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The Waterways Ireland Inter-Counties Sailing Championship 2011 is seeking more entries for the fresh water event taking place on June 26th in Dublin. So far six counties are entered but organiser Paul O'Riain is hoping to double that number for the inaugural event in three weeks time.

The championship will take place on the Grand Canal Dock a huge 44 acre dock in the heart of Dublin’s sparkling new Docklands.

Boats are being provided and event entry fee is only €200 for a team of 5 people, that’s only €40 per head with everything included so teams can just turn up and race. Boats will be available the day before for practice and familiarisation.

 The organisers still have places for the following counties, which have yet to formally enter a team;

Antrim, Armagh, Carlow, Cavan, Cork, Down, Dublin, Derry, Fermanagh, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, Tyrone, Waterford, Westmeath Wexford and Wicklow.

This is an open invitaton to sailors, clubs and teams keen to do battle & represent their country, to contact the organisers about entering their team and county without delay as entry is limited to 20 county teams only for this inaugural event

The Deadline for entry is in ten days time, Friday 10th of June 2011.

For more information please contact the event director Paul Ó Riain at; +353 (0) 87 23 55 900

Published in Inland Waterways
Waterways Ireland has been advised by Bord na Mona that an inspection will be undertaken of the rail bridge crossing the Shannon Navigation adjacent to the Shannonbridge power station using a mobile underbridge platform from the bridge deck.

The work will commence at 8 a.m on Tues June 7th and finish by 5 p.m. on Wed 8th Jun 2011.

To avoid any conflict with the mobile platform masters are instructed to use only the navigation span when it is indicated by the safety craft in attendance that it is safe to proceed.

The safety craft in attendance will fly a red flag, maintain a watch on Channel 16 marine VHF and exhibit an orange flashing light.

Masters are requested to note the advice of the safety marshals as to when it is safe to proceed through the bridge. It is hoped that disruption to river traffic will be minimal.

Further information may be had from Bord na Mona by contacting:
Ms Lisa Kealey
Civil Engineering Manager
Bord na Mona

Published in Inland Waterways
Does your club want to represent your county in the Waterways Ireland Inter-Counties Sailing Championship 2011?
Now is your chance to race the ISA SailFleet J80s against other county teams for the honour of being crowned the inaugural Waterways Ireland Inter-County Sailing Champions for 2011.
Teams of 4/5 crew (to include at least 1 female) are invited to represent the different counties of Ireland in this novel event, taking place at Grand Canal Dock in Dublin on Sunday 26 June.
Submit your team's entry by 25 May and receive a 50% discount.
To find out more and to register please e-mail Paul at [email protected] or visit for more details.

Does your club want to represent your county in the Waterways Ireland Inter-Counties Sailing Championship 2011?

Now is your chance to race the ISA SailFleet J80s against other county teams for the honour of being crowned the inaugural Waterways Ireland Inter-County Sailing Champions for 2011.

Teams of 4/5 crew (to include at least 1 female) are invited to represent the different counties of Ireland in this novel event, taking place at Grand Canal Dock in Dublin on Sunday 26 June.

Submit your team's entry by 25 May and receive a 50% discount.

To find out more and to register please e-mail Paul at [email protected] or visit for more details.

Published in Inland Waterways
Waterways Ireland has released revised navigation guides to the inland waterways; the Shannon Erne Waterway and the Erne System as well as two free guides; the What's On Guide 2011 and Publications Catalogue.

The Shannon-Erne Waterways Charts have been updated to take account of the upgrade works that have taken place in recent years along the navigation. The revision of the navigation guides for Lough Erne have been facilitated by the survey work undertaken recently on the lakes by Waterways Ireland in joint partnership with OSNI. Staff from Operations and the Inspectorate have also been closely involved in the revisions. The price of the new guides remains unchanged.


The new inland waterways publications

The Whats On 2011 is a free guide to all the events taking place along the waterway corridors in 2011. The Publications Catalogue (free) highlights the publications Waterways Ireland has for sale and for free with Navigation, History and Activity sections covering a wide range of interests. A photographic book for Lough Erne has just been published and is also for sale through Waterways Ireland.
All the publications are available from the Waterways Ireland webshop or from retailers, hospitality outlets and Tourist Information Centres along the navigations.

