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Displaying items by tag: Shannon

Waterways is advising masters and users of the Shannon Navigation of the following information regarding the reopening of the Locks from 8th June 2020:

Lock Operating Hours (Phase 2)

8th to 29th June 9am – 5pm daily

Lock Passage fee

Lock passage will be free from 8th June until further notice.

Low Water Levels

Master of vessels are reminded that all sections of the Shannon Navigation are near or below Ordinary Summer Levels. Deep draft vessels should stay in the navigation at all times and proceed with additional caution.

Shannon Lock-Keepers

Shannon Navigation lock-keepers are available at the following numbers:-

Lough Allen Canal – 071 964 1552

Clarendon Lock - 071 966 7011

Albert Lock - 071 963 7715

Rooskey lock - 071 963 8018

Tarmonbarry Lock - 043 332 6117

Athlone Lock - 090 649 2026

Poolboy Lock - 090 964 4938

Victoria lock - 057 915 1359

Portumna Bridge - 090 974 1011

Ardnacrusha - 061 344 515

Sarsfield Lock - 087 797 2998

Published in Inland Waterways
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Waterways Ireland has advised masters and owners of vessels that low water levels exist in all areas of the Shannon Navigation.

Water levels are currently at or below “Ordinary Summer levels”.

Masters of vessels, particularly those with deep drafts, are advised to navigate with additional caution and to remain within the navigation at all times.

Published in Inland Waterways
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Waterways Ireland has advised masters and owners of vessels that low water levels exist on Lough Key, on the river section between Clarendon Lock to Tarmonbarry and on the river section in the vicinity of Meelick and Victoria Lock.

Water levels are currently below Summer levels in these areas.

Masters of vessels, particularly those with deep drafts, are advised to navigate with additional caution and to remain within the navigation at all times.

Published in Inland Waterways
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Waterways Ireland is continuing its public consultation on its Shannon tourism masterplan but has urged members of the public to respond online.

The cross-border authority has published its draft masterplan and associated environmental report as part of an 18-month strategy to develop tourism along the Shannon corridor over the next decade to 2030.

It is asking members of the public to review documents online and make any submissions through an online survey on link here

The documents online include the executive summary, the draft masterplan, the environmental report, baseline study, appropriate assessment screening and Natura impact reports.

It says that people who wish to review documents in local authority offices should be aware that arrangements may change locally due to the Covid-10 response, and that vigilance is required in relation to physical distancing.

The plan led by Waterways Ireland, with Fáilte Ireland, aims to “reposition the combined Shannon Navigation and Shannon-Erne waterway as a key tourism destination within Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, identifying world-class visitor experiences based on the region’s natural and cultural assets”.

It involves a steering group and working groups from Cavan, Leitrim, Roscommon, Longford, Offaly, Galway, Tipperary, Clare and Limerick county councils.

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) appealed earlier this month for Waterways Ireland to remember the farming community and the impact of flooding along the river.

The IFA has long appealed for a single management authority for the waterway, stating it would be a "win, win situation" if planning extended beyond tourism.

The public consultation on the Shannon tourism draft masterplan closes on April 22nd at 4 pm.

Published in Aquatic Tourism
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As Storm Jorge swept in from the Atlantic, there have been renewed calls a single river management agency for the Shannon.

Farmers and residents along the river can no longer cope with “despair” and constant fear of flooding, Mid-Shannon flood relief group chairman Michael Silke told The Sunday Times.

 Some farmers have experienced up to six serious flooding instances in 25 years, he pointed out.

“These are people who were told during floods in 2009 that this was a one in a hundred-year event – clearly not true when we had a recurrence in 2016 and now,” Mr Silke said

If one Shannon management agency was established, bogland could be used as a natural “sponge” to relieve pressure along critical stretches, Mr Silke told The Sunday Times.

Mr Silke said that half of his own beef and sheep farm has been covered in water since last week, but emphasised that many of his neighbours in the Shannon area were in a far worse situation, with flooding in homes, yards and across swathes of land.

“Leaving the Shannon to the ESB, Waterways Ireland and Office of Public Works (OPW) to manage it is not working,” he said.

However, the OPW approach and its  Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) work was defended yesterday by outgoing Minister of State for the OPW Kevin “Boxer” Moran on RTÉ Radio.

In Galway, harbourmaster Capt Brian Sheridan said that “joined-up thinking” was also required for management of severe weather events on the Atlantic seaboard.

“Galway city has dodged a bullet again this weekend, only because the peak of the storm coincides with low tide,” Capt Sheridan said.

“Met Éireann provides a great service, but we need more geographically specific real-time information,” he said. For more, read The Sunday Times report here

Published in Inland Waterways
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Rowing clubs along the Shannon have been badly affected by high water levels. Carrick on Shannon and Athlone have both been hit, while Castleconnell is flooded. This came despite pumping. The gym equipment had been moved out and the boats are stored higher up the bank.

