna Demesne on the shore of Lough Derg and is immediately surrounded by the castle and formal gardens, community gardens, medieval abbey, forest park and nature reserve.

Improving the capacity of both the harbour and the amenity area will have an immediate impact on the level of access and usage of the surrounding facilities.

In the harbour, the finger jetties are to be widened, lengthened and clad in hardwood timber, connecting them with the end concrete pillar. The finger moorings will also receive low level safety lighting and water & electricity connections. This will enhance the practical use and visual characteristics of the main harbour.

The work will bring the mooring facilities up to the standard that Waterways Ireland currently provides on new installations along the navigations.

The existing boat pump-out facility will be updated and the existing public lighting around the harbour will be replaced with low intensity directional lighting. Improving accessibility for boat users with a disability through the installation of a boat hoist is a key provision of the programme. New paving and the cladding of the existing wall around the harbour is also planned.

The existing service block is to be modernised and the general amenity area is to have seating areas & picnic tables and low intensity directional lighting. The planting of some native species of trees and shrubs will add to the visual amenity of the general area.

The existing car park is currently used for visitor parking and by recreational vehicles (RVs) who use the site as a stopover. The plan is to resurface the area and formalise the parking areas and facilities for these users, including the regulation and provision of services such as water and electricity to enhance the visitor experience to the site.

Waterways Ireland says it recognises the environmental designations of the area and has scoped, planned and is carrying out the works in compliance with best practice.

The work is expected to be completed early in 2016.​

Published in Inland Waterways

Clare County Council has today announced the appointment of a team of specialists to prepare a Visitor Management and Sustainable Tourism Development Plan for Holy Island on Lough Derg.

Dublin-based Solearth Architecture is being engaged to prepare proposals in relation to improving access to the island and the provision of tourism facilities on or near the island, as well as proposals on the marketing and promoting of the Island as a visitor destination, while confirming its historical significance and protecting its built and natural heritage.

In June 2015, Clare County Council acquired 41 acres on Holy Island which, together with the 2 acres already in the ownership of the Office of Public Works (OPW), resulted in the entire island being brought into public ownership for the first time.

Dating back to the 7th century, the island is one of the most important historical and ecclesiastical sites in Ireland, and it has important links to Brian Ború. Buildings on the island include a 24-metre high Round Tower, an Oratory, and a number of churches. Holy Island is on the UNESCO world heritage site tentative list for Ireland as an early medieval monastic site along with Clonmacnoise, Durrow, Glendalough, Kells and Monasterboice.

"I welcome the progress that has been made in relation to the development of a comprehensive tourism development plan as part of the Council's ambitious and methodical approach to developing this important site in a sustainable manner," stated Councillor James Breen, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council.

"The sustainable development of the island for the benefit of tourism and communities in the wider Lough Derg area has long been sought after by Elected Members of Clare County Council. It is very encouraging to see that significant steps are now being taken to develop a blueprint for tourism development and visitor management of the Island, whilst also ensuring the cultural heritage and natural assets that contribute to the Island’s uniqueness are maintained and protected," added the Cathaoirleach.

According to lead Architect, Brian O’Brien of Solearth Architecture, a practice noted for its sustainable design solutions: “Inis Cealtra is a precious gem and we are delighted to be entrusted with this delicate task of both minding it and finding ways to share it with more people for the benefit of the local and wider community”.

"We’ll be starting with public meetings to draw on the wisdom of the locals who really know the Island and will shortly set up a website to receive everyone’s thoughts throughout the process," concluded Mr. O'Brien.

Gerard Dollard, Director of Services, Clare County Council, noted that the Plan will take approximately 10 months to complete and will involve a significant level of community consultation.

The preparation of the Plan will incorporate consultation with key stakeholders including the Department of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht, Waterways Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, and local tourism, community and angling organisations. The Council will also be engaging with the OPW as joint landowners and the body responsible for the historic monuments on Holy Island during the Plan preparation process.

Mr. Dollard said: "Holy Island is very much part of the fabric of the local community and continues to be used as a burial ground. Therefore, it is essential that the overall plan not only provides for the future management and development of this important site but takes full cognisance of the rich archaeology, landscape, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area."

He continued: "Solearth Architecture, who have brought together a comprehensive team of experts in the area of tourism product development, visitor management, archaeology and architectural conservation, ecology, landscape and cultural heritage, will be required to consider all of these aspects in recommending a framework for the future management and development of the island."

Published in Inland Waterways
Tagged under

#RNLI - At 8.38am this morning (Saturday September 26), the Lough Derg RNLI lifeboat was requested to launch by Valentia Coast Guard to assist four people on board a 32ft cruiser that had run aground just outside the Urra Channel markers at nightfall the previous evening.

At 8.58am, the lifeboat launched with helm Ger Egan, Eleanor Hooker, and Keith Brennan on board. Winds were southerly Force 1-2, visibility was fair with a low mist and rising fog.

The lifeboat located the cruiser on a rocky shelf just outside the green navigation mark at the Urra Channel. The four adults on board were safe and unharmed. They were requested to put on their lifejackets.

One of passengers was quite anxious, and was reassured by an RNLI volunteer who had transferred across to the casualty vessel.

The skipper informed the lifeboat that despite their best efforts to navigate through the channel, they had missed the mark in the dark and run aground. They had remained there all night, dropping anchor incase there was a change in weather overnight.

The RNLI crew checked under the floorboards and established that the boat was not taking on water and, after the anchor was recovered, prepared a tow.

After two unsuccessful attempts to get the cruiser off the rocks, three of the people aboard the casualty vessel were taken on to the lifeboat and transferred to the Lough Derg RNLI Lifeboat Station at Dromineer.

With the skipper and an RNLI crew member still on board, a further attempt to get the boat off the rocks proved unsuccessful.

The skipper was requested to gather his belongings and was taken to the lifeboat station where lifeboat operations manager Liam Maloney and deputy launching authority Brian Hanly were making arrangements to help the four people.

Handy advises boat users "not to delay and call 999 or 112 and ask for marine rescue if you find yourself in difficulty on the lake."

The lifeboat returned to station and was ready for service again at 10.20am.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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It had all the makings of a logistical nightmare. But with much goodwill, lots of energy, and some very clear thinking, the week-long Wayfarer International Rally 2015 from September 5th to September 13th to two of Ireland’s best sailing lakes was an outstanding success writes W M Nixon.

