Irish Sailing Happenings

Offshore veteran Damian Foxall discusses sustainability in sailing
 In the past few weeks, we've had the pleasure of attending the Irish Sailing Cruising Conference in Athlone and the Irish Cruising Club's Annual Dinner in Killarney. At the Conference, we won a night in a glamping pod at Kilrush Marina, so we made a side trip from Killarney to Kilrush to try it out. Turned out to be great fun.

The Irish Sailing Cruising Conference
At the IS Cruising Conference, we heard about the restrictions on diesel sales to pleasure boats, the need to remove plastic waste from our liveaboard experience, MOB learnings from a real situation, and so much more. I'm so pleased to have been part of the inaugural conference and subsequent editions as well. So worth it. Thanks Gail McAllister for the job you do there.

The Irish Cruising Club Annual Dinner in Killarney
The Irish Cruising Conference is always a blast. This time, 238 people descended on Killarney. The Friday night reception for new members was great fun. We made the point of welcoming new members and telling them of our experience as members. The following morning, we walked with a great guide through Killarney National Park, seeing the old growth forests and herds of native deer among the stunning views of the McGillicuddy Reeks and lakes. The dinner was great fun as somehow Alex and I were seated at the Commodore's table - front and centre - and we got to meet and enjoy the company of Brad and Ann Willauer of the CCA. We had so many friends in common it was a hoot, and an entirely Irish experience (1 degree of separation) with an American twist.

McGillicuddy Reeks from Killarney House

On our way home, Mrs. Google had us traveling on the tiny lanes of rural Ireland toward the ferry to Kilrush in County Clare. I was driving as Alex was the worse for wear. I'd gone to sleep at 2:30 am but he stayed on till about 4. That's when the bar was scheduled to close. These ICC social gatherings can be hard work. Anyway, the ferry saved us many miles and hours of driving and took us and our car by boat across the might Shannon River in 20 minutes for €20.

Car ferry across the Shannon River

On the ferry, we realized we were parked exactly behind the owners of the Kilrush Marina, the Keatings, who gave us lots of tips about things to see and do in Kilrush.

At the Marina, we were met by Simon McGibney, manager and great guy - so chuffed to be the new POR for OCC. He showed us around and gave us the keys to the pod we'd won a night's stay in. So amazingly comfortable! Surprising in its amenities. A microwave, hot and cold water sink, tea and coffee, a fridge, a heater and beds for three - a double and single. There's a folding table and chairs for the "porch" and the whole thing floats tied to a pontoon. Quite excellent. A bit of a distance from the toilets, but not a bother. You get to view the stars en route! It was a nice experience and our first of glamping. Quite useful if you're doing work on your boat. There is a dearth of accommodation in Kilrush and this is quite pleasant. The reviews on Airbnb are excellent and Kilrush Marina, and specifically Simon, are rated as Superhosts.

Glamping pods at Kilrush Marina

We also got a tour of the facilities in the boat yard. OMG what a difference from when we had Aleria there for repairs with Steve Morris, topnotch shipwright. It was close to a junkyard back then in 2010. Now, it's being restored, reclaimed and upgraded on all fronts. And Steve is still there building boats, beautiful boats. The whole place is abuzz.

Steve Morris and Alex viewing the Dublin Bay 21 boat building project underway. 
Here are a few things we learned that might be helpful.

  • Kilrush Marina will supply white diesel to pleasure boats in 2020 whether by pump or by truck
  • There's a rope chandler on site now that can source other supplies
  • The locked marina gates are self-operated and the channel is being dredged every year
  • The facilities are immaculately maintained
  • They've made a significant commitment to continual upgrading and expansion
  • A children's water park is scheduled to go into the inner harbour and so all effort is on maintaining water quality to a high standard
  • There are plans for a pump out facility
  • Haulout and winter storage can accommodate almost any pleasure vessel with a 45t Travelhoist
  • They can handle most repairs 
  • They are open to suggestions
And Simon McGibney couldn't be nicer or more knowledgeable and accommodating. He is entirely service oriented. It's a place where lots of good stuff is happening with very positive vibes overall. Well done Mr. Louis Keating!

Market day in Kilrush

In Kilrush

On Sunday, Kilrush felt awfully quiet. Most parking spaces were empty. Shops were closed. Restaurants had limited hours. It is off season after all. Monday morning was a different story. It was market day and the town was jammin'. Not a free parking space to be had. Market stalls, animals of all shapes and sizes. Merchant men and women hawking their wares. It was stimulating.

We were given grief for mentioning only Crotty's on previous blog posts. It's still there under new ownership. We were given specific instructions to visit Buggles Pub and B&B, a traditional pub built circa 1800, owned and operated by three generations of the same family. Its warm, relaxing atmosphere is welcoming and the adjoining Bed and Breakfast is of the finest quality with large spacious rooms.

There are several good restaurants in town now, including the highly rated Amici Bistro & Restaurant. Kelly's Bar - Steak and Seafood House does good gastropub fare.

For breakfast we were told to visit the Buttermarket Cafe or the Potter's Hand, but we had bought some yogurt and had coffee and tea on a sunny morning outside on the deck, soaking up the sun. They both looked very inviting and get top marks on Tripadvisor.

We tried to get to Kilkee as advised to travel along the coastal drive on the way home, but the road was closed. Another time. It was overall a very pleasant visit and we plan to return, with boat next time.

Next we'll be off to Wales for the Ocean Cruising Club Annual Awards Dinner and AGM. Stay tuned.

Gap of Dunloe

Pod in Kilrush

New Hooker being built

Steve Morris

Dublin Bay 21

Simon and Alex

Simon in the Rope Locker

The boat shed

45 ton Travelhoist


Fuel dock, credit card operated. May soon have pumpout station.

Some room left


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