The weather forecast has been threatening a code red for days now, as the sky casts a grey cloak across its horizon. Gusts of wind can be seen charging down the Cooleys, scattering the waves retreating from its path, racing and running in every which direction…. Carlingford Lough is not in a good mood today. We pass it by on our way to Newry, where a great canal was built over generations, to supply coal from County Tyrone to the homes and the wheels of industry in Dublin. Newry, known as Iúr Cinn Trá as Gaeilge - which means the yew tree at the head of the strand, became a very busy port after the loughs were enlarged to allow greater sea ships to dock here, but unfortunately the rest of the canal was allowed to almost fade away. But for volunteers who keep it open for the future generations, sections would have disappeared years ago. We slipped the currachs into the waters, sheltered by the mountains and forests all around, and off they flew, with the wind on their backs, they were headed for Newry. On turning the last bend, 20 plus fishermen sat silently by the banks contemplating I imagine, until two black currachs wolfed up through their favourite pool. ‘Live and let live…. there’s room for everyone,’ I’m sure they were thinking. The lock gates at Victoria Lock had 18ft carved at the water line, small diggers and machinery could be seen resting, but once the weekend passes, they will be busy again constructing a cycle route through the oak and cherry trees that shade this great canal.
We passed the last of the yawls of Dundalk Bay on the way home, made from a larch tree that had fallen at Slane Castle, by a man whose foresight sawed the wood up and seasoned it in his attic for the next 10 years, before building this magnificent boat, working off measurements and plans from an old wreckage that lay in the mud in Dundalk Bay.