This ESB at Ardnacrusha stated: “Due to heavy rainfall in the catchment we will be increasing discharge from Parteen Weir. You are being notified that water is about to be discharged above 325 m3/sec. This will result in flooding of roads, land and may affect property. You are advised to be aware of increased flows in the river as a result of this water discharge. Further increases in discharge may be required. Approx. 400 m3/sec will be discharged.”

Published in Rowing

A €2.3 million marina on Lough Derg that was the subject of a planning battle earlier this year is now open for business, Afloat.ie has learned.

Derg Marina across from Killaloe is the first Ronautica-built marina in Ireland and was developed by Gary McNamara, son of Dolores McNamara who scooped €115 million in the EuroMillions lottery in 2005.

According to The Irish Times, the site — which had been a “little-used” marina — was purchased four years ago for €1.7 million, well ahead of the €550,000 guide price.

Previously the 250-berth marina, with half a kilometre of water frontage, had sold for €8 million in 2006 — but fell into disrepair in the intervening years.

Progress on the redeveloped site had been held up over a planning objection by local resident Clare Quinn, as The Irish Sun reported this past April.

But An Bord Pleanála refused Ms Quinn leave to appeal as she had not shown the approved scheme would differ materially from what was set out in the application for planning permission.

The new Derg Marina has been welcomed by the local Marine Village Residents’ Association, and Afloat.ie understands interest in the new facility among boaters across the Shannon region is high.

“It looks very smart and a big step up for the inland scene,” one boater told Afloat.ie.

Published in Inland Waterways

#Rowing: Denis Crowley of Commercial brought his tally of wins to a remarkable six after three days at the World Masters Regatta in Budapest. In just one day, the 57-year-old won in the coxless four and twice in the single sculls – in the C class (43 years or more) and the E class for 55 or more. The decision to form composite crews again paid off for the Irish, with wins in the C eight and the D coxed four, along with Crowley’s haul.

World Masters Regatta, Budapest, (Selected Results, Irish interest, winners)

Friday

Men

Eight

(C – 43 or more): Heat Four: Commercial, Cork, Neptune, Clonmel, Shannon, Galway, Castleconnell (B Crean, B Smyth, R Carroll, O McGrath, G O’Neill, P Fowler, B O’Shaughnessy, K McDonald; cox: M McGlynn) 3:09.75.

Four

(E – 55 or more) Heat Five: Commercial, Neptune, Belfast BC, Galway (D Crowley, G Murphy, C Hunter, A McCallion)

Four, coxed

(D – 50 or more) Heat 3: Galway, Neptune, Castleconnell, Clonmel (G O’Neill, O McGrath, B O’Shaughnessy, T Dunn; cox: M McGlynn) 3:35.89.

Sculling, Single

(C - 43 or more) Heat 19: Commercial (D Crowley) 3:49.92.

(E – 55 or more) Heat 8: Commercial (Crowley)

Published in Rowing

A south Galway potter is embarking on a 350km row down the Shannon-Erne waterway in a handmade boat in memory of a close friend writes Lorna Siggins

Weather permitting, Kinvara artist Joe McCaul (65) set out from Belleek, Co Fermanagh today on the first leg of his transit to Limerick.

With him will be a heart-shaped box with ashes of his close friend, Joe Stewart, a carpenter and experienced oarsman from Antrim who had planned to build the plywood rowing boat with him.

Mr McCaul will raise funds for the Galway Hospice as a tribute to Mr Stewart.

“The boat is named after the two Joes, and he would get a good laugh out of it if he was here,” Mr McCaul said.

Joe McCaul 3Joe McCaul with his rowing boat in build

“It started off with a chat in a pub, and I said I would love to build a boat,” Mr McCaul says.

“Joe Stewart died in his sleep, and I rang the suppliers the day we buried him and they said the boat kit was ready for dispatch, so I decided to go ahead and finished it myself,”Mr McCaul explains.

Growing up near the waterway at Belturbet, Co Cavan, he says he is looking forward to navigating the Shannon-Erne system, and reckons lower Lough Erne will be the most exposed part.

He tested the craft for its rolling ability by capsizing it a week ago in Galway Bay, and reckons it is easy to right.

It was launched at the Cruinniú na mBád in his home harbour of Kinvara, south Galway earlier last month, and he says that “the QE2 could not have had a better send-off when it first hit the water”.

Mr McCaul will draw and paint en route through towns including Belleek, Enniskillen, Belturbet, Ballinamore, Leitrim, Carrick-on-Shannon, Roosky, Athlone, Shannonbridge, Terryglass, Scarriff, Killaloe and finally to Limerick.

His wife, Mary Harrison, retires from teaching shortly and is undertaking a walk along the Camino route in northern Spain. He plans to fly out to Bilbao in Spain when he is finished and they can compare notes on their respective pilgrimages on land and water.

