Starting out from Banagher, explore the shops and restaurants which are less than a 5 minute walk from the marina, stock up with your provisions before boarding your cruiser by shopping at the local big supermarket or if you want to rent some fishing equipment call to Ray at the Old Forge. Take the heritage trail around the town with plenty of interesting buildings and facts. If you are spending the night you have the lovely choice of Flynn’s Restaurant and the Brosna Lodge which are very children friendly or check out the Van House for tasty and affordable meals, have a pint of the local beer, Bo Bristle, in some of the pubs and enjoy the Irish session and craic in Hough’s pub which is definitely worth a visit. There is a playground close to the harbour to keep the children entertained.
Cruise northwards and stop off at Shannonbridge and have a bite to eat in the lovely setting of the Old Forte Restaurant or grab some pub food in Luker’s or Killeen’s while enjoying a pint of Guinness and chatting to the locals and getting some good fishing tips or just relax and listen to the Irish music. If you fancy some local crafts browse the display of Shannonbridge pottery which is on sale in Killeen’s. Explore the playground which is in the town and take the free short self- guided walk around the old Napoleonic fort. Before you hit Clonmacnoise , there is an opportunity to cruise along the idyllic River Suck to Ballinasloe, it’s a great river for fishing and Ballinasloe hosts the oldest horse fair which takes place in October. It’s an old market town and has plenty of opportunity to shop and visit the pubs & restaurants. Continuing back down the River Suck and upstream it will be the famous world heritage site of Clonmacnoise that is noticeable from the shore line, stop here for a few hours and take a tour of the monastic site and watch the audiovisual but before coming back on board take a look around the gift shop which is located in the local tourist information situated outside the visitor centre as they have plenty of local arts and crafts on sale. Clonmacnoise is a lovely location, perfect for a BBQ or picnic and a great spot for fishing but just make sure you have enough provisions on board as there is no town close by.
Hop back on board and cruise to Athlone, this is where you will have your first experience of a lock. But no need to worry as the all the locks on the Shannon are operated by lock keepers so always there to lend a hand. Athlone is a great town with plenty of choice of great pubs, restaurants, shops and shopping centres. Sean’s bar, the oldest pub in Ireland is conveniently located beside the lock so pop in for a pint of Guinness or listen to the Irish music. Plenty of activities to keep you entertained from bowling, swimming to the cinema and of course Athlone Castle and Heritage Museum is worth a visit. Take a trip around Glendeer Pet Farm for a fantastic family day out. A lovely child friendly restaurant is IL-Colosseo serving pizza, pasta etc located close to the marina. Cruise to the lower end of Lough Ree you will find the harbour of Hodson Bay, a great fun day can be had here at Bay Sports with plenty of water activities and a water park, avail of the ½ summer camps with Bay sports while Mum & Dad just relax in the hotel or treat themselves to a treatment in the hotel spa overlooking the harbour. Bay sports also offer a great facility of bicycle hire and collection so you can explore the lovely countryside and routes and a great family activity day. On the other side of the lake , is the lovely Coosan Point or Killinure marina where you can enjoy a great steak at the Chalet Restaurant or treat yourself and dine at the Wineport Lodge and Restaurant. If you are feeling active or would like a bike ride take the 2km trip to the picturesque village of Glasson, plenty of choice for arts & crafts, and fine cuisine from Grogan’s, The Fatted Calf to the Village Restaurant. A driving range is located in the stunning Glasson Golf Hotel and wonderful setting for lunch or dinner and they have their own private moorings.
Continue your journey over Lough Ree, plenty of open water but always make sure and follow your charts which are supplied to you on arrival. Cruise up the idyllic Lecarrow Canal to Lecarrow which is a small village but have a bite to eat in the Yew Tree and then across the road to Coffey’s or Kelly’s for an after dinner drink. Explore the looped walks around the area. Back on the lake continue to Lanesborough, a town where you can pick up a few supplies or spend the night and relax after your day’s adventure over the lake.
Take to the wheel again and back on the Shannon exploring the smaller villages and picturesque towns of Clondra, sample some food in Keenan’s or the Purple Onion in Tarmonbarry, next port of call is Rooskey it’s famous for its angling and the Shannon River Adventure is close by, some lovely walking trails for all the family. Continuing a little further to Dromod in Co. Leitrim , where there are pubs and restaurants to choose from, the lively Cox’s to the old docking house that is now a Bistro , a great nature trail and the railway museum offers tours on a stream train. Jamestown is a pretty village, a great spot for fishing and some lovely restaurants too, the famous Cottage Restaurant is highly recommended and plenty of pubs for evening entertainment. Another lovely heritage trail can be enjoyed by many while walking & exploring the town.
