OK… we’ll take up the tale from where we left off last week…
The summer passed… early autumn offered warm walking weather, just what was needed to get on toward the western descent. The allure of a distant reward spurred on the mini-marathon into County Longford. A welcome chat, a meal and warm sleeping quarters in the spacious 4E. JT and son BT offering hospitality of the highest order when I reached Abbeyshrule. During all this activity there was also the small matter of rescuing a stranded kitten. The little fellow is now a proud Dublin resident… contentedly lording over it’s new domain.
Abbeyshrule… sounds romantic. Still twenty odd miles, the distance to complete. The Shannon beckoned… the challenge needed action before the winter set in so when the late autumn allowed a few days of respite from the harsh Atlantic systems the dash was on. I eventually made Richmond Harbour on a blustery late October afternoon. Lock 46 seemed so small… stuck on at the end of the harbour… like those anatomy pictures of the human digestive system… the little appendix almost isolated in its insignificance. But hell… rather than rejoice I was rather deflated. What now? Where’s the Shannon? Green and Silver?
My disappointment at not finding Lock 46 actually attached to the Shannon was short-lived. While I relaxed on the bus I realised I had walked right across Leinster… not too bad for a fellow with a sore back who’s passed the half century milestone a while ago.
I’ve come away enriched by my whole Royal experience… happily I add that the experience is ongoing. Just days ago we were again guests of J&BT on 4E. This time on the bit of canal we call our ‘home water’. The promise of more to come seems to permeate the air… there may even be an invitation to join JC and family… to sit in the wheelhouse of the Rambler.
There were other moments. The invitation to join the work party at Louisa Bridge… to highlight a small inconvenience that seems to be cropping up beneath a few bridges. We built a temporary BBQ with some of the rubble removed from the water. The rashers and chops went down a treat… so did the banter.
Memories of these scenes reminded me again and again of the privilege we have to be involved with this living heritage. Yes, the more we use the towpath and the water, the more it’s value will become known and appreciated. Even better though, the more we involve ourselves the more we’ll meet great folk. People with a mission, the mission to get the canal systems operating as they should. People with a passion… a passion to restore and maintain the old canal boats. Or, simply folk who want to enjoy the odd stroll in the relative tranquility and splendour that the long green reserve has to offer.
I’ve stumbled onto a portion of Irish history that has become dear to me, a bit of the living fabric of a system that should be preserved for the generations to come. I have documented my walks and experiences as best I could, maybe someone will find a use for the details, maybe someone will be able to use the material in conjunction with the fine IWAI guide… to illustrate the joy of the canal.
Now you know why I say I hope the chain of events started by my first sighting of the Rambler has no conclusion. I don’t want my association with the Royal Canal to end. I’m reminded of something JT mentions on occasion… we are merely the custodians of this special history. Let us all enjoy what the Royal Canal has to offer… for a long, long time to come!
That folks, is the sum total of it all… I’m fortunately still enjoying the pleasure of the Royal. I will soon do a Rambler post… of our involvement with her west to east winter traverse that ended on Sunday just gone by…