Carrick on Shannon
Cruise north to Lough Key
The voyage from Carrick-on-Shannon north to Lough Key is known for its captivating scenery and with only one lock, it’s a good place to start for the absolute beginner. Your total journey time is just three hours without stops to Boyle so you can really take things at your own pace.
From Carrick-on-Shannon travel the narrow, meandering Boyle River into Lough Eidin and on to Lough Key, one of the most beautiful lakes in Ireland. You can moor your boat at the jetties or at the marina at Lough Key Forest Park. A real highlight of this mini cruise where you can explore all the activities at the Adventure Centre such as mountain biking, Canopy Walk, try out the ziplines or Forest Segway and stop for a bite to eat.
Journey on to the historic town of Boyle, a good place to stop for the night with lots of busy restaurants and bars. Explore Boyle Abbey before taking your time to cruise around Lough Key for the next few days on your way back to Carrick-on-Shannon. Alternatively cruise as far as Leitrim Village and on further north to Lough Allen and the Shannon Erne Waterway connecting the River Shannon to Lough Erne.
Cruise south to Dromod, Rooskey and Tarmonbarry
If you choose to cruise south from Carrick-on-Shannon your journey time to Tarmonbarry is approximately six hours but there are plenty of wonderful stops along the way. It’s about two hours south to historic Jamestown which still has part of its fortification walls. A further hour through a manned lock will bring you to the harbour in Dromod. The views here are stunning with easy access to the town where you can stop for lunch or dinner. It’s also worth checking out the Railway Museum.
Just an hour further south you’ll reach Rooskey, a beautiful village at the bridging point of the Shannon in County Leitrim, famous for its angling. Moor in the harbour, stroll around the town and listen out for an impromptu music session. The charming village of Tarmonbarry and the close by Richmond Harbour, a Georgian gem and the end of the Royal Canal, is less than an hour away and the next stop before you head back north to Carrick-on-Shannon.
Cruising north from Banagher to Glassan
Your cruise time from Banagher to Glasson is four hours, but before you set sail, you’ll want to explore the rural village, complete with a Martello Tower built to ward off Napoleon. Take in the views across the water and treat yourself to pizza at J.J.Hough’s Singing Pub – known as one of the liveliest spots in the midlands.
Shannonbridge, named after its imposing bridge, is an hour up-river and known for the beautiful peat landscape around the village. Visit Killeen’s pub and shop, a real authentic gem, or catch the famous sunset from Lukers Bar with its incredible views of the Shannon.
Your next stop is a real highlight of your cruise, the ancient city of Clonmacnoise; a place of huge historical and religious significance. There you’ll walk amongst the dramatic stone ruins of an ancient monastic settlement and the burial place of two of Ireland’s High Kings.
Clonmacnoise, Co. Offaly
Meander north for another hour to the largest town on the river, Athlone, home to the medieval Athlone Castle which dominates the waterfront. Stroll around the town and its many bars and restaurants, and toast your cruise in Sean’s Bar, the oldest bar in Ireland, dating to 900 AD which still has part of its original wattle and daub walls.
From Athlone, it’s just an hour’s further cruise on Lough Ree to the picturesque village of Glasson, known as the Village of the Roses. You’ll find Wineport Lodge with its dramatic views or moor your boat at Hodson Bay and drop in for dinner in the hotel of the same name. Visit Bay Sports Waterpark located on the lake at Hodson Bay Harbour. A great family adventure for young and old.
Banagher & Portumna
Cruise south from Portumna or Banagher to Lough Derg
The fishing town of Portumna is an easy gateway to the mystical Lough Derg, with its dramatic scenery and pretty towns and villages hugging its shores. Before you take to the water, explore Portumna Castle and catch a glimpse of Ireland’s dark past at The Irish Workhouse.
From here, you can take a cruise south to Killaloe and spend a few days discovering Lough Derg before cruising back to Portumna.
As you journey south, moor at the harbour in Portumna Forest Park and go for an amble along its peaceful nature trails. An hour from Portumna towards the northern tip of Lough Derg, you’ll arrive at the lovely historic village of Terryglass. Stop for home cooked food at the 200 year old Paddy’s Bar, or dine in fresh seafood in the pretty garden at the Derg Inn overlooking the lake.
Lough Derg is known for some of the most dramatic scenery in Ireland and there are plenty of little villages and harbours to discover along its shores. Cruise south on the lake stopping in the unspoilt village of Kilgarvan or the popular Dromineer with its 16th century castle on the quay.
The picturesque and historic village of Garrykennedy, famous for its Irish music sessions, is a five-hour cruise from your starting point in Portumna. But if you’re planning a longer trip, another leisurely three hours on the water takes you to the historic twin towns of Killaloe and Ballina.
Separated by the much photographed 18th century bridge, with lots of lovely walks and places to lunch, you could easily spend the day here. The Brian Boru Heritage Centre is a must-visit before you make your journey back to Portumna.