In 1999 Wilderness Boat Owners Club members were invited to Ireland by The Royal Canal Amenity Group to join the inaugural cruise on the reopening of the first 60 miles of the Royal Canal from Dublin to Abbeyshrule. Twelve years later club members were again invited to celebrate the reopening of the last 20 miles of Canal through to the River Shannon.
So it was on Friday 12th August 2011 and in company with Wilderness Wanderer, Beehive, Olive, Navi and Matchbox that we duly arrived at Ballynacargy for launching our boats and meeting Amenity Group members lead by organiser extraordinaire Pat O’Connor before bedding down for our first night.
Saturday 13th Leaving our boats in the Harbour we were whisked away by bus to see Belvedere House and Garden Park Estate in the morning and the Lockes Distillery in the afternoon before enjoying a fantastic dinner in the 5 star Tyrrells Pass Castle in the evening.
Sunday 14th Leaving Ballynacargy we made our way in convoy to Ballymahon Harbour where we enjoyed tea in the Ticket Office before moving off sometime later to arrive at Mosstown just in time for a grand reception entertainment and a BBQ.
Monday 15th A day out visiting the Corla Bog Road, and local places of interest.
Tuesday 16th We leave Mosstown and made our way to Richmond Harbour.
Wednesday 17th We cruise along the winding River Camlin to Lough Forbes and out into the mighty Shannon which was fortunately calm and tranquil, stopping at Tarmonbarry before passing through the huge navigation Lock for our return to Shannon Harbour.
Thursday 18th A bus tour was arranged to take us to Clonmacnoise and visit the Boora Bog and railway before returning to a music evening on the Amenity Group’s barge.
Friday 19th We walked a section of the derelict 5 mile Longford Arm now being called ‘The Missing Link’ and in the evening had a convivial meal in the Richmond Inn.
Saturday20th Another bus tour took us to the Arigna Mining Centre with a stop at Carrick on Shannon before returning to the Richmond Inn for our final end of Rally dinner and presentations.
A memorable rally for all Wilderness Boat Owners who attended with our Irish hosts leaving no stone unturned to make our stay as interesting and enjoyable as possible.
We thank them all for their hospitality and look forward to returning in the not too distant future.
Bernard Snell ‘Grey Owl’