Departing from our base in Carrick-on-Shannon, you could either head south towards Athlone and Clonmacnoise or turn north to reach the Erne and explore its dazzling countryside.

Boat hire on Ireland’s Shannon and Erne in a few words…

Our base at Carrick-on-Shannon is the ideal starting point for exploring the Shannon, Ireland’s longest river. It’s a long way from any commercial traffic, navigable for 220 km, has only six locks, and has lakes that are sometimes real inland seas. You’ll be bowled over by the beauty of the landscapes bordering the river. As you cruise southward, you cross Lough Ree‹to reach the lively town of Athlone, the Celtic site of Clonmacnoise and then Portumna, with its Renaissance castle. If you head northwards, you take the Upper Shannon towards Boyle, with‹its delightful little 12th-century Cistercian abbey, before reaching Leitrim. Then you enter the Shannon-Erne Waterway which meets the Erne to the north, the other great Irish river. The canal, which is 63 km long, has been magnificently restored and takes you through a dreamlike landscape dotted with picturesque villages like Ballyconnel and Belturbet.

The port of Carrick in Ireland

The
highlights of Carrick-on-Shannon

  • Cross the border from Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland during your cruise!
  • Discover a true paradise for anglers

our routes departing from Carrick-on-Shannon

the routes shown are only suggestions; don’t forget that you can stop wherever you like on your cruise. 

Authentic Ireland

Waterway Shannon, canal Shannon-Erne
Itinerary CarrickKeshcarriganBallinamore LeitrimLough Key Forest ParkBoyleCarrick

Waterway

Shannon, canal Shannon-Erne

Itinerary

Carrick...Carrick
Duration of stay
1 week
Navigation time
3h45 / day
Distance traveled
208 km one way
Number of locks
22
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Carrick

Keshcarrigan

Keshcarrigan is a village in County Leitrim, Ireland. It is situated on the Shannon-Erne waterway. An ancient pagan burial site overlooks Lough Scur to the north and Keshcarrigan Lough to the south.

Ballinamore

Ballinamore is a small town in County Leitrim, Ireland. Feel free to take advantage of your boat cruise to make a stopover in Ballinamore and take a stroll around the town. You will be pleasantly surprised by the architecture of its Irish houses and its green and flowery gardens.

Leitrim

County Leitrim is a border region with Northern Ireland. Renowned for its fishing and scenic beauty, it is primarily split in two by the Shannon and Lough Allen.

Lough Key Forest Park

Legend has it that Lough Key is named after a druid named CĂ©, who drowned here during the formation of the lake. Lough Key is made up of some thirty islets, all of which are mainly wooded (including Castle Island, which houses a medieval castle, Stag Island, Bullock Island, Drummand Island, etc.).

Boyle

While in Boyle, be sure to visit the small town's abbey, which is truly impressive. In particular, discover the entire history of the immense monument and its various functions, which was used in particular as accommodation for military garrisons.

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Carrick

Complete Shannon tour

Waterway Shannon
Itinerary CarrickBoyle DromodRooskeyKillinureAthlone Clonmacnoise Garrykennedy KillaloePortumnaAthlone LecarrowCarrick

Waterway

Shannon

Itinerary

Carrick...Carrick
Duration of stay
2 weeks
Navigation time
3h30 / day
Distance traveled
180 km return trip
Number of locks
12
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Carrick

Boyle

Use your cruise on Lough Key to explore the ruins of “Macdermott’s Castle”, built on a small island right in the middle of the lough and only accessible by boat.

Dromod

Dromod is a remarkable fishing village next to Bofin and Boderg on the Shannon River. Built along the river Shannon, the village has a modern port frequented by tourists on their boat cruises.

Rooskey

Tie up your self-drive boat at Rooskey to enjoy a bit of fishing. You could find perch, roach and bream. If you feel like getting more active, there are plenty of footpaths that start from the village.

Killinure

Killinure Point is a peninsula at the south-eastern end of Lough Ree in County Westmeath, Ireland, on the River Shannon. Surrounded on three sides by water, it is the southwestern peninsula of the Killinure electoral district. A diversion on your boat cruise is well worth the diversion.

Athlone

Athlone is the biggest town you'll see on your self-drive boat holiday. Make sure you visit the castle or spend an evening in one of the three theatres. And you should definitely stop by Sean's bar, Ireland’s oldest pub.

Clonmacnoise

Clonmacnoise Monastery is over 1500 years old and is one of Ireland’s most important historic sites. You can tie up your license-free boat at a small pontoon and stroll among Celtic crosses while learning about Ireland’s history.

