A cruise on the Shannon River with Le Boat is considered one of the most original methods to discover Ireland taking you thru the coronary heart of the nation and its lengthy historical past. When you select an Irish River cruise, you might have the likelihood to self-drive alongside Ireland’s historic freeway to historic ruins and well-known castles. Each city alongside the River Shannon welcomes bargers with open arms and ice-chilly pints of Guinness as gifted musicians entertain the crowd with full of life conventional music.
Cruising the Shannon could also be the objective, however getting off the boat to expertise Irish hospitality is what creates recollections to final a lifetime. If you’re planning a cruise on the Shannon, we’re going to provide you with all the info it’s worthwhile to make the most of your journey. Right now, Le Boat is providing early reserving financial savings of 10% till November 30 for the 2023 season. Check out all their locations in Europe and Canada. See particulars right here.
Cruising on the Shannon
This was our fourth Le Boat River Cruise. We had simply completed cruising the Canal du Midi in France and made two different journeys on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Canada the summer season earlier than. We have been wanting ahead to cruising the River Shannon because it appeared just like a Rideau Canal cruise with extra open water and lakes than the lengthy and slender Canal du Midi. Ireland has a particular place in our journey hearts and we have been going to go to locations in Ireland that we hadn’t seen earlier than.
Read about different Le Boat River Cruise experiences:
About the Shannon River
The Shannon River is the longest river in Ireland spanning 360 km by the coronary heart of the nation. It begins in Shannon Pot in County Cavan in the north of Ireland and ends in County Limerick at the Shannon Estuary.
Our Shannon River Cruise Route
During our 8-day Shannon River Cruise, we traveled from Carrick on Shannon from the Le Boat workplace. (Emerald Star in Ireland) to Portumna the place Le Boat has one other workplace. Boats are all parked of their marina with full energy and amenities.
In Ireland, Le Boat is named Emerald Star. Emerald Star has been Ireland’s Number One boating vacation supplier and has been working on the Rivers Shannon for almost 50 years so I can perceive why they didn’t need to lose their title!
What to Expect on a Cruise on the River Shannon
Carrick on Shannon to Portumna (or visa versa) is considered one of the hottest routes for Shannon River Barge Cruisers. It is a 160 km journey that takes you thru 5 locks and underneath 2 bridges. To journey 160 km on a Le Boat houseboat, the journey takes roughly 20 hours of cruising time. Boats are restricted to 10km per hour, so when you find yourself Shannon Cruising, you’re sitting again to chill out. As you’ll be able to see from the map, we coated a whole lot of Ireland.
We have been stunned with simply what number of Irish have been cruising the Shannon River on both their very own boats or with boat leases. It undoubtedly reminded us a whole lot of the Rideau Canal in Canada in that sense. When cruising that canal, we noticed many impartial boaters take pleasure in the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We flew into Dublin the place our shuttle from Kearns Coaches picked us as much as take us to the Le Boat Headquarters at Carrick on Shannon. We requested our driver if we might cease at a grocery retailer to select up provides and he was joyful to have a brief break whereas we purchased meals and drinks for our week on the River Shannon.
Carrick on Shannon is a metropolis the place we might have purchased all our provides, so the cease wasn’t wanted, however it was good to have the ability to load meals into the van and offload it immediately at the dock.
Do you Need Boating Experience to Cruise the Shannon River?
You don’t want boating expertise to cruise the Shannon with Le Boat. A Le Boat consultant will stroll you thru all the pieces you want on the boat after which take you out for a brief lesson. All boats have a most velocity restrict of 10 km per hour and there are many bumpers on the boat. Plus, boats have thrusters that you’ll discover ways to use in your orientation they usually make driving straightforward.
Our information walked us by the heating and air con and all of the controls that we’d be utilizing throughout the subsequent seven days. And he’ll take you out on a check drive to point out you learn how to use the thrusters and controls. By the time he left the boat, we felt assured to start out navigating our approach alongside the Shannon River.
Day 1 – Carrick on Shannon
We spent the evening at Carrick on Shannon and immediately fell in love with this city. There are loads of issues to do in Carrick on Shannon that you can spend 2 nights in the city.
Carrick on Shannon is a full of life metropolis full of pubs which can be packed to the hilt. We discovered that it’s a widespread Stag and Hen social gathering vacation spot in the UK and wedding ceremony events had flown in from throughout Britain to rejoice.
