Writer Eugene O'Brien takes a trip on a canal boat through the heart of the midlands, experiencing his home county in a different - and much slower - way than usual.
Eugene is on board the 68M, what was once a hard-working canal boat.
The canals were once the motorways of Ireland. Up until 1960, they were a vital part of the country’s economy, carrying cargo from one end of the country to the other.
They pulled everything from flour, timber, beet-pulp, sugar, cement and Guinness. Lots of Guinness. Guinness was one of the biggest cargoes carried by the canal boats and, as skipper Gerry Burke tells us, the 68M was a "Guinness Boat". Purely to carry on this tradition, you understand, Gerry has installed a bar and a Guinness keg on board the boat.
Also on board the 68M for the week is Andy Maloney - a canal man. He worked on different boats for many years. It was the first job he ever had and he worked on the boats until the canals closed in 1960. Andy has lots of stories to tell, but all tales of canal men tapping the barrels of Guinness for their own means will be fervently denied!
Though the conditions were very harsh, Andy loved his time working on the canals and now he spends much of his time on board Gerry Burke’s immaculately restored 68M.
While travelling the Grand Canal, Eugene meets the passionate boat-owners who have dedicated much of their lives to restoring canal boats, the lockkeepers who have lived by the canal for generations, the old men who worked the boats... and he finds himself on a floating piece of history.
Produced by Nicoline Greer.
Additional recordings by Liam O’Brien.
Sound supervision by Mark McGrath.
Narrated by Eugene O’Brien.
First broadcast Saturday 30th March, 6pm
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