Ireland Idyll: A Guide to the Emerald Isle's Waterways

The North Shannon

It emerges as a trickle of crystal water from the Shannon Pot, a round pond on the slopes of Cuilcagh Mountain in County Cavan, to become the longest river in Ireland and the backbone of its 300-mile waterway network. From Lough Allen to Lough Ree, the River Shannon flows through 60 miles of majestic scenery and towns that are quintessentially Irish.

The tree-lined Drumshanbo on a re-opened coal canal typifies the routes along the North Shannon. Once an iron-smelting town, it has recreated itself successfully as one of the best angling centers in Europe. Famous abbeys grace the Boyle landscape nearby, while the village of Dromod boasts a water sculpture carved from 2,000-year-old bog oak. Carrick-on-Shannon has become a cosmopolitan cruising community, serving up German, French, and English cuisine with a distinctively Irish touch (look for the international fare being delivered to boats with a case of Irish stout).
The sporting life thrives here too. A power station near Lanesborough makes the river a literal hotspot for anglers, while golf courses like Glasson and Athlone clubs offer fine driving along panoramic lake views and fine dining. Hike through woodland trails and you may discover oddities like The Fairy Bridge at Lough Key Forest Park.

Journey into the past as you cruise through Roosky's 240-year-old canal toward Cloondara's Richard Harbour, where the Royal Canal joined the Shannon in 1817.

Linda Samuel is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.

Published: 18 Oct 2001 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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