28th October
written by Hope

“So, um, I’m sure you guys aren’t interested, but the day you arrive in Ireland, we’re having a christening party for the boat I just bought. My whole family is going to be there and we’re just going to hang out on the boat and play some music and stuff. No big deal.”

captain conall, athlone
Captain Conall on his new boat, the Cill Iomai (pronounced “kill-AI-mee”), which is named after his mother’s hometown (isn’t that sweet?).

So says our friend Conall, an Irish guy we know from SF who recently moved to London. Um, are you KIDDING? A boat christening party? With a big musical Irish family? Do you really think we would miss an opportunity to crack a bottle of champagne over a boat?!? (The answer is: of course not.)

Conall’s boat was in Athlone, pretty much the midpoint between Dublin (where we flew in) and Galway (where we were headed). So instead of going direct to Galway, we stopped off for a few hours in the middle of the country to meet his big, happy Irish family and spray some champagne over his new boat (Conall wasn’t having any cracking of bottles over his new baby).

christening the cill iomai, athlone

In addition to his parents, Conall’s uncle, two brothers, and two sisters, plus all of their respective spouses and kids were in attendance. Conall’s sister Maeve and his uncle graciously provided live entertainment, playing traditional Irish tunes on the fiddle.

conall's musical family, athlone

There was food and dancing and champagne, followed by a pint or two of Guiness at a nearby pub. Afterwards, Maeve and two of the kids went for a dip in the lake, despite the fact that the rest of us were bundled up in scarves and jackets. The kids wore wetsuits, but Maeve went in in her jammies. Brave Maeve!

a quick, cold dunk, athlone

It was super fun to meet this lively and close-knit bunch. During our travels in Ireland, we would find that this kind of warmth and intimacy was not at all unusual—the Irish are some of the friendliest and most social people we’ve met. Despite the cold weather that day in Athlone, our hearts were warmed through and through.

How we got from London to Athlone: We flew Aer Lingus from London Heathrow to Dublin. Even though our tickets were “only” £15 each roundtrip, after taxes and fees the roundtrip flight totaled £95 (approx. US$150) each. Not the worst deal out there, but discount flight buyer beware! That £5 flight you’re booking may actually end up costing you closer to £100.

From Dublin, we took the CityLink bus headed to Galway directly from the airport to Athlone for €15 (approx US$20) each. Note that if you book this bus ahead on the internet, it can cost as little as €5 from Dublin to Galway!



  1. Bunny

    I LOVE that Conall’s sister had red hair, wore a green dress, played the fiddle — just how Irish can you be!

  2. Martina

    So great to see these pictures! Hurray for Conall!

Leave a Reply