Start of Season Table Quiz – a Kildare scandal

We decided to kick off the 2015 season with an event in Sallins. On March 21st, the Lock 13 Pub hosted a very enjoyable Family Table Quiz. The Question Master for the evening posed a range of questions that did not disappoint (and guaranteed some healthy banter over answers).  Despite the fact the event clashed with Ireland’s final Six Nations Rugby game, we still managed a healthy turn out of boaters and non-boaters.  The prize was generously sponsored by Ger Loughlin of and consisted of a half-day cruise on the Grand Canal for up to 10 people.  When the scores came in it turned out, that Ger Loughlin and Team had won the prize! (no fix I assure you).  Given that many present already had boats to mess about in, Ger and Co decided to present the prize instead to Fergus Carpenter and his family.  Fergus is a resident of Sallins, chairs the Sallins Community Council and is a great supporter of IWAI Kildare and its aims for greater use of the waterways’ corridors in Kildare.  The boats will be back in Sallins soon, watch this space….

Easter Rally 2015

Originally planned as a three way Rally in Vicarstown, Co Laois, IWAI Barrow were unable to participate due to imminent lock works at Bagnelstown. IWAI Kildare and North Barrow ploughed ahead to put together an interesting programme of events over the weekend for this traditional event.

The boats began to arrive and settle in on Friday evening and Saturday morning. Fifteen boats registered for the Rally including canal boat 31M, recently purchased for renovation by Philip and Orla Crean of Barrowline Cruisers. We wish Philip and Orla well as they begin this new journey with 31M.  On Saturday afternoon, the Rally participants travelled to nearby Athy to visit the Heritage Centre.  This excellent event was organised by Barry Keatley (IWAI North Barrow) and I would highly recommend that anyone with an interest in history or heritage, visit the centre.  With displays on the history of Athy, Shackelton’s expeditions, World War I, there really was something for everyone.

Evening entertainment took place in the comfort of the Vicarstown Inn.  Sadly there had been a number of local bereavements including that of Catherine Crean. Even in the midst of sadness the Creans made the visiting boats feel at home and there was much laughing as well as some tears. IWAI Kildare would like to express it’s sympathies to Philip, Orla, their family and the community of Vicarstown on their great loss.

Sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning, the Easter bunny made deliveries to all participants. There were some reports that multiple bunnies of the female form were responsible for this year’s chocolate breakfasts but these reports cannot be confirmed!

After a very relaxed afternoon in good weather everybody assembled for the ‘Bring a Dish Easter Feaster’ on the canal bank. Culinary skills were evident from all quarters and the range of dishes would put any restaurant to shame. This was followed by prizegiving and entertainment in the Vicarstown Inn, entertainment that continued again into the small hours.

After a very well attended branch meeting on Monday, boats prepared to depart or in many cases sat and enjoyed the beautiful sunshine. IWAI Kildare wishes to acknowledge the support of IWAI North Barrow in organising this event and thank the Crean Family and all the staff of the Vicarstown Inn for making us feel so welcome.

AK 2015

The Long Walk Home – May 2015

Seventeen people took part in the Long Walk Home 2015 event over the May bank holiday weekend and raised money for the Peter McVerry Trust (PMVT). They walked 75 km, in every kind of weather, from Bagenalstown, Carlow to Robertstown, Kildare. A Fleet of Kildare IWAI boats provided an escort to the walkers on the last stretch of their journey from Lowtown to Robertstown.

As well as the money raised by the walkers, each boat and Kildare IWAI contributed to the PMVT. The goal of Peter McVerry Trust is to reduce homelessness, drug misuse and social disadvantage. Last year PMVT worked with 4,460 young people through their homeless services, housing services, drug treatment services and under 18s residential services.

Claire Shannon, PMVT Events Fundraiser, stated, “Together, we are able to provide vital accommodation and support to reduce homelessness and ensure many lives are changed for the better”

EOL 2015

Kildare & Offaly – CIC Aug 2015

A cruise in company with Kildare and Offaly members to ‘out of the way’ places on Lough Derg, sounded like an adventure we didn’t want to miss. Sally and I on our cruiser Flying Hawk were keen to meet up again with Kildare members as we had cruised with them earlier in the year from Vicarstown to Shannon Harbour.  It had been a lot of fun.

Down in Dromineer, we waited anxiously to hear from the rest of the CIC who had been stranded due to bad weather in Terryglass. Best laid plans and all that! Two days later (at last!) our VHF radio crackled into life and our Commodore, Niall on Sonas, instructed us to meet north of marker D at 1400 hrs.  We struck out following the Dolan family on board Float No 1.  Half way along we got another call from Niall telling us to travel beyond D where we should meet the rest of the fleet and then to follow them west into uncharted territory!

