Cruisers hit the water with return of Erne Boat Rally

By John Carney
AN ANNUAL fixture on the Fermanagh social calendar returns at the weekend when the 55th Erne Boat Rally takes place.
Covid restrictions had seen the event cancelled for the past two years, but it promises to make up for lost time now.
“It’s important to keep the event alive and keep it moving forward,” said in-coming commodore Jason McElwaine. “At the moment, we’re looking at 40 entries so far, which is fantastic and very encouraging. It’s another sign that things are getting back to normality here.”
This year’s get-together starts with a dinner dance at the Carrybridge Lakeside Lodge on Friday night.
Boats will then cruise from Carrybridge on Saturday morning to the finish in Belturbet on Monday.
The “Rally” as it is affectionately known has grown into one of the biggest boating fixtures in Ireland, with happy crews enjoying themselves and making their own entertainment in the various stops designated by the commodore along the way.
Rising fuel costs and other cost of living issues have made it tough for boaters to enjoy time on the lough this year, but Mr McElwaine was sure that a good time would be had by all.
“It’s more about getting people back out on the water and enjoying each other’s company.” he said. “The weather also looks to be on our side, so we should have the perfect weekend to travel around Lough Erne.”
Until the emergence of Covid, the river pilgrimage was taken twice annually by boating enthusiasts and waterway lovers from all over Ireland; comprising of the Main Boat Rally which takes place at the end of May or beginning of June, and the Mini Rally later in the year in early September.
“The Erne Boat Rally is about people and entertainment, and making the most of the natural beautiful resource we have at our disposal – the River Erne,” Mr McEwaine said. “ A lot of work has gone on in the background over the past few months to get it up and running again.
“It’s a fantastic cross-border event that has taken place for more than 50 years, and it’s great to keep it alive and thriving.”

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