Wednesday, May 16, 2012

From Shannonbridge

Aoife on the aft deck at Shannonbridge.
Since having the new bicycles we've been doing a lot less cruising, but it doesn't matter. When you're on the river each place you stop could be a hundred miles away from the last. This time we started off in Shannonbridge with the plan to leave the boat in Portumna as the next stage on our way south. We arrived to the boat on a cold but dry Friday evening - always a relief to have no rain when transporting goods from car to boat.

I cooked on board, the usual favourite of penne pasta with a tomatoey sauce, easy to do on a two-ring stove. I'm enjoying the re-arranged galley even though it has yet to be tiled - a job for closer to home. Too tricky keeping a newly tiled surface dry when it's next to the sink.

Looking across the river from the cockpit.
 After dinner there was the joy of a long bright evening followed by a river sunset. And then there was Killeen's, the tavern at the top of the Main Street much loved by visitors for its eccentricity - a shop that sells everything being taken over as part of the pub, the handwritten signs pinned up everywhere, the games, the snuff catapult (use your imagination).

There are those who think this is all a ridiculous affectation, something to attract the tourists, which I suppose it is to an extent, but Killeen's is a true family run pub making a good living, and it is one of the friendliest bars on the waterway. Whiskey and chat on the first night of a weekend away. Just the business.

Power station or mirage?

There's always a background noise in Shannonbridge from the power station. We walked the dogs before bed alongside the river, the power station all lit up across the field.

Wiinter Solstice second boat back on the right.

Next morning the best way to unfuzz the slightly thick head was to get on the bikes. We took them on the car rack to a bridge on the Grand Canal a couple of kilometres from Shannon Harbour and cycled back to the boat. Then Winter Solstice to Shannon Harbour below the lock for lunch and onto Banagher. We'd cycle from here to pick up the car. But what was going on?

Banagher Harbour on Saturday afternoon.

The harbour was full. Not just normally full but boats doubled up full. Damn. How would we get the car now? But there was a space. A skinny little gap in the corner behind a marker. We slipped in at the back of a big cruiser whose skipper assured us there was enough depth. And there we were. Off on the bikes to pick up the car. It was on the way back we saw the signs. The Munster Fleadh was in town and there was to be riverside music that night. This was the explanation for all the boats.

Dome and dancers.
It was getting increasingly windy as we watched the practice from the boat. A blow-up dome had appeared, and a wooden platform. On the platform was flowing gold, pleated wings caught by the wind and wrapped around the gyrating dancers. It looked quite beautiful.

Later on when the real thing began we got a closer look. It was very pretty, but not as ethereal as those first gold dancers in the distance.

And that was as far as we got. The wind rose throughout the night, but didn't worry us. We were well tucked in the corner and protected. The next morning we considered our position. There were now three big cruisers rafted behind. There was a marker post a metre out from midships. A gale was blowing us onto the wall. There was no sign of life from the boats behind. It wouldn't be easy getting out at all. And actually, wasn't the boat safe here? We could leave her for the week, come back next weekend to bring her down Lough Derg. And I did have a huge amount of garden work to do.

Decision made.

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