Où est la plume de ma tante?

21 February 2018: voici une mise à jour.

Post originally written in January 2014 follows

Où sont les neiges d’antan? [That’s French for “Where is Anto’s stash of heroin?”] Où est l’étoile d’émeraude?

I remarked in August, on sighting le grand bateau de Monsieur Thibault in Athlone, that it carried the Le Boat brand, not that of Emerald Star. Emerald Star is now one speck within Le Boat, which is one of the activities within the Marine Division of the Specialist & Activity Sector of TUI Travel, which employs 54000 people.

Le le Boat bateau

Le le Boat bateau

I wrote to Messrs TUI Travel’s “corporate communications” department at the time to ask whether the Emerald Star name was being phased out, but answer came there none: no doubt all 54000 employees were busy at the time. But I noticed today that a hapless seeker after truth, searching for “emerald star”, ended up here, so I had a look myself. There is no emeraldstar.ie website (and emeraldstar.com is unrelated) but the UK Le Boat site has a little badge on the top left of the page saying “Emerald Star from le Boat”. I wonder whether that appears if the site detects that you’re accessing it from outside Ireland. I could find no other mention of Emerald Star, so I suspect the brand is doing a Cheshire Cat.

I was glad to find that Messrs Le Boat have found Google Translate useful. At least, I assume that’s how they produced this paragraph under their “Useful info” tab:

Useful Info for the Ireland

The Irish coast rises tallish from the sea, and yet the terrain drops farther inland, creating a sort of cup where the water gathers. One fifth of the water drains inward to the Shannon River, Ireland’s largest at 360 kilometres (224 miles). The fall on the navigable middle section of the river is slight at only 9 metres (29 feet), which means the water moves slowly. A Shannon River map also reveals the large number of lakes in the Shannon system, a real plus for canal boat cruising!

No, I’ve checked: it’s not Ulster Scots.

Then there’s this:

Feel the irresistible lure of the Shannon-Erne

The Shannon River gives Ireland’s central reaches their character. It’s an obvious feature if you study a Shannon River map. At a glance, it’s clear that the waters influence the land. The fishing is superb and golf is extremely popular! The towpath is level, so you’re in cycling heaven! […]

You learn something every day: I never knew that the Shannon had a towpath. I wonder where it is.

But that’s not the only puzzle. Messrs Le Boat list some suggested cruises, eg:

The Celtic Cruise Ireland
Oneway: Portumna to Carrick-on-Shannon


The golf course calls! The fishing itch must be scratched! Castles loom tall! Feel the warm embrace of Celtic charm!

Who writes this rubbish? But this is the puzzling one:

The Northern Shannon Cruise Ireland
Return Trip: Carrick-on-Shannon, via Belturbet


Travelling in the thousand lakes area takes you from the Lake Niegocin to the Lake Sztynorckie, with plenty to see on the way!

Well, I admit I don’t know the north Shannon as well as I do Lough Derg [“Lough Derg, an angler’s paradise, casts an Irish spell of contentment to keep you fishing and having too much fun!”], but I can’t find either of those lakes on any Shannon or Erne map. Où sont les mille lacs de M. Thibault? Où sont les Niegocins, Antoin? Ils sont dans le jardin avec la plume de ma tante.

5 responses to “Où est la plume de ma tante?

  1. Brian

    If you pose your cursor over les milles lacs, you will be guided to the Mazurian Lakes in Poland and le Boat offers a short break there, a 3 to 5 night round trip Giżycko , via Sztynort, in the thousand lakes area from the Lake Niegocin to the Lake Sztynorckie, with plenty to see on the way! Somehow, I don’t think the 3 to 5 nights allow for the stage from the Shannon or the Erne, but the scenery is excellent, a bit more wooded than the Shannon, I think..

    For a bonus point Taxi Thibault offers services .at Le Boat, Migennes, the confluence of the Yonne, the Armencon and the Serein and
    and Thibault Marine inc is a boat dealing business in Quebec

    Ádh mór

  2. Voila M Thibault! Merci. bjg

  3. Some years ago I enquired from the people who had been handling Emerald Star pr, in relation to the references in the then new ESL brochure, to Lough Derg as a holy place and a traditional place of pilgrimage to this day.
    Was there some confusion with Lough Derg in Co Donegal, I wondered.
    But the pr people said they no longer handled the pr for ESL.
    So one was left wondering .
    Regards Tim

  4. Thanks, Tim. That confusion came up again somewhere recently, but I forget where. At all events, I conclude that there is now little real Irish input in what passes for planning or marketing chez Le Boat. However, if their corporate communications bods want to get back to me, I’ll be happy to hear from them — but preferably in English, Irish or Ulster Scots rather than French. bjg

  5. Pingback: Alors! Il est arrivé un courriel de M Thibault | Irish waterways history

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