The Boy of Hope Lough Erne challenge was successfully completed. To see photos and comments go to the DIARY TAB when you have finished with this page.
To see a TV segment filmed by Fermanagh TV either click on the following link or copy and paste into your browser:
Official Launch at Belturbet public launching ramp, Thursday August 6, at 6:30 P.M. Public welcome. Her Excellency Priscilla Jana, Ambassador from South Africa will officiate.
VENUE: Belturbet launching ramp, close to the bottom of Upper Lough Erne – public welcome .
WILL NEW BENCHMARK RECORDS BE ESTABLISHED THIS YEAR BY THE 73 YEAR OLD ADVENTURER??
Starting August 6th, Don (AKA Donnacha) will attempt to make the first transit of the entire Erne Navigation in a live-aboard boat which has no engine.
The beginning of the Erne Navigation is at Belturbet and it ends at Belleek. If successful he will have been involved in rowing the boat and gear, weighing in excess of one ton, over 600 miles over the bottom in the past 3 years to draw attention to and raise funds for little Tony, who he calls The Boy of Hope. This title for Tony was originally coined by the RTE Crew from NATIONWIDE that made the July 6, 2008 segment of the program called BOY OF HOPE.
Donnacha now uses this title for Tony because of all the people in India, Europe and the United States who have had their lives changed for the better through Tony’s influence.
CORK COUNTY MAYOR KICKS OFF BOY OF HOPE LOUGH ERNE CHALLENGE 2009
Cllr. Derry Canty, County Cork Mayor is pictured above delivering a message of approval and encouragment for the project to those assembled in the magnificent Cork County Chambers, which is patterned after the European Parliment Chambers. In addition to the official kick off in the Cork Council Chamers those present enjoyed refreshments provided by the Mayor’s office. News of the event will be posted on the Cork County web site.
Photograph above taken by Mary O Connor outside County Cork Council Chambers on July 15, AD 2009. From the left side of the photograph: Donnacha, Cllr. Derry Canty Cork County Mayor, Connor O’Leary representing Donoughmore Co. Cork, Jack Donovan Logistics planner for the Challenges, Kieran Riordan Director of IN HIS FOOTSTEPS, Kellie Donovan donation card coordinator
The segment below was copied and pasted from the County Cork Counsels web site.
OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF FUNDRAISER FOR CHARITY FOR “BOY OF HOPE” CHALLENGE”.
Cllr. Derry Canty, Mayor of County Cork, hosted the Official launch of the “BOY OF HOPE LOUGH ERNE CHALLENGE 2009 at County Hall.
Donnacha Attig, who is originally from Chicago but has lived in Ireland most of the time since 1977 and in Donoughmore, Co. Cork for the past 21 years, is taking part in the BOY OF HOPE Charity Challenge to raise money for a brilliant and highly talented boy who was born in India with severe physical deformities.
Starting July 30th Don (AKA Donnacha) Attig will attempt to make the first transit of the entire Erne Navigation in a live aboard boat which has no engine. The beginning of the Erne Navigation is at Belturbet and it ends at Belleek. If successful he will have been involved in rowing the boat and gear, weighing in excess of one ton, over 600 miles in the past 3 years to draw attention to and raise funds for little Tony, who he calls The Boy of Hope.
Donnacha is raising money for ten-year-old Tony, from Tamil Nadu, who he says has a remarkable intelligence and lust for life despite being born with no arms and only one boneless leg. He uses this title for Tony because of all the people from India, Europe and the United States who have had their lives changed for the better through Tony’s influence.
Pictured at the launch (from left) Cork County Mayor, Cllr. Derry Canty, Donnacha Attig and Jack Donovan of the Boy of Hope Challenge
Official launching of boat will be at Belturbet public ramp, Thursday August 6 at 6:30 P.M.
Her Excellency Priscilla Jana, Ambassador from South Africa will officiate.
BELOW IS AN EVENING ECHO ARTICLE ON THE PROJECT KICK OFF BY THE COUNTY MAYOR
This project is dependent upon a lot of people working together to help make our world a better place for all men to live in. If you think you might like to become part of our “GUNG HO GANG”, by passing a card around to your friends or making a donation, please go to the DONATE tab to find out details. THANKS !
The Chinese sign above, the name plate on the boat, and this year’s BOY OF HOPE fundraiser sign were all made by our friends from SOUTHERN SIGNS at 83 to 85 Douglas St. in Cork City, who have done great work for us over the years.
_One of the few days during the AD 2008 Shannon Challenge when sail alone propelled Omar’s River Bird. The material for the sail was a much needed and appreciated donation from McWilliam Sail-maker’s of Crosshaven and Tom of Tom’s Lorri Covers, Forgehill Business Park interrupted a very busy schedule to sew the top grade clothe into the sail of our design. It is a type of sail used in China and much of the Orient.
