Wednesday, June 06, 2012

6th June - Enfield to Hill Of Down

This morning Claire and I had different commitments to attend to near our homes, but this afternoon it was back to the boat ...

4:30 pm I was back on Kenmor, the boat, and delighted to return here within the sun and shadows pouring into the canal within the woods.

5:45 pm we are on our way again, very little weed in this section of canal and its a deep channel. We could now relax awhile and enjoy this woodland cruise.

Soon we were back out in the open country along what is called the "Long Level" where the canal is raised high above the fields, road and railway for awhile, quite an elevating experience.

Then it was over the short Blackwater Aqueduct, and into some beautiful enchanting woodland known as the Moyvalley

We took a quick stop at Moyvalley Bridges for an engine service job. Here there are tempting canal side pubs each side, but we were not tempted ... yet.

From Moyvalley it was back into another raised "Long Level" until we arrived at the quaint Longwood Harbour.

7:45 pm, Longwood Harbour where we stopped to enjoy an evening meal in the quiet and sun.

Here was a reminder to us about how the Royal Canal is a much more enchanting waterways cruising experience than the Grand Canal. This is quite a surprise considering how the canal looks mundane when seen from the road or railway tracks as we zoom along.

The delights of the Royal Canal are hidden from sight of all, except those who cruise on its waters or hike the towpaths beside it.

Longwood Harbour was also a special stop for being beside the River Boyne Aqueduct

This is where the Royal Canal crosses the mythological Boyne River.

I took some time taking photos here and was intrigued by the pump that raises large volumes of water up from the Boyne and into the Royal Canal, a steep climb.

There was once a stepway down to the river but this is now closed off and covered thickly with brambles. Another health and safety fear, I suppose.

John Roche was taken by this place and it appears his family stayed here awhile, "The sun rose in a veil of mist which lay heavy on the quiet water of the Boyne, the cattle knee deep in the rich grass, drenched with dew, the heavy still air drowsy with the peace of nature, the only sounds the occasional cry of the curlew or plover, and the hoarse croak of the heron, with now and then the splash of a huge roach feeding. It is an hour when nature impells her devotees to mingle with her universe and feel what I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal"

8:50 pm, we are on our way again, crusing Kenmor over the Boyle Aqueduct, back into open country and towards the sun setting as we approached Hill Of Down, near Clonard which is quite famous in the Columcille story.

Around 500 to 540 AD, Clonard hosted the largest learning centre, a kind of university, in Ireland and possibly one of the largest in Europe. Several thousand students would be studying here at the same time. It was here that Columcille learned his requirements to become a priest and it was here that he met the Saxon Bard, Gemmen, who taught and inspired him to share with others through poetry, song and harp.

9:40 arrived at Hill Of Down, a quaint canal side village that I have often wondered about when I have often passed by here on the train

Here there is Horan's pub, general store and post office, which was sort of made a bit famous by Dick Warner on his recent Royal Canal barge cruise documentary. He was aboard a huge barge called Rambler, that we had encountered a few days ago at Maynooth. The people here gathered together and put on a barbecue and picnic party to celebrate their arrival.

Fascinated by this enterprise, Claire and I were eager to visit and did go to the bar for a nightcap pint or two. This is a delightful "real" Irish pub, again one that very few visitors to Ireland will ever find. The landlord is extremely kind and helpful and the local people jolly and courteous. The big event was the local lottery draw, a fundraiser for the local hurling team. It made me wonder if the Irish Waterways could be relieved from the government and funded by its own lottery. Lottery is an incredibly successful fund raiser for local community project ... a much, much bigger earner than any enforced tax or tithing system

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