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Irish hot air balloon championships

Hot air balloons in Athlone over the Shannon River
Hot air ballooon touches the Shannon RiverThis week the Irish hot air balloon championships are being held in Athlone. I awoke this morning to the unmistakeable sound of balloon torches being fired. Rushing out of the house I saw a dozen silent hot air balloons rising from the meadows south of the weir, some grazing the waters of the Shannon, and rising gracefully over the town.

The championships are going on all this week, with the balloons launching each morning from a different area around the river Shannon in Athlone. Tonight there is meant to be a firing of torches to music (and that’s cool because?).

It’s lovely to be suddenly offered a very real awareness of the vertical space above one’s head by the unexpected presence of an enormous, delicately silk-skinned, fire-tongued vessel floating at what almost seems to be arm’s reach.