Ireland’s river Shannon is a spectacular and fulfilling place to visit for a week or a weekend. The waterway’s here over some of the most stunning scenery in the world and the people are definitely among the most friendly in Europe. The banks of the beautiful river Shannon are lined with lovely little welcoming towns with lots of things to see and do. Be it an ancient tower or abbey, medieval castle or just a playful park for the children the river offer everything you need. The night life is also enthralling and you will never be found wanting for an Irish music session or a creamy pint of Guinness. So try Ireland this year.
Depart from Carrick on Shannon and travel north west to the enchanting Lough Key. This is one of the most family friendly destinations in the west of Ireland and travelling by cruiser makes it all the more special. The Lough Key Forest Park experience is full of great attractions including the Bodaborg adventure and the Zipit attraction which allows children to attempt obstacle courses up to 20 meters high in the tree tops while safely attached to zip wires. Families can also explore the forest park on electric bikes or segways which are available next to the centre. A visit here is a fantastic day out. The marina is also very well facilitated and an ideal place to spend the night and lies in the heart of some stunning scenery.
Travelling back from Lough Key, head north to the popular and friendly Leitrim village. Here you will find the indoor archery centre located near the bridge which caters for children of all ages. There is also electric bike hire available from here which will allow you to explore the surrounding areas. Further up river and near the town of Drumshanbo is one of the most popular attractions in this part of Ireland, The Arigna Mining Experience. This state of the art facility allows visitors to gain an insight into the great mining history of the area through interactive exhibitions and tours of the mines which venture deep into mountains. It offers a very unique experience. There is also an equestrian centre next to the hotel in Drumshanbo and your family can explore the treks of this beautiful countryside on horseback.
It is time to leave this part of the Shannon and travel south. Next to the marina in Carrick on Shannon is the River Mania activity centre. Some of the activities include canoeing, banana boating, rafting and kayaking. They cater for all ages too, you just have to ring ahead to ensure a place and these water activities are fantastic fun. Close to the bridge there is also the Children’s centre which has ball pools, slides, games and lots of entertainment for younger children. So stopping in Carrick is a great way to fill your afternoon with fun and excitement. After all this the rest of the evening can be spent cruising south through the lakes of Bofin and Boderg and on towards Lough Ree. Lanesbrough is at the entrance to Lough Ree and has great facilities to spend the night.
Lough Ree is known as the Lake of the Kings and is full of islands with the ruins of churches and monasteries on many of them. You may wish to stop and explore some of these. Further south on the lough at Hodson Bay is Ireland’s largest outdoor water park. This is a huge inflatable obstacle course full of slides, jumps and splashes. The whole family can enjoy this and it is certainly worth visiting. Not to far away from here is the large town of Athlone and you may wish to stop and have some lunch here or even enjoy the shopping. The impressive Athlone castle has been recently restored and makes for and interesting visit and is only a short distance from the marina. Just a few miles cruising south from Athlone is one of Ireland’s most popular attractions and this is the ancient ruined 7th century city of Clonmacnoise. It can be accessed easily by cruiser and tours take place a regular points in the day. You simply cannot pass without visiting. From here it is only a short trip to Shannonbridge which is a lovely place to spend the night.
Leaving Shannonbridge continue south passing through the bridge at Banagher and towards Lough Derg. The town of Portumna is a very friendly tourist town with lots to do and is a great place to stop and explore. Next to the marina is the great Portumna forest walk which will allow you to take in some of the natural beauty of this area. Also next to the marina is the impressive Portumna Castle and tours take place daily. Further into the town is Ireland premier famine workhouse and museum which gives a great insight into this period of Irish history and is a very popular attraction. There is also a lovely park for the children close by and some friendly family restaurants in the town. Lough Derg has several little towns surrounding it’s banks and you can visit these at your leisure. On the eastern shore, the towns of Terryglass, Dromineer and Garykennedy all have lovely very popular restaurants and have great facilities to spend the evening.
Visiting the medieval town of Killaloe is a must when on Lough Derg. The town lies in the heart of some dramatic and beautiful scenery and its winding streets and shopping offer plenty of charm. Next to the bridge is the Brian Boru Centre and you learn all about Ireland’s heroic King here. Other attractions include the impressive St Flannans Cathedral and the UL activity centre about two miles upriver from the town. As you will be dropping the cruiser back to base in the morning most of the days travelling will be north back towards Carrick on Shannon. In Shannonbridge you will notice the huge Fort Restaurant built in the 1700’s and a family meal here makes for a memorable experience. Try to pass Lough Ree before stopping for the evening in Roosky or Dromod.
This morning will be the final leg of your journey. So relax and enjoy your trip back to base. The journey should take about two hours from Roosky but don’t go too fast as every minute of time on the beautiful Shannon is precious.