"Travel with Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show - January 05, 2014
The Southern Cross flying boat which operated out of Killaloe. Was flown by Captain Charles Blair, Maureen O Hara's Husband
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Hour 1

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Click here to listen to James Whelan, Owner, Killaloe River Cruises interviewed by Stephanie Abrams without commercials.

James Whelan, Owner, Killaloe River Cruises, Lakeside Dr., Ballina, Co. Tipperary, Ireland.
www.spiritofkillaloe.ie

Hour Day Cruise in Nook of River Shannon Between Balina and Killaloe with Killaloe River Cruises

Travel Expert and Radio Show Host Stephanie Abrams talks with James Whelan, Owner of Killaloe River Cruises based in Balina, County Tipperary, Ireland. Stephanie starts the segment by saying that they are conducting the interview on the shores of the River Shannon from the Lakeside Hotel. This stretch of the water separates Balina and Killaloe. Talking about the Lakeside Hotel, James says "couples getting married, at the Lakeside Inn, always look stunning in their photographs", and that "it all relates back to the river Shannon".

James Whelan has two boats that run on the Shannon. The first is a twelve (12) passenger vessel named after the High King of Ireland, Brian Boru. They also have a fifty (50) passenger boat named The Spirit of Killaloe. He says it's the river that would have brought Brian Boru to Killaloe and Balina because of how rich in salmon it was, and it allowed him to bring his troops and feed his soldiers.

James says his father has been working at the same grocery shop for 50 years, starting in 1963 and that after repeatedly being asked by tourists about how to take a tour of the river, his father decided to venture out and start offering tours himself. He started with a four passenger open boat, so when it rained, James chuckles, "everyone would get drownded wet". Over the years more small boats were added. James started driving one of these in 1991. In 1999 they decided it made sense to get a larger 12 seat covered boat which James named the Brian Boru. After that they realized there was more demand and they got the 50 seat boat The Spirit of Killaloe.

Mostly, James says, the tours are about one hours long. With a bit of planning, or a phone call, he says he's happy to accommodate a private party or make a special arrangement. He says it's difficult to fit so much history into an hour because the section of the river between the two towns is teaming with history from the times of Brian Boru through to the present.

James, in talking about the history of water traffic in the area says that in 1799 a canal was built in Killaloe to link Dublin and Limerick and that in the 1920's the river was harnessed for hydro electric power providing 87% of Ireland's power when it opened. He says the river has had a major impact for Ireland. Stephanie asks if he can talk about bit about Lough Derg and the Shannon River. He says the Shannon is the longest river in the British Isles. Stephanie jokes that this is one of the few times Irish speak proudly of a relationship with Britain, and James says that thankfully, that relationship is much better now than it was in the past and gets better every year. He says the Shannon is a very slow moving river and It starts way up in the Cuilcagh mountains of County Cavin and in a small part of the river near its source you can actually jump across.

Stephanie mentions some other fantastic river adventures to be had on the River Shannon, including Rory Gibbons' Shannon Princess overnight cruises. She says Sandra Bullock took over one of those boats with her mother and family, for an adventure. Rory Gibbons was a previous guest on one of the radio shows Stephanie Abrams' hosts.

As the Shannon flows through the center of Ireland, James says, the land gets flatter and as a result the river spreads out and begins to form Lough Allen, the first lake. Then Lough Ree and downstream, Lough Derg which is the largest lake in the Republic of Ireland at about 32,000 acres and about 27 miles long. At its widest point Lough Ree, he says, is about 6 miles wide. Then the river, just above Killaloe resumes its natural course back down and it falls down to the sea in Limerick and continues out the estuary to Loop Head a little bit south of the Cliffs of Moher. James says the lake got its name Lough Derg (or Red Lake) because in autumn, thousands of years ago, all the leaves falling off the trees would coat the lake in a beautiful red color.

Once you are in Killaloe, Stephanie and James both suggest stopping by Flanagan's on the Lake bar, right in the town center. Stephanie says that the location used to be a railroad station and has a great view, and plenty of parking. It's just down the street from the Tourist Office, James adds.

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams says the boat launch for Killaloe River Cruises is within easy walking distance from two wonderful restaurants, Cherry Tree and Flanagan's by the Lake. Stephanie says the food and the view from both are fantastic. While she was dining in Flanagan's she saw the Spirit of Killaloe sail by, since it docks just down the river from the bar. She describes taking a river cruise and dining at Flanagan's as a perfect day stop itinerary. Stephanie says there's a lovely lawn area with picnic tables and that in the summer months it becomes a hub of activity.