Ireland was chosen as the Rally Venue for 2015 two years ago, when the Wayfarer International Rally 2013 was staged in Canada. Thanks to sponsorship from Waterways Ireland and support from Failte Ireland, the basis of an organizational structure was in place in good time in order to match the high events standards of this remarkable international class of versatile 15ft 10in dinghies. More than 10,000 have been built since Ian Proctor produced the basic design in 1957, yet today interest continues at such a healthy level that leading builders Hartley Boats of Derbyshire had a support team present at the rally in Ireland to provide technical back-up services.

The Wayfarer design has undergone several modifications since its introduction, with talents such as Phil Morrison, no less, producing his own spin in 2007. But underlying it all there is still the pure concept of the original Proctor hull shape which has proven itself as able to make ocean voyages as to provide lively club and big-fleet open championship racing.

However, by nature of its multi-functional capacity, and because it is that significant bit larger than most standard racing dinghies, the Wayfarer will tend to appeal only to very specific sections of the sailing market. Thus although there are undoubtedly strongholds of the class in different parts of Ireland as there are in many parts of the world, numbers tend to stay at a very manageable level. And racing turnouts can sometimes be very muted, as many owners simply like using the Wayfarer for the straightforward pleasure of going for a sail.

This means that when the Irish Wayfarer Association undertook the management and hosting of the Wayfarer International Rally 2015, while the key organiser was Monica Schaeffer of Greystones Sailing Club (she was winner of the Wayfarer Irish Nationals 2015 at Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta in July), the road-trailered international fleet’s assembly club on the evening of Friday September 4th was on the other side of Ireland, at Cullaun Sailing Club with its very pretty lake sailing headquarters in the heart of County Clare.

There, they have one of the keenest Wayfarer classes in Ireland, so on Saturday September 5th in conditions so perfect it was late summer rather than early Autumn, Cullaun saw the first and most seriously contested race of rally, with 38 boats taking part in a race which was part of CSC’s well-supported annual regatta, the Wayfarer winners being Gordon Jess and Rachel Bevan of East Down YC.

wayfarer dinghy sailing2
Racing bliss for Wayfarers. The opening event of the “Two Lakes Rally” for the week-long programme was Cullaun SC’s annual regatta on September 5th, and among those enjoying the perfect conditions are John Wilson’s Ramor (10018) from Virginia in County Cavan and Mistral (10699) with Margie Crawford and Deirdre Issa from East Down YC on Strangford Lough. Photo: Roger Duff

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Cullaun SC Sailing Secretary Margaret Hynes, Monica Schaeffer of the Wayfarer International Association, and Jim O’Sullivan, Commodore Cullaun SC, at the presentations after the regatta. Photo: Roger Duff

With a core group of 70 sailors participating throughout the week, and 83 attending in all from 11 countries as far and wide as South Africa, Canada, USA, Latvia, Finland, Denmark, Holland and all the home countries, it might have seemed a monumental effort for everyone to up-sticks on the Sunday and road trail through East Clare and West Tipperary.

But compared to some of the distances cruising Wayfarers are prepared to travel, it was a doddle. And all this was comfortably achieved by a diverse group whose ages ranged from senior sailors Dick Harrington and Jane Karver from Michigan in the US – both are in their eighties – to most junior participant Lara Killen (9) from East Down YC in Strangford Lough.

With their centre of operations now re-established at historic Lough Derg YC (founded 1835) in Dromineer, they had the perfect inland sea of Lough Derg as the setting for their International Rally, in which racing takes a back seat so far back it’s virtually invisible. The purpose is sailing friendship, exploring new areas, finding strange ports, and enjoying the company of fellow enthusiasts with each day providing an entertaining lunchtime stopover, then each evening providing a different programme of hospitality back at Dromineer.

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Centre of operations. Lough Derg Yacht Club at Dromineer was the host club and setting for several parties and feasts during the week.

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Lough Derg is 40 kilometres from Portumna down to Killaloe, and 16 kilometres from the most distant part of Tipperary to the east across to the most westerly part in County Clare. The Wayfarers got south to Killaloe, west to Scariff, and north to Terrglass, as well as many places, ports and islands in between.

wayf6A welcome for Wayfarers - Garrykennedy was the first port of call during the cruising part of the Wayfarer International rally 2015

Thirty-seven Wayfarers were on the water, with all marques represented from 55-year-old woodies to brand new GRP MK IV Hartley versions. The versatility of the Wayfarer really came into its own, for here indeed was a family fun boat that can be easily reefed, rowed, paddled or motor sailed. Most of the cruising boats at the rally had at least roller furling foresails with slab reefed mains and carried three or four on board, with a maximum capacity of six.

The Sunday night saw the Lough Derg part of the programme get under way at Dromineer with supper in the club house. Monday dawned bright with a nice Force 3 to get everybody comfortably down to Garykennedy in time for lunch in Larkins pub and home again in time for a lively party with fantastic trad session in the club. The week’s programme continued with a cruise to to Scariff where the fleet enjoyed winding their way up the narrow river between the reeds again in glorious sunshine with a gently following breeze that allowed some to drop the main and furl the jib and continue on up the river under spinnaker alone – magic.

An international pot luck supper provided by the Irish and Brits fed the hungry fleet and the night was danced away to the sounds of the O’Connors on the chords until the wee hours. Next day’s cruising saw the fleet heading to Mountshannon and savouring the delights of local hospitality while spending some time watching the sea eagles nesting there.

wayf7Waiting for a breeze in Dromineer Bay and properly displaying their Irish courtesy ensigns are visiting English boats (left to right) Ringle (Mike Higgins & John Kelly), Dylan (Sue & Allen Parry) and the wooden-built Samurai (Bob Tarn) with the Torqueedo outboard which gives a Wayfarer very impressive speed. Photo: Monica Schaeffer

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Second-oldest boat taking part was the immaculately-maintained 55-years-plus Sink the Pink (Rodney Hall & Gordon Reid) which is sail number 404 in a class which has now listed more than ten thousand boats. Photo: Roger Duff

The powers of observation among the Wayfarer fleet were tested more thoroughly on another occasion in mid-lake, when Miriam McCarthy of Greystones SC, crewing for Monica Schaeffer on Anamcara, spotted a Belgian angler in serious difficulties. He’d tried to start his outboard when it was in gear, and had been thrown over the side of his boat when the engine burst into life. He was careering round in circles clinging onto the gunwhale. with the engine still going full blast putting him at every risk of being severely injured by the propeller should he lose his grip. But fortunately the Greystones crew were able to contact their fleet’s own accompanying safety boat (skippered by Mike Fisher, also of Greystones), and what could have been a tragic accident was quickly averted. It was certainly much appreciated by Johnny the Belgian, who turned up next day in Dromineer fully recovered, and in search of those who rescued him to give his heartfelt thanks.

