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Canoeing in Blackwater/Glenribbeen

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From Catherine Mack in ”’The Southern Star” Sat 21st May 2011

Best kept secret
Another recent discovery
from a canoe was the River
Blackwater in CoWaterford. It
was the recommendation of
the owner of charming, ecofriendly Glenribbeen Lodge
(www.glenribbeen.com), and
what a top tip it was. The afternoon on the water drifted by in
the delightful company of Cappoquinman, DennisMurray of
Blackwater Boating
(www.blackwaterboating.ie)
who, having spent his life on
the river, knows every bend,
bridge and building on it. His
gentle charm totally engaged
us all, my eight-year-old included, regaling us with history
one second, and heron spotting
the next. Usingmore traditional Canadian canoes this time,
this river must be one of Ireland’s best kept secrets, and no
better man than Dennis to
show it at its best.

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About pfiddle

Fiddle teacher - mostly Irish trad. Fiddle, mandolin and concertina. Eco-warrior, won E.U. Green Flower Award for Eco Accommodation. Also Irish (Gold) GHA. Green Hospitality Award. Mad keen on self-build - especially straw-bale and cob. 55 with a full head of (slightly) graying hair. No tattoos or piercings. Fond of animals - but legally so. Fond of food - I eat nothing else. Vegetarian by choice, Irish by the grace of birth, Munster by force of (rugby) arms.

One response »

  1. Paddle your way into paradise
    A canoe or kayak provides
    a different perspective on
    Ireland’s islands and coves
    LIFESTYLE
    THE SOUTHERN STAR SECTION 1
    SATURDAY 14 NEWS MAY 21, 2011