Published in Inland Waterways
27th April 2011

Shannon Navigation

The mighty Shannon, the longest river in Ireland, was once the commercial backbone of Ireland. Today the river and its lakes are a bustling, colourful navigation with busy harbours, peaceful bays, lively towns and fascinating heritage and historical sites – it is a treasure waiting to be discovered. For all the latest news on Inland Waterways click here.
Published in Inland Waterways
27th April 2011

The Lower Bann

The Lower Bann Navigation is a navigable river between Lough Neagh and Coleraine. For all the latest Inland Waterways news click here. With a fall of just 12.5 metres along its 60km length, there are just five locks, leaving open stretches of water which make it popular with watersports enthusiasts, anglers and cruisers. Careful zoning ensures that all activities are conducted with safety and enjoyment in mind.
Published in Inland Waterways
27th April 2011

Grand Canal

The Grand Canal is one of Ireland's greatest engineering achievements. For all the latest Inland Waterways news click here. In the 18th century it was essential for industry; today it is just as important for leisure. From the cityscape of Dublin to the wide open spaces in the midlands, it remains a peaceful stretch of water enjoyed by walkers, boaters and anglers alike.
Published in Inland Waterways
27th April 2011

The Erne System

The Erne System comprises the unique island dotted expanses of the Upper Lough, the mountain fringed waters of the Lower Lough and, at its heart the island town of Enniskillen. For all the latest Inland Waterways news click here. It is a truly rural, unspoilt and tranquil leisure-oriented expanse, for boating enthusiasts as well as game & coarse anglers, and it offers opportunity for a variety of watersports.
Published in Inland Waterways

I started off this column in the last issue by talking about the influence of increased rainfall on inland waterways infrastructure and its users. I wasn't expecting a record-breaking deluge, but that's what we got in November.

I live near the old Limerick Navigation, which was bypassed and abandoned when Ardnacrusha was built. Since then, the old route gets the first 10 cubic metres of water per second and Ardnacrusha gets the next 400. If there is anything left over, it's sent down our way.

And during the floods, there was a lot left over. I had always wondered what the water levels on the old navigation were like; these two photos, taken on the Park Canal in Limerick, tell the story.

But while my antiquarian interest was being gratified, people upstream were being flooded out of their homes and businesses. On Lough Derg, owners moved boats; the Killaloe Coast Guard moved boats; marina staff moved boats. And water levels continued to rise.

Waterways Ireland issued regular updates. An embankment slippage closed the Lough Allen Canal; Albert Lock and the Jamestown Canal had to be closed to navigation. And then the Clarendon, Roosky, Athlone and Pollboy locks had to be closed, and it was not possible to pass through Lock 36 between the Shannon and the Grand Canal. Further east, the Grand Canal near Sallins was affected by flood remedial works.

On the Erne, spilling of excess water from Ballyshannon dam meant faster currents in narrow river sections. Many fixed jetties were under water. The consequent damage required closure of 13 jetties on Lower Lough Erne and eight on the Upper Lough. Several navigation markers were damaged, as were pump-out holding tanks at Galloon and Carrybridge.

On Lough Neagh, the canal entrance to the Bann at Toomebridge was heavily silted; dredging had to await improved weather.

Sarsfield Lock in Limerick had to be closed for maintenance (although the Abbey River was impassable anyway). There is no telling how much damage the floods did: the photo shows Derg Marina at Killaloe, where staff had worked valiantly to look after the boats, but theirs was not the only marina to suffer. Incidentally, the planning application for a major development at the site has been withdrawn.

Those who worked to save lives, structures, houses, businesses and, yes, boats during the floods deserve thanks: that includes staff of the Coast Guard, WI and ESB, local authorities and marinas, as well as many boaters and doubtless lots of other people. But some younger folk had fun during the floods: here are kayakers in Limerick at the Curraghgour Falls standing wave.

WI warnings welcome
Some years ago, I was told that Waterways Ireland could not advise boaters not to go boating. That reluctance has certainly been overcome, and rightly so. WI didn't just inform people about the lock closures; it issued warnings throughout the period, progressing from reminders ...
Masters and owners are reminded that, following periods of prolonged rainfall, high flow rates, increased current speeds and water turbulence especially in the vicinity of bridges, weirs, locks, flood gates and other infrastructure will be hazardous to craft and persons on or near the navigation. Air draft at bridges will be reduced as water levels rise also.

... through information ...
Waterways Ireland wishes to advise Masters and Owners that due to the continuing flood conditions that aids to navigation such as buoys, perches and beacons may be totally submerged or have carried away to the extent that the navigable channels are no longer discernable, making all navigation hazardous.

... to sensible advice:
Waterways Ireland advises against navigating at present due to high water levels and the associated difficulties in manoeuvring vessels in the high flow rates. It even issued advice about the icy conditions that succeeded the floods.

