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Cork Take on Kilkenny - in Currachs

19th November 2018
 Ready to roll – the Naomhoga Chorcai flotilla assemble in Tinnahinch Lock at Graiguenamanagh Ready to roll – the Naomhoga Chorcai flotilla assemble in Tinnahinch Lock at Graiguenamanagh Photo: Jack O’Keeffe

The keen November sailors of Crosshaven, Dun Laoghaire, Howth and Bangor weren’t the only ones to get a bonus afloat from the weekend’s almost freakish sunshine before the first real hints of winter arrived today writes W M Nixon. The Cork city currach club Naomhoga Chorcai - a sub-group of that remarkable all-encompassing Leeside institution Meithal Mara – undertook a friendly invasion of the sublime yet often secret waterways of Ireland's southeast in the ideal weather window, and they neatly fitted in a complex yet worthwhile programme.

Graiguenamanagh bridge2 1Starting port – Graiguenamanagh in County Killkenny with its famous bridge. Photo: W M Nixon 

barrow trip map3Secret waterways – the Cork currachs rowed along the Kilkenny-Carlow border on the River Barrow from Graiguenamanagh to overnight at New Ross, and then went up-country next day by the River Nore to the hidden port of Inistiog

barrow trip okeeffe4Jack O’Keeffe at Tinnahinch on Tybot with Alan MacNamidhe’s guide dog Pippa

They had themselves a fine old time in the last of the Autumn colours, rowing down the River Barrow from Graiguenamanagh with four locks of the Barrow Navigation to negotiate before overnighting at New Ross, and then next day rowing back up the Barrow again in Sunday’s sunshine to take a left into the River Nore, with a brisk final pluck upstream to finish their inland voyaging at Inistioge.

barrow trip diamond5A new currach-rowing waterway is found deep in Ireland’s southeast. Photo: John Diamond

barrow trip6What’s to be found round the next bend in the river? There’s only way one way to find out….Photo: Jack O’Keeffe

With five currachs and organizer Jack O’Keeffe’s Drascombe Coaster Tybot as mother-ship to make up a tidy flotilla crewed by a total of 26 voluntary rowers plus Pippa, friendly guide-dog to blind oarsman Alan MacNamidhe, the logistics alone would have defeated many larger organisations.

But Naomhaga Chorcai seem to think as one, and act in unison and effortless co-operation to get boats and people here, there and wherever else is necessary with a minimum of fuss, leaving no trace.

barrow trip7Even a rusty railway bridge is brought to life by the vivid sunshine. Photo: Jack O’Keeffe

They have returned to Cork with an abiding impression of a region in which rich farmland is intercut by river valleys of perfection, the winding waterways enlivened every so often by going through steep tree-lined gaps in the hills.

The smooth running of this friendliest of invasions was made possible by warm hospitality in every place visited, and full encouragement from all background organisations involved, with Naomhoga Chorcai particularly wishing to thank Waterways Ireland, Kennedy Boutique Hotel, The Otter Inistioge, Donnelly’s Pub, Kilkenny CC, New Ross Marina, New Ross Port, Graiguenamanagh RC, and New Ross RC AOK Soup Kitchen.

Published in Historic Boats
WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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