It was straightforward to discover a pub the place we launched my brother Jim to a correct pint of Guinness. Before Ireland, he vowed that he wouldn’t turn into a fan of Guinness as a result of he doesn’t like darkish beer, however we quickly made a “Guinness Lover” out of him. We spent the evening bar hopping and listening to gifted Irish bands earlier than strolling again to our boat that was situated proper downtown in the Le Boat Marina.
One to not miss vacation spot in the coronary heart of downtown Carrick on Shannon is Costello Memorial Chapel. It is alleged to be the second smallest chapel in the world and was made by Edward Costello who devoted it to his spouse who died in 1877. Both their tombs are on show underneath glass inside.
Day 2 – Carrick on Shannon to Tarmonbarry
We had loads of time every day to get to our subsequent vacation spot on the Shanon River, so every morning we made breakfast on the boat and loved a leisurely tempo earlier than setting off for Tarmonbarry.
Le Boats have full kitchens they usually provide you with pots and pans, dishes, and cutlery. By ordering the picnic starter equipment, we additionally had salt and pepper, olive oil and tin foil. All we would have liked to buy at the grocery retailer was the meals and snacks we wished for the week forward.
Lunch at Dromod
En route, we stopped at the pretty riverside village of Dromod. Dromod is a picturesque city that could be a excellent cease for lunch. We docked at the harbor that has been used for greater than 150 years for barges carrying Guinness and utilizing it as a stopover. There are a few eating places and pubs with a notable steakhouse.
You can stroll out to the railway museum and might take a brief experience on the nonetheless-working steam prepare. Outside you’ll see basic vehicles, an previous bus, an airplane, and a submarine. Inside the museum, there are weapons on show from WWII.
If you aren’t going to prepare dinner lunch on the boat, we propose stopping for lunch at the Brandywell Bar Restaurant and Lodge to strive some Guinness Pie or you’ll be able to replenish on some groceries at Kinneden Organics to buy some natural fruit and greens. Cox’s Steakhouse is one other widespread restaurant and if you’re staying the evening, ensure that to e book a desk upfront for dinner.
Overnight in Tarmonbarry
After a few hours at Dromod, we made our solution to Tarmonbarry the place we spent the evening on this full of life city. We have been advised that we’d must name the bridge keeper to get underneath the bridge, however as he was driving by, he yelled over to us, saying we’d make it. Just go sluggish! Only in Ireland eh?
We adopted his recommendation and slowly crossed underneath the bridge ducking our heads as we handed. We have been in Tarmonbarry with loads of hours to spare earlier than sundown.
It was then on the bikes that we rented from Le Boat seeking the Abbey that was constructed by Saint Barrech, (Barry) in the sixth Century. It was an extended bike experience than anticipated, however after biking by farmland, hills, and the Irish Countryside, we lastly discovered the Abbey that homes his stone boat.
Legend has it that Saint Barry carried out a miracle when he wanted to cross the River Shannon to are inclined to a sick comrade. With no boat in sight, we turned an enormous boulder right into a watercraft to cross the river. We noticed stated boulder in all its glory at Whitehall Church simply north of Town.
This is a good city to hang around in for the night with loads of pubs and eating places. We listened to stay music at Keenans and loved a pint open air at The Shannon Bar and Garden.
Day 3 – Tarmonbarry to Lanesborough
After an evening of a number of pints of Guinness, we slept like infants in the quiet marina. This marina is situated on a biking and strolling path and makes for place to stretch your legs in the morning.
It was then off to Lanesborough simply in time for lunch.
Make positive to cease on this city as there are a few excellent historic church buildings to discover. There’s a distillery on the town and nice locations for espresso. It was throughout this journey that Jim and Janice realized that Dave and I really like cup of espresso as we set out every day to discover a scrumptious espresso store. We all the time discovered what we would have liked!
Lanesborough to Athlone
We parked our boat by the bridge throughout the Shannon River from Lanesborough. It is right here that you could discover the twin cities of Lanesborough and Ballyleague. Sling Shot Gin is distilled proper on this city and you’ll cease in for a style and to buy an Irish memento.
Don’t miss visiting St. John’s church which dates all the approach again to the starting of the Christian custom in Ireland throughout the fifth Century. Lanesborough is a good place to take pleasure in lunch and to stretch your legs earlier than transferring on to your cease for the evening, Athlone.