All went very smoothly led by Aqualegia with the CSIG charts as our guide.  The entrance to the canal was found and we proceeded slowly for about 20 minutes until we came out into beautiful Lough Alewghara. Communicating by VHF the five boats rafted up together with Aqualegia in the centre, bows sitting on the bottom and anchored in the sand on the east side of the Lough.

The scenery was stunning and the day was bright and sunny. The children were immediately into the water, it was only up to their waists, so very safe for them. There was a little sandy shore about 300 meters away, which they headed for. For the rest of the day and next morning we played in our own ‘private’ lough. Even some of the adults got in for a swim! Alan (plus family on Lady Lydia) explored the lough on his rib coming back to let us know there was a small landing jetty to the west.  That was good news for the dogs! We bundled them into our small dinghy with even smaller engine and took them on the 20 min journey. The upside to this toing and froing with the dogs – it gave us great practise with the dinghy, as it was all new to us.

The next day hearing that the weather forecast was not good for the lake, there was a change in the itinerary, so we left behind a little bit of paradise. We headed north onto the Shannon and through Portumna Bridge. Connaught harbour was full of Heritage boats so we decided to head for the shelter of Munster Harbour.  Munster is not exactly a holiday destination more of a working harbour for WI, but we all fitted in and there was plenty of space for the children and the dogs. The Ferry Inn was within walking distance and their soup was very welcome.

Next morning there was shopping to be done, some had their cars but we went over by boat to Emerald Star at Portumna, as we wanted water as well. I was able to cycle from there to SuperValu. When all was done we got the signal from Niall, we were on the move again. We caught up with the fleet as they came out of Munster Harbour noticing there were now three extra boats with us, John and Ruth on Sea Shark, Frank on Red Pedro and the family on MY Obsession. Keeping in radio contact, we managed to find a jetty belonging to a boat club. This was on one of the islands on the east side of the Shannon, again uncharted waters but thanks to the CSIG, we were confident in our wanderings. We spent another lovely evening out on the club’s decking eating and drinking. When it got cold, we sat around the fire Niall lit in his brazier. Marshmallows were toasted by the children and with music on their phones and a few flashing lights they had their own disco! We sat into the early hours chatting, talking about boats and getting to know each other. Next morning we slowly got our things together, whilst the children were having a wild time on a jet ski driven by Rebecca from MY Obsession. She was amazing, all the children were. It was so good to see their confidence around water. Having cleaned up the place we headed north again.

Our next destination was Meelick Quay and there we managed to moor, some having to double and even triple moor as our group now numbered nine boats by this time and included including 72M with Ronnie and Mary, who had joined us for the night. It was another bright day with the children enjoying themselves in the water whether on the jet ski with Rebecca or being towed on a doughnut behind Alan’s rib, they were getting their kicks! Sally and I and the dogs experienced one of Alan’s ‘rib trips’ when looking for a place for the dogs to pee. He managed to scare the living daylights out of us steering every which way into the waves, which the rib had made, and all the time laughing like a mad man!

Later on some of us walked along the Hymany Way to the pub. On the way we came across loads of frogs, I’d never seen so many! Then we came out just below the old church.  Up the road was An Siopa, which had no signs or clues outside that it was a pub but once you turned the handle there was a welcome from the landlord and the open blazing fire. Again the conversation naturally flowed between us, the topic of course that dominated was boats – sharing of knowledge and information.  The next morning, having not been able to get in to see the church the night before, Catriona,

Sharon and I cycled back down to the church. Founded in 1414 by the Franciscans it is the oldest Catholic church in Ireland in continuous use. We had some moments of peace there and then it was back to the boats for it was time to embark.

We travelled north of Banagher, on the way taking in a breakfast from Heidi’s Cafe, which is a must, scrumptious, and the coffee is the best. We ended up in the reeds rafted together off an island. We spent the evening on top of Aqualegia overlooking the children’s water activities.

Next day, our last full day together we cruised together as far as the entrance to the old Ballinasloe Canal opposite Shannon Harbour. We moored on the banks and by an old jetty at the first and only lock left which was quite eerie! That evening Alan cooked a wonderful curry which we ate sitting around the brazier on the grassy bank of the Shannon.

For one week in August, Kildare and Offaly members become a band of river gypsies roaming the waters, sharing adventures and making new friends. Tuirseach ach sasta we returned home.

M Davis 2015

Naas Canal Festival 2015

At the March 2015 table quiz in Lock 13, IWAI Kildare gave a commitment that the ‘boats would be back in Sallins in October’. Making good on this commitment, the boats were back on the October Bank Holiday weekend and in large numbers. Many boats made the return journey to Kildare waters, covering large distances with ready assistance from Waterways Ireland lock keepers. I must particularly mention James Conroy at Lowtown who offered help to one skipper far in excess of lock keeping.