For updates and to support Joe McCaul’s rowing fundraiser for Galway Hospice, see here

Published in Inland Waterways
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Exploring the Shannon by boat with a Carrickcraft three-day cruiser hire was not the first choice for David O'Brien and family's September weekend getaway. But North Roscommon gave a lot more than expected

With the summer ebbing away, my family were in need of a short holiday, but we had grown so tired of no–care airlines that even the prospect of the Aircoach was beginning to make it more like a chore than a well-earned break. There must be some other way to spend quality family time without the queues, we thought.

What's more, I was determined to show my family, comprising of my wife Lisa and children Isabel (15) and Thomas (13), that Ireland could offer much more than the usual format of the so-called 'city break'.

crowded departures area of dublin airportFar away fields are always greener – but the prospect of 'Please arrive three hours early for your flight' and a crowded departures area of Dublin Airport did not inspire us...

Shannon rush hour 2570...so we swapped it for rush hour on the Shannon...

I suggested some local options. "How about a River Shannon cruise?"

It was a question that, quite honestly, did get a mixed reaction at the kitchen table. But with an open mind and a sense of adventure it was something they all thought (eventually) would be worthwhile giving a shot. 

Plotting the course

The navigable River Shannon runs for 400km but if you've got just three days, where does a novice start?

It might be the essence of leisurely cruising to drift along, going where the river might take you, but that could not be this weekend's plan. In order to satisfy my teenage crew, I felt this had to be exactly the opposite: a 72–hour whistle stop tour packing in as much fun as we could along the way.

But could a 20km stretch in North Roscommon really measure up to a weekend in London, for example?

The county is landlocked, yet there are plenty of lakes to make up for the lack of any coastline. Loughs Key, Allen and Ree are all situated in the county. But more than that, one of the more notable features of Roscommon is the fact it is the home of well-known actor Chris O'Dowd, who grew up in Boyle. He's also a family favourite, as it happens.

I150627 151841 978497oTextTRMRMMGLPICT000032523369oMoone Boy on Sky Two: Chris O'Dowd (left) as Sean Murphy and David Rawle as Martin Moone is a big hit in Boyle. Photo: Sky

Experience had taught me it's the simple things that mean the most, so I was sure that if I spent a little time in planning it could go a long way. I decided there were some basic requirements for a successful trip that would provide fun for the family and some nice memories. 

First of all, we'd want our weekend to have minimum travel time to the destination. There should be activities for my family to do together, and the chance to learn something new. 
There should also be easy access to dining options. They say cooking on board is a Shannon cruise pleasure but we decided against it – it's meant to be a holiday, after all. 

And I knew well that if we ended up stranded on the river bank looking at one bag of crisps, with a long walk at dusk to the nearest town, then it would be a short–lived cruise at that. 

Carrickcraft is a leading Irish Shannon cruise hire firm that has a base in Carrick-on-Shannon in Co Leitrim. I booked a three-day cruise with a start and finish in Carrick, on board a self-drive Kilkenny Class (4 + 2 Berth) for three nights priced at €765.

In search of 'The Moone Boy Burger'

On the map, Carrick looked like a central enough location, and not too remote. But early research into what we might do when on the water wasn't easy. Certainly, there were guides but not much in terms of joined-up thinking for waterborne tourists.

There were navigation charts. There were route planners. There were restaurant guides. There were activity guides. But what I needed was the nice easy spoonful of an entire travel plan that tied in journey times with berthage, activities with restaurants.

For instance, I spotted that some of the nicest sounding restaurants in Georgina Campbell's invaluable Inland Waterways Restaurant Guide were not always accessible by boat. I just coudn't work out how we could get to a restaurant at dusk and back in the dead of night. Taxis in this neck of the woods can be as rare as river kingfishers. And dark country roads are not pedestrian-friendly.

To make a success of our short break, I had to join the dots between time, food and river, so I ended up making up my own itinerary – an idiot's guide, if you will, to cruising on the River Shannon: the 72–hour edition!

Navigational guide shannonThe Navigational Guide to the Shannon is a captain's handbook that charts the river and gives plenty of tips. It has drawings of harbours and jetties and makes it easy to plot your course. You get a copy when you hop on board your cruiser. Courtesy: Shannon Leisure Development Company Ltd

My research time was well spent, though, because within an hour or so I had sketched out a voyage that might involve wildlife, history, literary links, Hollywood stars, gourmet food, navigational tips and exercises, bike trails, high-wire tree-top adventures, castles and islands. But most of all, we would be captains of our own ship of adventure as we steamed up and down the River Shannon, in search of 'The Moone Boy Burger'.

Did we expect to find such weekend adventure and welcomes, just an hour-and-a-half from home? No, we certainly didn't.

Here's how our trip worked out: 

Friday – Downstream to Jamestown

12 noon – It's half-day Friday! Collected kids from school and headed straight for the N4. From Dun Laoghaire it's two hours (169.2 km) via the M4 and N4 to Carrick-on-Shannon.

