Weather has so often been the enemy on Athlone CIC events and Lough Ree can cause some to stay away rather han get involved but on this occasion Peter and Rosemary got that sorted in style. On the morning of Friday 3rd of June in the brilliant sunshine many were involved in the boat trip and social event for St Hildas and what a pleasure it was to be there.
The CIC fleet assembled at the jetties at Coosan and with music by Bernard and Patrice Coyle in the Lough Ree Inn and finger-food was provided by the venue. We should acknowledge Creta O’Leary of Lough Ree Inn who is a good friend to the branch for such occasions. It wasn’t a late night.
On Saturday morning there was a move to Athlone and final stocking up before most got through the lock before lunch and then on to Shannonbridge. Some stopped for snack but some pressed on towards Ballinasloe. We are all so familiar with the trip on the Shannon to Shannonbridge but we are not so often on the absolutely fabulous journey up the river Suck and through the lock at Ballyboy and on to Ballinasloe.
At Ballinasloe Peter and Rosemary had arranged for a walking historical tour which some availed of and then the real fun started at about 7.00pm with a little cheese and wine and “adult games” on the lawn at the marina. The so called “adult games” was mentioned on the itinerary but when Peter introduced a tray of eggs it was clear that this was only going one way. Couple pairings were drawn from a bowel and the egg and spoon relay race was first off and with eggs crashing all round we quickly had mass eliminations. Then we were on to the egg throwing and with the ladies throwing this too saw a high rate of attrition and the eventual winners were so slick that there was stewards enquiry as to whether the egg was boiled or not and this could only be confirmed by one method and so the egg was tested on the head of the winner to Peters announcement that “yes this and the winners are all good eggs”. Cleaning egg out of your hair is another matter however.
Then we had some bondage where the couples were required to undo their entanglement from ropes around their wrists and with some slick moves this was won in about 10 seconds with the rest struggling till they gave up defeated. The adult games concluded, as anticipated by most, with some indiscriminate egg throwing and Peter Lee, best prepared with a tray of eggs, coming out a clear winner. This was a fun if not a clean event and warmed everyone up for a night in An Tain pub.
An Tain had arranged food, as ordered, and after we had music and a great night all round and retiring to boats saw the group engage in a few late parties on board before retiring close to daylight. On Sunday morning we had the option of a treasure hunt and traditional music at An Tain.
The treasure hunt brought many around the town of Ballinasloe engaging in some banter along the way but also was a learning experience of the features of this historic town. Word has it the Adam Lee and company won the event which was open to town residents and all comers as well as those on the Athlone CIC. The music was a nice way to end our visit to the town.
The Ballinasloe business community had prepared well for the arrival of 24 boats on this CIC event and the harbour looked spectacular with such a fleet and was a source of major interest to locals, many coming specially to see the fleet in the harbour. Security was provided but was a light presence only and there was not even a suggestion of interference as Ballinasloe once again welcomed use of their lovely though underused harbour. We will be back!
As there was an early closing time on the lock most made the trip away from the harbour at lunch time and through the lock at Ballyboy where lock keeper David Coyne, ever courteous as he is, was in attendance. David will soon vacate this position as this lock is being automated in similar fashion to the locks on the Shannon Erne waterway.
On arrival back at Shannonbridge there was a donkey derby in progress and lots of loud music and Lukers was rocking. Most cooked on board and later one hell of a pontoon party struck up on the new floating jetties. This went on well into the night and once again daylight was beckoning by the time some called a halt.
Mondays on Athlone IWAI cruises are for recovery without any organised events and while some of us stopped at Clonmacnoise most travelled all the way to Athlone and back to marinas.
Many thanks go to Peter and Rosemary Lee for a thoroughly enjoyable and well organised weekend and for organising the fantastic weather. Thanks too to the business community at Ballinasloe for their assistance and arrangements and to the Lough Ree inn at Coosan. And of course these events cannot succeed without the cruising members of Athlone IWAI and this list is growing, though not everyone can make it to all events. See more pictures here.
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