James Whelen, Owner of Killaloe River Cruises, says there are tons of bundle packages available, one he mentions is a bundle package available with a local angler (fisherman). This could be either fly or cast reel. The local stretch of river is known to have quite a bit of Pike fish, and the angling would be catch and release, he says. Another local attraction that he says is usually bundled in groups for retired people is a visit to Key Arts just down the road. He describes it as an artistry workshop where your canvases are pieces of slate which are mined locally in the hills around Killaloe, saying "you can go in and paint on a piece of native slate". He says that "groups and motor coaches will often come through the town, they'll stop, do a 1 hour tour get back on the bus or stop in at a restaurant and go on their way".

If driving Stephanie and James suggest parking the car and getting out into the towns a bit. They are known for very narrow streets, since it's a heritage town. Stephanie says you'll find cafes, places that need to be explored. One hidden treasure, says James "a church was relocated from an island that was getting covered with water; church from the 7th century. Reconstructed stone by stone". One thousand years ago, the high king associated himself with priests and religion, James says "before battle it was important to have a priests blessing. Killaloe has three churches and a cathedral. If you walk across the bridge to Balina, James says, you'd be in a different town, county and diocese. For 14 years while Brian Boru lived in Killaloe it was the capitol."

This year of 2014 is the celebration of Brian Boru's one thousand year birthday. James says Brian Boru was a bit of a politician, in terms of uniting the clans, in part to protect against the Viking threat. He says Vikings would use the Shannon River as an artery to sail up through the middle of Ireland and raid. Vikings were a huge threat to Ireland particularly because it had so much coast line. Vikings were the masters of boats and boat building and they could get up the narrow rivers with raiding forces. James says the Vikings traversed the river long before Brian Boru.

Show Host Stephanie Abrams mentions High King Rory O'Conner whose sarcophagus is behind the Abbey Hotel in Roscommon and asks James what it takes to become a High King and he says, though not an Historian, he believes there would be "a fair bit of savagery" involved, and that it wouldn't have been a matter of being voted into being High King, but rather you'd ascend or make yourself High King through successful battle. These are fascinating pieces of Irish history and for the historian in all of us a great reason to visit Ireland and immerse yourself in Irish History, culture, and experience their wonderful people.

Related Photo Galleries:
https://www.travelers411.com/forums/album.php?albumid=1242

Travelers411 Directory:
Click here for the Killaloe River Cruises Directory listing where you'll find links to all interviews with Killaloe River Cruises in one place.

Click here for more info and links to all interviews featuring James Whelan.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
https://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=17623

For more information visit www.spiritofkillaloe.ie


Guests Include:

James Whelan, Owner, Killaloe River Cruises, Lakeside Dr., Ballina, Co. Tipperary, Ireland.
www.spiritofkillaloe.ie

Hour 2

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John Wood, Owner and Chef, Wood Brothers Bistro, Killaloe, Country Clare, Ireland.
www.facebook.com/WoodBrothersBistro

Related Photo Galleries:
https://www.travelers411.com/forums/album.php?albumid=1246
https://www.travelers411.com/forums/album.php?albumid=1242

Travelers411 Directory:
Click here for the Wood Brothers Bistro Directory listing where you'll find links to all interviews with Wood Brothers Bistro in one place.

Click here for more info and links to all interviews featuring John Wood.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
https://www.travelers411.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=168

For more information visit www.facebook.com/WoodBrothersBistro


Guests Include:

John Wood, Owner and Chef, Wood Brothers Bistro, Killaloe, Country Clare, Ireland.
www.facebook.com/WoodBrothersBistro

Hour 3

Topics Include:

Link to this segment

Eoin Little, General Manager, The Lakeside Hotel and Leisure Centre, Killaloe, Ireland.
www.lakesidehotel.ie

Related Photo Galleries:
https://www.travelers411.com/forums/album.php?albumid=1246
https://www.travelers411.com/forums/album.php?albumid=1242

Travelers411 Directory:
Click here for the The Lakeside Hotel and Leisure Centre Directory listing where you'll find links to all interviews with The Lakeside Hotel and Leisure Centre in one place.

Click here for more info and links to all interviews featuring Eoin Little.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
https://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=17621

For more information visit www.lakesidehotel.ie


Guests Include:

Eoin Little, General Manager, The Lakeside Hotel and Leisure Centre, Killaloe, Ireland.
www.lakesidehotel.ie

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