Ballyvaughan to Lough Derg

Day 118, Friday 28 April

Fully rested and refuelled after a day off in Ballyvaughan, in the company of two good women (it’s OK, I’m married to at least one of them) it is time to re-load the mule (sorry Fondo) and set off, away from the Burren coast for three days.

Heading for the inland waters of Lough Derg today, Lough Ree tomorrow (each having an RNLI Inshore Lifeboat Station) then back to Galway on Sunday.

A new challenge: How do I find the next two Lifeboats by the usual method of just keeping the sea on my left, when they’re not anywhere near the sea? Easy. A good old paper map, a tiny Garmin and a pair of divining sticks. It seemed to work but I could swear the last 15 miles were via the lush rolling hills of Devon.

73 miles and 5hrs 30 mins of cycling later, I was greeted at Lough Derg Inshore Lifeboat Station by a great welcoming committee! Many thanks to Liam, (LOM) for mustering so many of his local RNLI team, including Laura, Niamh and Pat from the fundraising committee; Claire (Training co-ord) and Dean (ILB crew). Thank you all for turning out. In this idyllic setting it was easy to understand why so many people are drawn to the waters of this huge lough, and why each year a number of them underestimate the hazards and get into difficulties. Lough Derg Lifeboat Station was declared operational on 25 May 2004. Located at Dromineer on the eastern shore of Lough Derg, the largest lake on the Shannon, stretching for 22 miles from Portumna in the north to Killaloe in the South. But it’s not only those on yachts, cruisers and in kayaks that are rescued by these local Lifeboat volunteers. I heard some very interesting tales of animal rescue in recent years! This was the first fresh-water RNLI Station to be set up in Ireland. Surely, after 13 years of service, now deserving better accommodation and facilities than a Portacabin and a couple of small shipping containers.

Thanks once more to the good people of Dromineer, including Liam for sorting my accommodation at Declan’s perfectly sighted and very comfortable Lough Derg House on the lake shore, including a very full, Full Irish and porridge breakfast with great home made bread. Cheers also to the jolly Margaret & Pauline and Caleb at The Whiskey Still, another great food pub. Seafood Tagliatelle highly recommended.

Good luck with the Mayday fundraising events!

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