Our Carrick-on-Shannon marina station bustles with cruisers and cosmopolitan crews busily preparing to cast off for their waterway adventures. The small pretty town is Ireland's cruising centre, offering a rich choice of provisions as well as a wide selection of pubs and restaurants.
From here, a northerly heading takes you along the narrow, tree-lined Boyle River which then leads into Lough Key. This is a magical place with stunning scenery and nestled on its banks is the Forest Park. It's worth spending some time here, following the splendid nature trails and claiming a secluded picnic site.
On a southerly heading, the Shannon slowly widens, flowing gently by a cluster of small towns and villages and all well worth a visit. As you slowly cruise down stream, the river leads through a ribbon of Loughs that stretch for miles until you reach Lough Ree. Lough Ree is a vast, inland sea that boasts inspiring scenery and diverse wildlife. If you fancy some fish for supper, cast your line over the side - the fishing on Lough Ree will rarely disappoint. Hodson Bay is an excellent stop-off point on the southern shore or make your way along to Athlone, a town with a long history and a choice of extremely good golf courses. (Print Version - click here)
The beautiful setting of Lough Allen has Sliabh an Iarainn, the Iron Mountain, to the East and the Arigna Mountains to the west. The Lough Allen Canal was constructed in 1820 to enable coal mined in the Arigna area to be brought down the Shannon to the Royal Canal. The main area of interest on the canal is at Drumshanbo. The first mooring at Acres Lake is about 5 minutes walk to the village of Drumshanbo. The alternative mooring at the lock is a little bit further at about 15 minutes walk to the village. Acres Lake has family amenities including outdoor swimming pool, tennis court, children's playground and a pool table. The pretty village is surrounded by scenic woodland and there are a number of pleasant walks around the hills in the area. There are a number of grocery shops, a pharmacy, a post office, a number of pubs that serve good food and often have entertainment at weekends. The Lough Allen Hotel has excellent restaurant and bar facilities, leisure centre and spa.
Sliabh An Iarainn Visitor Centre Tel +353 (0)71 964 1522
Tells the history of the area in words, pictures and many audio visual displays.
Arigna Mining Experience Tel +353 (0)71 964 6466 www.arignaminingexperience.ie
Step back in time and experience life underground in one of the last mines in the area. There is also an exhibition centre, souvenir shop and a coffee shop. The centre is about a 10 minute drive from Drumshanbo.
A series of way marked hill walks have been developed in the nearby Sliabh An Iarainn Mountain, varying in length from 30 minutes to 3 hours. They are marked on a map board at Aghacashel Post Office and further details can be obtained in the shop. It is about 10 minutes taxi drive from Drumshanbo.
The Leitrim Way is a long distance waymarked way starting in Drumshanbo and initially following the Eastern shore of Lough Allen. Although the entire walk is 50km, the first few kilometres provide panoramic views of Lough Allen.
A picturesque little village with a very good restaurant and 2 pubs within walking distance.
Clarendon Lock at Knockvicar is the only lock on the Boyle River and is arguably one of the prettiest locks on the entire Shannon and Erne system. There is a very good restaurant just before the lock.
Lough Key Forest and Activity Park Tel +353 (0)71 967 3122 www.loughkey.ie
There are a number of moorings in this location with access to the excellent family attractions and Forest Park facilities. There is an information centre directing visitors to nature walks and a new visitor centre with many activities for all the family. While here, the children will be entertained for hours at the children's play area and the Boda Borg Challenge will entertain adults and children alike. Other attractions include the Looking Tower and views from the top are spectacular - you can also wander around the old church ruins or take a treetop walk. Many of the islands of Lough Key have the remains of early Christian monasteries or churches and Castle Island and Trinity Island are worth investigating but you can only access the islands by dinghy, as the water is too shallow for cruisers.
Boyle is a large, modern town with a rich history, much of it centred around the King family, one of the wealthiest families in 17th century Ireland. It has all the facilities you would expect including many shops, supermarkets, restaurants, a pharmacy and ATM machines. Many of the grocery shops in the town will deliver to your boat. There is a very good children's play area located at the rear of King House.
King House Tourist Information and Heritage Centre www.kinghouse.ie
King House was once home of the "Kings of Connaght", who later moved to the Rockingham Estate, now Lough Key Forest Park. The house now has an exhibition on the King Family.
Boyle Abbey The town of Boyle is home to Boyle Abbey, which contains the best-preserved Cistercian Abbey remains in Ireland and dates back to 1161.
Frybrook House An 18th century house with an impressive collection of antique furniture and many examples of Irish art.
There is a lot happening in this thriving town, the centre of boating holidays on the Upper Shannon. There are new and old parts to the town with much history dating back to the late 1600's. In the centre of town is the Town Clock, which stands in memory of the first chairman of Leitrim County Council. The narrow streets of Carrick are full of shops selling gifts, groceries and general goods and the Market Yard is well worth a visit. Carrick has a children's play area close to the outdoor swimming pool, a Tourist Information Centre and many leisure facilities. Many of the grocery shops in town will deliver to your boat.
Costello Memorial Chapel This tiny chapel, built in 1877 by a wealthy merchant for his wife, is said to be the second smallest chapel in the world.
Carrick Cineplex Tel +353 (0)71 967 2000 State of the art 4 screen cinema with Café and Wine Bar.
