Wedbesday 09.04.2008 Kiltybardan - Keshcarrigan - Leitrim
Length of boat trip: 4.5 hours
Motto of the day: 16 locks without turning, kingfishers again, rainbows, female crew from
the Bavarian Free State, pontoon in the navigation, dinner in Leitrim
This night was cool, but the day will be as mild as yesterday. Sun and
clouds alternate in the morning. The water is like a mirror ‘til a shower
dapples the lake with rings. Swallows hunt, flying low over the water.
We drive back to St. Johns Lough and further west. After a further
two shallow and very small lakes, Lough Muckros and Lough Marrave, the
navigation leads to the small village of Keshcarrigan; Ceis Charrigan,
wicker causeway of the little rock.
Standing proudly, with its flattened summit, on the northern shore, Slieve
Anierin; Sliabh an Iarainn; (Map 3 ), a mountain formed primarily of sandstone
embedded with ferrous strata, imposing cliffs and nearly symmetrical stands
of coniferous forests on its southern and eastern flanks. There are also remains of older forests with 500-year-old oak trees located in the southeast, Aughacashel.
The route now goes 1.5 km WSW of Keshcarrigan lieing Sheebeg Hill (Map 4 ), on which there is a Cairn (stone grave). In the 1930s, the Cairn was opened and inside the tomb passage the skeletons of a man and a woman were found. Local legends say that it is the
burial place of Finn McCool; Fionn MacCumhaill, the legendary leader of
the Fianna. In the 18th Century, a local landowner built a statue of
Fionn MacCumhaill on the cairn. This was twice destroyed by storm, which
the locals see as the work of fairies and elves, which felt disturbed by
A modern statue of Fionn is now located at the village entrance of
West of the Slieve Anierin, though not visible to us, is Lough Allen. On its western
shore rise the Arigna Mountains with Kilronan and Corrie Mountain
(Slentannasaggart) (426 m). Between the two ridges is the valley of the
Arigna River. From Keshcarrigan these mountains with their wind turbines
can be seen in a north-westerly direction.
After a break (we were again the only occupied boat) we go further on
through the narrow marked navigation on the watershed in Lough Scur.
From here the navigation is supplied with water from the River
Aghacashlaun. After crossing the shallow lake it goes through a "rocking
cut", a laboriously deepened, rock breakthrough.
In the shallow Drumleague Lough, a pontoon of WI is blocking our way. We
wait and hold the boat on the spot, until the working boat has
moved its platform away. After we have passed, the staff of Waterways
Ireland continue to repair a marker.
Now the route goes through a canalised section, through eight locks down to
the Shannon and the village Leitrim, passing, on the southern bank,
a hill called Sheemore (Map 4 ) with three unopened Cairns on top. On the
largest of them, a cross, which is lit at night, has been erected.
A view of Sheemore and two small showers with large
rainbows accompany us during our lock-through. In Kilclare, we meet the first
and only occupied boat this day, with a female crew of two and a
giant Bavarian free state flag and an unusual technique of clamping ropes in the locks and an even more unusual technique of bankmooring at
the canal bank whilst driving. At Leitrim we arrive for the first time
in the Shannon without needing to turn a single one of the 16 locks!
We moor in the small private port of Leitrim Marina Hotel and relax in
the restaurant with a delicious dinner.
Thursday 10.04.2008 Leitrim - Carrick-on-Shannon - Jamestown Canal - Carnadoe Quay
Length of boat trip: 3.7 hours
Motto of the day: Replacement of a fuse, Doon of Drumsna, Gerda and Slieve Anierin with snow
After a cool night the day starts sunny, but the clouds promise
showers. We escape the heaviest during our lunch break. The day will be
cooler than the last two days.
Starting in Leitrim, south of Slieve Anierin, Lough Allen and the
Arigna Mountains (In the right photo in the background) we reach the
This landscape in the northern section of the Shannon River has wide flooding
areas and also drumlins, which extend in a belt from the
Grasslands with bulrushes and wetlands line the river to
Only a few buildings are close to the river. The
people in olden times preferred to build safe settlements
further away from the river on hills. This old knowledge seems to be lost to the
initiators and participants of some recent, fairly daring real estate
projects in the floodplains.
