We love walking by the canal, so much so it inspired my third book “Johnny Magory and the Wild Water Race”; but today a particular barge (canal boat) caught my eye and I believe it has a story worth telling.
I am fortunate enough to have had the beautiful Grand Canal in my life since I was a child because we grew up close to it; so I learned to fish for roach and perch in it and even swim in it!
Many an evening of my youth was spent walking along it with my family and I fondly remember the odd summers day when we would put my fathers small trawling boat on it and go for a ‘cruise’!
Those were exciting days, mammy would pack a picnic, daddy would pack the fishing rods and off we’d go on an adventure with all of the animals and fish that lived off this amazing engineering feat in the Irish landscape.
Passing on the Fun
My husband also had a similar upbringing with the Grand Canal so we think it’s only fitting that our children have the same albeit they have all had the luxury of learning to swim in heated indoor swimming pools!
Magical Floating Homes
Whilst the flora and fauna gets a lot of our attention on walks; it’s always the barges and boats in the canal that are winners. It’s such a slow, peaceful way of life; so hiring a barge for a week is definitely on the holiday bucket list in the next few years.
There are some truly spectacular homes in our local marina, Lowtown, outside of Roberstown, Co. Kildare; and some truly spectacular characters and friends to be found in them if you stop to chat.
The 52M is an old canal barge which was built in 1928 and has spent most of it’s life in or around Roberstown, Co. Kildare.
Now in disrepair the locals are asking for your help to restore this magnificent barge to it’s former glory.
The 52M has been synonymous with the village of Roberstown for nearly a century and had been a focal point for heritage in the area.
A Barge with a Story
Built in 1928 the 52M has a rich history of use as a workboat, tripper barge and leisure boat.
Unlike most barges though this one can boast having had a starring role in an RTE drama production starring Gabriel Byrne; hosting Rose of Tralee finalists and featuring on “Ear to the Ground”.
It can also boast having had my very own big sister work on it for a period as a tour guide, the privilege was all hers I’m sure!
This was during the 52M’s ‘hay-day’, the period circa 1970 to 2005 when it was used for festivals, weddings, bus-trips, provided canal tours for schools, local interest groups and numerous other businesses and general tourists.
In 2005 Muintir Na Tíre sold the Grand Canal Hotel, which had been operated as a heritage museum and restaurant, into private ownership and from this the fate of the 52M, which had also been operated by Muintir Na Tíre, was undecided for a number of years until it was transferred into the ownership of the RCAA (Roberstown Community Amenities Association).
Unfortunately, during the intervening period old age caught up with the 52M and it fell in to a state of disrepair however the RCAA now want to restore the 52M to its former glory and use it to promote Robertstown’s unique heritage.
Can you help?
Roberstown’s heritage is certainly one worth promoting, this area is steeped in history and culture and you can help out by donating to restore the 52M here
I know that the 52M is intertwined in the lives and tales of so many people across Ireland so I’d really love to hear your stories and memories in the comments below.
Some of the information in this post has been taken from the iDonate.ie page. Why not visit the RCAA’s Facebook page to lend your support
Click here to find out more on why the “Wild Water Race” is a book that’s close to my heart.
Until next week, sin é.
Follow the Story
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