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11/03/2018 / hbrowne4

Grand Canal first night on the boat. Ronnie Moore

Michael and John were good friends by marriage as it were, John was married to Michaels sister and they had become friends over some forty years, Michael had bought a fibre glass boat shaped in the style of a caravan and he had spent the last summer repairing the interior and removing the old engine . He had made great progress with his repairs and asked John if he would go down to the boat with him to on Saturday to help him clean out his tools and pieces of wood and items he had used for repairing his boat. The idea was to tidy the boat from a workshop project to look more like a boat for the start of the boating season which generally starts on St Patrick’s weekend, when his wife the ‘Memsahib‘ and his children would wash and shine the boat and fit all those little bits and pieces that make it a home from home.
When they arrived on Saturday the boat was on the bank of the canal among a colourful collection of other boats.
The canal had a boatyard on the other side of the canal with about two hundred boats. The boatyard was in Lowtown just past the village of Robertstown in Kildare. It was a very busy and significant junction when the canal was at its peak in the 18’ hundreds when the waterways were the main means of heavy transport to and from the small town and the cities and their sea harbours. Michael’s boat was a small cruiser of 23 ft and looked very like a caravan with a wide flat hull

The wide hull was essential in order to avoid the boat moving too much when someone boarded the boat and spilled the Memsahib’s glass of wine.

They tidied out almost all of the spare parts and Mike’s tools then they fitted the outboard engine that Mike had collected from the service mechanic and connected it to the back of the boat.
Most of the morning was spent talking and they had a pleasantly long lunch with Mary and Peter who were tiding their boat next to Mike’s boat.
Theirs was a 27’ Seamaster and they had their gas cooker connected to boil some water for tea.
Mike and John had bought some sandwiches on their way to Lowtown So they brought them over to have for lunch.
The tea tasted particularly well as it always does after a little work and drinking it outside in the fresh air.

The conversation turned to what they might be doing later Mary asked Mike and John if they would be staying overnight and going for a drink later as she planned to go with Peter and some other friends later that evening.
After lunch they finished putting the working gear into Mike’s car and spent some time dusting and washing inside the boat to clean away the heavy dust as the finer washing and polishing would need the supervision of the Memsahib to do this properly.
Peter called over with a pot of tea “for the workers “ he said to announce his arrival, The three of them sat discussing the canals and interesting things they had seen and done while on the canals and the waterways.
The talk then turned again to the Barge pub which was a short walk from the boat to just pass the lockkeepers house.
They all agreed that there was enough sleeping bags and mattresses for Mike and John to stay. And so it was that they decided that it was just a matter of calling home to see if they could get the necessary passes to stay over night.
Peter went back to his boat and mike and John telephoned home. Mike went outside to call and John stayed inside the boat.
They were both successful and they would get to spend the first night on the boat although it was on the bank of the Grand Canal.



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