    A NEWgreen craze has taken
    over the country. Paddies have,
    finally, discovered the love of
    paddling. And before those
    rowing club enthusiasts write
    in to say that they have all been
    up at dawn, bearing shoulder
    muscles before most of us have
    even pressed ‘snooze’, I mean
    the leisurely, more laid-back
    approach to paddling, which
    allows us to see parts of the
    country we have never seen, or
    revisit regions we know well,
    but see them from a different
    perspective. From a kayak or
    canoe.
    A friend recently told me
    that there wasn’t really anywhere
    to canoe in Ireland, to
    which she got an unexpected
    barrage of all the possibilities.
    This is an activity you can take
    on at almost any age too. My 12-
    year-old son recently managed
    a 20km paddle across Lough
    Leane, the largest of Killarney’s
    lakes and he has only
    kayaked a couple of times. It
    was a birthday treat, all of us
    donning wetsuits for a family
    day out with Outdoors Ireland
    founder and brilliant guide,
    Nathan Kingerlee (www.outdoorsireland.
    com).
    Starting at Ross Castle in Killarney,
    we left the tourist-filled
    streets behind and gently paddled
    out into a totally tranquil
    lough, with just enough wind to
    make us earn our lunch on the
    water’s edge, sheltered by the
    extraordinary ancient Tomie’s
    Woods. After a quick walk up
    to admire O’Sullivan’s Cascade,
    warmed and re-energised, we
    gently followed the shoreline
    to the point where the River
    Laune meets the Leane, and
    took our final glances of the
    magnificence that is Macgillycuddy’s
    Reeks from the water,
    ending with a lash down the
    rapids which lead to Beaufort
    Castle. Exhaused and exhilarated,
    this was a birthday to remember.
    Night outings
    West Cork also boasts one of
    the country’s favourite expert
    kayakers, Jim Kennedy, of Atlantic
    Sea Kayaking (www.atlanticseakayaking.
    com). His
    night-time kayaking outings
    from Union Hall are world famous
    at this stage, with Jim’s
    knowledge of and commitment
    to marine conservation as
    wholehearted as his love of the
    water. As you paddle out gently
    into the dark pier, not wanting
    to create any unnecessary disturbance
    to the natural nocturnal
    beauty, Jim is the sort of
    guy who asks you to close your
    eyes and just listen to the night
    time all around you. ‘That way,
    you will take the memory with
    you,’ he says.
    Atlantic Sea Kayaking has
    also teamed up with the hotel
    which must be the cause of
    some of the greatest location
    envy in Ireland, Inchydoney Island
    Lodge and Spa
    (www.inchydoneyisland.com).
    Offering a new seaweed package,
    you can spend one day being
    wrapped in seaweed in the
    spa and swimming in the seawater
    pool, and then a second
    day kayaking and seaweed foraging
    around some of West
    Cork’s islands and coves. Jim,
    who could never be described
    as weedy, has teemed up with
    seaweed expert, Sally McKenna,
    of the Bridgestone Guide
    fame, who taught me everything
    I could possibly want to
    know about seaweed. Actually,
    that’s not quite true, because
    the more she taught me, the
    more I wanted to know. We
    carefully harvested some
    wracks and kelps, stopped on a
    deserted island for soup and
    scones, both with seaweed ingredients,
    nibbled strings of
    seaweed spaghetti off the side
    of the kayak, and bathed our
    feet at the end of the day in
    warm seaweed-infused water,
    filled with moisturising natural
    oils. Next on my wishlist is
    Atlantic Sea Kayaking’s Dawn
    Chorus trip. This is kayaking,
    Jim, but not as we know it.
    Best kept secret
    Another recent discovery
    from a canoe was the River
    Blackwater in Co Waterford. It
    was the recommendation of
    the owner of charming, ecofriendly
    Glenribbeen Lodge
    (www.glenribbeen.com), and
    what a top tip it was. The afternoon
    on the water drifted by in
    the delightful company of Cappoquin
    man, Dennis Murray of
    Blackwater Boating
    (www.blackwaterboating.ie)
    who, having spent his life on
    the river, knows every bend,
    bridge and building on it. His
    gentle charm totally engaged
    us all, my eight-year-old included,
    regaling us with history
    one second, and heron spotting
    the next. Using more traditional
    Canadian canoes this time,
    this river must be one of Ireland’s
    best kept secrets, and no
    better man than Dennis to
    show it at its best.
    You can’t talk about canoeing
    or kayaking without going
    North of the border, however.
    Lough Erne, in Co Fermanagh,
    boasts an award-winning canoe
    trail (www.canoeni.com/canoetrails/
    lough-erne). This website
    gives all the details you need of
    itineraries, the challenges of
    different paddling locations,
    how to hire canoes, where to
    camp and so on. It is also worth
    checking out the Strangford
    Lough Trail, in Co Down
    where, as part of the trail, you
    can stop on the tiny Salt Island,
    and camp or stay the night in
    the converted fishing bothy, for
    next to nothing. So very easily
    accessible from Belfast, you
    will really think you have paddled
    into paradise here.
    There are kayaking spots appearing
    all over the country
    now and, as it becomes more
    and more popular, make sure
    that you choose to go out on
    the water with experienced instructors.
    Some other recom-
    • Aoife Bowens practises at
    ‘Fionnuisce’, Heron’s Court,
    Bandon. Call 087 6591470
    or email aoifebowens@eircom.
    net
    • Noreen Murray practises at
    Carrigrohane Road, Cork.
    Call 021 4546698
    or 086 3136447 or
    email noreenmurray.therapist@
    gmail.com
    Contact:
    mended kayaking or canoeing
    companies include H2O Sea
    Kayaking (www.h2oseakayaking.
    com) which takes people
    out off Kinsale and Old Head
    and also, very cool, will take you
    kayak fishing. Kayakmor
    (www.kayakmor.com) leads
    you around the Galway coast,
    and up River and Lough Corrib,
    and Shearwater Sea Kayaking
    (www.shearwaterseakayaking.
    ie) leads
    expeditions off Howth Head in
    Dublin, as well as excursions to
    Kerry, Mayo, Wexford, Donegal
    and Connemara. You can
    also rent canoes/kayaks at
    Lough Allen Adventure Centre
    (www.loughallenadventure.
    com) in Co Leitrim.
    Most importantly, make sure
    you are safe. The best advice I
    have had from those I trust is to
    make sure that your instructor
    has, at least, a Level 3 qualification
    from the Irish Canoe
    Union in ROI, the Canoe Association
    of Northern Ireland or
    The British Canoe Union in the
    North. There is now a European
    Paddle Pass certificate as
    well. Instructors with only Levels
    1 or 2 means that they
    should only paddle in very sheltered
    and non-moving water,
    and no more than 50m from
    the shore. Always wear a life
    jacket, ideally a helmet if you
    are in rocky areas, tell your instructor
    of any medical problems
    and don’t feel you have to
    really paddle for Ireland. Just
    go out there and enjoy it from
    its quietest and most unexplored
    vantage points. On the
    water.
    Catherine is the author of Ireland
    Green Travel, a new travel
    app now available on iTunes
    app store, or follow on
    http://www.twitter.com/greenirelandapp.

    Reply

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