Dublin by water – a trip upriver with City Kayaking


city kayaking Dublin Rosemary Mac Cabe Let's get something out of the way early, shall we? (Because I know I'll be asked...) I paid €25 for my trip upriver with City Kayaking. No discount, no freebies – they have no idea that I have a blog, or any kind of social media presence, and I didn't tell them. If I ever do get a freebie, a discount or payment in kind, I'll let you know. With that done and dusted...

My weekend tends to follow a fairly unremarkable pattern. On Saturdays, I get up at 8am so that I can nom my breakfast before class at Lift Training Studios at 10am. After that, Stephen goes to play football (ugh, football), so I'll walk the dog, meet someone for coffee, essentially wander around town for a while or watch some TV, before we have our Saturday cheat meal and maybe a trip to the cinema.

Sunday? Well, I can't remember the last time we did anything on a Sunday, which is why, last weekend, I took a vagary and, come hell or high water (if you'll excuse the pun), we were going kayaking. It wasn't my first time at the rodeo; a couple of years ago, a friend and I spent a weekend at Parknasilla and went kayaking out in the bay and, a few years after that, another friend went kayaking on the Liffey with City Kayaking as part of her hen celebrations. So, y'know, I'm a bit of an expert.

city kayaking Dublin Rosemary Mac Cabe

It also happened to coincide with a revelation made during my weekly therapy sessions (I'm sorry, loyal Snapchat fam, but you've already heard this story), which brought me to the conclusion that I rarely, if ever, do anything that I don't think I'll be good at. I know that sounds fairly mundane, right? We all like to be good at things. But I never do anything that I think I will be bad at. I hate the idea of paintballing, because one time I played Q-Zar and humiliated myself utterly. One time, on a press trip, I refused to partake in a group surf lesson, because I was afraid I'd be the only terrible person.

Instead, my two hobbies are writing, which I know I'm okay at, and weightlifting, which I feel fairly confident that I'm getting good at. I'll occasionally sing, too, but only if I'm sure I know all the words.

So, in a way, kayaking was a baby step – because I've done it before and know I'm not awful – into this brave new world of trying-things-I-won't-be-great-at. (I need to come up with a catchier title.)

city kayaking Dublin Rosemary Mac Cabe

City Kayaking is the only kayak tour operator on the River Liffey, and has its base right next to the Jeanie Johnston ship. We booked ahead, for four of us, at €25 a head, and essentially just showed up. Checklist? Comfy clothes you don't mind getting wet – not because you'll be getting in the water, but because the water tends to slosh into the kayak – sunscreen and a can-do attitude.

Points to note are that City Kayaking doesn't have a loo on-site, so if you feel the urge to do a safety wee (I did), you'll have to nip across the road into Jury's. What is it about using a hotel toilet that makes me feel so bold?! Like, please God nobody say anything to me I'm just nipping in here for a second if you push me I'm going to cry that I'm pregnant and really need to go because I read somewhere that you can't legally refuse a pregnant woman oh God oh God. You get the idea.

The trip – from the Docklands area to the Samuel Beckett Bridge, then back up to the Four Courts before doing a loop back to base – takes two hours, officially, but between getting your lifejackets on and into your kayaks, you're talking around an hour and a half on the water.

And let me tell you: it is so much fun. This comes from someone who does not really enjoy outdoor activity, hates the bulk of a lifejacket (honestly, who looks good in them? Well, aside from my friend Eimear, who was clearly a bad choice to bring with me) and is terrified of falling into the Liffey. It's really exciting, seeing Dublin from a totally different angle – going under O'Connell Bridge is insane! It's so wide! (That's what she said...)

city kayaking Dublin Rosemary Mac Cabe

You also get to take some deadly pictures that are totes Instagrammable, and on a day like the ones we've been having, you'll get a bit of colour, too. Unless you're – ahem – not the tanning kind. (Sorry, Stephen.)

As far as I know, City Kayaking runs two excursions on Saturdays and one on Sundays, although I'd expect that'll increase once we get into the summer months. You can book via their website – or just show up and chance your arm! If you do decide to give it a go, please, do let me know – I'd love to know how you get on!

Next Sunday? It's wake boarding time... #prayforRosemary