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Our Adventures on Barrow River and Canal with the barge "Jelly Belly"

The grey sky was lit up by a dazzling flash of lightening!
We sat well protected from the down pouring hail clattering to our barge.
A real thunder followed like magic the beams of sun came through.
Then it was time for: weigh anchor!

The day before a friendly scot named John drove us from Dublin Airport to Bell Harbour, the homedestination for our barge "Jelly Belly".
Paul Wallace is the owner of the barge, now our residens, home and vessel for a summerweek.
The word barge is used for irish channel boats. "Jelly Belly" is named after Pauls daughter, then 4 years old, pointed at herself and called herself "Jelly Belly". Our barge is so beautiful with heavenly blue and raspberryred colours.
Paul had already packed bicycles and flower arrangements on the roof of the barge and had been shopping breakfast for us. We shopped in small boutiques and supermarkets later and enjoyed cooking in our little kitchen and to eat in the "saloon".

At first sight Monasterevin seems a little grey. However we found out that it´s a very interesting place with a colourful history and strategic placed about 68 km from Dublin.
The waterways are functioning like a circulation of the blood to the west coast with the Grand Canal as a head-vein.
S:t Patrick arrived to Ireland 600 a Ch with a mission - to build a monestery. S:t Eimhin (Manistir Eimhin on gaelic) was the man who fulfilled the project. And the city was named Monasterevin.
When the Vikings were "pouring" all over Ireland the monastery order had to disappear under ground. The monks were distributing food, offering shelter and free health care. The life was hard for the inhibitants in Monasterevin, when the monks disappeared.

Monasterevin also have another name - "The Venezia of Ireland" cause of the aqueducts, channels and bridges. Thanks to the busy water communications Monasterevin was placed like a center of a flowerishing economy during a golden period of time in Ireland. An
aqueduct was built in 1886 that carries The Grand Channel to Barrow River and Canal.

I would have loved to be present when hundreds of head stone axes were found when the riverbed was drained. I also would have liked to see the bid Dolm - a tombstone found 3 km east of Carlow. The Dolm is very heavy - 100 tons.

The 9th of june, the day after our arrival Paul showed us Moor Abbdy. The place where the origin monastery was placed. Now a green recreation area. It was like entering a green hall of pillars where the beams of the sun "played" with us. Then we went back with Paul to the barge and went through all detatails of safety routines thoroughly. Paul also reminded us of always reading the seacard. My husband has been driving boat taxi in the archepelego of Stockholm, so he has the scills as skipper of a lot of different kind of boats.
Paul suggested us to stop at a small village - Fisherman, our first overnight stay. Luxuriant healthy curious cows grazed moist green grass and stared at us when we walked trough the village going to the famous pub - "Fishermanns Thatched Inn". Sean Ward is a very jovial host showed us the house and talked about the village. Local irish young folkmusicians were invited for the evening, so we went back to our barge and returned later in the evening. The pub was packed with people and we found a great place on high stools. The hour was late, but no musicians in sight. When it was 00.30 they came, packed up their instruments, tuned and played joyfully dancing irish folkmusic. Happy and with content hearts we strolled back to "Jelly Belly" and slept very good.

If you never have been in Ireland I strongly recommend you to go by barge. It´s like a lock to the culture of Ireland with a lot of history. When irishmen heard about our journey: going by barge from Monasterevin to Carlow they congraulated us.
It´s like gliding through a green corridor listening to the singing birds in ev´ry bush. The tempo is dreaming: dogs with their mistresses and masters, cyclists and joggers walks, roles and run away from us in the barge. It´s green in the water, that´s weec that can easely be  tangled into your propeller. We had to stop several times cleansing the weed away. The water is fresh and we saw many fisherman from our barge when they were angling. You have to be well prepared reading the seacard and watch out for aqueducts with other rivers can cause unexpected streams.
It´s good to be two, one captain and one steerman. My husband was in the stern while I was in the stem loaded with notes, seacard, I-phone and camera. I ran quick as a mouse through the "saloon" to announce the Captain of nearest bridge, aqueduct, waterfall or city.
All the locks we passed through was a real adventure for me. Once my husband was a lock keeper instructed on mobile from the real lock keeper and my husband did it with no problems. It´s very exiting when the gate of the lock is closing behind you and the water first trickles in the lock gate before you. In just a moment the water was pouring with force and steard up swirling foam. You feel the barge raise (or fall) and don´t forget the eye contact with the lock keeper.

We arrived to Carlow at the 13th of june. There is a park and a lot of swans and the roawing boat-club was near, where you can get fresh water. I held my breath deeply when I went ashore. The space to walk on was mimimal. I walked pointing my nose to a wall of concrete gripping my fingers round the concrete walls edge. I took one step at the time very slowly taking a deep breath before and after ev´ry step. I didn´t want to fell in the water even if there were a lot of people to save me. Finally I reached my goal and was dry. Such relief! Now we wanted to discover Carlow city.
We saw a funeral ceremony - a nun would be burried and a lot of small girls in uniform were parading with their instruments and a tall girl watched over them, instructed them how and where to walk. Beside the Cathedral here was an Univerity, a park and a theatre. We passed a grand ruin from 1207 where the birds were newting and the dramatic silhouette told us it´s own story. I did the same daring walk the next morning without falling into the water. I wanted to visit the old cemetery. I red that the cemetry was grounded in 1603, there are many plaquettes from the colera epedemy in 1849. The founder of Carlow College is lying there: his name is Dr James Kefee, bishop in the county of Kildare for 35 years.

The 14th of june - and we are back in Bell Harbour where a lot of children were practising canoeing. They played and had a lof of fun, their laghter was echoeing between the houses of Bell Harbour.
The next day - our last day we met a team that helps people with functional disorders. Scott O Reilly, one of the leaders told us how they tied two canoes together. It´s fantastic watching how people  can owercome their fear and and have fun instead.

When the plain lifted from Dublin Airport and we saw "The Green Island" under us we were longing to come back soon. We remembered all special meetings: irish nice rockfans visiting Norje in Sweden helped us find the way to the bus from Dublin Airport at our arrival. The nice italian-irish cook with his little grandson on his arm discussed vinaigre to fish an chips. The nice attitude in the pharmacy in Monasterevin.
Last but not least the generosity and kindness of Paul Wallace and of course - the lock keepers!

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