Billy Beattie was a founding member of Kildare IWAI way back in 1984.
His love of the inland waterways saw him cruise the Shannon, the Barrow and the Canals for almost half a century where he became well known for his colourful personality and was christened “Billy Bee”. Billy had many boats but his pride was Sylvette which he shared with Dr Maurice Davin-Power.
Excerpt from Sylvette: the Shannon Tour of 1971 by Maurice Davin-Power.
“All is not well. There is an air of dumb insubordination amongst the crew. Their work was done in a patchy manner with sullen faces. Muttering in corners was observed by one officer. The Captain and Mate, having urgent business to discuss, proceeded to the Athlunkard Bar. Here they were delayed by sundry matters and on their return at 23.50 hrs, the crew had abandoned ship! Desertion was feared, but they returned at 03.00 hrs again the worst for drink! Action was not taken, least they be driven beserk, but it was noted in the log. All in all it was a night of fear.” Next day at 11.00hrs “A hang-dog crew, conscious of their guilt, went about their work in a tolerable fashion”.
© P Keogh 2013
Any time you pulled into a harbour and saw Blackthorn moored up you were assured of an evening of music and craic at the hands of Mick and Fran.
Mick was also a skilled story teller and often he would stop his music in response to some conversation and put the banjo down on his lap, lean foreword on it then chuckle and say
“Well…do you know something ….”
As a tribute to Mick, Kildare IWAI inaugurated the Mick Clinton Perpetual Plaque – an award for outstanding contribution to the IWAI.
© P Keogh 2013
Bob Sharpe was one of the original founders of Kildare IWAI.
He was an extremely energetic and persuasive man who played a significant part in protecting the heritage of our canals in Kildare. He was President of the IWAI and Chair of Kildare IWAI.
Such was his hard work that he was made Honorary President of Kildare IWAI.
In May 2001 at the Barbican Centre, London, the Duke of Kent presented Bob Sharpe with the prestigious RNLI Gold Medal Award. He was chairman of the Kildare Branch of the RNLI and up to the day of his passing, he was selling pins and raising money for this worthy cause.
© P Keogh 2013
Fr PJ Murphy
Father PJ Murphy (1935-1975) encouraged people in the local community to put effort into restoring the old Robertstown Grand Hotel as a canal museum and community centre and organised a very successful series of annual period banquets and canal festivals. Ruth Delany in ‘The Grand Canal of Ireland’ states: “There was considerable focus on the canal at nearby Robertstown and in 1974 the old 19th lock on the Barrow Line was reopened, making a convenient round trip for passengers on the Roberstown canal boat, up the Milltown feeder through the old 19th lock (Ballyteague) and back along the Barrow Line to Lowtown. The tragic death of the prime mover in all these activities, Father PJ Murphy, in a car accident on 8 November 1975, cast a great shadow over these efforts. ‘Robertstown has lost a revered pastor and inspired community leader’.
The photographs from this era, some seen in our Waterways Gallery – Robertstown Canal Festas 1965-1975, give an indication of the success of these events.
© EOL 2013
Dick Warner was always an explorer, a pioneer and an adventurer. Yet for a man who travelled widely from Botswana to Greenland and everywhere in between, Dick considered his 1991 journey along the Grand Canal and River Shannon from Dublin to Limerick aboard 45M, as ‘one of the most profoundly important journeys of my life’.
As a child of the sixties, Dick Warner was at school when CIE ceased commercial boat traffic on the canals. Some years later, he lived on a boat in Hazelhatch, at a time when this was considered very unusual. Later, Dick settled near Donadea, one of the most unspoilt and natural regions in Kildare. By the 1990s Dick was already a well-known environmentalist, writer and broadcaster but the five series of ‘Waterways’ ensured international recognition for a humble and selfless champion of our canals and rivers.
Dick held life membership of IWAI Kildare and he did so much to promote the use, without exploitation, of the Grand Canal in his beloved home county. He was a regular and visible supporter of IWAI Kildare events and campaigns including the reopening of the canal harbour in Naas in 2002. He did so much to put the potential of Ireland’s inland navigations in sharp focus. We have lost a unique champion who continuously highlighted the beauty and magic of slow tourism on our navigations.
© A Kelly 2017 ________________________________________________________________________________________________
In April 2021, it was with great sadness that we heard of the death of Pa Keogh, our former Vice Chair and PRO, following a serious illness. A lover of inland waterways, Pa will be remembered primarily for his fun-loving and outgoing personality and for his capacity for work on behalf of IWAI Kildare.
In 2009 along with a new committee and his wife Teresa, he helped regenerate the branch and organise numerous events. Together they approached many local contacts which we still maintain, arranged quizzes, darts competitions and fancy-dress competitions, designed IWAI Kildare t-shirts, bunting and mugs, photographed events and worked on this website, catered events and were in the thick of every boat rally and work party. In essence whenever some work needed to be done, Pa and his family were there to assist and organise.
The fun element Pa brought to the proceedings is remembered by many, because he was not only up for the craic, he was more often than not, responsible for generating it. This is attested by many of the photos on this website.
© N O’Dowda 2021