Ireland boating holidays and canal cruises

Exiting an Automatic lock

Ireland's two great river systems, the Shannon and the Erne, have been joined again by the re-construction and re-opening of the old Ballinamore-Ballyconnell Canal. The waterway leaves the Shannon at Leitrim Village, just upstream of Carrick on Shannon, and enters Upper Lough Erne in County Fermanagh.

It has opened up for exploration and enjoyment an undiscovered region of great natural beauty, a wide variety of cruising waters, scenery, wildlife and activity.

The waterway is unique in that it includes stretches of still-water canal, canalised river and a series of scenic lakes. An easy pace of life awaits as you discover the wide variety of cruising waters, scenery, wildlife and activities.

The waterway takes you into small friendly towns, villages and pubs where you can experience the warmth and hospitality of the local people.

The waterway itself is now a magnificent and sensitive restoration of the former canal. The 63km long canal has 16 locks, electronically operated by "smart card", built and then faced with the original 19th Century hand cut stone work.

From Ballinamore you head north on the Shannon-Erne Waterway to reach the Erne, the second great Irish river system, with two great Loughs leading north into Northern Ireland through Enniskillen to Belleek.

Enniskilen Castle
Penichette in Ireland

From Ballinamore reach Ballyconnell and Belturbet, both with a strong folk tradition, then onwards into County Fermanagh, a land of lakes, a paradise for birdspotters, botanists and fisherman, and your introduction to Northern Ireland.

Upper Lough Erne is filled with hundreds of islands, each one worth exploring and offering perfect lunchtime picnic stops. Lush green rolling meadowlands give way to craggy uplands with spectacular cliffs that then lead on to uninterrupted open moorland.

Enniskillen, lying midway between Lower and Upper Lough Erne, is a picturesque market town and fascinating heritage centre. By day this busy town brims with shops, museum, a sports centre and castle. By night, Enniskillen comes alive with happy holiday merriment from the wealth of original pubs, clubs and good restaurants.

Lower Lough Erne, the most northerly of the two loughs is a great expanse of open water fringed by spectacular cliffs rising to 900 feet. Narrowboats are not able to cruise above Enniskillen into Lower Lough Erne, but contact us for alternative boats we can offer in this area.

Use our live availability search to find the ideal boat for your Irish boating holiday, and book online or contact us for advice and to book.