2pm – Check-in at the Carrickcraft base, and meeting our cruiser for the weekend. (Top tip: Park your car near the jetty for handy loading/unloading.)

Shannon CarickcraftFirst sight of our weekend home, Carrickcaft's Kilkenny class E22 cruiser. Journey time has been so instant the kids are still in school uniform!

2.30pm – Before we set sail, it's straight to restaurant #1: lunch at the Oarsman!

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123Seven generations of proud hospitality keeping in Carrick-on-Shannon. A tradition stretching back to 1870 (above and below), The Oarsman is a fine spot for a fortifying pre-cruise lunch and it's round the corner from Carrickcraft's marina

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123

4.30pm – We get an instructional tour of our Kilkenny Class cruiser and a helpful driving test from our Carrickcraft guide, Padraig. And there's a bit to know: If you're reversing, steer left if you want to go right. Gottit?

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123Padraig from Carrickcraft gave us a thorough guide of our self-drive cruiser. No experience (or licence) is necessary to rent a cruiser as full training is given 

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123There are rules of the river and also rules onboard. This sign behind the loo made the kids chuckle

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123 This layout plan gives the broad outline of the Kilkenny’s effective accommodation, but the forward cabin is best with no engine noise  Illustration: Carrickcraft

5pm – We depart Carrick-on-Shannon and head downstream under the bridge to Jamestown, because restaurant #2 has been booked for at least a fortnight.

Carrick jamestown 1Downstream from Carrick-on-Shannon to our first port of call at Jamestown, both in Co Leitrim, served as a good shake-down on our first evening afloat Courtesy: Shannon Leisure Development Company Ltd

Nav sign Jamestown 0147Navigation for cruisers is not possible downstream of Jamestown

current river shannon 2620The strong flow is visible on the marker poles

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123We moored at Ardanaffrin Bridge, on the Jamestown Canal (we're the cruiser nearest the camera). This mooring is round the corner from Jamestown but probably the safest because it's away from a fast-flowing stretch of river at Jamestown Bridge. The village is a pleasant 15–minute walk from here

6pm – 'Watch out for the strong flow on the river at the end of the navigation.' Whoa, they're not joking! No room at the inn at Jamestown Quay thanks to a couple of what looks like long term harbour hoggers but we find a spot round the corner and berth up for the night on the nearby Jamestown Canal at Ardanaffrin Bridge. Glad of the company of one other cruiser, it feels lovely but a tad isolated.

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123On foot – some onboard hi-viz jackets would be handy...

Jamstown sign 0125Jamestown used to be on the main Sligo–Dublin road (N4) and was known for the narrow pillars of the arch of the old town gate that straddles the road in the centre of the village

6.20pm – It's Shank's Mare to the village. Just need to remember where we parked the boat for the return journey in the dark! No street lights round here...

6.30pm – It's anicent Ireland time as we pass through the town gates. No wonder Roscommon marketeers use the phrase 'the beating heart of Ireland's past' to describe the place.

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123One of Jamestown's two pubs, The Arch Bar

6.40pm – We're at the Arch Bar for pre-dinner pool and pints.

7.10pm – Leitirm's gourmet capital is found in The Cottage, a modestly named and presented restaurant. Inside, a giant portrait of the owner's father sitting astride a giant ox is an early clue that there's more than cottage pie on offer here...

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123The Cottage Restaurant. Make sure to book in advance – they come from as far as Sligo to sample this cuisine

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123With starters served in cigar boxes, Chef Sham and manager Lee Hanifa pull out all the stops in a restaurant that uses only locally sourced produce. What a first night treat!

10.30pm – Taxi! No Uber or Hailo here. It turns out to be a bit of a wait for Jamestown's only cabbie, CK (Tel: 086 0772020). It's a €7 fare well spent, though, as we avoid walking on some pitch-black switch back roads (no paths, no street lights).

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123A great night comes to end – CK Taxi is well worth the fare... if you can get him. 

11pm – Goodnight!

Saturday – Upstream to Lough Key Forest Park and Boyle

Thomas coiling rope 0276Learning about mooring ropes. Between casting off, steering, navigating and negotiating locks, there are plenty of new skills to learn

8am – Good morning! After some early morning reconnaisance on foot, we like the idea of a short detour to explore Jamestown Canal. 

 Jamestown canal 0165

8.40am – It's like stepping back in time. Solitude. 

 Jamestown canal sign 0168Although the sign is erected to the memory of a past generation, the canal is relatively new in the context of the Shannon's 5,000-year history

8.50am Immersed in this Victorian feat of engineering, it's left to Thomas to ask: "Dad, how are we gonna turn around?"

8.55am We manage a six–point turn. The E22 is pretty manoeuvrable. Phew! And in the process, we catch the unmistakable glimpse of a kingfisher flying alongside us.

