Cruising the River Barrow on a narrowboat has been on my bucket list for several years. After much planning and anticipation, a group of 9 of us were finally in Ireland and embarking on a week long river trip through the Irish countryside between Rathangan and Carlow.
Where??? you might ask…
That was precisely the point. Traveling through canals in the Irish countryside means visiting towns that tourists don’t normally see.
Here’s a taste of what you see traveling via narrowboat on the River Barrow:
We rented our narrowboats from Barrowline Cruisers, and divided into three boats, five of us on the largest (50′ x 10′), and two each on the two additional “smaller” boats (50ft x 6′ 6″). All boats were fully equipped with beds, bathrooms w/running showers, fully equipped kitchen, and of course, peat burning stoves, which came in useful one very rainy day. The weather was otherwise unbelievably sunny and warm for late September.
The locks along the River Barrow are typically attended by a lock keeper. If you’re traveling the river via narrowboats, it’s important, however, to know how to work them yourselves as well, in case the lock keeper is not available (days off, after hours, holidays, etc).
This time lapse shows our experience at the first of many locks we encountered. Our Lock Keeper, Joe, was a great teacher, and thank goodness for that, because we did, indeed, encounter many locks along the rest of our journey that we had to work ourselves!
We had intended on traveling much farther south, but one heavy rain day mid-trip caused the river to rise several inches, which could have potentially made pushing our huge boat back upriver with its relatively small engine a huge challenge (never mind the difficulty of seeing weirs, which you never want your boat to go over, when the water is high). We ended our trip after 7 great days, though we had originally intended on 10.
We were sad to cut our river trip short, but it did mean a couple of extra bonus days we didn’t intend to have free, and we decided to head to Cork City to begin the next leg of our adventure, which would eventually bring us back to Dublin, over to Galway, and then down and around the southern coast.
See the rest of my highlights from our Ireland adventures:
Part 1 of 6: Dublin
Part 2 of 6: River Barrow by Narrowboat
Part 3 of 6: Cork City, Cobh, and Spike Island
Part 4 of 6: Galway and Cliffs of Moher
Part 5 of 6: Dingle Peninsula, Killarney, and Ring of Kerry
Part 6 of 6: Bantry, Kinsale, and Kilkenny