The Blueway, the Greenway, and now… a ‘Brownway’!
With water levels dropping all summer and autumn following the warm dry weather we have experienced, the summit level of the Royal Canal has suffered a worse than usual drop in water level. At it’s worst it was only a couple of inches deep in the middle, transforming a waterway and healthy vibrant eco system into a virtually dry ditch. Sad for boaters, kayakers and fishermen but detrimental for fish stocks in the canal. The summit level is very slowly recovering with the help of water pumped from local rivers by Waterways Ireland.
Feed from the Lough Owel feeder was suspended early in the summer but we have still to get a full explanation from Waterways Ireland as to how the catastrophic loss of water was allowed to happen.
Below are pictures of Coolnahay Harbour at its worst level.
In picture 2, the gates are tied shut to prevent the wind from opening them. Water in the harbour is so low that there is no pressure on the gates.
In the bottom picture, a cruiser is aground stranded in the middle of the channel below the harbour. With only two feet of water in the middle of the channel it was stranded there for months.
Small Boat Rally 2018 – Mullingar Harbour
On the weekend of the 14-15th of April, we held our first Rally, the Mullingar Harbour Small Boat Rally 2018. Boats arrived throughout the previous week, it was great to see boats in the Harbour in Mullingar again. Support came from everywhere that we asked, members and locals alike could not have helped more. Mullingar RCCG supplied the marquee which was the venue for a wonderful barbeque on saturday night.
Sunday morning was very windy which put a stop to our plans to take small boats out on Lough Owel. The walk up the Feeder Line from the Harbour to Lough Owel went ahead as planned, with a stop-off at the Famine Cemetry for a talk by local historian Seamus O’Brien. Alongside the walkers, three kayaks paddled their way (against a current!) up the Feeder. Two, (Conor Nolan & myself, Denis Baker) making it all the way to Lough Owel, despite the unusually high water levels and hence, very low airdraft of several bridges along the way. The Rail Bridge being the lowest with about 18″ airdraft, was so tight that I had to slip into the water and push the kayak through. The enviably slim Conor Nolan emerged from the bridge still on board his kayak, having slid forward to lie in the leg well of the sit-on! The trip completed our Green & Silver journeys as the first people to boat up the Feeder Line since Tom Rolt’s inaugural journey in 1946.
Arriving at the lake we had lunch in the spectacular log clubhouse of Mullingar Sailing Club. Many thanks to them for allowing us in and providing refreshments. Our treasurer Judith Hearne spent the morning preparing an array of sandwiches and fancies which were welcomed by all after the morning’s walk, thanks Judith!
It was a great weekend and a good start for the Royal Canal Branch. Hopefully with increased support it will grow and grow.
HBA Royal Run
The HBA boats are making steady progress on their run down the Royal. They are heading for the Jamestown Festival on the last weekend of May and were in Mullingar Harbour for our Small Boat Rally on the weekend of 14-15th of April. Going has been good with water back up to normal levels. Waterways Ireland crews have been so helpful, manning locks and clearing the odd hazard, we thank them one and all!
Branch Burgee Launch
Appropriately, as we started our journey down the Royal Canal from Dublin, Jim O’Riordan (Chair: IWAI Dublin) arrived with delivery of our new burgees. IWAI Dublin very kindly sponsored the production of our first batch of burgees. It’s great to be flying our own flag now on the Royal and we thank IWAI Dublin for the kind gesture to help us kick-start our branch.
(left to right) Jim O’Riordan presents the first burgee to Denis Baker. Brendan Behan (seated) admires the package of burgees on his knee!
– LoveTheRoyal boat sticker
At our January meeting we launched a branch window sticker, for boat and car. The design features our slogan ‘LoveTheRoyal’ above a royal blue heart. In the center of the heart is QR code (which is a type of barcode). This allows the viewer to scan the QR code with their smart phone which will take them directly to our website’s home page.
Smart phones generally have an app such as NeoReader or QR Scanner already installed. These apps are used for reading different types of barcodes. Scanning this QR code will give the viewer the option to launch a web page and go directly to our website (presuming the user has mobile data available OR Wifi).
In the future, any publicity material we produce can feature the Royal Canal Branch QR code. It creates a direct link back to our website where we can offer further information on a given item. Whether it be a sticker, leaflet or signage, space is often limited. This allows us to elaborate fully on a subject, and brings more traffic to our website. It will hopefully attract further interest from prospective members.
– IWAI Royal Canal branch burgee
Also at our January meeting we agreed a burgee design which we hope to be in a position to put into production later this year, when funds allow. The burgee features the magnificent triple arched Boyne Aqueduct, which takes the Royal Canal over the River Boyne. In a ‘nod’ to the working history of the canal, a lone bargeman is shown traversing the aqueduct aboard his barge.
It’s great to have our own identity and we look forward to flying the Royal Canal flag when we are out and about on the waterways, and when visiting other branches’ events.
The Shortcut to the Shannon!
This was an expensive shortcut, a journey that no-one wants to make. Recent low water levels on the Royal Canal unfortunately culminated with this cruiser being craned out of the canal to avoid further damage, and transported by road back to the Shannon. A Green & Silver journey which was three quarters done had to be abandoned. The events have been well publicized and prompted two Letters’ to the Editor in the winter edition of IWN 2017.