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There were a couple of breezy days, and though it was very sheltered in the LDYC berths, Way Fair Lady (East Down YC) and Anamcara (Greystones SC) have taken in two reefs in one case, and one in the other. Roller furling jibs are virtually standard for cruising.

Wednesday saw the gang head down to Killaloe in a fresh breeze that took them on a speedy port reach practically the whole way. A pleasant wander around the old towns of Killaloe, and Ballina on the east shore with a hearty seafood chowder lunch on the riverside lawn of Flannigans, was followed by another cracking run all the way back to Dromineer. Back at LDYC a BBQ was in full swing and singing and dancing was the order of the night. Thursday was, a soft day with the rain teeming down but a nice breeze that tempted just seven boats each with three or four crew to venture out north towards Terryglass for a fast and exhilarating run that many said was one of the best sails they had ever experienced.

Some of those who didn’t fancy a sail in the rain took the opportunity to explore the wonders of the Wild Atlantic Way – optional non-sailing days are expected in the Wayfarer International Rally programme - while others visited more local attractions and walking trails. After the damp day or two, Friday saw the sun peeping out again and the fleet reconvened for some more idyllic cruising to the Holy Island of Iniscealtra and around the lake before a fun-filled evening in the Whiskey Still in Dromineer, complete with local artistes playing a few tunes and everyone joining in with the craic.

wayf10The lake sailors’ pub – the Wayfarers put quite a bit of business through the famous Whiskey Still in Dromineer

Lough Derg YC were hosting the Fireballs and the 420s for some more serious racing on Saturday September 12th, but the Wayfarers opted to do something a little different, and so had an adventure race around the lake that required ingenuity and navigation skills as well as general seamanship to get your boat around the course as quickly as possible whilst also completing tasks in various stops along the way such as measuring the depth and counting the berths in Dromaan, stopping in Garrykennedy for lunch, searching for buckets in wells, and counting the “swingers” on the quay wall.... after another hearty lunch the fleet gathered for the second leg and under the starters orders were off for a thrilling reach up the lough around the islands and back to LDYC where the finish was only complete after a double loop sailed around Goose Island and through the gate to the finish.

The winners of this final marathon, the nearest thing to an orthodox race in the Lough Derg part of the rally programme, were Kit Wallace of Canada and Jonathan Dart from England sailing Ramor 1, one of the boats provided by the rapidly expanding Lough Ramor Watersports Club at Virginia in County Cavan, where the Wayfarers will be gathering again in the first weekend of October. Second were Mike Higgins and John Kelly in Ringle from England, while Ireland took third with Monica Schaeffer of Greystones, crewed by Miriam McCarthy and Christine Heath.

The rally grand finale dinner was held in the Thatched Cottage pub/restaurant just up the road from Dromineer in Ballycommon, where the gang were very well looked after by Noreen and her wonderful crew who provided a delicious meal while the Wayfarer Stompers led by Poul Ammentorp from Denmark provided the music, with the gang joining in for a fun-filled and rousing sing along.

On Sunday September 13th the weather closed in again (don’t we all know it), with only a few hardy souls heading out in half a dozen boats while the rest of the gang began packing up their boats, expressing their warmest thanks to Lough Derg YC for the fabulous hospitality, and preparing to make the long treks home filled with great memories of an excellent rally and loads of new friends made at the Wayfarer International Rally 2015.

Next year, the class are off to The Netherlands, where the Rally will be combined with the International Championships, aka the Wayfarer Worlds. For that, the numbers are already building with 30+ boats already entered. More info at www.wayfarer.org.uk or from Monica Schaefer at [email protected] And for anyone who is interested, Hartley Boats provided a couple of brand new Mark IV Wayfarers for charter by overseas visitors at the Lough Derg Rally, they are still in Ireland and might still be available for sale at “demo boat prices” .

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Memories of late summer lake sailing. Terry Cook from England sailing Herbie in perfect conditions on Lough Derg. Herbie also took the prize for top visiting boat at Cullaun.

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The final roundup – happy Wayfarer Ralliers 2015 gather at Lough Derg YC at Dromineer. Photo: Pimo Saarenen (Finland).

Published in Wayfarer

Lough Derg RNLI Lifeboat launched yesterday evening  to assist five people, on board a 40–ft cruiser hard aground, east of Illaunmor on Lough Derg

At 7.25pm, September 16, Lough Derg RNLI Lifeboat launched following a request from Valentia Coast Guard to assist 5 people on board a 40ft cruiser that had grounded on a rocky shelf, east of Illaunmor. Winds were westerly, Force 2/3 gusting, visibility was very good but with nightfall imminent.

At 7.38pm, the lifeboat launched with helm Eleanor Hooker, Robbie Garland and Dom Sharkey on board. The lifeboat located the cruiser at 7.43pm, behind Illaunmor and in an area with many rocky shoals. The five people on board were safe and unharmed, and all wearing their lifejackets. Mr. Tierney, from Illaunmor, an experienced boatman, had launched his lakeboat and was on standby when the lifeboat arrived on scene.

The lifeboat transferred a crew member across who checked that the boat was not holed. The cruiser was found to be hard aground, and after two attempts to get the cruiser off the rocks were unproductive, the five persons on board were transferred to Mr. Tierney's lake boat to reduce the weight on the cruiser. The cruiser was then taken off the shoal and out to safe water. Following another thorough check of drives and propellors, the five crew were returned to their boat and Mr. Tierney returned to the island.

With an RNLI crew member remaining on board, the lifeboat accompanied the cruiser to Dromineer, where it was safely tied up alongside in the public harbour at 9.20pm. As the hour was late and none of the five people on board had had supper, the lifeboat had radioed ahead and the Whiskey Still public house in Dromineer village, kept their kitchen open to provide an evening meal for the five on board.

Peter Kennedy, Deputy Launching Authority for Lough Derg RNLI, advises boat users to ‘enjoy boating on the lake, and to be sure to study your charts and plan your passage before departure'.