9am – Turning back on ourselves, we head upriver on our journey to Lough Key Forest Park.

carrick Eldin 2We headed back upriver past Carrick and through Lough Eidin into the Boyle River on our way to Lough Key in Co Roscommon, a very manageable voyage of two or three hours in total  Courtesy: Shannon Leisure Development Company Ltd

9.15am – This shower will pass! The heavens open and we're glad we've got umbrellas on the flybridge.

windscreen wipers boatIt wasn't all plain sailing....we got some heavy showers

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123There's a pan and a gas hob that's only waitin' for the kettle and the rashers....

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123Is there any finer way to enjoy a rasher sandwich than with a nice cup of tea sauntering down the Shannon, master of your own ship?

9.30am – Breakfast as we cruise: rasher sandwiches and a hot cup of tea served on deck. Can you beat it?

10am – Pitstop at Carrick to, ahem, check the car's locked!

10.05am – (Car now locked.)

10.30am – There's a knack to this navigation thing, but it's a game for all the family as we plot our course upriver. We remember to keep the red buoys to our left and the green on our right upstream. Downstream it's the opposite, green on left and red on right.

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123Every day's a school day on the river....the kids enjoyed rudiments of navigation in the well laid-out captain's handbook

11am – Into Lough Eidin. This beautiful lake hit the headlines in 2000 when President Mary McAleese applied for planning persmission to build a lakeside house, outbuildings and a jetty here. We can see why, it's a tranquil place...just don’t scour the books looking for it by that name because it's more locally known as 'Drumharlow Lake' and it's a top fishing spot.

11.20am – Into the Boyle River.

boats river shannon 2654Navigation gets a bit tighter on the Boyle River – especially if you meet oncoming boats

cootehall hedge sign 2664What other village has a topiary sign for its boating traffic? COOTEHALL shrubs are clipped into shape on a bend in the river

11.40am – Cootehall. What an enchanting bend in the river that invites further exploration of John McGahern's hometown, but the quay has already got boats on it. Another jetty is in a state of collapse. Sadly, we sail on.

11.50am – Oakport Lough.

oakport lake leitrim 2860Oakport Lough is located six miles northeast of Boyle beside the village of Cootehall and known for its excellent angling. Fishing is into 10 feet of water and the lake has bream to 5 lbs, roach rudd and hybrids

Knockvicar Boyle river 2691A bridge at Knockvicar. Keep to the marked navigation arch (seen here on the right) when negotiating bridges

12 noon – We pass Knockvicar and Tara Marina and continue on the winding Boyle river.

12.30pm – Clarendon Lock, with its picturesque weir, is a very pretty Shannon setting.

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123Clarendon Lock at Knockvicar is the only lock on the Boyle River. Thomas is in charge of the bow rope, while Isabel is on stern rope duty

Lough key 3After the narrow navigating up the Boyle River the magic of Lough Key awaits  Courtesy: Shannon Leisure Development Company Ltd

12.35pm – Call from Seamus in Bike Trails: "Are ye still coming?" "See ya in 40 minutes, Seamus."

Lough Key cruisers 2798Shannon cruisers enter Lough Key – September is a popular month on the Lough

12.50pm – We spot The Moorings restaurant and a handy adjacent marina. Could this be a lakeside dining detour tonight?

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123This restaurant looked like a lovely spot but there's no where nearby to park unless you're a berth holder at a nearby marina

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123 

1pm – Making our way across the lough, we pass several small islands, then it's a 90 degree left for our overnight berth. It's like we've sailed into a scene from Lord of the Rings with forests, islands, castles and turrets on every headland!

lough key castle 2764There is reference to Castle Island in the annals of 'Lough Ce' as early as 1184. During this time the park was called Moylurg and the Kings of Moylurg were the McDermotts. The McDermott’s official residence was on The Rock, now called Castle Island

1.10pm – Mooring at Lough Key Forest Park Marina.

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123The 50–berth marina has all the facilities to go with it, including a shower block. But you need a smart card to access it

lough Key forest 0383Some great forest trails

1.45pm – We saddle up with Seamus and we're on our way on an 8km bike trail.

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123Hiring bikes is convenient at Lough Key. We hired four on site at €30 for an hour or so. The cycle trail is well suited to families with kids bikes, bikes with child seats or tag-a-longs. As these trails are completely traffic-free, they are a great place to teach your children to cycle and grow their confidence on a bike. There are approximately 8km of traffic-free trails in the park

3pm – What a ride! Tummies rumbling, we're ready for a snack at the Woodland Cafe.

4pm – Time for an afternoon nap on board for some, a spot of fishing for others. And is there time for Zipit? Certainly.

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123Feelings of trepidation as you climb and swing from tree to tree on the Zipit line

6.45pm – We take the Ranger Service for the 3km shuttle into Boyle. We're the only passengers. 