Overnight in Athlone
Athlone is the largest metropolis on your Shannon River Cruise and we propose spending two nights right here for those who can. I’d quite do day journeys out to Lanesborough and Loch Ree throughout the day and use Athlone as a base for 2 nights. Loch Ree is so widespread to discover that there are Viking ships that take vacationers out to discover its Viking historical past and all of its monasteries dotting the shore.
Day 4 – Athlone
Athlone is dwelling to the world’s oldest pub and we parked our boat immediately in entrance of this historic landmark. The pub is situated immediately on the Shannon River and Le Boat has prime docking areas proper in the middle of city. If it’s full, you can even park at the marina a bit bit earlier than city, however we suggest attending to Athlone early to get a spot at this prime location. We have been inside strolling distance from all over the place. And had a thousand-greenback-a-evening view from our prime location.
There are so many issues to do in Athlone, that it’s considered one of the prime vacationer locations in Ireland. It’s a preferred cease for tour buses touring between Dublin and Galway and for good motive.
Wander by its Medieval Streets to peruse its retailers, eating places, and cafes. And ensure that to go to Athlone Castle which dominates the waterfront. Our boat was just some quick steps away from this historic landmark courting again to 1210. You can take guided excursions by the fortress grounds.
Sean’s Bar – World’s Oldest Pub
The World’s Oldest Pub was undoubtedly a spotlight. The Guinness Book of World Records says that it’s Europe’s oldest pub, however the proof exhibits that it’s really The World’s Oldest constantly working pub. They have the paperwork to show it. Sean’s Bar dates again to 500 AD and it was throughout renovations in the Seventies that they discovered thousand-12 months-previous cash and the authentic construction made from Wattle and Wicker.
This city was made much more well-known when Michael Jackson stopped in to drop some huge cash in the Bastion Gallery. Athlone actually is a gem of a Shannon River Cruise and lots of Shannoriver cruisers use this as a base and easily do day excursions from right here.
Day 5 – Athlone to Shannonbridge
Today is an exquisite day so ensure that to depart vivid and early to take your time at considered one of the most extraordinary stops on the Shannon River. Today you go to the spectacular Clonmacnoise. This cease is an historic metropolis that showcases a sixth-century monastic settlement.
We left Athlone as quickly as the locks opened to make it to Clonmacnoise earlier than the crowds. Even although you’ll be able to dock your boat right here on the Shannon River, bus excursions frequent this marvel of Ireland. So you may be sharing it with overland vacationers.
Clonmacnoise is a monastic settlement from the sixth century. Pulling as much as the dock is unbelievable unto itself. The very first thing that comes into view is the excessive fort overlooking the Shannon River. As you stroll up the path in direction of the entrance, the crosses and church buildings come into sight and you’re in for one thing particular.
Plan to spend two hours having fun with Clonmacnoise. Your go to begins with a 15-minute movie explaining the historical past of the monastery adopted by a guided tour. The guided tour presents perception into the crosses and grounds, and is nice to participate in however additionally it is good to stay round after the crowd leaves (And earlier than the subsequent one arrives).
During that point, you might have time to take pleasure in the grounds on your personal. There are greater than 700 early Christian gravestones, excessive towers, and unbelievable stone crosses.
Inside the museum is implausible as effectively. Make positive to maintain a watch out for The North Cross, which seems to be just like the cross on the Book of Kells. Read extra: 34 of the Best Things to do in Dublin, Ireland
Since this web site is considered one of the early Christian settlements, Clonmacnoise is a well-liked spiritual pilgrimage, and Pope John Paul II gave mass right here in 1979.
Overnight at Shannonbridge
Tonight is the evening we docked at Shannonbridge which is one other spotlight of a Shannon River Cruise. Like so many locations that we docked throughout our Le Boat journey on the Shannon, we parked proper downtown and will stroll all over the place. In truth, we have been as soon as once more in entrance of a well-known Ireland pub! Luker’s Bar Shannonbridge is dwelling to considered one of the greatest-preserved pubs in all of Ireland. Luker’s Bar is so well-known that it’s on the Irish Bar Calendar that includes well-known bars in the nation.
We have been fortunate as a result of John, the proprietor was serving that evening and he took us on a tour into his genuine pub that has barely modified since the 1750s. There is the final remaining Victoria Regina Fireplace in all of the British Isles, previous picket tables the place you’ll be able to virtually odor the scent of an 18th-century social gathering and memorabilia from a bygone period.