What is needed now is a way of getting WI advice to people who are actually on the river: perhaps an electronic equivalent of the British Environment Agency's Strong Stream warning boards.

Planned winter work
The water levels have gone down, the days are lengthening and the work goes on. This listing does not take account of the repairs required after the floods.

On Upper Lough Erne, Waterways Ireland is improving the mooring jetties, slipways and car-parks at Corradillar and Derryadd and the jetties at Naan Island.

On the Shannon, Clarendon Lock at Knockvicar, at the entrance to Lough Key, was to have its lockhouse refurbished. Roosky Bridge was to be closed to boats for maintenance and refurbishment.

A floating 76m boom is being installed above the weir in Athlone to ensure that boats won't be drawn over the weir. A gap has been left for canoeists. There are expected to be no environmental impacts on fish or other wildlife from the installation or operation of the boom. Waterways Ireland has also sought tenders for booms to be installed in Counties Antrim, Galway, Derry, Longford and Roscommon.

Major work is under way at Killaloe on Lough Derg, with 250m of new floating moorings being positioned outside the canal wall above the bridge. The wall itself is being repaired and will have a 450m walkway along it. Flow control gates, with a pedestrian bridge providing access to the walkway, will be installed at the northern end of the canal to protect the wall and banks. To allow the wall to be repaired, boats (including sunken boats) will have to be removed from the canal.

In Dublin, the walls of Grand Canal Dock (Ringsend Basin) are being repaired at Hanover Quay (north side) and Charlotte Quay (south side). That requires dredging of (probably contaminated) material, which can't be sent to landfill in Ireland, underwater cleaning of the walls and repair with 100mm of micro-concrete coating.

The Grand Canal is being dredged between Locks 1 and 5 and the Royal between Locks 1 and 6, paid for by the National Development Plan. Sediment and rubbish will be transported to 'licensed disposal facilities'. This dredging will make it easier for boats to get through Dublin once the Royal Canal is reopened. Whenever that is...

Grand Canal
On the Grand Canal, a leak had to be repaired between Locks 29 (Ballycowan) and 30 (Rahan) and bank repairs were required between Henry Bridge and Ponsonby Bridge (Locks 13 to 14). Down the Barrow Line, the stretch between Locks 21 (Ballyteague) and 22 (Glenaree) was to be dredged.

Shannon-Erne Waterway
On the Shannon-Erne Waterway, Ardrum Lock was closed for maintenance and Corraquill to have a floating landing jetty installed. After the floods, the closure of Ballyconnell and Tirmactiernan Locks was announced.

Shannon Harbour
Waterways Ireland has given notice that, from 1 March 2010, it intends to implement the provisions of SI No 24/1988: Canals Act, 1986 Bye Law (25 ,1 (d)) on all hard-edged moorings in the Shannon Harbour area (between 35th Lock and Griffith Bridge). The effect will be to ban mooring at the same place (or within 500 metres thereof) for more than five days without a permit. The intent is that the improved facilities will be kept free for visiting boats. WI has said that vessels should not double or triple park so that the centre channel can be kept clear. Offending vessels and those without permits will be moved.

Waterways People
The Past President of the IWAI, Brian Cassells, has been awarded an OBE for services to IWAI. A passionate advocate of the restoration of the Ulster Canal, Brian is a historian of the waterways and has recently published By the Shores of Lough Neagh.

Victor Hamill, who was Chairman of the River Bann and Lough Neagh association, died recently in Coleraine. He was Secretary of Bann Rowing Club and was also active in Coleraine Harbour Commissioners, the Lough Neagh Advisory Committee and the RNLI. He died after suffering a heart attack while rowing on the Bann with his brother, Norman.

Dick Fletcher, founder of the Galley cruising restaurants at New Ross, died recently. Having started with the M V Ross, Dick later bought the St Ciaran and the St Brendan, which CIE had used on the Shannon. As well as keeping these historic vessels going, he also provided many people with their first sight of the glorious scenery on the tidal Nore and Barrow.

A rub of the green
In its report on the grounding of an Emerald Star hire-cruiser on Lough Derg in 2006, the Marine Casualty Investigation Board said:

Waterways Ireland should, in consultation with the Maritime Safety Directorate, establish a buoyage system for inland waterways, which is internationally recognized by all users of the waterways both national and foreign.

Waterways Ireland has now announced that the Shannon system will change its starboardhand marks from black to green. The change is to be phased in, with the stretch from Portumna Bridge to Meelick Lock the first to be changed.

No announcement has been made about the implications for the Erne system.

