Lowtown CIC – Saturday March 19th
On Saturday March 19th, a fleet of boats that had been assembling from St Patrick’s Day in Robertstown, made the short journey to lock 19 (the new one!) at Lowtown. The fleet was hosted by Ian Brabazon and Leon Behan of Vita Marine for a start of season gathering. Vita and their team had done a wonderful job preparing the old chandlery for use as a base for our event. We had IWAI Kildare bunting and banners on hand to create that carnival atmosphere. All present from the very young to the very young at heart were treated to assorted nibbles courtesy of Giles and Jill and this was followed by the Ireland v England rugby match. When the ‘old enemy’ had been served their just desserts, we moved onto the main course of barbeque under the watchful eye of chef Jim Connolly. Vita also had some tempting deals for all boaters and many people went away with a bargain or two. Kildare IWAI was delighted once again to be joined by members of the HBA in advance of their departure for the Barrow and the Tall Ships in Waterford.

Easter Rally & Cruise in Company
Eleven boats travelled in glorious sunshine to take part in our Easter Rally and Cruise in Company. Arriving in Rathangan on Easter Saturday the fleet was made to feel very welcome by the local people, many of whom stated that it had been a long time since so many boats had chosen Rathangan as their destination. Kildare IWAI officers and members soon got to work assembling our portable Rally Headquarters and the Kildare bunting was once again flying freely.

After registration and a cheese and wine reception we were hosted by Ruth Conlon and The Burrow pub for a table quiz. After a judges inquiry (possibly as a result of too much wine earlier) winners were declared and the night continued quite late for many.

Somebody else who must have had a late night was the Easter Bunny as he left the eggs that surely were meant for the boats all over the towpath!  Luckily though, our secretary ensured that each rally participant received an ample supply of chocolate direct to their boat.

After breakfast on Easter Sunday the fleet cruised on to Bell Harbour in Monasterevin where the presence of the boats was also commented on favourably by many locals. The events of the day included an Easter Egg Hunt and the ever popular Kildare IWAI barbeque. The Endeavour Cup this year was awarded to Michael Kemp of Peacock for long service to Kildare IWAI. By nightfall Bell Harbour was a blaze of light and flags providing a fitting end to a different type of Rally. We hope to do something similar next Easter so keep in touch for more details.

Naas Canal Festival 2011 – a truly Spooktacular event!
Kildare IWAI closed its cruising season with its ever popular ascent to (or descent on) Naas harbour. This year’s event coincided with the Halloween bank holiday weekend and this theme was present for the duration of the event. Naas Canal Festival 2011 opened on Friday October 28th. Fifteen boats representing IWAI Kildare, Dublin, North Barrow, Lagan and the HBA arrived without too much trouble into Naas harbour assisted by IWAI volunteers and Jenny Blackford and her Waterways Ireland crew. The presence once again of large barges highlighted the need for regular maintenance and upgrade of lock gates and chambers on the line. Kildare IWAI continues to work with Waterways Ireland to improve this situation year on year for our Heavy Metal friends.

The festival headquarters were located in the old Canal Stores building which was made available by Kildare Youth Services and many thanks to them for their generosity. Even though the weather was largely good for late October, the availability of this wonderful building allowed those attending by boat to mingle with Naas natives and relate stories about our waterways heritage. On Friday evening Festival participants were joined by guests Cllr Seamie Moore and Cllr Anne Breen from Naas Town Council and Paddy Behan and Larry Breen from Naas Historical Society at a cheese and wine reception. The subject of the Corbally (Herbertstown) Branch of the canal was raised. The unstinting commitment of boaters to the re- opening of this fine stretch of waterway was evident and the Councillors present have promised to revisit the issue of the culverts currently blocking the navigation.

Saturday was a relaxed day to begin with and a number of attendees paid a visit to the Farmers Market in Naas town. Registration took place at lunchtime in the Canal Stores building accompanied by soup and home baked breads thanks to Teresa, Jill and Jenny. The Halloween theme was very much to the fore later on Saturday with a very tasty and highly entertaining fancy dress barbeque taking centre stage.  Guest chef for the evening was Jimimah (sorry Jim, couldn’t resist!)

Sunday morning saw a large group take a walk to Corbally Harbour to see recent works carried out by Waterways Ireland and Kildare IWAI volunteers. Some walkers thought that closer inspection of the canal bank was necessary and the results of this investigation are clearly visible in the photos below!

All agreed that the harbour could easily be maintained and plans are afoot for regular work parties in the coming months. This will further highlight the potential that a reopening of this waterway holds for the local community and waterway users alike. Our sincere thanks go to Waterways Ireland and to the landowners in Corbally for their support.

Festivities wrapped up with prizegiving and refreshments in the Townhouse Hotel Naas. Among the prizes awarded were the crew of Hazy Days for the furthest travelled and outgoing Treasurer Adele Picard was the recipient of the Mick Clinton perpetual award for service to Kildare IWAI as Chairperson and Treasurer over the last few years.

Kildare IWAI wishes to thank all the businesses who sponsored prizes for this year’s festival. Well done to all who made the journey by boat and to all members, potential members and non members who helped to make Naas Canal Festival 2011 one to remember. It truly was a Spooktacular event!

Prizewinners 2011

Best Dressed Boat Three Angles
Best Male Fancy Dress Batman – Mick Kinahan
Best Female Fancy Dress Jimimah – Jim Connolly
Scariest Face Reg Beattie
Furthest Travelled Hazy Days – Alastair & Muriel
Catering Team Jill, Jenny & Teresa
Best Newcomer Crew of Isolde
Best Canal Entrance Joe Rooney (see photo above)
Junior Awards Luke Keogh, Luke Rankin, Ailim, Martha & Mia Dolan
Milkybar Kid Alan Kelly
Mick Clinton Award Adele Picard

Christmas Walk 2011

“They came from far and wide, on a cold grey Thursday morning, to journey across the Liffey from Grand Canal Docks (GCD) in Ringsend to the renowned ‘Effin’ Bridge on the Royal Canal.”

Above could be a quote from a skippers log and it is no understatement I assure you; it was Cooold!! And the wind and waves in Grand Canal Docks caused a fine spray rising above the locks, soaking everyone who crossed them. As well as members from Dublin, Kildare and Powerboat IWAI, other IWAI members and the HBA were represented.  Some walked, some were in boats.  We extend our thanks to all skippers, who found room for guests on board.

The flotilla was launched into GCD at the slip near the Graving Docks before being locked down into the Liffey by Mark Clarke of Waterways Ireland.  It was a great sight to watch these fast craft powering up the river, towards the Samuel Beckett Bridge.  A short while later, they entered the Spencer flood lock and then made their way onto the Royal, to the reason for this trip, the official naming ceremony of ‘Effin’ Bridge.

On their return, cold and some very wet, everyone was treated by Dublin IWAI to a variety of hot beverages and roasted chestnuts to ward off the chills, before returning to GCD.

This was a well organised event and the second such collaboration between Dublin and Kildare IWAI in recent years. The experience was thoroughly enjoyed by the over 150 participants.