You could need to spend all of your time in the pub when docking your boats on the River Shannon, however ensure that to enterprise out to discover extra of Shannonbridge. The bridge itself is an exquisite arched construction that was accomplished in the 1700s. There is a spectacular previous fort situated proper on the River Shannon the place you’ll be able to seize a espresso and discover the martello towers.
The fort was constructed to safe the Shannon River from an invasion by Napoleon and there are loads issues to see. If you’re on the lookout for stay music, Killeen’s Bar has music on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday nights from May to October.
It could also be a small city, however you’ll be able to handle to go pub hopping in Shannonbridge. That’s simply the approach issues are in Ireland.
Day 6 – Banagher
Banagher is a beautiful subsequent cease on the River Shannon cruise the place you’ll be staying in a big marina. This marina has showers, laundry, and close by meals vans in the excessive season. It’s a really quick stroll to city to take pleasure in loads of pubs and eating places. Make positive to go to the River Shannon Brewery to take a break from Guinness and check out their artisan craft beers the Martello Tower and Crank Red Ale.
It was on this city that we loved considered one of our favourite dinners on the River Shannon. Sadly, I fully forgot its title, however for those who stroll right into a again alleyway not far into city, you’ll come out to a picturesque courtyard. Dave and I discovered it whereas on the lookout for a espresso store they usually had scrumptious cappuccinos. While sipping our espresso, we made a reservation for that evening.
This pretty restaurant is a brand new addition to the city with implausible meals and an exquisite ambiance. At the time of writing they didn’t have their liquor license but, however they allowed us to deliver our personal wine.
One of the extra distinctive issues to do in Banagher is to hop in for a swim in the River Shannon at the Banagher Swimming pool which is situated proper in the waters of the river.
Day 7 – Portumna Castle
Our ultimate drive alongside the Shannon River earlier than our final night was an exquisite journey by Lough Derg to Portumna. We recommend passing Portumna and making your solution to the marina in entrance of Portumna Castle. It is thru the bridge and you’ll have to time it in accordance with your timetable that you just’ll obtain from Le Boat, however belief me, you’ll want to keep in entrance of the fortress.
Portumna Castle is a gem of Ireland and each King James I and Queen Elizabeth I visited this beautiful fortress. You can take a tour of the fortress grounds and inside there’s a cafe providing recent espresso and meals that may be visited without cost. Luckily we had our bike leases and loved a pleasant experience by the picturesque Portumna Forest Park.
There are loads of pubs, eating places and procuring on the town and as is the case with all of the cities and villages on the Shannon River, an fascinating church and a few previous ruins.
The Abbey Ruins situated between the fortress and city could be simply explored throughout your stroll and are fully free to enter. They have been a spotlight of the many issues to see on the River Shannon.
Day 8 – Final Night Portumna Dock
It was a 9 am try the subsequent day, so we left Portumna Castle in the afternoon to make the ultimate bridge crossing again to the Le Boat dock in Portumna. This dock is an remoted place to ensure to have what you want for the evening. You can order meals and have it delivered for a flat price from city. The Le Boat workers have been good sufficient to make a name for us and we ordered Italian meals for our ultimate evening on the River Shannon.
We spent the evening enjoyable and packing as much as be off the boat and prepared for our shuttle again to Dublin vivid and early.
Our Le Boat journey had come to an finish, however the recollections created will final a lifetime.
About a Shannon River Cruise
Our route took us from Carrick on Shannon to Portumna. It was an 8-day cruise and we spent about 3 hours every day on the Water.
Our journey spanned 160 km / 5 locks / 2 Bridges / 20 hours of cruisingLocks are open Monday – Saturday 09:00am -8 pm and Sundays 10:00am-6:00pmWhen renting a Le Boat, all the pieces is included. They provide you with sensible playing cards if must function the locks. Most of the time they don’t seem to be wanted, however I’ve learn that they’re required on the Shannon Erne. Life Jackets should be worn at the locks. This is the excellent journey for newcomers as no expertise is required. The days are enjoyable and also you’ll glide into every city early sufficient to discover and revel in.
Be ready for Irish climate, it will possibly flip instantly and we skilled a whole lot of rain. We needed to drive from under most days, however we had the warmth on and the snacks flowing as we took in the leisurely tempo of exploring the Shannon.
The wonderful thing about visiting Ireland is that if the climate is unhealthy, the pubs are open with pleasant and welcoming folks ready to heat you up with a pleasant pint of Guinness by the hearth.