These are the adventures of Andy and Sally Rawnsley on their narrowboat "The Puzzler". We have been living on the boat for over nine years now and are still loving it. Our Ulster born Shih Tzu, Shannon, has grown up, and has taken over the boat! After three wonderful years in Ireland, we transported The Puzzler to The Netherlands, and spent a year there. In 2015 we went southwards, to reach the north of France by June. After glorious weather throughout the summer, we arrived in Roanne in late October, and enjoyed our winter in this friendly port. We cruised extensively in France in 2016 and 2017, returning to Roanne each winter.

Friday, 3 August 2012

20th - 25th July. From Mullingar on down The Royal Canal towards Abbeyshrule.

The Cathedral of Christ the King in Mullingar is a splendid building.

It is impressive inside too, with seating for over 1000 people.

We spent five nights at Mullingar, including a weekend, and had no trouble at all. As long as you have a key for the gate, you can use the most secure part of the mooring. Mullingar is quite a big town and we enjoyed watching greyhound racing as well as Gaelic football during our stay here.
Andy's sister, Elaine and our mutual friend Mary, joined us at Mullingar on Tuesday, and we cruised on along The Royal Canal to Coolnahay Harbour. There were a few boats moored here, and it was a very well kept lock, with many flowers about.
We were particularly impressed by the "flower boats".

Having a keen crew, we are now working the locks ourselves. Elaine is finding the paddles a bit stiffer than those in England, but it is not a problem.

Here at lock 31 is another attractive lock cottage. On The Royal Canal most of these cottages are inhabited, unlike The Grand Canal.
We had not yet decided where to spend the night, but a crowd of youngsters by the quay in Ballynacargy made that an undesirable spot. A wild mooring further on was very pleasant. There is no worry here of boats passing too fast and pulling your mooring stakes out. We have only seen one other boat moving so far! Wednesday evening brought an interesting mackerel sky.

This developed into another lovely sunset.

On approaching Bog Bridge we were intrigued by the apparent lack of any access road to it.

I found the reason for this. The hump over the bridge is extremely steep!

Andy and Elaine waited patiently down below!

We sailed past Ballymaglavy Bog, where work was in full progress. The cut peat is being stacked and covered, to allow it to dry out.
As we cruised along we were treated to an air display of aerobatics with the plane travelling along the canal with us for about half an hour. The dictionary definition of aerobatics is "feats of expert and usually spectacular flying and manoeuvring of aircraft" and this was certainly true! We felt very honoured to have a private display as he practised his moves in the air above us.
As we approach Abbeyshrule, the canal crosses the Inny River.  Look closely to see The Puzzler and crew on the aqueduct! This river flows into Lough Ree and the Royal Canal could have ended there. However it was decided that as Lough Ree is not suitable for barges in windy weather, then the canal should now head north, to join the Shannon at Richmond Harbour in Clondara. We visited the River Inny from Lough Ree in late May, but did not venture this far upstream.


  1. Life on a boat sounds great. Thank you for bringing me home with the pictures and stories. You get a very different view of Ireland than most people do and it is beautiful. Safe travels and thank you for sharing your discoveries.

  2. I'm planning a trip in June and your photos are inspiring! I'm excited to be based in Mullingar and see some of these sights you shared. Thank you kindly! Kathleen O'Reilly-Wild