A number of drainage ditches cross the flat pasture land and the Shannon
winds in large bends through this unique landscape of floodplains, where
trees are sparse.
More than 220 km of the Shannon between the mouth of the headstream in
Lough Allen and Limerick are navigable. The surface source of the
Shannon, whose waters are collected in the underground limestone of the
Cuilcagh, is 152 m above sea level. Between Leitrim and Killaloe (Lough
Derg) there is only about a 12 m drop to overcome, so that at a distance of 185 km
only five locks (Albert Lock, Roosky, Tarmonbarry, Athlone, Victoria
Lock) are needed.
Thus in many parts of the navigation the Shannon is a leisurely flowing
river with a number of smaller and larger lakes. Lough Ree with its
approximately 28 km length, Lough Derg with its approximately 39 km length and Lough Allen with over 17 km are the largest lakes.
Except in the Lough Allen Canal and the Jamestown Canal, we are moving on a
naturally flowing waterway without dams and dykes, in a landscape dominated by the river, with a unique flora and fauna.
We follow the Shannon to Carrick-on-Shannon, formerly Carrickdrumrusk;
Carra-Drum-rusk; Weir von Drumrusk; a major transport hub and a
later town. Here we stop for shopping at the Farmer's Market.
In the meantime a minor electrical problem is repaired by a mechanic of
Carrick Craft. Faster than expected, we continue our trip.
Carrick-on-Shannon the river winds around drumlins and hills of harder
rocks, which blocking the water, has dammed up lakes.
An example of such a blockade is at the Rosebank Marina south of
Carrick-on-Shannon. Probably the hills of the two banks were originally
linked and the river blocked. The blocking landmasses were swept out of
the way by the river and then deposited in the lakes, where the
water flows slowly. So the lakeside shores are covered with a thick
layer of clay, on which only rushes flourish.
Before Jamestown, the navigation turns into the Jamestown Canal. We moor at
the quay directly at the entrance of the canal. Gerda, a mighty cheeky
duck is hard to keep off from storming our boat.
Here in the Drumsna area, before reaching the canal,
and visible from the boat, on the southern shore, are remains of a prehistoric
massive earthen rampart Doonarah; Dun a'Ratha; fortress on a defence
wall; today called "Doon of Drumsna".
It was built to protect the royal Celtic rulers of Connacht (Connaught;
Coonacht) in Rathcroghan (Cruachan) against invaders from the north.
Here in the area around Drumsna were the only points in the Shannon,
north of Athlone, which could be forded. This also explains why later the
construction of the Jamestown Canal for navigation was necessary. East
of Doon of Drumsna and the fords in the Shannon was a swampy bog. It was
almost impassable, with only two passes over two ridges of glacial deposits. Both of these ways led to gates in the main wall, north of the
Jamestown Canal. It is 30 m wide and 6 metres high.
Walking from the mooring in the Jamestown Canal to Jamestown itself, the
way leads on the lower road on a part of the Doon. On both sides of the
main walls are parallel further ramparts. There are further walls in some
places on the banks of the Shannon, probably to prevent a landing with
It is estimated that about 10,000 people were employed for two years with the
construction of the Doon, that 50-60 000 trees were used and 150 000
cubic metres earth moved. What a task in this period, as
excavators were still unknown! The entire fortification is dated to
the Iron Age, 2000 BC or earlier, at the time of Queen Maebh of Connacht.
The route goes on firstly south-east through the Jamestown Canal. At the end
of this is the Albert Lock. We swing around back to the Shannon, which flows through Drumsna, and turn to the south with a view of an ugly plastic factory.Here partly larger lakes follow, Lough Tap, Lough Boderg and Lough Bofin.
Turning on Lough Boderg towards the west you go into the Carnadoe
Waters. The view back to the north shows us that Slieve Anierin has snow covering it
After winding through the alluvial deposits at the mouth of the
Carnadoe water, we reach a quay situated before a bridge, Carnadoe Quay. The
quay is almost fully occupied with abandoned boats; they are seasonally
"parked" there. But we still find a free place and stay. (Map 5 ).