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14 Mar 2019
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TOPIC: World Canal Conference September 2018 Athlone Ireland

World Canal Conference September 2018 Athlone Ireland 05 Nov 2018 13:16 #102251

  • John Booker
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The club has supported the IWI over the years in their organisation of this annual conference. Being a world conference it is often held too far away to make it practical and affordable to attend. This year it was held in Athlone, on the River Shannon. The Shannon is a fine river for our barges and it also, through the Shannon-Erne waterway, allows through passage into Northern Ireland- the lakelands of Fermanagh in the Lough Erne system.
The second book I ever read about canals was Green & Silver, the Tom Rolt sequel to Narrowboat. His story of navigating a circular route from Dublin via the Grand Canal, the Royal Canal and the Shannon painted a similar picture to our canals of those post WW2 days. The Royal Canal bears most resemblance to our canals, but it was closed around 1960 and had never achieved it's goal of becoming the country's top canal, due to various structural problems of water supply and more recently a railway lift bridge in Dublin.
In promoting the conference Waterways Ireland- a very interesting cross-border organisation, with HQ in the North but most assets in the Irish Republic, trumpeted the restoration of the Royal Canal and what is now known as the Green & Silver Route. This promotional activity reached it's peak in the spring of this year and seduced by this I thought that it would be good to take my little Sea Otter trailable barge over there to do some of that route and attend the conference. Ireland is the land of myth and legend, so I should have been more circumspect perhaps in believing their claims. In their defence it was a very dry summer. Sad to say I found out the hard way that the Royal Canal is not navigable except possibly in April.
The Shannon is a different matter. There is a good infrastructure there to accommodate barges, and indeed there are several DBA members cruising these waters. They want to keep it secret, because they enjoy considerable freedoms and pay very modestly for them. The main price they pay is dealing with the Irish weather.
I plan to write a piece for Blue Flag to compare and contrast the two Celtic waterways, Brittany and Ireland, that we visited this year with our little barge.
But for now the Waterways Ireland people have released videos of many of the presentations given at the conference. Sadly many of these don't appear to have sound - rather fundamental to the utility you would think, but fellow members might pass some winter days watching and listening to some of the better efforts. I would recommend the UK IWA presentation given by Mike Palmer from the WRG as being very worthwhile. The link is : WCC 2018 videoshttps://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCAh4ULz8d34eNeYopLJZAg/videos
The following user(s) said Thank You: Bob Marsland, Ian McCauley, Sam Archer

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