New workboats
Waterways Ireland is seeking tenders for several new workboats. One is for a 12m low-wash steel boat to be used on the Shannon-Erne Waterway. It is to have a single box-cooled diesel-electric hybrid engine, a bowthruster and an onboard generator. It must also have a low wheelhouse, welfare and toilet facilities and a deck crane.

WI also wants a weed cutter/harvester for the canals and two more weed-cutting boats for use on 'various canals and waterways'. These two are to have heated weatherproof cabs, keel cooled engine and hydraulic systems and twin trailing knives.

Published in Afloat February 2010

Published in Brian Goggin

We spent the first fortnight in July travelling up the Shannon and back. It rained on most days, but there were compensations

We passed down through Shannonbridge just a week before its chimneys were demolished. I was sorry to lose them. They could be seen from a long way up- and down-stream and from the River Suck. And they were emblematic of the Irish midlands and of the important role of turf in the provision of Irish energy. The turf trade was at least as important to the Irish waterways as the coal trade was to the British, and some of the Shannon steamers even used turf as fuel. I'm glad, therefore, I took a photo before the demolition.

Carrickcraft to the rescue
Moored in Dromod on a miserably wet and windy evening, we saw a Carrickcraft cruiser aground on a shoal. It appeared to be well inside the relevant marker, although visibility was so poor that the driver might have been forgiven. The photo is not very clear, but it does show what conditions were like.

The speed of Carrickcraft's response was impressive. Even though it was a Saturday, presumably their busiest day with new hirers going out, they launched a dory at Dromod within the hour and were attempting to tow the cruiser off. The dory didn't have the weight, though, so the Carrickcraft crew took out a second cruiser, and that did the job. Within half an hour of launching the dory, the crew had the grounded cruiser safely moored within the harbour. Which was just as well: at 2am the barometer was showing 988. I'm sure that rescuing grounded boats is all part of the day's work for Carrickcraft crews, but nonetheless it was great to see that kind of efficiency in action.

Incidentally, on Lough Derg an Emerald Star hire-boat rescued a private boat that had a fuel problem on a windy day: the hirer towed the other boat into the Castle Harbour at Portumna.

WI moves on Shannon
Waterways Ireland's continuing investment in the Shannon was shown in the arrival of its new workboat for the North Shannon, the Inis Cealtra. Built in Killybegs to a new design, it was sailed down the coast, in 30 hours non-stop, and up the Shannon Estuary through Limerick: its dimensions (22m x 5.6m x 0.98m) had been set so that it could get through Ardnacrusha.

Inis Cealtra has a pusher bow and four ballast tanks to allow trim to be adjusted. The air draught is low enough to cater for all but extreme high water levels. Twin spud-legs are carried on the reinforced load-bearing deck.

Power is from twin Caterpillar C3056TA engines developing 185hp at 2,100rpm; conventional shafts and propellers provide a cruising speed of 7 knots and a bollard pull of 3.5 tons. There is a hydraulic bow-thruster. The fuel tanks hold 7,400 litres.

The boat has an 11m reach Guerra deck crane with Kranskan marine crane safety indicator, a Caterpillar 30 kVA generator and a 270-litre air compressor, which powers air tools in the workshop. The boat has a toilet and shower; the deckhouse has a kitchen and dining room as well as the wheelhouse.

Rental traffic continues to slide
My impression, as we pottered up and down the Shannon, was that traffic was down, and that hire-boat traffic was down even more than private-boat traffic. The Waterways Ireland traffic figures for the Shannon, to the end of June, support that view.

It has to be pointed out, of course, that WI can record only those boats that pass through locks and fixed bridges: boats that spend all their time on lakes, for instance, may never be recorded. However, as the same limitation applies every year, the figures can show the trends, and they are downward. Here are the totals (private plus hire) for the first six months of each year from 2002 through 2009:

I haven't got the breakdown between private and hired for the early years, but from 2006 onwards the hire-boat proportion has declined significantly from 69% (2006) through 67% (2007) and 64% (2008) to only 57% (2009). Again, these figures cover only the first six months of the year.

Rebranding the waterways
The traffic figures show that cruising — whether on private or on hired boats — is declining in importance on the Shannon. The numbers of small fast boats and jetskis and increasing; there has so far been little formal provision for them, but some owners of such boats have looked after themselves.

The problem is that some of these boaters are both new to the waterways and seemingly unaware of the rules. We saw the results when a four-wheel-drive vehicle launched a speedboat at the slip at Portrunny. The boat (which was not any of those shown in the photo) was driven into the harbour and a waterskier sat on the pontoons; the boat started towing, at high speed, from there, creating a large wash and a danger to anyone else who might have been moving in the harbour.