Please note the IWAI flag whipping in the breeze. (it shows I was sailing to the wind against the prevailing wind. The IWAI flag is always flown during our Challenge. It’s a great organization and does a super job of promoting our waterways. The members have always given us great encouragement and support!
Without the help of people like the above we could not succeed in keeping the BOY OF HOPE project on line. If you would like to join them on the GUNG HO team by circulating cards or any other means please look for ways to do so by clicking on the “DONATE” TAB” Thanks!
THE CHALLENGE, THE OBSTACLES, AND THE HAZARDS
Trying to propel over one ton of live-aboard boat on a river system, without the aid of an engine, is a daunting task. It is an ultimate challenge of skill, strength, determination, patience, and endurance.
A great deal of wind resistance is inherent in the nature of a boat that has sleeping accommodations, enclosed head, cooking facilities, and even a turf-burning stove. All this wind resistance means that a rower is not only trying to move a great deal of weight by means of laying into the oars he is also required to expend enough effort to overcome the effects of the wind. This is always difficult, sometimes diabolically so, and often becomes impossible. When the latter happens, if the boat is not anchored in time, it can become blown onto a hazard and perhaps damaged or destroyed.
This is a quote from Northern Ireland’s publicty site about Navigation on the Erne. Their full page with photos is at the bottom of this page. “The lakeside is high and rocky in some parts and, in addition to the 154 islands, there are coves and inlets to explore. When the wind blows, navigation on Lower Lough Erne running for 26 miles almost to the Atlantic, can be something of a challenge with waves of open-sea dimensions.” (underlining mine) Shallow Upper Lough Erne, flowing south-east of Enniskillen for about 12 miles, is a maze of islands and you need a chart to find your way.
Consider that the above warnings are coming from a site that is trying to encourage you to go boating on the Erne!
Prior to the BENCHMARK RECORD ESTABLISHING efforts of Jack Donovan and Donnachain AD 2007 it had been considered impossible to take a live-aboard equipped boat the length of the Shannon without an engine.
People who knew about boats and boating on rivers were in universal agreement that no crew could successfully challenge the entire Shannon Navigation, with its 6 locks, 9 loughs, 33 bridges, 6 locks (including the 100 plus foot descent at Ardnacrusha), and the contrary prevailing winds using a live-aboard boat without an engine. It had been done in canoes, kayaks, schuls and other types of light boats without an engine –BUT NEVER IN AN ENGINE-LESS BOAT EQUIPPED FOR LIVING ABOARD! At the time of their challenge Jack was 60 and had suffered from MS for over two decades and Donnacha was 71. They not only made the Shannon Navigation – they made it all the way to the Seaport of Tarbot!
WHO SAYS YOU GET OLD AT RETIREMENT AGE??
Last year Donnacha made virtually the same transit single handed ending his effort at the port of Foynes.
To our knowledge no one has ever transited the entire Erne Navigation in a live-aboard boat without an engine.
Starting (date in early August to be inserted) AD 2009 Donnacha will attempt to do just that. He is taking on this challenge mainly to highlight and raise funds for his best buddy, little Tony THE BOY OF HOPE, from Tamil Nadu in the exotic land of India.
After the experiences of Shannon Challenge 2007 and Shannon Challenge 2008, we have a fair idea of what lies ahead for this senior citizen as he takes on The Boy Of Hope Lough Erne Challenge, starting July 30, for Tony, for the challenge of doing something that has never been attempted, and to show that life need not end at retirement.
In both 2007 and 2008 OMAR’S RIVER BIRD (the boat Donnacha is using) was driven into the reeds several times. This can happen from sudden and violent wind squalls or (as more often is the case) when a novice rental boat skipper does not grasp the limitations of a boat without and engine and does not understand that a boat without an engine has the right of way over a vessel that is being propelled by power. On one occasion during the 2007 effort it took Jack and Donnacha almost a full day to get OMAR’S RIVER BIRD out of the reeds and it almost always requires a minimum of two or three hours of gut busting effort to get back into the channel once the boat is driven into the reeds.
In 2007 a violent squall line on Lough Boderg drove OMAR’S RIVER BIRD to within ten meters of the rocks before the over-sized anchor finally dug in and caught. If the anchor had not set the boat would have been pounded into kindling wood on the rocks. During a storm, which OMAR’S RIVER BIRD was weathering on Lough Ree, two large cruisers ended up on the rocks. The morning radio news from Shannon Side Radio reported that one of them appeared to be a write off. (these were full powered vessels)
One day during the first challenge, with both of the crew rowing at maximum sustainable effort for twelve hours, at the end of the day they had to give up and return to the same berth they had vacated at 5 a.m., or there about. Several times during the day they were less than the length of a football pitch to the turning point, where the wind would no longer be bow on and they could have then worked their way down the lake under oar and sail.