The Lifeboat returned to station and was ready for service again at 9.45pm.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Tagged under

Last week, Killaloe Sailing Club hosted its annual sailing regatta. Founded in 1973 at the Lakeside Hotel in Killaloe, the club hosts an open regatta every year. For 2015 it was decided to hold the event over two days, rather than the usual one day event.

A healthy field of over 30 boats took to the water on both days to compete in seven races over the two days.

The open regatta was open to any sailing dinghy and the club used the PY (Portsmouth Yardstick) handicap system for racing a field of multi class boats, therefore just like golf the first boat over the line on the water might not necessarily win on handicap.

From the first race on day one, Jim Ryan and David Tanner were out in front with their Fireball winning the first race comfortably, followed home by Daniel O’Sullivan and David Coleman in their RS400 and Brian and Conor Bryce in third place also in an RS400. Jim Ryan and David Tanner were well beaten by Daniel O’Sullivan and David Coleman in the second race of the day, with the all lady crew of Susie Coote and Charlotte Carway in their RS200 upsetting the order of the lead boats by sneaking in fourth. While nobody could catch Jim Ryan and David Tanner in the last two races of the day, thanks to the PY handicapping system the battle behind them was heating up for second place between Susie Coote and Charlotte Carway in their RS200 and Ronan Gilmartin in his Laser Radial with only six points separating them.

Day two brought about much more benign conditions. However things did not change at the front of the field with Jim Ryan and David Tanner taking three from three and wrapping up the regatta. Daniel O’Sullivan and David Coleman were a consistent second. David’s daughter Megan and Nadine O’Sullivan managed a class win in their RS200, while Susie Coote and Charlotte Carway took the other two wins in the RS200 class. PY handicaps were tallied and the final results were:

Killaloe winners

1st Overall and Fireball Class winners Jim Ryan and David Tanner with Commodore Pat Culloo

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3rd Overall, RS200 Class winners Top Female Crew Susie Coote and Charlotte Carway with Commodore Pat Culloo

Overall results
1st Jim Ryan/David Tanner
2nd Ronan Gilmartin
3rd Susie Coote/Charlotte Carway

Class results:

Fireball class:
1st Jim Ryan/David Tanner
2nd Pat Culloo/Evan Jones
3rd Marc McLoughlin/Mick Collins

RS400 Class
1st Daniel O’Sullivan/David Coleman
2nd Brian Bryce/Conor Bryce
3rd Barry Lowe/Donal Cullinane

RS200 Class
1st Susie Coote/Charlotte Carway
2nd Colm O’Leary/Aodhan O'Leary
3rd Megan Coleman/Nadine O’Sullivan

Laser Class
1st Philip Despard
2nd Brian Griffin
3rd John Callanan

Laser Radial Class
1st Ronan Gilmartin
2nd Patrick Donlon
3rd Tadhg O'Mara

RS Feva Class
1st David Schutz/ Jimi Ni Baoill
2nd Orla Imhoff
3rd Bjorn Imhoff

1st All Lady Crew
Susie Coote/Charlotte Carway

1st Junior
Ronan Gilmartin

Published in Racing

Ireland is a country of seaways, and waterways which are dominated by the majestic River Shannon. On our island, you can never be more than sixty miles from the nearest navigable bit of sea. Add in the myriad of inland waterways – whether canals, rivers, or lakes – and you have an enthusiastically watery country where it is possible for everyone to have a floating boat berth of some kind within an hour’s journey – and usually much less – from their home.

Afloat.ie’s W M Nixon has been cruising our inland waterways in detail for longer than he cares to admit, though he will concede his first venture on fresh water was in command of a 14ft clinker-built sailing dinghy with a tent, a cruise which took place well back into the depths of the previous millennium. But it’s an experience you’ll always wish to repeat as often as possible, and just last week he found himself going again to the waters and the wild, with a family cruise of three generations on the River Shannon’s great inland sea of Lough Derg.

Journeying westward to join the good ship Slaney Shannon Star at Portumna on the frontiers of Connacht, the car radio was warbling on about the poor weather, and wondering why in England they persist in having their final summer Bank Holiday on the very last weekend of August, instead of having it earlier when the chances of good weather must be better.

As it happens, we know that the chances of good weather at any time in the summer of 2015 were slim enough, though it was briefly present just now and again. Be that as it may, the reasons for taking your “summer holiday” as late as possible in the season seem obvious. Even in this era of flexi-time and working from home and project outsourcing or whatever, the idea of clearly-defined work time and holiday time are still ingrained in us. And of all our traditional holidays, surely it is the summer holiday which is the most avidly anticipated?

Anticipation is usually the keenest and often the best part of any supposedly enjoyable experience. And it’s an altogether more positive and youthful emotion than nostalgia, which soon reeks of sweet decay. Thus the later in the summer you can locate your summer holiday, the longer is the enthusiastic anticipation. So when we got an invitation early in the Spring for some days of family cruising on a fine big Shannon hire cruiser on the magnificent inland sea of Lough Derg in the last week of August, we leapt at it.

Yet let’s face it, it’s something of which you’d be very chary were the planned cruise on the sea, even down in our own lovely West Cork. They may have started the Fastnet Race this year as late in the season as 16th August but, as the late great Tom Crosbie of Cork Harbour was wont to observe, no prudent navigator would really want to have his beloved boat west of the Old Head of Kinsale after August 15th.

However, thanks to Ireland’s wonderful inland waterways, and the mighty Shannon and Erne river systems in particular, we have an all-seasons cruising ground sufficiently varied for even the saltiest sea sailor when summer is gone. And in that last precious week of August – when just one balmy moment of a late summer’s evening is worth ten such in June – you get the perfect combination for a refreshing break from routine and a thoroughly good time with it, with the country looking its lushest best, a marked contrast to spring when it is raw and bare.

Lough Derg Map

At first glance, Lough Derg may seem to be no more than a widening of the River Shannon, but once on it you realise it’s a proper inland sea

Not least of the attractions of a three generations cruise is that the duties of the grandparents and grandchildren are simply to have a good time. It’s the middle generation who are there to provide planning and management. So apart from simply turning up in Portumna at the required time on a Tuesday afternoon, our only task was to get a proper lifejacket for Pippa the Pup, who isn’t really a pup, she’s a three-year-old miniature Jack Russell terrier, but there’s still a lot of the puppy in her. As it was the only job we’d to do, it got huge attention, but thanks to CH Marine’s crisp online service, Pippa had her new outfit many weeks before joining the boat, and almost immediately she realized that wearing the lifejacket was all about having a good time, so no problem there.

