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Cruising in the time of Covid - what's it like to holiday on Ireland's waterways now?

What’s it like to holiday on Ireland’s waterways in a pandemic? Conor Power finds out with a staycation on the River Shannon

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River life: Conor Power, with his wife Fiona on their cruise boat on the Shannon. Photo: James Connolly

River life: Conor Power, with his wife Fiona on their cruise boat on the Shannon. Photo: James Connolly

River life: Conor Power, with his wife Fiona on their cruise boat on the Shannon. Photo: James Connolly

I have an admission to make: I absolutely love river cruising.

There is nothing more addictive, more tranquil and more fun. You take a slow-moving vessel on the water and you just go and visit a series of towns. It’s a simple idea, and you may have visited some of these places before, but even villages that seem mundane to drive through are transformed into exquisite little pieces of paradise when you arrive into them by boat.

For the most part, this is how these places were built to be explored — from the water. Virtually all of the villages along the River Shannon were developed during an era when the waterways were the highways. In between, you’re cruising through fields, but you’re also seeing them anew. Instead of seeing them from the roadway at 80kph, you’ve got a completely different, almost inverted, view of it all, and at the much more sedate pace of about 5kph.