There are other new categories of users, notably the owners of motor-homes: WI harbours provide them with the perfect mix of cheap sites with good facilities (showers and toilets) and even (if they like boats) interesting things to look at.

With other groups, though, Waterways Ireland is both organising new users and exerting its authority over old ones. I was surprised to find an angling dory bearing a Shannon Navigation registration number: the size of its engine meant that it should be registered, but I had not realised that anglers were complying.
In attracting new users, WI's sponsorship of the 'Discover' days in Athlone and Carrick-on-Shannon is particularly commendable; perhaps we'll get one in O'Briensbridge next year. But the big event on the Shannon seemed to be the Athlone Triathlon, which involves swimming, running and cycling races. It would be nice to see an all-water triathlon developed, perhaps involving rowing, sailing and swimming or, in Limerick (where different propulsion methods were used over the falls), poling, paddling and swimming.

Waterways Ireland planned work
I am delighted to see that Waterways Ireland has issued a notice calling for tenders for dredging the Grand Canal Circular Line in Dublin. The work will 'remove all excess bed material above original design bed level,' which suggests that Waterways Ireland is seriously planning to encourage more boat traffic through Dublin. It may even be that WI has been convinced of the merits of promoting the 'Irish Ring': the round trip on the Grand, the Royal and the Shannon from Clondra to Shannon Harbour.

I note that the tender calls for 'the transportation of material from site to an agreed traffic management plan, with the full compliance Dublin City Council requirements'. No doubt that will be done by water, thus avoiding all traffic problems.

Incidentally, while I'm talking about the Grand Canal in Dublin, I must mention the parking of the weedboats. WI keeps them under towpathless bridges to keep them safe from the attentions of the less enlightened of the citizenry. That is quite understandable. But when a boat is known to be on its way, the weedboats should be shifted in advance: otherwise there can be a delay to the passage through some of the less salubrious areas.

Anyway, back to planned works. WI is also seeking tenders for repairs to the quay at Graiguenamanagh, demolishing part of the old wall and replacing it with a reinforced concrete wall, faced with 'selected ashlar masonry' and re-pointed as directed.

Finally, WI is considering extending navigation to Lough Oughter, upstream of Belturbet on the Erne. There is to be a Lough Oughter Navigation Plan, with many laudable aims, which will be 'implemented with medium and long-term goals for the extension of the inland waterway network to include the development of the Lough Oughter Complex. The Plan, its objectives and its goals will be re-evaluated in 2013.'

In other words, there is no immediate prospect of the extension of navigation, but WI has drawn up a Draft Consultation Scoping Report for the Strategic Environmental Assessment for the Lough Oughter Navigation Plan. It can be downloaded from the WI website (see 'Lough Oughter' under 'Navigation Information') and WI is seeking comments.

Published in Afloat September/October 2009

Published in Brian Goggin
Page 27 of 32

The Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) Information

The creation of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) began in a very low key way in the autumn of 2002 with an exploratory meeting between Denis Kiely, Jim Donegan and Fintan Cairns in the Granville Hotel in Waterford, and the first conference was held in February 2003 in Kilkenny.

While numbers of cruiser-racers were large, their specific locations were widespread, but there was simply no denying the numerical strength and majority power of the Cork-Dublin axis. To get what was then a very novel concept up and running, this strength of numbers had to be acknowledged, and the first National Championship in 2003 reflected this, as it was staged in Howth.

ICRA was run by a dedicated group of volunteers each of whom brought their special talents to the organisation. Jim Donegan, the elder statesman, was so much more interested in the wellbeing of the new organisation than in personal advancement that he insisted on Fintan Cairns being the first Commodore, while the distinguished Cork sailor was more than content to be Vice Commodore.

ICRA National Championships

Initially, the highlight of the ICRA season was the National Championship, which is essentially self-limiting, as it is restricted to boats which have or would be eligible for an IRC Rating. Boats not actually rated but eligible were catered for by ICRA’s ace number-cruncher Denis Kiely, who took Ireland’s long-established native rating system ECHO to new heights, thereby providing for extra entries which brought fleet numbers at most annual national championships to comfortably above the hundred mark, particularly at the height of the boom years. 

ICRA Boat of the Year (Winners 2004-2019)


Who is Your Sailor of the Year 2020?
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ICRA Nationals 2021

The date for the 2021 edition of the ICRA National Championships is 3-5 September at the National Yacht Club on Dublin Bay.

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