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Our little skipper - Pippa with her new lifejacket. Photo: W M Nixon

We eased ourselves gently into the Shannon pace by stopping off from the journey westward in Nenagh for lunch at Country Choice, Peter & Mary Ward’s wonderful little food emporium. They don’t so describe it themselves, but “emporium” is the only word to describe a miniature Aladdin’s cave of goodies and wonderful food. This energetic couple were in something of a state of excitement, as the entire Ward operation had just received the word that they were short-listed for an award in the “Best Shops in Ireland” competition, the announcements to be made that weekend.

So it gave us something more to anticipate as we cruised Lough Derg during the following five days, for although much of our mini-voyaging was done along the luxuriant “Tipperary Riviera”, the fact that Tipperary provides some of the best agricultural produce in Ireland does not necessarily mean that it’s a county of foodies. On the contrary, at times the Tip cuisine is very basic indeed, ignoring some of the region’s finest specialities. So Country Choice in Nenagh and the Wards’ famous and enormous stall at the weekly display on Saturdays in the Milk Market in Limerick are beacons of hope and places of cheerful pilgrimage for those who think we Irish could make better use of our wonderful natural local produce.

Portumna at the north end of Lough Derg is a strategically vital crossing of the Shannon – the next bridge is well to the north at Banagher – so inevitably Portumna is a workaday, strung out sort of town with a decidedly utilitarian air to its hire cruiser base at the evocatively-named Connaught Harbour. But the word is that Waterways Ireland have some worthwhile plans to upgrade the entire Portumna-Shannon-Lough Derg interface, though it won’t include replacing the swing bridge which takes the main road across the wide river. Our skipper was already devising a cunning scheme to deal with the dictatorship of the bridge’s opening times even as we were arriving aboard and exchanging a hurried hullo and goodbye with the previous generation on the distaff side, who had cruised with son-in-law, daughter and grandchildren up to Lough Ree.

The vessel at the centre of this hectic multi-family interchange was the 42ft Slaney Shannon Star, a fine old workhorse which has been giving sterling service to Emerald Star Line clients for more than two decades. In fact, the Shannon Star Class is quintessential Emerald Star, as just 15 of them were built by Broom’s of Norfolk, and they were exclusively for the Irish company, which worked closely on the design and specification to produce the perfect boat for Shannon cruising. This creative combination produced a comfortable and practical non-nonsense layout, with a straightforward finish which doesn’t pretend to be anything unnecessarily fancy, and a useful big Perkins 76hp diesel which gives the very able and “lakeworthy” hull a cruising speed of 7 knots.

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Slaney Shannon Star in the Castle Harbour at Portumna, ensign up and ready to go. Photo: W M Nixon

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This layout plan gives the broad outline of the Shannon Star’s very effective accommodation, but the forward cabin is roomier than shown, with proper gap to open the door fully.

Within this package, as the layout plan shows there is comfortable accommodation for six without using the settee berths in the saloon, there’s also an extra berth in its own little cabin just under the in-saloon steering position (it became Pippa’s cabin when we were ashore to dine), and while steering from the inside position is very comfortable with good visibility, the flybridge offers splendid views and is sufficiently large to be sociable with it.

Those who sailed with our son David when he was campaigning the likes of the Corby 36 Rosie (now Rockall III) and other offshore racing machines a decade ago will know that he thrives on planning and execution, while his wife Karen is more than a match for him. Thus for Georgina and Pippa and me and Matthew (aged 6) and Julia (aka The Diva) age 3, it was just case of being here and going with the flow and being prepared for enjoyment, for there was a lot of that.

David’s plan for the first evening in Portumna was typical of the man. They’d spent a fair bit of the day completing the final stage of the long passage down-Shannon from Lough Ree, so time ashore in a hospitable environment with food available was the target. He came up with the scheme that we’d go for supper at the very characterful Ferry Inn just across the river. But before that, we’d take the boat through the swing bridge at the 7.45pm opening, and berth her at the pontoon immediately below the bridge, which would shorten the walk to the inn, and also make it free choice for departure time in the morning.

But this was only the beginning of the man’s ingenuity. Supper was well under way in the pub when he suggested that if the senior men didn’t linger too long over the puddings, they could use the last of the daylight to take the boat the mile or so to the little harbour at Portumna Castle, while the women and children – by now immersed in various electronic games and slow eating – could follow when ready by taxi.

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We wanted a characterful pub with good food to start the cruise, and we found it at the Ferry Inn beside Portumna Bridge. Photo: W M Nixon

Sounds crazy, but it was a move of genius, for the berth beside the bridge is noisy with the road traffic and doesn’t give a sense of being away from it all, whereas the tiny harbour at the castle is pure holiday setting. The only fly in the ointment of this perfect plan was that as we approached the little harbour in the very last of the daylight, it was to find the entrance well-filled with a Shannon barge, but somehow we squeezed our 4.1 m (13ft 6ins) beam in past, and then there was just one space left in the most sheltered corner of this attractive mini-port to provide Slaney Shannon Star with a sweet berth for the first night of the cruise, and a warm wecome for the rest of the crew when they arrived in their own good time.

We’re no strangers to three-generational family holidays, but have less experience of three-generational lake cruising, and of course as the kids are growing up so quickly, the requirements vary from year to year. So in the morning sunshine, while the senior adults with an energetic little dog might have felt like no more than a walk in Portumna Forest Park, the parents with children had to seek out a proper children’s playground, but a skillful combination of plans saw all wishes in the walkies department being well met.

It has to be said that Portumna is definitely tops in at least one department. The Children’s Playground - it’s between the castle and the town - is world class, a creation of Cavanagh’s of Roscrea. They were established way back in 1806. But I doubt if their metal-working skills were being deployed for children’s playgrounds when the company came into being while Napoleon was still strutting his stuff around Europe, so all power to Cavanagh’s of Roscrea for adaptability.

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The children’s playground at Portumna. Built by a company founded in 1806, it’s a wonder to behold. Photo: W M Nixon

As for Portumna Castle…..well, if you find your household heating bills depressing, cheer yourself up with the thought of the effort it seems to have taken to heat Portumna Castle. You’ll seldom see chimneys on this scale – it must have taken all the turf out of an entire raised bog eevry winter to heat this massive pile.

