The annual Water Festival took place in Athy recently. May 10th and 11th saw another successful event for the North Barrow Branch of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI), in attracting large numbers and in highlighting the use of Kildare’s waterways. As usual, the weekend kicked off with a barbeque and Trad session on the Friday night which, full of song and laughter, set the atmospheric tone of the weekend. Saturday morning followed with a fishing competition for junior angling enthusiasts, kindly organised by Athy & District Anglers. This was tailed by several demonstrations throughout the day with Athy Rowing & Canoeing Club illustrating the many different disciplines of Kayaking, Rowing and Canoeing. With several instructors on hand, the club not only introduced many members of the IWAI to the sports, but most of the public testing the water discovered a new passion for the coming summer. An ecumenical service at midday lay a blessing on all boats and users of Ireland’s rivers and canals. This was followed by a lock operating demo and a special water safety demo carried out by the local Civil Defence. Attracting the largest turn out of the weekend, the highly competitive Bertie Kernan memorial Raft Race, witnessed most participants taking a cool dip in the river Barrow, intentionally or not. First place this year was secured by the Cromaboo Paddlers while Clancy’s of Athy took the Best Dressed category having their innovatively designed raft, skippered by the Guinness Toucan. If there were prizes for enthusiasm, then they would surely have been awarded to Athy Men’s Shed and the Women’s Activity Group; who together from the off attacked all competitors with water bombs, water pistols and general tomfoolery. This potent mix of competitive spirit, horseplay and hysterical costumes spelt great entertainment for the spectating public. The very young were entertained throughout the day by many events including a local treasure hunt, while both young and old were found enthralled with a display of Vintage Fire Tenders. The entire weekend was greatly enjoyed by all who attended and provided the opportunity for the North Barrow Branch to highlight all Athy has to offer from a boating perspective. Many a conversation was had among the boating community regarding Athy’s unique location and exemption from the newly introduced Extended Mooring Permit by Waterways Ireland. This resulted in several vessels choosing to stay-on long term in Athy and take up the free mooring facilities at the jetty. The North Barrow Branch of the IWAI would like to thank all involved with the running of the weekend and extend a welcoming invitation to all members throughout the country wishing to moor their boat long-term in Athy.
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