Stage 1: Banagher Marina to Shannonbridge
After you have picked up your boat from Silver Line Cruisers, make the scenic journey north from your base at Banagher Marina to Shannonbridge, where you can enjoy the walk across the river to the Shannonbridge Fortifications.
These were built by the British in the 18th century to guard the region against Napoleonic attack. They also feature a gift shop and charming riverside café. Luker’s Bar makes an idyllic spot to enjoy part of your trip on the Shannon with their panoramic riverside restaurant offering a delicious menu of locally sourced fare. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a Shannon sundowner too.
Stage 2: Shannonbridge to Athlone
With the postcard village of Shannonbridge in your wake, cruise north to one of the true highlights of Ireland’s waterways: the ancient wonder of Clonmacnoise. The site is one of the best preserved monastic settlements in Europe and features nine churches and two stunning round towers dramatically set along the winding river. Step back in time at the excellent interactive visitor centre before wandering amid the awe-inspiring ruins.
Continue your journey upriver though Athlone Lock towards the town of Athlone, the urban heartbeat of the region. With one of the most vibrant dining scenes in the Midlands, Athlone enjoys a bounty of excellent restaurants. During the day enjoy a wander around Athlone’s charming old town, beginning with a visit to Bastion Kitchen for a meal. With a focus on local, organic ingredients, the café tempts with a fine stock of treats including hand roasted coffee, smashed avocado toast and delicious organic granola. For the evening book a table at Thyme Restaurant for its delicious seasonal menu before chasing your night with a visit to Sean’s Bar, which lays claim to being the oldest pub in the world!
Before heading off again from the marina, pay a visit to the historic Athlone Castle.
Stage 3: Athlone to Tarmonbarry
Heading north into majestic Lough Ree, the ‘Lake of Kings’ and Ireland’s fifth largest lake, why not try some water sports adventures at Baysports, Ireland’s largest inflatible waterpark, located at the Hodson Bay Hotel, or treat yourself to a blissful afternoon of pampering at the renowned Wineport Lodge.
Baysports is Ireland’s largest inflatable waterpark featuring a trove of medieval-themed slides which celebrate the region’s rich history.
While kids make a splash at the waterpark, adults can grab a paddle and explore Lough Ree by kayak.
For dining, visit either the on-site BayCafé or the Waterfront Bar located in the Hodson Bay Hotel, just next door. At Wineport Lodge, you can enjoy a luxury treatment at the hotel’s lakeside spa — perhaps a hot stone massage or a Voya seaweed bath with bubbly to really soothe the soul. Afterwards, enjoy some more good food on the terrace of their famous restaurant.
Travelling up Lough Ree and into the next stretch of the river you’ll continue north between the banks of Longford and Roscommon until you reach Tarmonbarry. Once berthed, the village’s Purple Onion Restaurant, which also features an art gallery, makes a fine place to dine. Menu options like gin-laced watermelon with feta or forest mushroom & blue cheese risotto have made this restaurant a worthy award-winner. Activities could include enjoying some birding along Tarmonbarry’s Harbour Road or take the scenic 5km round trek across the river to the neighbouring village of Clondra, the starting point of the historic Royal Canal.
Stage 4: Tarmonbarry to Carrick-on-Shannon
After navigating the scenic waterways of Lough Forbes, Roosky Lock and Lough Bofin, continue cruising northwards until you reach to the postcard village of Dromod. The village features a charming sign-posted nature walkway, where you can stretch your legs before enjoying lunch in one of the village’s impressive restaurants. Try The Brandywell for their delicious dishes or Harkins Café, a popular local option for tasty bites like salads or quiches.
Continuing on, two hours or so of scenic cruising brings you upriver to the lively Leitrim town of Carrick-on-Shannon. Once on shore start by heading to the quirky Olive Tree Café on Market Yard where you can pick up a coffee or ginger beer before wandering the town’s attractions. Don’t miss the Costello Chapel, said to be Europe’s smallest church at just over 3m wide!
Visiting on a Thursday? Visit the Market Yard Centre Farmers’ Market , you can stock up on up fresh eggs, farmhouse cheeses, homemade boxty and even fresh fish — if you’re not planning on catching your own, that is…..
Alongside the Marina, pay a visit to The Dock , a visual arts centre showcasing edgy exhibits which wouldn’t look out of place in a London or Berlin gallery. There’s also a café and a gorgeous little gift shop with crafts made in Leitrim and its hinterland.
Stage 5: Carrick-on-Shannon to Banagher
Go with the flow and return south catching up with some of the many other features along this fantastic stretch of the Shannon and remember to leave sufficient time to drop off your Silver Line Cruisers’ boat, back at Banagher Marina.
Three more to explore…
Looking for more inspiration? Consider adding these options into your Ireland’s Hidden Heartland itinerary.
Another great option for dining in Shannonbridge, this historic pub also features a top-notch outdoor organic kitchen.
Fallon’s Bar, Banagher, Shannonbridge, Co. Offaly, N37 P6Y8
Keenan’s Boutique Hotel in Tarmonbarry is home to a beautiful gastropub offering everything from evening meals to mid-morning toasties!
Keenan’s Hotel, Main Street, Tarmonbarry, Co. Roscommon, N39 W968
Trace 270 years of Athlone’s distilling heritage with a guided whiskey tour across the town. Includes whiskey samples and a chocolate pairing.
Athlone Whiskey Tours, Athlone, Co. Westmeath