I find barges are the best retreats, a wonderful way to be on the water"
No experience or licence needed
When you see the size of a barge you may immediately think it is complicated to drive, yet they are very simple with the tiller and lever for forward or back. With less than thirty minutes of instruction and less than an hour on the waterway you should feel very comfortable in command. Barges are built with steel hulls so everyone on board is very safe. Also, boats coming in the opposite direction always give a wide berth for barges, especially the fibre glass built cruisers. No boat driving licence required. Its not needed.
Ireland's barges are generally wider than the UK and Euro narrowboats
Most barges provide sleeping quarters for 6 adults with no children or 4 adults with up to 4 children. One or two of the sleeping quarters are usually separate bedrooms each with sinks, mirrors and generous size closets.
Barge galleys are home from home kitchens
You'll be amazed at the amenities, large gas cooking stoves, large sink with hot water, large refrigerator, lots of food and delph storage, large dining table too. The dining area also serves as a comfortable lounge made comfortable during cool evenings with the turf and wood burning stove. The whole barge is also heated by a wonderful gas central heating system piped through radiators throughout the barge. Many barges also have televisions and sound systems, as if you need them.
There's usually adaptors and transformers to charge up laptops, mobile phones, iPods, rechargeable batteries and so forth.
Even a bath in the bathroom
Many barges have the choice of shower or bath in the bathroom
Comfort and easy cruising
Most barges are tiller driven which does mean no cover from rain, but why worry?
Despite Ireland's reputation for rain there are very few days in the year when it rains all day in Ireland, and the most common time for raining is through the night and early morning. For anyone concerned about the weather a Dutch Barge can be hired. Their hire charge is about €100 to €200 a week more than traditional barges but they are wheel driven within a covered wheelhouse. My own preference is still the tiller, though, with the exhilaration of open air and the smells of nature, much better than being in a wheelhouse.
Remember, a barge hire is a package of accommodation and transport in one.
This is what makes hiring a barge incredible value. Of course, you'll never cover the miles a car or even a bicycle may manage but you'll actually see and discover much more. While on the waterway you'll see far different and far more interesting life than from a road.
And don't forget to relax
While cruising, only one person needs to steer. There's plenty of space on the fore deck where the engine sound is mute so all you really hear is the lapping water and the sound of nature. One warm and hot sunny days there's plenty of room on the strong roof for sunbathing. There's also plenty of places to to stop, shut down the engine and fish awhile. A group of 4 adults never need to be on top of each other. There's plenty of places around the barge to get a few moments of personal space and privacy so you can re-charge and get back into the fun of the group.
Where can you hire a barge?
I recommend the Shannon-Erne Waterway and Upper Lough Erne as the best
In my opinion these waterways offers more than all of the rest of Ireland's waterways put together. The variety of man made canals, nature's winding rivers, wild marshes teeming with wildlife and lakes with many mysterious islands are just not found on other Irish waterways. There's plenty of moorings for overnight stops or daytime adventures beside hidden remote beauty spots, uninhabited islands or in the heart of small but lively traditional Irish towns. Once you've tried this waterway you'll soon be back.
To book a barge in Ireland please get in touch with me
This links to my general enquiry form.
If you'll type in the dates you'll visit Ireland,
how many people coming with you
and a bit about your special interests
.... I'll send some package option details.