The River Shannon is the longest river in Ireland and passes through 13 of Ireland’s 32 counties and three provinces before entering the Atlantic at Limerick on the west coast. It has excellent lakes en route and it is possible to cruise large sections of the river without having to go through any locks.
The River Shannon flows generally southward from the Shannon Pot in County Cavan through Lough Allen to Boyle, Leitrim, Carrick on Shannon and Roosky. Entering Lough Ree near Lanesborough, it reaches Athlone, Shannonbridge and Banagher before entering Lough Derg at Portumna. From there the river passes Killaloe before emptying into the 70 mile (113km) long Shannon Estuary at Limerick. There are also many canals connecting with the river – The Royal Canal and the Grand Canal connect the Shannon to Dublin and the Irish Sea. It is linked to the River Erne and Lough Erne by the Shannon-Erne Waterway.
Lough Ree is the second of the three major lakes on the River Shannon. Athlone is situated at the southern end of the lake and the small town of Lanesboro is at the northern end of the lake. The lake has a very irregular shoreline with extensive reed beds and there are some 365 islands. The island of Inchcleraun (Inis Cloithreann) in the northern part of the lake is the site of a monastery founded in the early Christian era and contains the remains of several ancient churches.
Lough Derg is a long narrow lake with shores in counties Clare, Galway and North Tipperary in Ireland. The lake is the last of the three largest on the River Shannon and offers a rich variety of scenery and many woodland walks along the shore. Some the towns or villages on Lough Derg include Garrykennedy, Portumna, Killaloe & Ballina, Dromineer, Terryglass and Mountshannon. Navigable over its full 40 km length, Lough Derg is today popular with cruisers and other pleasure traffic, as well as sailing and fishing. It has been a place of pilgrimage for thousands of years and Station Island, in the centre of the lough and known as Saint Patrick’s Purgatory, is still popular.
WHEN TO CRUISE?
The cruising season is from April to October when the daytime temperature ranges from 15°C (59°F) to 20°C (68°F). Rain can be expected at any time.