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Portumna Castle – the mighty chimneys suggest even mightier heating bills. Photo: W M Nixon

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Home sweet home, but far from the Baltic Sea – Triskel and her live-aboard skipper. Photo: W M Nixon

By complete contrast, back at the Castle Harbour we met up with a Polish sailor who had cruised the Baltic before he set off to start life anew in Ireland eleven years ago, and when he discovered the Shannon and all its attractions he moved aboard a little sailing cruiser eight years ago. He has lived on her ever since, in and around the Shannon lakes, and is well content, though when I guessed his boat might be an Anderson of some sort, he was very positive in making sure that I realized his beloved Triskel was an Anderson 22 Mark 2, and not one of the inferior original Mark 1 versions.

Having been bemused by contemplating the heating bills for Portumna Castle, I didn’t find out his name before he headed out of port, but by this time our skipper also reckoned it was time to go. David had an app which gave weather predictions so accurately that he could tell you exactly when the rain would fall on different parts of the lake, precisely how big the rain-drops would be, how long they’d be falling, and how much wind would be in the midst of them. Or so it seemed to the rest of us. But somehow he got us all moving together aboard ship out of Portumna Castle Harbour at morning coffee time, and we proceeded southwards down the splendid lake almost entirely in sunshine as big dark rain squalls ran north along the Atlantic seaboard to the west, while over to the east it was pitch black over mid-Tipperary and they’d some flooding. Yet aboard Slaney Shannon Star, this helmsman on the flybridge managed to get a bit of a suntan during the two hours plus passage down to Mountshannon.

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From the lake, you get glimpses of other’s people’s little bits of paradise – this mini-port is one of the East Clare shore north of Mountshannon. Photo: W M Nixon

Lough Derg is 40 kilometres long (it’s 23 land miles in old money from Killaloe Bridge to Portumna Bridge) and around 20 kilometres across its widest part, but it follows the contours as befits a developing river valley to provide a handsome convoluted lake. While the coastal scenery is fairly flat up about Portumna, as you get south past Dromineer the land is rising to port and particularly to starboard, with the final approaches to Killaloe between the Arra Mountains and Slieve Bernagh becoming quite spectacular.

In classic cruising style, our skipper had decided the best way to deal with the lake was to get down to Killaloe on the first day, and then cruise back to Portumna at a much more leisurely pace. But even when you’re trying to log the miles, Lough Derg offers ample choices for quick stops, and as the weather app was talking about some decidedly lively southwest to west breezes later in the afternoon, the logical place for a stopover was Mountshannon.

This would mean that if the top did come off conditions for a while, we’d be located so that we could hold round a weather shore to get a smooth passage into the long “reverse estuary” down to Killaloe. But first, we’d to enjoy Mountshannon. It’s headquarters of the Iniscealtra Sailing Club (Iniscealtra is the neighbouring holy island, complete with Round Tower and a place of pilgrimage), but Mountshannon has the additional advantage of being serenely south-facing over a fine but sheltered bay, and it is home to an impressive fleet of yachts lying in a classic anchorage. There are the likes of Hallberg Rassys among them, and if you wondered what on earth a Hallberg Rassy ocean cruiser is doing on a lake, we suggest you get to Mountshannon and understanding will come.

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An anchorage for proper yachts – some impressive craft are lying to moorings in Mountshannon. Photo: W M Nixon

We meanwhile understood that rain was coming, and fast, so after a neat bit of berthing even if I do say so myself, we nipped up to the village inn and took aboard broth and stews while the rain battered the street outside, and German and English visitors supped their pints of Guinness with that happily bemused little smile you’ll see on the faces of tourists who have discovered an Irish inn exactly as they hoped it would be, including the rain outside.

But even that cleared on cue, and we needs must visit Mountshannon’s unique attraction, the combined labyrinth and maze. A perfect opportunity for junior scouts to guide the oldies about. However, the wind had come through as expected, so much so that Mountshannon’s famous white-tailed sea eagles appeared to be grounded for the afternoon. But though Slaney Shannon Star was sitting serenely in a wellnigh perfect berth for a stormy night, the menfolk were just too interested in seeing how she’d perform in a real breeze of wind, with a bit of a sea running, to stay on in the same place.

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Slaney Shannon Star snugly berthed at Mountshannon. The front is going through, and the wind has veered, but there’s enough of it to keep the sea eagles of Mountshannon grounded. Photo: W M Nixon

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There really is a maze at labyrinth at Mountshannon, but it takes an aerial photo to show them properly

“It’ll only be slightly lumpy for a few minutes” was the mantra. And it has to be said the old girl coped superbly, though fortunately all warps had been lashed in place, as for a little while -until we were feeling the shelter of the Clare coast in under the delightfully-named Ogonnelloe – some quite substantial quantities of Lough Derg were sweeping at speed over the Slaney Shannon Star.

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Sea test – Slaney Shannon Star finds a bit of a sea running on the lake. Photo: W M Nixon

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For a while, quite a lot of Lough Derg was sweeping over Slaney Shannon Star on passage from Mountshannon to Killaloe, but it didn’t take a feather out of this able boat – those towels are laid out to dry, not to cope with leaks. Photo: W M Nixon

But in the Killaloe estuary, relative peace returned, the black clouds raced away to the east, the sun came out with a rainbow, and there was this sense of approaching somewhere important, heightened by the quality and variety of the lakeside and hillside houses. Some people find this Irish scattering of houses, each in its own little world, to be something of an irritation among some rather fine scenery. But I like it. There’s more than enough empty uninhabitable wilderness in the world, and except for the most spectacular mountains, Irish scenery is enlivened by houses dotted here and there in such a way that you think pleasantly of the agreeable way of life that might be found in them.

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The storm squall has passed, and the lush country of the Tipperary shore is seen at its best with a rainbow in the approaches to Killaloe. Photo: W M Nixon

Once we were into the smooth water, Madam got on the phone to suss out the possibilities of an “Objective Achieved” supper at the renowned Cherry Tree on the Ballina side of Killaloe, and of course chef patron Harry McKeown himself answered the phone and recognized her voice immediately. But he went through the formality of booking a table for six in impersonal style before letting her know her cover was blown.

