When Dreams Become Reality, Becoming a Boatman on the River Shannon.

I grew up along the waterways. In a way everybody did. From rivers to lakes to canals, the
waterways are always close.
Banagher was the town my family lived in growing up, so my waterways were the wide
Shannon and the Grand Canal at Shannon Harbour. I used to love walking along the marina
at the bottom of the town of Banagher, and there was an old derelict timber boat on a trailer
at the back of Smyths that I adored looking at.
Someday, I said, I will have my own boat.
Banagher used to have a regatta when I was very young, but I remember very little of it. I do
remember attending a few of The Harbour Rallys.
A couple from Wexford had a holiday home at “The Point” in Shannon Harbour. Tom and
Gretta Anderson hired my dad to do some odd jobs, and was often the case a business
relationship became a firm friendship.
Such is the nature of waterways, the water either softens people or just attracts the decent
Back in our native North Longford, Lough Gowna was the local waterway. I was reared with
the story of the calf falling in the holy well, desecrating it, and the well gurgitation water as a
result forming the lake and the River Erne. There are multiple versions of that legend, that is
but one.
The little Camlin flowed through the village of Ballinalee. My family on both sides came from
outside of it. What was a small stream becomes a strong one that powered mills farther
down in Longford town itself, which sadly are idle now.
Where it meets the Shannon I got to explore by boat – having fulfilled my childhood dream
and buying my own boat.
In Killaloe I found a little Foxcub 18 yacht, one of the last designed by the legendary Uffa
Fox. It was in need of a little tender loving care, as in it needed new rigging, a rudder and an
I got an engine. I got a few. But those are stories for another day.
Through tows, breakdowns, getting caught in weather conditions too strong for a weak
engine, I visited places and met people I never would have otherwise. At each stop I went
walking, and hitched back to Galway where I was working, the talk of the river and the boats
made each journey an experience and enjoyable.
I eventually arrived with the Foxcub in my native Banagher. I pulled in for the little private
harbour, and promptly got stuck. Only good for rowboats, so I crossed back to the public
harbour, but the water was too low to tie up to. I headed upstream Smyths where I used to
love to walk around as a child, and docked.
On my way, I saw a child with a woman pointing, excited. The woman was taking a photo.
Of my little boat.
I then realised I had become one of the River People, and was inspiring excitement, and joy
in passers by, as other boaters had in me as a child walking beside the River Shannon.
And that is only half the story. I may tell the rest at another time…