Suggested cruising options Carrick-on-Shannon*
Enjoy the River Shannon from every angle

Two weeks
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415 KM
from 3446 EUROS**
* Cruise suggestions: non contractual information
** All prices are calculated on the basis of a two day weekend in low season.

Description of
the boating holiday

Discover Ireland's heritage on a two-week journey along the River Shannon

During this boating holiday you’ll have the opportunity to discover the long and wide River Shannon. At the end of two weeks, its great lakes, its landscapes and its historical heritage will no longer hold any secrets for you!

Departure base

Famous for its pier, Carrick-on-Shannon is a small but typical Irish town in County Leitrim, 150km northwest of Dublin. The Nicols base where your boating holiday on the River Shannon begins is close to a park and many restaurants. Before boarding your Nicols canal boat, first stroll through the historic market town of Carrick to see the market square (which takes place every Thursday) and the clock tower. It is also in Carrick that the Costello Chapel is located, the smallest chapel in Europe measuring just 17 square metres! If your boating holiday takes place at the beginning of June you may be lucky enough to attend the Carrick Carnival: a nocturnal parade of floats, concerts and street artists, attractions and entertainment, fireworks, vintage cars... This annual event has something for the whole family!

Places to see and things to do

Lough Key: a nature park packed with activities

Arriving on Lough Key lake, disembark on the small island of Castle Island in the middle of which sits the McDermott castle, built in the 12th century then rebuilt in the 18th century following a devastating fire. The castle is a mysterious building surrounded by vegetation that on a misty day makes it appear to be floating a few metres above the ground.
Lough Key is located in the heart of the exceptional Lough Key Forest Park: a preserved area and multi-activity complex that has to be on your list of ‘must-see’ places during your boating holiday north of the River Shannon. The forest park is home to a very rich wildlife that you may be lucky enough to see so be on the lookout for otters, kingfishers, badgers, herons, fallow deer, swans and red squirrels... You can also go cycling, hiking, kayaking and even tree climbing! The Rockingham Remembered Tour course mixes underground tunnels and a 9 metre tall viewing tower which offers a spectacular view of the park, the lake and the surrounding area.
For groups of more than 3 people, book a 2-hour slot at Boda Borg (prohibited for children under 7 for security reasons) which is an original Swedish concept combining reflection and strategy in the style of an escape game. Here your crew will need to work together again, this time calling on your team spirit to solve the 15 quests and 47 challenges that are put to you in this building that’s arranged on two floors!

Boyle: revisit Ireland of the past

Welcome to Boyle, the last stopover point before resuming navigation towards Carrick-on-Shannon. Here, some of the buildings have survived for centuries. Your walk begins at King House, a bourgeois house built in the 18th century and later transformed into a military base for the Irish Regiment of the British Army. An educational tour of the premises awaits you, with a mix of museum displays and art galleries. Not far away is Boyle Abbey, a former Cistercian monastery founded in the 12th century by the prominent McDermott family (who also owned the castle of the same name in the middle of Lough Key). Admire the columns sculpted with the effigy of the monks and stroll through the alleys of the cloister. Go back in time to return to the Neolithic era at the Drumalone dolmen, a burial monument erected around 5,000 years ago.

Dromod: industrial heritage of Ireland

Dromod Port, now entirely dedicated to boating and waterways activities (available at the Shannon River Adventure Centre), was once a busy commercial port through which convoys of Guinness and other goods passed. Dromod's activity was focused around its railway line which connected it to Leitrim and the coal mines of Arigna. You can experience a steam train journey at the Railway Museum, where collectables from both World Wars are also on display. Also, relax by the Weeping Tree fountain, carved from a single piece of oak, and found in the city centre.

Lanesborough: a small village at the gates of Lough Ree

Heading back towards Carrick-on-Shannon, moor your Nicols canal boat at Lanesborough Marina. After this village, you leave Lough Ree and resume navigation on the River Shannon. Take advantage of the stopover to stretch your legs in the small village and take a trip to the local distillery (Lough Ree Distillery) to taste its whiskey and restock your boat in the grocery store.

Lough Ree: hikes and islands for adventure

At a vast 105km², Lough Ree is especially popular with fishermen, but also offers a large number of other activities to be enjoyed such as Liliput Way hiking trail, holy well of Saint Faithleach, Rathcline castle and cemetery with its Celtic crosses. However, the island of Inchcleraun wins the title of the most popular tourist attraction of the lake with its 6th century monastery classified as a “national monument” by the Republic of Ireland. The island appears in a Celtic legend according to which Medb, warrior queen of the province of Connacht, was murdered there by a man armed with a slingshot... and a piece of cheese!