Whatever about Georgina’s problems in dining anonymously, for the rest of us it made for a idyllic evening, with the boat berthed as conveniently as possible at the berth generously provided by the Lakeside Hotel, the shortest walk imaginable to the Cherry Tree, a riverside window table to admire a sister-ship berthed directly across the water on the Killaloe side, and food glorious food while the light lingered in a fair approximation of a summer’s evening.

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Our first berth at Killaloe was at the hospitable Lakeside Hotel on the Ballina shore. Photo: W M Nixon

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Mission accomplished – the team have reached The Cherry Tree for dinner in Killaloe. Photo: W M Nixon

An interest in visiting Killaloe Cathedral in the morning had been expressed, so lo and behold our thoughtful skipper moved the boat across river in the morning on his own while the rest of us were still bestirring ourselves, thereby removing the need to walk across Killaloe’s ancient but much overworked bridge. It suffers from ludicrously excessive traffic – the lovely little riverside town does really urgently need a by-pass and the long-planned new bridge to the south. But St Flannan’s Cathedral well exceeded expectations. It’s of very modest size for anyone expecting a Shannonside version of Chartres or York Minster. But we knew it well from the outside, yet going in was a revelation, a haven of total peace in this Cathedral of the Waterways.

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The Cathedral of the Shannon – St Flannan’s at Killaloe is on the banks of the old canal to Limerick which pre-dated the Ardnacrusha development. Photo: W M Nixon

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A soothing place - Killaloe Cathedral. Photo: W M Nixon

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Busy place - Killaloe is very much the southern capital of the Shannon waterway. Photo: W M Nixon

There seemed to be an unspoken agreement that we weren’t going to break the spell of peace by walking across the bridge, but as this meant the kids couldn’t avail of the playground on the Ballina side, it was a case of up sticks and away from the impressive new Waterways Ireland pontoons on the Killaloe side, and off we went north and east to Garrykennedy with its handy playground, on the way passing learner sailors in action off the University of Limerick’s Activity Centre on the Clare shore, and then – for it was a pleasant sunny sailing day after Wednesday’s weather kerfuffle – we passed a real live sailing cruiser going on her merry way, plus several powercruisers.

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With lighter winds, sailing can resume at the University of Limerick Activity Centre near Killaloe. Photo: W M Nixon

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Waterside paradise - lakeshore house near Killaloe. Photo: W M Nixonder24

The guess is it’s a Halcyon 23 enjoying the breeze on Lough Derg – and taking in one’s fenders is optional on the lakes. Photo: W M Nixon

All the little ports about Lough Derg have their own individual character, and Garrykennedy is about as different as possible from Killaloe, which in turn is very different from Mountshannon, while Dromineer – where we were to spend the night – is different again.

But most of the ports popular with today’s sailors on Lough Derg have it in common that once they were part of a busy waterways transport system, each with its own little mini-harbour which could accommodate the barges which might have come all the way from Dublin via the Grand Canal. The cream of the fleet were engaged in the sacred task of conveying Guinness’s Porter from St James’s Gate Brewery all the way to the connoisseurs of Limerick, whose tastes were and are so pernickety that when any variant in any product is contemplated in the Guinness organisation, somebody always wonders how it will do in Limerick…

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Garrykennedy’s little harbour was created inshore of the 15th Century castle of the O’Kennedys. Photo: W M Nixon

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Larkins of Garrykennedy is one of the most popular food pubs on Ireland’s inland waterways. Photo: W M Nixon

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The décor in Larkin’s of Garrykennedy includes this superb half model of a Shannon One Design OD made by Reggie Goodbody of Dromineer. Photo: W M Nixon

So keen is Limerick to get its Guinness that in a storm one winter a canal boat (they were never called barges in their working days) headed out after sheltering in Garrykennedy and sank off Parker Point taking some of her crew down with her, but that’s a sad story for another day. For we got into Garrykenedy on a sunny day to find a handy berth in the old harbour, a good lunch in Larkins, and a classic Children’s Playground with real old-fashioned swings where Matthew and Julia proved fearless.

By the time you’re a day or three into your Waterways holiday, you lose track of time, but I think it was later that afternoon when the Slaney Shannon Star headed in the sunshine across to Dromineer. There, we found the most-sheltered spot at the quayside in the harbour was entirely taken up by a slovenly-berthed J/24 which, if it had been secured in a more thoughtful manner, would have left plenty of room for other boats.

However, the nearest handy berth put us right beside the playground, so bonus points for Dromineer. And then, as we had access to sheltered water, it was time for a bit of fun with the outboard dinghy, which was a winner with the kids, who were soon helming it with skill. You’d expect that of Matthew – he has helmed a Howth Seventeen – but Julia at just three years old was a very cool and quick learner.

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The berth at Dromineer was ideal for family cruising, being right beside the children’s playground. Photo: W M Nixon

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Outboard dinghy sport at Dromineer. Photo: W M Nixon

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Matthew in charge, and The Diva not too pleased. Photo: W M Nixon

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The Whiskey Still at Dromineer is a Lough Derg institution. Photo: W M Nixon

An overnight in Dromineer means supper at The Whiskey Still, and very good it was too, a real local which comes pleasantly to life as the evening draws on, and lots of folk to talk to about this intriguing place, which in the great days of Waterways transport, was by way of being the main port for North Tipperary. But since 1835 it has also been the home of Lough Derg YC, whose fine clubhouse was taking a brief rest between the excitements of the annual Lough Derg week and the imminent arrival tomorrow of the international fleet of cruising-racing Wayfarer dinghies.

The last walk of the day for Pippa discovered an energetic game of kayak polo under way off Dromineer’s little beach (yes, they really do have a beach, the immaculately-kept Dromineer has everything) but later that night the breeze freshened again and our fenders were squeaking a bit. We couldn’t be having that at all, so the skipper found us enough room along the other quay for us to warp into a berth where the breeze held us noiselessly off the wall for a night of peace.

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Kayak polo at Dromineer. Photo: W M Nixon

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Dennis Noonan of Round Ireland race fame on his Pegasus 800 Photo: W M Nixon

By this time we were so totally into Waterways time that I haven’t a clue when we left Dromineer next day, but we seem to have crowded several days of living into a morning. The playground had to be given a thorough work-over, the dinghy had to be taken out for a spin at least twice, then Pippa had her morning walk along to Shannon Sailing’s secluded marina where of all people we met up with the great Dennis Noonan of Wicklow and Round Ireland Race fame. He was aboard his able little Pegasus 800 which is for sale, and is a fine sailing cruiser if you’re interested in a proper yacht with full standing headroom. But there was little enough time to discuss boat sales, for in real life Dennis is a market gardener of long experience, so he and Georgina were immediately at it yakking away about genuine local produce and how to get people to appreciate what their neighbourhood can produce in season.