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123The Ranger timetable 

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123Efforts are being made to connect local moorings at Lough Key and the Boyle Marina with the town. A 15–minute run into town on the Ranger Shuttle costs just €1 per head. Our driver gave us a guided tour too!

6.55pm – Our bus driver points out Chris O'Dowd's family home. We're closing in on Moone Boy now!

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123Boyle is a large, modern town with a rich history, much of it centred around the King family, one of the wealthiest families in 17th-century Ireland. Boyle is keen to make more of its riverside location but this is limited because moorings are located well outside of the town

7pm – We arrive in Boyle and pick up supplies at Londis on the hill. Oops, forgot the carrier bag! But the shop owner offers to drive us back to the boat. It's typical of the warm welcome here.

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123

7.05pm – We head to Clarke's Bar and Restaurant in search of the 'Moone Boy Burger'. 

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123The Moone Boy Burger (It's got an egg on top) – we eventually found this massive patty at James Clarke's authentic Irish pub in Boyle town. It's not the only thing we got – there was a great welcome for boaters here, too

9.45pm – Waiting for the return shuttlebus at King House.

10pm – We arrive back at Lough Key Marina. Still the only passengers.

10.05pm – Back on board E22. Why can't we get this heating to work?

10.06pm – Brrr! Night, night!

Sunday - Downstream to Carrick–on–Shannon (and Dun Laoghaire)

8am – A spot of early morning fishin'?

lough key fisihng 2737Early morning spinning. We read that September is a great month for Pike but try as we might, there was not a sign. 'That's why it's called fishin' and not catchin', I tell Thomas...

9am – Feeding the ducks as we wait for the onsite cafe to open.

10am – Breakfast toasties in hand, we're heading for downstream for home. 

10.05am – Across Lough Key in autumn sunshine.

lough key sunrise 2731

11.40am – Back in Cootehall – and now there's a free quayside berth! Take it!

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123On a bend in the Boyle River, yet another picturesque spot appeared in front of us – except when we went ashore, we found it deserted. 

12 noon – We hop ashore to explore. The door is locked at McHenry's. Everyone's at Mass....

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123Even MJ Henry's was locked up. The only telltale sign of life was a community notice board with a plea from locals for 'a bustling riverside village for boaters on the Lough Key route'

Arch Bar Jamestown 0123Riverside tribute: Cootehall was home to John McGahern, one of the most important Irish writers of the latter half of the 20th century

12.10pm – Back aboard cruiser E22.

12.2pm – Enter Lough Eldin. A pair of swans take flight and fly alongside us for seemingly ages. Even enough time to grab the camera. It edges out yesterday's kingfisher as the wildlife highlight of the trip.

Swans Leitrim 2847

13.30pm – Return to Carrick-on-Shannon Marina, leaving E22 as we found her. 

carrickcraft kilkenny class cruiserThanks for the memories, E22!

4pm – We arrive home in Dublin. Time for homework and school in the morning...

What's the verdict?

Writing in the Sunday Times recently, columnist India Knight described how a friend holidayed just 40 minutes from where she lived. She concluded that the things we love doing are often familiar – and close to home. This Shannon trip proved this was also the case for us. From kingfisher spotting to tree-top advenure, this was an intrpeid voyage by our standards. We never expected to find such good times along the river, and we thoroughly enjoyed our three days afloat.

Useful links/telephone numbers: 

Published in Inland Waterways
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The Irish Coast Guard

The Irish Coast Guard is Ireland's fourth 'Blue Light' service (along with An Garda Síochána, the Ambulance Service and the Fire Service). It provides a nationwide maritime emergency organisation as well as a variety of services to shipping and other government agencies.

The purpose of the Irish Coast Guard is to promote safety and security standards, and by doing so, prevent as far as possible, the loss of life at sea, and on inland waters, mountains and caves, and to provide effective emergency response services and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The Irish Coast Guard has responsibility for Ireland's system of marine communications, surveillance and emergency management in Ireland's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and certain inland waterways.

It is responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue and counter-pollution and ship casualty operations. It also has responsibility for vessel traffic monitoring.

Operations in respect of maritime security, illegal drug trafficking, illegal migration and fisheries enforcement are co-ordinated by other bodies within the Irish Government.

On average, each year, the Irish Coast Guard is expected to:

  • handle 3,000 marine emergencies
  • assist 4,500 people and save about 200 lives
  • task Coast Guard helicopters on missions

The Coast Guard has been around in some form in Ireland since 1908.

Coast Guard helicopters

The Irish Coast Guard has contracted five medium-lift Sikorsky Search and Rescue helicopters deployed at bases in Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo.

The helicopters are designated wheels up from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours and 45 minutes at night. One aircraft is fitted and its crew trained for under slung cargo operations up to 3000kgs and is available on short notice based at Waterford.

These aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains of Ireland (32 counties).

They can also be used for assistance in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and aerial surveillance during daylight hours, lifting and passenger operations and other operations as authorised by the Coast Guard within appropriate regulations.

