January 12th, 2024


Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way 2023

Written by

Richard Farrington

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By Richard. Posted on January 12th, 2024 in Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way 2023.

We had quite a bit of weather in Galway. Mainly of the  strong to gale force southerly with accompanying heavy rain variety. Fortunately Julie was working (with an excellent 4G signal at our berth in the marina). It meant that I could not progress the refurbishment of Escapade’s teak deck, but there were other compensations.

There has been quite a bit of discussion in sailing and motorhome circles about Calor Gas’ decision to halt supply of their smaller propane gas bottles across the UK. The problem is that most boats have a dedicated stowage for the bottles and it has to conform to regulations. Often they are made of glass fibre and carefully shoe-horned into a space near the stern of the boat. So effectively doubling the size of the bottle is not good news – unless you are the Camping Gaz supplier. As an owner, that means a new fitting and regulator and then a deep breath at the point of sale because the canny French people at Camping Gaz charge roughly 50% more for their butane than anyone else…  Fortunately Escapade is quite a big boat with a large locker capable of taking bigger bottles, so for us the change was not so challenging – especially when I went on a mission to find a new bottle in Galway. Brian the taxi driver was an experienced dinghy sailor who makes an annual pilgrimage to the London and now the Southampton Boat Show. We were so busy ‘gassing’ we missed the turning to the gas man. Who was brilliant: he swapped my empty 3.9kg for a full 6kg one at 50% of the price of the cost of the smaller one in my local Gosport chandlery. A shame it’s such a long way to go next time I need a refill!

Interestingly (for those readers who are still reading at least) in North America and the Caribbean you go to a supply depot and they refill your bottle in front of you. Revolutionary. Now why can’t the British suppliers do the same? I’ve heard recently that Calor have gone back on their decision – no doubt because they lost so many customers to the French! More to follow on this…

The River Corrib shapes this city, which has a strong literary and musical heritage as well as being an important maritime hub for the west of Ireland. The International Arts Festival was scheduled for the second half of July and there were a few things we’d like to have seen – notably some new work based on the writings of Sean O’Casey, a favourite playwright of mine. We toyed with the idea of amending our sailing plans to try to catch some of it, but when we investigated tickets it turned out that ‘most everything was sold out already. The Latin Quarter buzzes with fancy little shops selling stuff you didn’t know you needed and eateries and pubs, most offering some live music during some part of the day. I was keen to catch some traditional Irish stuff – one of my first records as a boy growing up in Cork was by Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy – but we struggled to find gigs that fitted in with our work schedule. No matter – we went to Monroes and listened to some more contemporary stuff with a traditional twist – the percussionist had a fine djembe drum – and the Guinness was good. We also discovered a very palatable Irish whiskey – Redbreast 12 year old, which I can recommend if you want something remarkably smooth (and in marked contrast to the peaty Islay whiskies that we have favoured since our adventure in the Highlands in 2017).  

There’s a fine chandlery within walking distance of the marina called Galway Maritime and I spent a couple of hours in there buying not very much but enjoying the conversation. We found an excellent fish restaurant called ‘Hooked’ which offers far more than just the ubiquitous ‘fish’n’chips’ and has a proper chef in the galley who knows about flavours and how to cook fish properly. The prices were reasonable and we went more than once!

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The port of Galway is controlled by the tide and the lock gates, like a few other things, need some refurbishment. The marina facilities are quite poor – certainly by Dingle standards – but the prices reflect that and the city has all the things you need. The harbour staff were very hospitable and told a story of frustrated development plans, conflicting interests, lack of investors, investors with unworkable ideas and general inactivity that would resonate through many maritime communities. The Celtic Tiger which has seen so much of Ireland prosper, seems to have avoided this important piece of infrastructure. 

Julie finished work on the Friday evening but the bad weather delayed our departure until the Saturday evening tide, so we overnighted at anchor in Rinville Bay, just outside the Yacht Club moorings. The following day we sailed for Inishbofin. Needless to say, there wasn’t much wind!