Upper River Shannon holiday boating

The majestic Shannon, Ireland's longest river, is free from all commercial traffic and navigable for over 150 miles (220km) with only 6 locks. This river and the lakes it flows through - some more like inland seas - combine natural landscapes with historic sites.

Rooskey Shannon Sunset

Our Carrick-on-Shannon base bustles with cruisers and cosmopolitan crews busily preparing to cast off for their waterway adventures. The small pretty town is Ireland's cruising centre, offering a rich choice of provisions as well as a wide selection of pubs and restaurants.

From here, a northerly heading takes you along the narrow, tree lined Boyle River which then leads into Lough Key. This is a magical place with stunning scenery and nestled on its banks is the Forest Park. Follow the splendid nature trails and claiming a secluded picnic site for lunch. (Some larger boats are not able to access Lough Key)

The charming little town of Boyle boasts the ruins of a Cistercian abbey founded in 1161, a stunning mixture of Romanesque and Gothic styles.

South from Carrick the Shannon slowly widens, flowing gently by a cluster of small towns and villages and all well worth a visit. As you slowly cruise down stream, the river leads through a ribbon of loughs that stretch for miles until you finally reach Lough Ree.

Lough Ree is a vast, inland sea that boasts inspiring scenery and diverse wildlife. If you fancy some fish for supper, cast your line over the side - the fishing on Lough Ree will rarely disappoint.

Hodson Bay is an excellent stop-off point on the southern shore or make your way along to Athlone, a town with long history and a choice of extremely good golf courses. It is notable for its imposing castle which has dominated a strategic crossing ever since the 13th century. Our new boat base is just outside Athlone at Killinure Point.

Carrick-on-Shannon to Athlone is about 11 hours direct cruising - with many places to visit en route. This route forms a pleasant one-week return trip from our bases at Carrick or Athlone. An alternative is the one-week one-way trip from Carrick on Shannon to Portumna on the Lower Shannon.

Ireland Route Map