Irish Coastguard FAQs

The Irish Coast Guard provides nationwide maritime emergency response, while also promoting safety and security standards. It aims to prevent the loss of life at sea, on inland waters, on mountains and in caves; and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The main role of the Irish Coast Guard is to rescue people from danger at sea or on land, to organise immediate medical transport and to assist boats and ships within the country's jurisdiction. It has three marine rescue centres in Dublin, Malin Head, Co Donegal, and Valentia Island, Co Kerry. The Dublin National Maritime Operations centre provides marine search and rescue responses and coordinates the response to marine casualty incidents with the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Yes, effectively, it is the fourth "blue light" service. The Marine Rescue Sub-Centre (MRSC) Valentia is the contact point for the coastal area between Ballycotton, Co Cork and Clifden, Co Galway. At the same time, the MRSC Malin Head covers the area between Clifden and Lough Foyle. Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) Dublin covers Carlingford Lough, Co Louth to Ballycotton, Co Cork. Each MRCC/MRSC also broadcasts maritime safety information on VHF and MF radio, including navigational and gale warnings, shipping forecasts, local inshore forecasts, strong wind warnings and small craft warnings.

The Irish Coast Guard handles about 3,000 marine emergencies annually, and assists 4,500 people - saving an estimated 200 lives, according to the Department of Transport. In 2016, Irish Coast Guard helicopters completed 1,000 missions in a single year for the first time.

Yes, Irish Coast Guard helicopters evacuate medical patients from offshore islands to hospital on average about 100 times a year. In September 2017, the Department of Health announced that search and rescue pilots who work 24-hour duties would not be expected to perform any inter-hospital patient transfers. The Air Corps flies the Emergency Aeromedical Service, established in 2012 and using an AW139 twin-engine helicopter. Known by its call sign "Air Corps 112", it airlifted its 3,000th patient in autumn 2020.

The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which is responsible for the Northern Irish coast.

The Irish Coast Guard is a State-funded service, with both paid management personnel and volunteers, and is under the auspices of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. It is allocated approximately 74 million euro annually in funding, some 85 per cent of which pays for a helicopter contract that costs 60 million euro annually. The overall funding figure is "variable", an Oireachtas committee was told in 2019. Other significant expenditure items include volunteer training exercises, equipment, maintenance, renewal, and information technology.

The Irish Coast Guard has four search and rescue helicopter bases at Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo, run on a contract worth 50 million euro annually with an additional 10 million euro in costs by CHC Ireland. It provides five medium-lift Sikorsky S-92 helicopters and trained crew. The 44 Irish Coast Guard coastal units with 1,000 volunteers are classed as onshore search units, with 23 of the 44 units having rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) and 17 units having cliff rescue capability. The Irish Coast Guard has 60 buildings in total around the coast, and units have search vehicles fitted with blue lights, all-terrain vehicles or quads, first aid equipment, generators and area lighting, search equipment, marine radios, pyrotechnics and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Community Rescue Boats Ireland also provide lifeboats and crews to assist in search and rescue. The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the Garda Siochána, National Ambulance Service, Naval Service and Air Corps, Civil Defence, while fishing vessels, ships and other craft at sea offer assistance in search operations.

The helicopters are designated as airborne from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours, and 45 minutes at night. The aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, on inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains and cover the 32 counties. They can also assist in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and can transport offshore firefighters and ambulance teams. The Irish Coast Guard volunteers units are expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time of departing from the station house in ten minutes from notification during daylight and 20 minutes at night. They are also expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time to the scene of the incident in less than 60 minutes from notification by day and 75 minutes at night, subject to geographical limitations.

Units are managed by an officer-in-charge (three stripes on the uniform) and a deputy officer in charge (two stripes). Each team is trained in search skills, first aid, setting up helicopter landing sites and a range of maritime skills, while certain units are also trained in cliff rescue.

Volunteers receive an allowance for time spent on exercises and call-outs. What is the difference between the Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI? The RNLI is a registered charity which has been saving lives at sea since 1824, and runs a 24/7 volunteer lifeboat service around the British and Irish coasts. It is a declared asset of the British Maritime and Coast Guard Agency and the Irish Coast Guard. Community Rescue Boats Ireland is a community rescue network of volunteers under the auspices of Water Safety Ireland.

No, it does not charge for rescue and nor do the RNLI or Community Rescue Boats Ireland.

The marine rescue centres maintain 19 VHF voice and DSC radio sites around the Irish coastline and a digital paging system. There are two VHF repeater test sites, four MF radio sites and two NAVTEX transmitter sites. Does Ireland have a national search and rescue plan? The first national search and rescue plan was published in July, 2019. It establishes the national framework for the overall development, deployment and improvement of search and rescue services within the Irish Search and Rescue Region and to meet domestic and international commitments. The purpose of the national search and rescue plan is to promote a planned and nationally coordinated search and rescue response to persons in distress at sea, in the air or on land.