Mulvey Centre Tel +353 (0)71 962 1605 Kidz Kingdom and Bowling Alley
The Dock Tel +353 (0)71 965 0828 A multi-purpose arts centre with an extensive performing and visual arts programme. For details of performances, see www.thedock.ie
Taxi Michael Glancy Tel +353 (0)86 859 7093
A small rural village with few amenities, this is a lovely place to stop if you prefer the quieter life. The 17th century fortifications of the village can still be seen, most notably the remnants of the northern gateway pillars. There are 2 pubs in the village, right next door to each other and one restaurant at the far end of the village from the marina.
The village is very small and picturesque and sits on a hill overlooking the old loop of the Shannon, which is now bypassed by the Jamestown Canal. There are 4 pubs in the village, the most well-known is Duignan's, which also has a grocery shop so you can stock up on provisions.
This location advertises Irish scenery at its best. Acres of unspoilt land and home to a plethora of wildlife. Popular with fishermen.
If you're looking for a remote location with outstanding views of the lakes, then look no further than Grange Lough. Nothing except for peace and quiet - and The Silver Eel pub and restaurant if you fancy some company!
Another remote location with outstanding views. Moorings are located at the far end of Kilglass Lough, which offers typical Irish scenery at every turn. The closest town is Strokestown, about 5km from Kilkglass, where you can visit Strokestown Park House and famine museum.
A picturesque little village with a choice of 2 grocery shops, a newsagent's, post office and 4 very good bar/restaurants. A map board can be found at the marina. There are also a number of other businesses in the village including a hairdressing salon, a beauty salon and a fitness centre. All in all, the facilities are very good for such a small village. There is a very interesting Bog Oak water feature in the centre of the village called The Weeping Tree and was crafted from local Bog Oak by a local craftsman. Tennis courts are available beside the harbour. About 3.5km north of Dromod is Derrycarne Wood, where there are lovely nature trails and picnic areas.
Cavan and Leitrim Railway Tel +353 (0)71 9638599 Experience the age of steam transport with this beautifully restored Narrow Gauge Railway.
A popular stop off with moorings located at the bridge or alongside the more secluded jetties dotted between the bridge and the lock. It is a small town with a number of shops, pubs and restaurants. The pubs in Roosky are renowned for providing good craic, ceol agus bia (fun music and food). There are 5 pubs to choose from - one is also a hotel.
You can moor either between the bridge and the lock, or downstream of the lock which is just a short walk to the small village. There are a number of pubs and a small supermarket at the petrol station heading west out of the village. There is also an ATM machine here. The large town of Longford is about 5 miles east of Tarmonbarry and has all the facilities you would expect of a large town.
The historic harbour where the Royal Canal meets the River Shannon. This imposing harbour was once home to a flax mill and the flax was transported along the Royal Canal to Dublin. It was also an embarkation point during the famine times for passengers to begin their long journey to the New World. Clondra is a small town that typifies the Irish way of life - peaceful, easygoing, with no concept of time. There is a good selection of shops and restaurants.
The last mooring before heading into Lough Ree, Lanesborough is a small town on the east side of the River and Ballyleague is to the west, with the river separating the two. You will find all amenities here including shops, post office, pharmacy and even a tennis court. There are 6 pubs in the town but surprisingly, only one of them serves food. Lanesborough is famous for having the first turf-fired electricty generator in Ireland and it is said that the warming effect of the generator attract bream, tench and roach, which makes it popular with fishermen. The ruins of the medieval tower of Rathcline Castle can be seen from the river.
Lough Ree is one of the largest lakes on the Shannon/Erne system. There are many islands of historical interest on the lough, most of which can only be accessed by dinghy. On Inchmore Island, you can see the remains of a ring fort and Hare Island is where St. Ciaran is said to have lived in a monastic settlement, before founding Clonmacnois, Other islands of interest are Saint Island, Inchbofin and Inchcleraun (Quaker Island).
A quiet location in the North West corner of Lough Ree with very good service block and children's play area. There are no shops or restaurants near the marina. A pleasant walk from here takes you along the south shore of Cruit Bay to Cruit Point.
The Lecarrow canal was constructed in the 1840s to transport stone from the local quarry to the navigation works at Athlone. A short journey up the canal will take you to the peaceful little village of Lecarrow where you will find a very good restaurant and 2 pubs, one with a shop. Fishing in the canal will reward you with plenty of trout.
There are 2 looped walks about 3 km from the village of Lecarrow. The Rinn Duin Loop is a 3 km walking trail marked by a green arrow and takes you around Rinn Duin Castle. The Warren Point Loop is 4.5 km and marked by a blue arrow. It also goes around St. John's Wood, one of the oldest oak tree woods in Europe.
Within walking distance of the marina at Hodson Bay, you will find Hodson Bay Hotel, which has a number of dining options as well as a swimming pool and fitness centre. Athlone Golf Club is also just yards from the mooring.
The three interconnecting lakes of Killinure, Ballykeeran and Coosan are known as the Inner Lakes and are a fisherman's paradise. The marshes and reedbeds in this area provide a habitat for a number of interesting plants and flowers, in particular many species of orchid. The village of Glasson, known as the "Village of the Roses" is in Goldsmith Country, the area where the famous Irish writer Oliver Goldsmith lived. The village is about a 30 minute walk from either the Wineport Lodge or Glasson Golf Club and you will find shops and very good restaurants.
Home of Locaboat Cruisers with all facilities available. Killinure Chalets is about a 10 minute walk from the mooring and famous for the great steaks!
This is a lovely quiet spot to spend a few hours. There is a very good children's playground and a small beach and bathing area. The Lough Ree Inn is closeby where food is served all day.