Travelling by barge and exploring Europe in a different way is a great experience for anyone who loves nature or culture, especially on the River Shannon in Ireland. Green landscapes, ruined castles and fortresses, colourful villages and pubs full of history… Ready to cast off?
Here are some of the sites you’ll come across along the River Shannon. For each of these favourites we’ve given some practical information, but also some tips to help you make the most of your cruise.
If your idea of Ireland is a vision of green landscapes, then Rinn Duin is just what you’re looking for! Slightly off the main tourist track, this place has two footpaths you can follow to explore the ruins of various buildings, in between the sheep and the lambs. It’s a country walk with culture thrown in ... not to mention a typically Irish air of mystery!
- To reach Rinn Duin from the Killinure Point Locaboat marina, you have to cruise across Lough Ree to Lecarrow.
- Access to the site is free.
- The footpaths are 3 and 4.5 kilometres long.
- Rather than walking from the marina to the site, you could hire bikes from Locaboat when you book your Pénichette®.
- Take some sturdy footwear with you for walking through the pasture!
Where to eat out in Killinure Point
- Killinure Chalets. For a pleasant start to your cruise, either before or after your outing to Rinn Duin, this is our tip for eating at Killinure Point. Just 500 metres from the Killinure Locaboat base, this is the restaurant where boat skippers and their families get together in a relaxed atmosphere. It’s best to book in advance or arrive early in the evening to be sure of getting a table.
You can’t cruise along the Shannon without stopping off at Athlone! The region’s largest town, it’s a favourite destination, with lively and colourful streets as well as historic monuments like the castle. Now a museum, the castle is a great place to visit for all ages.
Don’t miss Sean’s Bar, the town’s oldest pub, said to be the oldest in Ireland. Take a walk along the river to the rapids for a different view of the town, its bridge, cathedral and fortifications.
- Price: €8 per adult with a free audio guide.
- To leave Athlone to the south you have to pass through a lock. Don’t panic: the lock keeper will come and help without you having to ask. Even so, be careful as you approach the lock when coming from the town; there’s a strong current caused by the rapids.
- The entry ticket for the castle gives you some discounts, in particular 25% off an Irish coffee at Sean’s Bar, free entry to the Luan Gallery and 10% off a tour of the Kilbeggan distillery.
Where to eat out
- Kin Khao Thai. This is listed as one of the country’s 100 best restaurants. What else can we say, except that it’s delicious! But it’s a victim of its own success. If you haven’t booked in advance, you can still order takeaway dishes and enjoy them on board your Pénichette®.
- Sean’s bar. It’s not every day you get the chance to drink in Ireland’s oldest bar. Try one of the local beers. There are often musical events in the evenings.
If you talk to the local Irish they’ll all tell you to visit Clonmacnoise. That’s how important this place is to the Irish. Before you enter the site, there’s a small museum with an introductory video. As you walk between the tombs, you’ll see ruined churches, houses and towers.
- Price: €8 for adults
- There’s a small dock where you can moor at any time just beside the site.
- Although the dock at Clonmacnoise is the perfect place to stop while you’re touring the site, it would be better to moor overnight at Athlone or Shannonbridge.
Where to eat out
- There’s a small cafeteria on the site where you could take a tea break.
The scenery along the Shannon is ever-changing, with wide landscapes opening onto gentle and peaceful scenes, where nature unfolds in shades of green, blue and yellow to make a stunning show for travellers. Among the reeds and the wide open grasslands, you’ll find your mind wandering as you count sheep and listen to the gentle lull of birdsong. The calls of swans, herons, ducks, geese, kingfishers, cormorants and seagulls create the musical backdrop to landscapes that scroll before your eyes as you glide along.
Inside the small case that Locaboat gave you, to go with the paperwork about the region and how to handle the boat, there’s a pair of binoculars. Just what you need to see the navigation signs when you’re cruising, but also very handy for watching birds and other wildlife!