Yes, the Irish Coast Guard is responsible for responding to spills of oil and other hazardous substances with the Irish pollution responsibility zone, along with providing an effective response to marine casualties and monitoring or intervening in marine salvage operations. It provides and maintains a 24-hour marine pollution notification at the three marine rescue centres. It coordinates exercises and tests of national and local pollution response plans.

The first Irish Coast Guard volunteer to die on duty was Caitriona Lucas, a highly trained member of the Doolin Coast Guard unit, while assisting in a search for a missing man by the Kilkee unit in September 2016. Six months later, four Irish Coast Guard helicopter crew – Dara Fitzpatrick, Mark Duffy, Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith -died when their Sikorsky S-92 struck Blackrock island off the Mayo coast on March 14, 2017. The Dublin-based Rescue 116 crew were providing "top cover" or communications for a medical emergency off the west coast and had been approaching Blacksod to refuel. Up until the five fatalities, the Irish Coast Guard recorded that more than a million "man hours" had been spent on more than 30,000 rescue missions since 1991.

Several investigations were initiated into each incident. The Marine Casualty Investigation Board was critical of the Irish Coast Guard in its final report into the death of Caitriona Lucas, while a separate Health and Safety Authority investigation has been completed, but not published. The Air Accident Investigation Unit final report into the Rescue 116 helicopter crash has not yet been published.

The Irish Coast Guard in its present form dates back to 1991, when the Irish Marine Emergency Service was formed after a campaign initiated by Dr Joan McGinley to improve air/sea rescue services on the west Irish coast. Before Irish independence, the British Admiralty was responsible for a Coast Guard (formerly the Water Guard or Preventative Boat Service) dating back to 1809. The West Coast Search and Rescue Action Committee was initiated with a public meeting in Killybegs, Co Donegal, in 1988 and the group was so effective that a Government report was commissioned, which recommended setting up a new division of the Department of the Marine to run the Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (MRCC), then based at Shannon, along with the existing coast radio service, and coast and cliff rescue. A medium-range helicopter base was established at Shannon within two years. Initially, the base was served by the Air Corps.

The first director of what was then IMES was Capt Liam Kirwan, who had spent 20 years at sea and latterly worked with the Marine Survey Office. Capt Kirwan transformed a poorly funded voluntary coast and cliff rescue service into a trained network of cliff and sea rescue units – largely voluntary, but with paid management. The MRCC was relocated from Shannon to an IMES headquarters at the then Department of the Marine (now Department of Transport) in Leeson Lane, Dublin. The coast radio stations at Valentia, Co Kerry, and Malin Head, Co Donegal, became marine rescue-sub-centres.

The current director is Chris Reynolds, who has been in place since August 2007 and was formerly with the Naval Service. He has been seconded to the head of mission with the EUCAP Somalia - which has a mandate to enhance Somalia's maritime civilian law enforcement capacity – since January 2019.

  • Achill, Co. Mayo
  • Ardmore, Co. Waterford
  • Arklow, Co. Wicklow
  • Ballybunion, Co. Kerry
  • Ballycotton, Co. Cork
  • Ballyglass, Co. Mayo
  • Bonmahon, Co. Waterford
  • Bunbeg, Co. Donegal
  • Carnsore, Co. Wexford
  • Castlefreake, Co. Cork
  • Castletownbere, Co. Cork
  • Cleggan, Co. Galway
  • Clogherhead, Co. Louth
  • Costelloe Bay, Co. Galway
  • Courtown, Co. Wexford
  • Crosshaven, Co. Cork
  • Curracloe, Co. Wexford
  • Dingle, Co. Kerry
  • Doolin, Co. Clare
  • Drogheda, Co. Louth
  • Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin
  • Dunmore East, Co. Waterford
  • Fethard, Co. Wexford
  • Glandore, Co. Cork
  • Glenderry, Co. Kerry
  • Goleen, Co. Cork
  • Greencastle, Co. Donegal
  • Greenore, Co. Louth
  • Greystones, Co. Wicklow
  • Guileen, Co. Cork
  • Howth, Co. Dublin
  • Kilkee, Co. Clare
  • Killala, Co. Mayo
  • Killybegs, Co. Donegal
  • Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford
  • Knightstown, Co. Kerry
  • Mulroy, Co. Donegal
  • North Aran, Co. Galway
  • Old Head Of Kinsale, Co. Cork
  • Oysterhaven, Co. Cork
  • Rosslare, Co. Wexford
  • Seven Heads, Co. Cork
  • Skerries, Co. Dublin Summercove, Co. Cork
  • Toe Head, Co. Cork
  • Tory Island, Co. Donegal
  • Tramore, Co. Waterford
  • Waterville, Co. Kerry
  • Westport, Co. Mayo
  • Wicklow
  • Youghal, Co. Cork

Sources: Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

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