Cruise Ireland - River Shannon

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    All in all really a dream-holiday. The boats are super, your staff is nice and competent. The Irish are unbelievable friendly and a very helpul nation.

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River Shannon

The River Shannon runs from County Cavan to Limerick along some 240 miles (370km) of gentle waterway.

Rising at The Shannon Pot in Cavan, the river flows through Dowra and into Lough Allen.

Lough Allen is a large open lake with few facilities but is quite scenic. It can get rough in strong northerly winds.

The river leaves Lough Allen at Drunshanbo and wends its way towards Battlebridge and Leitrim. There is a canal for boats to travel this stretch, but it is narrow and only the smallest boats can make the journey. There is also an interesting lock in Drumshanbo which can be either up or down, depending on the water levels in Lough Allen.

Leaving Leitrim village, the river flows gently down to Carrick-on-Shannon, the best-known of all the towns on the river. There are plentiful moorings and plenty to do in this charming town.

A few miles brings the river to Jamestown and round to Drumsna, a faster section of river which is by-passed by the Albert Canal and the Albert Lock. Canal sections are rare on the Shannon, and even this section is very short.

The river opens out into lake sections through Lough Tap, Lough Boderg and Lough Bofin before narrowing again and under the lifting bridge at Roosky.

Another lock at Roosky brings you down towards Lough Forbes and towards Tarmonbarry. Here there is a lifting bridge followed by another lock and a long narrower section of river. Scenery here is typical Irish bogland – flat and marshy.

The end of this stretch is marked by the twin villages of Lanesborough and Ballyleague (one either side of the river) and the last stop before Lough Ree.

Lough Ree is a substantial lake but very shallow making navigation tricky. It is well marked but even then easy to lose your way. There are surprisingly few harbours on Lough Ree and it is not until you are well south that you can pull into Hodson Bay on the west shore or Glasson on the east.

At the southern end of Lough Ree the river narrows and flows through Athlone, the largest town on the Shannon with numerous shops, restaurants and bars.

Leaving Athlone through another lock, the river runs wide, deep and slow for many miles past Clonmacnoise, Shannonbridge, Banagher, Meelick (another lock) and to Portumna at the north end of Lough Derg.

Lough Derg is a much deeper lake with hills sweeping down to the water’s edge. Spectacular scenery and many lovely harbours including Terryglass, Dromineer, Garrykennedy and Mountshannon.

The lake starts to narrow after Scarriff and runs down towards the twin towns of Ballina and Killaloe. The bridge here is the end of navigation for most boats.

The river flows on through dramatic scenery towards the Hydro-electric Power Station at Ardnacrusha. Boats can pass through the lock, but as it has a drop of over 100 feet (30m) , not many attempt the journey. Finally arriving in Limerick city, the Shannon has met the Atlantic Ocean and the journey is over.

The River Shannon only falls 60 feet (18m) along the generally navigable part and so is a very slow moving river. But this is the attraction and makes it easy to navigate.