Friday October 23rd marked the beginning of the Naas Canal Festival and by evening, the recently redeveloped harbour in Sallins was stuffed to bursting point with vessels of all shapes and sizes. Lock 13 Pub once again provided the venue for an informal gathering and a slightly more formal skippers briefing. IWAI Kildare has recently established a link with the 23rd Kildare/Sallins Scouts who agreed to come onboard to assist with lock keeping duties for the Parade of Boats from Sallins to Naas scheduled for Saturday October 24th. Following a very successful presentation on safe lock operation given to the scouts by IWAI Kildare member Kieran Baker, we were assured of a large and enthusiastic turnout of young people and leaders to ‘man the locks’ on Saturday.

With the initial list of boats exploding from 15 to 27, Saturday proved to be a very busy day. Waterways Ireland staff under the guidance of Jenny Blackford worked tirelessly alongside volunteers (Pat O Connor, Christy O Leary and early arrivals to Naas Harbour who dropped back down to give a dig out). They were ably assisted by the team of 11 scouts plus 4 leaders in moving the large fleet up through five locks; all vessels were moored up by 6pm in time for the opening reception. WI invested great time and energy in the boys and girls from the scouts, who were originally assigned by IWAI Kildare to push and pull gates but who were witnessed expertly operating lock gear throughout the day. We wish to express our sincere thanks to Pat Kidney and all of the scouts who excelled as Junior Lock Keepers.

The Festival Reception was held in our Naas home, the Kildare Youth Services building (former Canal Stores) and was launched by the Mayor of Naas Cllr James Lawless. The Mayor spoke in glowing terms about the amenity potential of the waterways in Sallins and Naas and was on hand to present Junior Lock Keeper certificates to all members and leaders of the 23rd Kildare/Sallins Scouts.

With the cheese, wine and other delights devoured in record time, it was time for the visiting crews to move on to the evening’s entertainment. Niall O’Dowda, PRO had booked The MCD Band (clever marketing by this band I’m sure you will agree!) to perform in our second home in Naas, the Townhouse Hotel, where Mary made sure that all were fed and watered. Naas United soccer team were also in, having won the Lumsden League Cup and they were in fine voice. Their trophy was freely passed around for sampling by all present and Lorcan and the lads in the band provided a great selection of music.

Sunday began not so early with coffee (lots and lots of it for some!) and stories relating to the previous evening as well as the season past. A small boat rally was organised at lunchtime to travel as far as the Limerick Road culvert on the Corbally branch out of Naas harbour. ‘The Flying Scotsman’ operated by the crew of Rushmere was the only boat to fit the ‘small boat’ criteria but that didn’t stop 10 big boats also making the short journey to take part in the obligatory photo op. On returning to KYS, homemade soup kept spirits high followed by more coffee!

The final evening of the Festival was dominated by the Halloween fancy dress, Jim’s Bloodthirsty BBQ and the IWAI Kildare Prizegiving Ceremony. As well as the usual novelty prizes, awards were made to the children and their crafts mistress Irene O Neill who worked on the craft tapestry of canal boat 72M, which also featured on the rally plaque. This year marked the first award of the Ted Johnson Endeavour Cup and Stella Johnson was present for the occasion. The criteria chosen for the inaugural recipient was ‘Commitment to IWAI Kildare’ and the very worthy winners were Sally Clifton and Marie Davis of Flying Hawk. The Mick Clinton Award is presented for outstanding contribution to IWAI Kildare. This year’s recipient was none other than PRO Niall O’Dowda who had been a key player in organising this year’s festival, linking with the community in Sallins and broadcasting our message to the media.

Next morning, in the absence of 72M it fell to 118B to fire up her engine at the crack of dawn (well not quite, but it was still early) and the fleet ever so slowly wound its way out of Naas bound for winter moorings.
Huge thanks to the very many committee and branch members who helped in any way to make the Naas Canal Festival 2015 such a success. Bigger and better next year…. Who knows!

AK 2015

Christmas Walk

On December 27th, a large number of IWAI Kildare members, joined forces with the Royal Canal Amenity Group for a walk from Maynooth Harbour to Carton House and back.

I think we got the only good weather window of the Christmas period as the clouds rolled away for the duration of the walk along the towpath.  At the mid-way point (Pike Bridge), there was time for some mulled wine, mince pies and camaraderie provided by RCAG volunteers.  Crossing the Maynooth to Leixlip Road, we were treated to the beautiful grounds of Carton Estate, walking as far as the Boathouse (said to have been built by the Fitzgeralds for the visit of Queen Victoria) then exiting the estate along Carton Ave and back to Maynooth.  By the time we returned, c 40 people were ready for soup and sandwiches and seasonal stories.   As the crowd dispersed, the rains returned.

Many thanks to Pat O Connor IWAI Kildare, Matt Kennedy, Niall Galway and Gerry Fitzpatrick RCAG who ensured a successful and enjoyable day for all the walkers.

AK 2015