Athlone: a dynamic city on the banks of the Shannon

Life is in full swing in Athlone, the largest town on the banks of the River Shannon. In Athlone, shopping lovers will be happy! There is also something here for the whole family… don't miss a visit to the castle, which will take you back 800 years via several exhibitions and fun experiences. Then go admire the stained glass windows of the church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Finally, your boating holiday in Ireland wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Sean's Bar - holder of the title of being the oldest pub in Ireland!

Clonmacnoise: 1,500 years of history

Located along the River Shannon, Clonmacnoise is a place not to be missed during your boating holiday. Also called the Seven Churches, this monastery was founded in 544 and quickly became one of Ireland's most famous religious sites. Wander among the ruins and try to identify all the buildings, try to decipher the tombstones and observe the detail of the Celtic crosses. Don't miss the door of murmurs, where fishermen could confess during the epidemic of yellow plague without risk of contamination. Try and test its acoustics by whispering while stood at the level of the door to the right and listen as the sound goes up along the arch to the ear of a listener over on the left side!

Banagher : dancing along the Irish wind pipes and violins

Banagher may be relatively small, but it's still very much alive: sip a pint of local beer at the Railway Bar or the JJ Houghs Singing Pub, while listening to traditional music, and learn to toast in Gaelic (“Sláinte”). As you walk through Banagher, cross the stone bridge and pass in front of the Martello Tower, built in the 19th century to protect the city from a possible French invasion.

Portumna: a step back into the forgotten history of Ireland

Welcome to Portumna, known for its 17th century castle which perfectly combines 17th century Irish and Renaissance styles. Tours of the ground floor and the gardens are possible from April to October to discover the history of the place. Near the castle is the forest country park where you can follow many hiking trails. There is also the Irish Workhouse Centre in Portumna which tells the prison like story of where people would arrive of their own free will, abandoning their land and their freedom to work in extreme conditions in exchange for food and survival. A visit here is highly recommended and really opens your eyes to the living conditions of a social class that is very often forgotten. Finally, end your visit to Portumna on a happier note with a round of golf at the Portumna Golf Club!

Terryglass: Irish folklore and sacred wells

To the north of Lough Derg is Terryglass, a charming and welcoming village. Make sure you save time to see its two sacred wells, the story of which is part of local folklore: it is said that it is thanks to the water of Saint Augh's Eye Well that Saint Augh would have regained his sight and that the well was also visited by Saint Patrick who would have officiated baptisms there. The second well, called Saint Columba's Headache Well, is said to cure migraines and headaches. Terryglass Castle is also worth a visit and its four-leaf clover-shaped ruins are listed as a 'national monument'.

Lough Derg: explore Ireland’s third largest lake

As Ireland's third largest lake, there are plenty of things to do around Lough Derg. Go to the Twomilegate pontoon and start the hike to the top of Moylussa to enjoy a superb view of the lake (allow 3 hours 30 minutes of easy to moderate hiking to cover the 13km loop). Then relax at West Lake Water Park. Travel all around the lake and explore the dozens of small islands, many accessible only by your canal boat, and on which you will sometimes be completely alone. Don't miss the island of Inis Cealtra and its castle.

Killaloe-Ballina: the twin towns of Lough Derg

You have arrived in Killaloe, the southern end of your boating holiday on the River Shannon. This peaceful little village was briefly, in the 11th century, the capital of Ireland. Today Killaloe is simply a must visit place when in the Lough Derg region. A 17th century stone bridge connects it to Ballina, its twin town. After visiting the 12th century St. Flannan cathedral enjoy fine dining options in one of the town's restaurants. If you are lucky enough to be here on a Sunday, don't miss the opportunity to go to the market which takes place in the middle of the bridge! Before taking the helm of your canal boat for the return along the River Shannon, take the time to admire the sunset.
Your discovery of the River Shannon is coming to an end. Turn around and retrace your steps to take your Nicols canal boat back to Carrick-on-Shannon.

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Holiday reviews from Carrick-on-Shannon

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This was our first boating holiday for us and it was the perfect way to discover Ireland. Fully automatic locks on the Shannon-Erne canal and the lock keepers on the River Shannon made navigation nice and easy - especially when it came to passing through the locks. We will certainly be doing another boating holiday soon!

Caroline, Pau (64)