Irish boating holiday the perfect way to take in sights of farming as well as helping the economy
I hope that you were able to take a holiday or, better still, that you have one planned to which you can still look forward. Generally, farmers are not big takers of holidays. Money is tight or there is nobody to look after the farm and livestock.
Even when they can extract themselves from the farm, it is likely to be farming related. I know farmers whose annual break is the few days at the National Ploughing Championships.
It's no bad thing that we are so interested in farming topics that even on holiday we like to talk shop and exchange the chat with other farmers.
When the average punter travels across the country he or she can certainly enjoy the scenery. Farmers too can appreciate the scenery but their real interest is in what is in the fields. An interest in farming enhances any cross country trip.
The most relaxing of all ways to view the Irish countryside is to travel on the country's waterways. In the past few days I have enjoyed a boating break on the Shannon.
One of the many blessings that came with my wife was a 21ft sailing boat that is now over 40 years old (the boat). After some hairy experiences at sea, in recent years we have settled to keeping this boat on the Shannon system. Here she can travel mostly by engine, but the lakes facilitate sailing as well.
If your desire is to get from A to B in record time stay away from the waterways. Boat cruising on Ireland's waterways is the ultimate in leisure travel and tranquility. It also affords a close up view of farming activity plus some of the country's most unique habitats. Once, when I had to travel by river from Killaloe to a farm walk in Lanesboro, Co Leitrim, it took three days for the trip.
From an agricultural perspective, working from the northern banks of Shannon Erne waterway, you start with the high quality suckler and dairy herds in Fermanagh. Next you have the drumlins and busy farmyards (and deep locks) of Cavan. Leitrim brings its mix of Angus and Continental cattle plus the woodlands and bog. This culminates in the peat burning station at Lanesboro where the warmed water from the plant leads to a bountiful supply of fish. (The same fish pattern is repeated further down river at Shannonbridge.)