Continue on to the bustling town of Carrick on Shannon, the town itself is surrounded by lovely scenery and it’s full of entertainment and lively atmosphere with a great choice of pubs and fine restaurants. Carrick offers an array on activities from the Farmers Market which takes place every Thursday to St George’s Heritage & visitor centre, plenty of water sports available at River Mania which is located beside the marina, golf and great shopping. A visit to the Dock Arts centre is a must , it has a theatre and art galleries and there are many exhibitions and performances hosted throughout the year, browse through Leitrim Design centre and pick up some local and beautifully crafted designs, the Docks is full of culture and local crafts.
It will be here that you begin your return journey back to Banagher taking in the wonderful landscape on your nautical journey.
Depending on your time schedule you may have the possibility of reaching Lough Key within your week tour, Lough Key is to the northeast of the town of Boyle in Co. Roscommon contains over thirty wooded islands including Castle Island, Stay Island, Burlock Island & Drommound Island, a great place for trout and coarse fishing. It is an idyllic lake as it is encircled by 800 acres of Lough Key Forest & Activity Park which is great for families and plenty of activities to keep the children entertained with lovely walks and Ireland’s only Tree canopy Walk & Zipit forest adventure centre. Boyle is a lively town with plenty of pubs and restaurants and the Boyle Arts Festival takes place in July , there is also a model railway which is ideal for children. During the summer months , there is a shuttle service between Boyle and Lough Key forest park.
This tour continues from the 7 night suggested family adventure cruise north of Lough Key. Lough Allen is the next port of call. It is immediately south of the Shannon pot and the lake is overlooked by mountains which has outstanding views and plenty of cycling & walking routes. Drumshambo is located on the canal and is a friendly town with pubs, restaurants, shops, an outdoor swimming pool & tennis court. Lough Allen has plenty of activities and make sure and call to Kevin at the Lough Allen Adventure for kayaking , surfing or windsurfing or a take a guided walk along the Leitrim way and stop off for a well- earned pint in a traditional pub. Shannon Blueway allows guided and unguided paddling and walking along the Lough Allen Canal and Shannon River from Carrick–on Shannon via Leitrim Village and Battlebridge to Drumshanbo. It’s a great experience to see the waterway and there are looped walks to be enjoyed
Next is the experience of the Shannon Erne Canal, Leitrim is located at the beginning of the canal which is a lovely village with a great choice of restaurants and pubs. Enjoy a romantic dinner on the “Lovely Leitrim” which is a renovated 65ft barge. Hop on a bike from Eileen at the Electric bike trails and explore the hidden areas of Leitrim. Cycle to Arigna mines and experience a great day out for all ages . Talk to Lee at the Leitrim Surf company and he will bring you a journey of the beautiful Shannon Blueway by stand up paddle boards, a wonderful experience.
It’s time to get the crew busy and operate the 16 automated locks on the canal but you can also relax and enjoy the country villages such as Kescharrigan , Ballinamore, Ballyconnel and Belturbet offering pubs and restaurants and attractions such as horse riding , hill walking, heritage trails to keep all the crew and families entertained.
Lough Erne, along its length from Belturbet to Belleck offer Island dotted lakes & rivers which are a boater’s paradise. Lisnaskea is the second largest town in County Fermanagh and is full of lively pubs, restaurants & activities. A little further downstream and visible from the Lough is Crom Castle estate. This is now open for public viewing and is an exclusive resort. Enniskillen is located in between the upper & lower sections of Lough Erne, the fortress of Enniskillen Castle in the centre of the town is now a museum. The town has an array of entertainment for all the family and activities located on the very long main street. A visit to Marble Arch caves is definitely a must and it will bring you into an underworld of waterfalls, springs, rivers and winding passages. Devenish Island contains one of Ireland’s few complete round towers and is about 1,000 years old. When you enter the Lower Lough Erne there are monastic Islands that can be seen & visited before coming to the town of Belleek which is world famous for its pottery and an ideal opportunity to bring home some of this world renowned pottery.
It will be here that you begin your journey back to Banagher but a a wonderful trip full of quality family time and lasting memories.