I meanwhile wandered off meet up with Robbie the Main Man in the workshop, and soon discovered he was the owner of an enormous 95ft boat – the Spera In Deo - which was lying in Dromineer harbour, a former Dutch mussel dredger which he had discovered in a ruinous state in Donegal after a fire. He was able to make her sufficiently seaworthy to bring her south along the Atlantic seaboard and into the Shannon crewed by all the usual gallant suspects, and while he still has much cosmetic work to do to the exterior, he has fitted out the interior in the most extraordinary way to make her the biggest four berth motor-cruiser in the world, as there are two enormous en suite double cabins - one with a Jacuzzi - while the headroom in the vast main saloon is theatrical in scale.

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95ft of the biggest four berth motor cruiser on the Shannon – the Spera In Deo at Dromineer. Photo: W M Nixon

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To grasp the scale of the Spera In Deo’s interior, you have to realize those are full-height interior doors for a house. Photo: W M Nixon

Eventually I was reunited with my brood in the Lake Café right on the harbour. It’s open from 8.30am until 5.0pm, which makes for a very civilised little village arrangement as The Whiskey Still then opens up for food. Declan & Fiona Collison, who run the Lake Café, used to run The Whiskey Still, so they know the Lough Derg hospitality scene inside out. But like everyone along this ancient waterway, they are as keen to talk about its fascinating past are they are interested in its present and future, and the Lake Café’s walls are adorned with aerial photos of Dromineer from around 1967 which really do bring home to you how much Ireland has moved on during the past half century.

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Breakfast in Dromineer – Georgina, Matthew and Julia have the first of the day’s five meals….. Photo: W M Nixon

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Dromineer as it was in 1967 – photo courtesy Lake Café.

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Heading up-lough in “vivid sunshine”. Photo: W M Nixon

Not everything has come through intact or improved, however. Heading up-lough later that day in vivid sunshine, we went close past Illaunmore, Derg’s biggest island, where very many years ago we discerned what looked like a tiny creek leading to a little harbour. Though it was obviously private, our curiosity got the better of us, and we negotiated our motor-cruiser through the narrow gap to find a harbour. There was a small waterside chalet and a man out for a walk with his very tame golden pheasant, which we later learned was called Sammy. This was the late Martin Winston, and Illaunmore was the love of his life. He was never happier than when on his own island. But that was a long time ago. Martin Winston is long gone. And as far as we could see, the lovely little harbour where we were made so welcome with a fantastic spontaneous party generated within minutes, it now all seems completely overgrown.

But while the harbour in Illaunmore may have disappeared in the undergrowth, the other port of that day’s cruising so long ago, Terryglass, has come on with leaps and bounds. Indeed, when we visited Illaunmore with its fine little harbour, there was virtually no harbour at all at Terryglass, you berthed in a sort of creek where cattle came to drink lake-water. And the first time we were there being Hallowe’en night, the track up to the village where a friend had just bought the pub was quite a spooky experience.

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Terryglass has become a busy port in the past three decades. Photo: W M Nixon

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It’s always an irresistible challenge to try and disappear into the reeds. Photo: W M Nixon

But today Terryglass is one of Lough Derg’s more glamorous ports, while it’s a special place for David and Karen, as they were married in the lovely church in the village, that church whose spire is “Conspic” from all parts of the north end of the lake. But when you’ve a couple of lively kids, there’s no time to be sad or serious about the old days and disappeared harbours or new harbours and whatnot. They’ve splendid reed beds at Terryglass, and disappearing completely into the reeds is a natural challenge for youngsters with an outboard dinghy, so that was on the agenda before we ambled up to the village and supper in the Derg Inn.

It wasn’t a restaurant crawl we were on by any means, but brisk days on the lake are great for the appetite. That last day was typical. We’d the usual good breakfast on board, then after everyone went off on their various pursuits, we’d one of those light “Meals-without-a-Name” with the Collisons at the Lake Café, as their baking is superb. Then when we berthed in Terryglass, somehow Karen had another meal-without-a-name ready on the saloon table, followed by more reed-bashing-by-boat, and then with the kids needing an early meal followed by a reasonable bedtime, we fed well but early in the Derg Inn.

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Not for the faint-hearted (1): The Pineapple Boat in the Derg Inn. Phot: W M Nixon

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Not for the faint-hearted (2): On the swings at Terryglass. Photo: W M Nixon

There, I fearlessly rounded out the feast with a Pineapple Boat with strawberry ice-cream, raspberry coulis and cream – definitely not a nibble for the faint-hearted. Then back at the harbour where the kids went to the limit and beyond on old-style swings in the playground, with people arriving down to join their Terryglass-based cruisers for the weekend we could admire an extraordinary selection of dogs even unto an Irish wolfhound, and not a lifejacket among them except for Pippa. And after all that, the little people went willingly to bed, and in truth the rest were soon headed the same way.

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Canine old mates of Terryglass harbour. Photo: W M Nixon

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The end of a busy week – Mattthew, Julia, David and Karen on the final morning. Photo: W M Nixon

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The bridge opening at Portumna is both a beginning and an end. Photo: W M Nixon

Changeover Saturday at a hireboat base is so busy there’s not time to be sad that it’s all ending. We were perfectly on time across from Terryglass for the 0945 bridge opening at Portumna, there was a berth stern-to right beside the cars, there was the usual final check round to make sure we’d left nothing behind, and then we were gone, only pausing briefly to hope that whoever next took the gallant Slaney Shannon Star down the short channel to the river and the lake was going to have at least half as good a time as we’d had.

But now the grandparents weren’t too tied to time. We could go home at leisure, ambling by road on up the Shannon, stopping here and there at river ports which are very different in character from lake harbours. Yet all have their special charms, so it was after dark when we finally got home. It wasn’t until Sunday that we finally opened Saturday’s Irish Times. And there was the announcement that Peter & Mary Ward’s fantastic weekly display of everything good in the Milk Market in Limerick had won the prize for the Best Market Stall in Ireland.

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Winners! Peter & Mary Ward of Country Choice in Nenagh. Photo: W M Nixon

Published in W M Nixon
Page 7 of 16

William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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