A Day in the Life ... a Lough Boatman: Sailing into History Makes George's Day

Article excerpt

GEORGE McGoldrick used to dream of spending his afternoons sailing across the peaceful waters of Lough Gill in Co Sligo.

And when the opportunity came up to take early retirement, the former psychiatric nurse jumped at the chance of fulfilling his dream.

George has been taking visitors across Lough Gill in Sligo on his boat since 1992.

But he offers more than just a boat trip on one of Ireland's most beautiful lakes.

The breathtaking landscape around Lough Gill, which is steeped in legend and history, was immortalised by the poet WB Yeats with classics such as The Lake Isle of Inisfree.

George recites Yeats' poetry during the 50-minute tour of Lough Gill on his Wild Rose Water Bus.

The 49-year-old also recounts the tales behind the scenery such as O'Rourke's Table, the flat-topped hill where the great Irish chieftain is said to have taken his meals and The Sleeping Warrior, a row of hills in the form of a sleeping giant with flowing locks.

"There have been boat trips on Lough Gill for centuries although they seemed to stop in the early 1970s," said George.

"Hundreds of people used to sail on Lough Gill between Dromnahair and Sligo in the 19th century. But when the railways were constructed they proved to be a more popular mode of transport so the demand for the boat trips dropped off.

"I enjoyed my job as a psychiatric nurse, but I always had this dream of buying a boat and organising trips across the lake.

"So when Parkes Castle, which is on the banks of the Lough Gill, opened to the public in 1990 I started thinking about the possibility of setting up a boat trip business.

"I did a feasibility study which indicated that the business would be a success. …