In the early stages of Shannon Challenge 2008 Donnacha was only yards from the turn going into the Drumbshambo pool, where the wind would have been abeam and he would have been sheltered by a tree line, when a vicious squall hit Omar’s River Bird and drove him three hundred yards back up the channel. As he struggled back against the post-squall wind twice the boat moved slowly backwards for fifteen minutes – loosing a few feet a minute while Donnacha was rowing as hard as he could without breaking oar locks. Then when he was less than fifty yards from the turning point the wind started slowly shoving him back and in over an hour’s time he lost a hundred or hundred and fifty yards. All this time Norbert, a friendly and well known German ex-pat boater who was heading upstream, stood by and begged Donnacha to take a tow to the corner. This caring and gentle man was afraid that Donnacha would literally have a fatal heart attack.
Finally he did make it around the corner and then was able to row to the holding dock for Drumshambo lock in short order. The efforts started at 7:05 A.M. and ended the next day at 1:25 A.M. Donnacha had rowed eighteen hours and twenty five minutes without coming to a full stop. Knowing it would be a real and prolonged struggle to make Drumshambo lock he had hung a water-bottle at his waist and stuffed his rain slicker’s pockets full of nuts, raisins and other high energy snack foods at the day’s start! This effort came close on the heels of the disastrous first two days, which at their end saw OMAR’S RIVER BIRD only 30 yards from the spot where it had been launched over 48 hours previously. The account of that heart breaking 48 plus hour start to the 08 effort is included under the tab titled SHANON CHALLENGE 2008.
Both years the greatest hazard to the success of the venture came from well meaning boaters, who wanted to give a tow on the sly. Early on during Shannon Challenge 2007 a party of people on a cruiser made a donation for Tony, when the OMAR’S RIVER BIRD was at Acres lake dock. The next day they slipped by OMAR’S RIVER BIRD as it was being rowed in the narrow cut below Drumleague lock. Donnacha had to ship oars and Jack held the boat close to the bank by hanging onto bank-side tree branches so that the cruiser could pass. The well intentioned crew stopped their boat and attempted to throw a tow line to OMAR’S RIVER BIRD saying, “We’ll give you a tow till the cut widens out – no one will know!” These good people meant well but had the crew accepted a tow their engine-less transit would have ended there and then. They had already set new benchmark records as no one had previously made it from the start of Shannon Navigation to that point in an engine-less live aboard type boat, but a whole lot of challenge lay before them.
Several nights later the German crew of a Rental Cruiser suggested that they slip away from the dock and go a short distance down stream, then wait for them to come and render a tow. “Its night and no one is on the river. No one will ever know. At home we do the river at night all the time.”, they said. This kind of offer was made (and rejected) many times each year.
|Original Official Site of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board|
|In no hurry to reach the sea, the Erne river meanders from end to end of watery,forested county Fermanagh. It runs into a huge island studded lake with a
constriction in the middle where the ancient town of Enniskillen stands. In some
places it is a shallow channel, in others it’s five miles wide and very deep. A paradise
unrestricted cruising and boating, the most uncongested in Europe.The lakeside is
high and rocky in some parts and, in addition to the 154 islands,there are coves and
inlets to explore. When the wind blows, navigation on Lower Lough Erne running
for 26 miles almost to the Atlantic, can be something of a challenge with waves of
open-sea dimensions. Shallow Upper Lough Erne, flowing south-east of Enniskillen
for about 12 miles, is a maze of islands and you need achart to find your way.
Hire cruisers are well equipped and there are plenty of public jetties, mooring buoys
and small marinas, with waterside shops where you can stockup with provisions,
and hotels and restaurants for a change from self-catering. Also,consider taking
the Shannon-Erne Waterway, a series of canals, streams, rivers and
lakes linking these two beautiful rivers.
One of the most interesting islands is Devenish. In the Middle Ages there was a chain
of island monasteries in Lough Erne. Devenish, where a 12th-century round tower
stands sentinel, was an important port of call. From the tower’s high windows the
monks could see approaching strangers. In its cool cavities they rang their bells and
hid their sacred relics. The island also has a tiny church of about the same date, and
a ruined Augustinian abbey.
In the cemetery at the west end of Boa Island there are-two ancient stone Janus
(looking-bothways) idols, perhaps dating from the first century. White Island and
Inishmacsaint also have their numen, as befits sacred islands, the first with a
collection of Christian statues of distinctly pagan mien, and the second a High Cross
and a herd of goats running wild.
Wherever you float on Lough Erne, you are likely to see swans of one kind or another.
Terns and common scoters breed on the low-lying islands and sand pipers, nightjars
and garden warblers nest around the shore.
On the upper lough there are lots of greatcrested grebes and a heronry whose big
grey inmates may accompany your boat with much flapping of wings.