Belfast Telegraph

Jimmy at home barging around Erne whenever fancy takes him

By Donna Deeney

This is the man who lives on a barge amid the tranquillity of the Fermanagh lakelands.

Eleven years ago Jimmy Dundas walked out of his bricks and mortar house and on to a new home - moored on Lough Erne.

For Jimmy it was a return to childhood. His love affair with the lakes began when he was a boy of three going on fishing trips with his father.

He says that life on the boat, with its panoramic view of stunning landscapes, is "idyllic".

"Living on a barge was something I always wanted to do, so when I got the opportunity I took it," he said.

"That was 11 years ago and I haven't regretted giving up the bricks and mortar for a single second.

"I got the barge from a man who was importing them from Holland. It was one of the biggest loads ever transported by lorry."

He made the vessel habitable using his own knowledge.

He explained: "I am a marine engineer by trade, so I was able to do all the work on the barge myself. I gutted it, rewired it, did a lot of woodwork and painted it, but the floor on the inside is still the original floor.

"The barge is made out of pig iron and because of the insulation it is actually cool on the inside during the summer and really cosy when the weather's cold.

"It is 68 feet long, built in 1929 and started out transporting goods - cheese in fact - on the Baltic Sea right up to the 1950s.

"There was a roof put on it then and a man bought it and reared his family on it. It was after he sold it that it ended up in Ireland with me."

Jimmy moors the barge at Lough Erne Yacht Club, but when the mood takes him he can easily set off on a jaunt.

He added: "I've taken it down as far as Athlone, but I've been in Limerick as well and I go down to Belleek fairly often.

"All I have to do if I take a notion to go somewhere is turn the key, loosen off two ropes, unplug the shore power and away I go and I have all with me.

"Sometimes I will do this two or three times a week, depending on how I feel.

"If I go away anywhere and have to stay in a hotel, I will be waiting patiently to get back to the barge."

For Jimmy, nowhere in the world beats the beauty of the Fermanagh lakelands.

"I used to go to the south of France to captain a boat; I've done the French Riviera, the Italian Riviera and Corsica, but there's nothing to beat Lough Erne," he said.

"While I have a permanent mooring and an address with a post box, the advantage I have is I can move my home any time I want."

He shares the boat with his golden Labrador, Lady.

"I have been on the lakes since I was three years old and I am 64 now, so it was just the most natural thing in the world for me, living on the barge," he added.

Belfast Telegraph

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