Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Boats to dock in Mullingar Harbour during festival

Following huge success in 2022, ‘Float to the Fleadh’ will return to Mullingar this year and will see dozens of boats voyage along the Royal Canal and dock in Mullingar Harbour for the ‘craic agus ceol” from 5 to 13 August.

‘Float to the Fleadh’ is run by the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) Royal Canal branch who are experienced in running the event, having hosted it in Tullamore for three years (2007-2009).

IWAI members throughout the 32 counties of Ireland will all be participating and bringing boats to the harbour for eight days during Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2023.

Chair of the local branch, Denis Baker, said it should be a spectacle for visitors to enjoy:

“Mullingar Harbour on the Royal Canal is the venue and will see the usually tranquil harbour come alive with colour and atmosphere as up to forty large boats will fill the harbour.”

“Although this is essentially a members event it should be a fabulous spectacle and we welcome members of the public to come down to see the boats and say hello!”

Denis said it’s the flagship event for ‘2020s BC’ (Big Cruise, a programme of events created by the IWAI to increase boat traffic on the Royal Canal.

“We have been working with Waterways Ireland to improve conditions for boating on these waterways. By creating an events schedule early each year we can promote a variety of options for canal cruising through the year.

“We will be building upon the 2020s BC throughout the remaining decade, to help raise the awareness of the enjoyment that a boat tourism experience along our canal network can offer.”

Float to the Fleadh is supported by Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands.

After much interest in the event this year it is expected that Mullingar Harbour will host a high-volume of boats it hasn’t seen in years, continued Denis.

“Logistically this is a big event, the largest number of cruisers and barges at one boat rally since the restoration and reopening of the Royal Canal in 2010,” he said.

“Movements of boats each weekend through July have been coordinated with Waterways Ireland who have facilitated and helped the boats in their moves towards Mullingar.”

“This is a wonderful opportunity to highlight the potential of canal boat tourism to more Shannon based boaters and to midland tourism bodies.”

The IWAI plan to build on the event and increase the number of boats on the Royal Canal over many years to come in a bid to promote inland boating tourism in Ireland.

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