The River Shannon is certainly one of the most important rivers in Ireland and many would say it is also one of the most beautiful. It runs through the counties of Ireland for 360.5 miles before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean through the Shannon Estuary. It is the longest river in Ireland and drains almost a fifth of the country. Touring by boat or taking a cruise on the River Shannon is said by many to be one of Ireland’s greatest joys. The Shannon River is joined to another of Ireland’s major rivers, the Erne, by the restored canal, the Shannon Erne Waterway, which opens up 750km of navigable waterway to explore. Carrick on Shannon is situated on one of the River Shannon’s most picturesque stretches and is the gateway to the Shannon Erne Waterway.
The most northern boat hire facility, at Carrick on Shannon, is an excellent place to begin your explorations on the river. The County Leitrim town has an excellent, modern marina and many companies offering boat cruises, river tours and vessels of various sizes and sorts for hire. Carrick on Shannon’s marinas are a delightful place to go and when you visit some of the lively shops, restaurants and pubs and gaze out at all the gently bobbing vessels you are sure to crave taking a stint on the water rather than just looking at it.
To the north of Carrick on Shannon you will find Lough Allen, a wide open, scenic lake. The river leaves Lough Allen at Drumshanbo and wends its way down towards Battlebridge and Leitrim. Leaving Leitrim Village, the river gently descends through tranquil country to Carrick on Shannon. South of this charming town, with its interesting historic buildings and lively musical scene and night life, the river rounds Jamestown and heads for Drumsna. This section is a somewhat faster, giving scope for some gentle adventure for canoeists. Or you can bypass it on the Albert Canal and pass through the Albert Lock. South of there, the river opens up again into another series of lakes, Lough Tap, Lough Boderg (with option detours into the remote Kilglass Lakes) and Lough Bofin before narrowing again at the lifting bridge in Roosky. The river continues, on and on to the south, giving scope for long-distance trips as well as shorter excursions. Another option from Carrick on Shannon is to take the Shannon Erne Waterway towards Lough Erne, which opens up a whole other world of relaxing adventures.
The River Shannon is a gentle place, where the waters take their time as they fall by just 18m over the navigable part of the river. Boating on the river gives you the time and space to think, feeling far from the rush and stress of everyday life. Wildlife that shares the river with its human traffic makes fleeting appearances here and there, while reeds whisper in the breeze and the waters murmur their soothing song. So come to Carrick on Shannon in County Leitrim and see what its waters will sing to you.