Cruising the heart of Ireland

Discovering the green & the blue

“Congratulations on your 50th trip on the River Shannon!” read a banner over the desk in the boat office as we arrived. The congratulations were not for us. This was our first.

The first move down the Shannon is under the bridge at Carrick-on-Shannon, by way of an arch marked with red on the right and green on the left.
That’s Leinster Province on the left and Connacht on the right and thus began our journey through the green and the blue. While Ireland is associated with green, blue is its official color, used on the cover of the Irish Constitution, the carpets of the upper and lower houses of Congress, and the Presidential standard, which pictures a golden harp on blue.
Novice on the left; expert on the right
sky, clouds, water, fields — all green and blue
Navigation markers: Keep the green to your right on the way downstream, to your left returning upstream.
Some bridges are easy: just go under
As we were going south, this bridge had to be lifted for us to pass. On our way back north, the locks man told us the river was running slower, so we ducked!
Here’s a lock that’s open, waiting to be entered. The only time we saw traffic was at the locks or as boats pulled into harbor at the end of day.
The lock gate closes; you begin to sink (or rise).
Down, down, down. Each lock costs 1.50 euro, a bridge the same, collected by the locks person as they hand you back your line.
The gate opens — and you continue.
On the left, our boat — the Royal Mystique — is docked at the jetty in Dromod Harbor. On the right, the Lough Ree Inn was the only place to eat at Coosan Point, with dinner served from 4:00–5:45.
Flocks of swans in the distance
Juvenile swans, or cygnets, are grey. Cygnets are able to feed right away but spend four to five months as fledglings, traveling with their family. They breed at 3 years. Swans tuck themselves in, to sleep. In Irish myths, swans are shape-shifters, transforming from bird to human form.
That’s the smile of Ireland on the left.
The town of Athlone is at Ireland’s geographical center and the biggest in the midlands.
Going north again, at Richmond Harbor, we glimpsed the beginning of the Royal Canal.
On the way to Tarmonbarry for lunch at Keenan’s Pub
We had some rain. It didn’t last long.
Our last night and morning in Carrick-on-Shannon

One day we will return to the truth of the spirit as revealed in the eyes or the voice. ~Joy Harjo, US poet laureate