Nationalist Laois – Michael G’s marathon trip on the river was a labor of absolute love
By Joe Barrett
PHILEAS Fogg, the fictional eccentric Englishman, may have been around the world in 80 days in Jules Verne’s famous novel, but a Laois might just be about to write his own book about paddling the rivers from Laois in 100 days.
On April 1, Michael G Phelan started his challenge to paddle some of the many tributaries around the Erkina River in 40 days to raise money for the Erkina Blueway.
The fundraiser was so successful that he spread it over 60 days. His challenge aroused great interest, so much so that sponsors and companies joined him, which pushed him to continue paddling for 100 days.
Since the start of the challenge, Michael G, who is a member of the Woodenbridge Paddlers, has crossed sections of the Slaney River from Enniscorthy to Wexford, as well as sections of Nore and Barrow and the Grand Canal from Vicarstown to Athy. He also spent time on the Gaul and Glosha Rivers, Grantstown Lake and at Ballinakill on Mass Lough and Gill’s Pond.
Michael G said he paddles an average of seven kilometers per day, covering around 700 km during his epic adventure.
He also wrote his daily adventures on the Woodenbridge Paddlers Facebook page, documenting the towns and villages and the people and locals who once lived along the river banks.
In an article he wrote: “My thoughts are with the surnames which no longer exist in the area. Like the Ruth family of Ballygarvan, and at Gurteen, where the site of their house, which later fell into progress. , I passed several times on the way of the river.This site occupies a place in the history of a time of great unrest in the country at the beginning of the 20th century.
âOther last names that are no longer include my great-great-uncle John Scadden, as well as Ryans, Dempsey, Fitzpatrick, Nolan, Pearson, Delaney, Lalor, Bailey, Hyland, Loughman and Newman (all Ballygarvan). Cahill and Kenna (Kyletilloge), Harvey, Muir, Tobin, Collie, Fitzpatrick, Harper, (Oldglass)
Walsh, Hughes, Benham, Bergin, Warren, Whelan, Larkin, Sheehan, Powell, Dunphy, McNally, Harvey, Steward, Downey, McCrea, Gorman, Loughman, Hiney, Deegan, Ruth, Lidwell, Doyle, Begadon, Rafter, (Ballyboodin ) …
âSome of those long gone people had great minds. Like an oft-told story of a shopkeeper calling Ned Cahill and, seeing that he was missing a chisel, asked if Ned would have one. Ned duly obliged. After inspecting the chisel, the trader remarked “he’s seen better days”, to which Ned’s quick response was “he’s seen better men too”.
Michael G also said that his 100 Days on the Water “highlighted the number of businesses that exist in the Woodenbridge area, while we will also remember some of the past establishments that have served the community over a long period of time. period at other times –
Harvey Rathmakelly Store, Geoghegan Ballyboodin Store, Warren Ballyboodin Bike Store, Newman Ballygarvan Store, Costigan Cannonswood Store, Ann Tentore Store, Skehan Derreen Store, Whelan Derreen Store, Newtown Mill, Loughman’s with Griffe Tentore and Forge Tentore schools.
On the last morning of his epic journey, Michael G was joined by Jim Ryan, Bernard Ryan and Michael Dunphy – the original crew of the Woodenbridge Paddlers’ very first long distance outing in October 1999 from Woodenbridge to John’s Bridge in Kilkenny. .
Talk to ***Laois nationalist***, Michael G said the reason for the challenge was to raise funds to develop a blue lane along the Erinka River.
He has raised â¬ 15,000 to date, “with more to come”.
He said work has started on the blue lane, which will cover a distance of 7.2 km from Durrow to the Boston Bridge.
He said the completed project, which will cost more than â¬ 250,000, is supported by Laois Partnership, Laois Sports Partnership, Laois County Council and other local agencies and organizations.
Michael G was honored that the Erkina Blueway project was piloted by Blueways Ireland as the first Blueway on a minor river in the country.
He is now thinking of writing about his 100 day adventure along the various rivers.