Banagher

Once in Banagher, you can reach the largest lake in the area, open to navigation: Lower Lough Terne. This is a must-see diversion, where fishing enthusiasts, as well as all water sports enthusiasts, can enjoy these activities.

Terryglass

You’ll love this marina, located at the entrance to Lough Derg: it's calm and peaceful when the lake allows. In the small village, you’ll find a picturesque, lively pub and a small shop where you can restock your self-drive boat.

Garrykennedy

When you arrive at the southern point of Lough Derg, take the chance to moor your PĂ©nichette at Garrykennedy. You’ll find a calm, relaxing marina and you can visit Larkins pub, famous for its food and music.

Killaloe

Killaloe is in the east of County Clare, on the shores of Lough Derg, and is a great little place to stop during your boating holidays in Ireland. It is famous as the birthplace of King Brian Boru. The village is also known for its footpaths and historic ruins.

Portumna

Once in Portumna, do not miss to visit the famous fortified house, built in 1618. Renowned for its fine architecture and the beauty of its French gardens, Portumna Castle is a popular tourist attraction for lovers of the Irish Renaissance.

Athlone

Athlone is the biggest town you'll see on your self-drive boat holiday. Make sure you visit the castle or spend an evening in one of the three theatres. And you should definitely stop by Sean's bar, Ireland’s oldest pub.

Lecarrow

Tie up your PĂ©nichette at Lecarrow to make use of the marina’s facilities, explore the ruined Rindown Castle or to enjoy a meal at the Yew Tree restaurant, recommended by many Ireland guides.

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Carrick

From Shannon to Erne

Waterway Shannon, Erne
Itinerary Carrick BallinamoreBelturbetEnniskillenDevenish IslandBellanaleckBallyconnellLeitrimCarrick

Waterway

Shannon, Erne

Itinerary

Carrick ...Carrick
Duration of stay
10 / 11 days
Navigation time
3h45 / day
Distance traveled
330 km return trip
Number of locks
32
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Carrick

Ballinamore

Ballinamore is a small town in County Leitrim, Ireland. Feel free to take advantage of your boat cruise to make a stopover in Ballinamore and take a stroll around the town. You will be pleasantly surprised by the architecture of its Irish houses and its green and flowery gardens.

Belturbet

Belturbet is a very touristy town. Activities such as fishing, boat cruises and walks in the countryside are very enjoyable. The town also has its own festival, the Belturbet de l'Erne Festival, which also includes the Lady Of the Erne competition.

Enniskillen

Explore the pretty town of Enniskillen on the banks of the Erne. Moor your self-drive boat here to visit the magnificent Enniskillen Castle or Castle Coole, which is just as interesting. Make sure you see Portora Royal School, alma mater of Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett.

Devenish Island

While taking your cruise on Lough Erne, visit Devenish Island, only accessible by boat. It has ruins and a 12th century watchtower that the priests once used to look out for strangers arriving on their lands.

Bellanaleck

The small village of Bellanaleck in Ireland is ideal for exploring the entire Upper and Lower Lough Erne region. Indeed, the village is situated in the middle of these two areas, giving you the opportunity to choose from a number of itineraries for the rest of your boat cruise.

Ballyconnell

Definitely stop your PĂ©nichette here if you’re looking for a bit of entertainment in the region. Just a few minutes’ walk from the marina you’ll find shops, restaurants, pubs and a night-club not far away. You can even get to a country club and play a round of golf if you feel like it.

Leitrim

County Leitrim is a border region with Northern Ireland. Renowned for its fishing and scenic beauty, it is primarily split in two by the Shannon and Lough Allen.

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Carrick

If you want to book this cruise
Browse online the availabilities
our boats available

Departing from Carrick-on-Shannon, we can offer the range of canal boats shown below. To see the full range of cruises available, please see our self-drive boat pages or contact our team who can help you to choose.

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Travel the waterways of the Emerald Isle with a Carrick on Shannon boat hire

Start your Irish adventure with a Carrick Shannon boat rental: set sail in the Emerald Isle

Start your boating adventure in the town of Carrick-on-Shannon, a quintessential Irish town full of local charm and idyllic Irishness. The town is the largest in County Leitrim and the smallest county town in the entire country. Many start their Shannon Erne waterway holidays here, and it is easy to see why. The town is a hub of activity and has been for many years, being a major crossing of the river Shannon has only boosted this title.

Although considered the gateway to the Shannon Erne Waterway, the town itself has a number of attractions that are worth visiting before you set off on your boating holidays. The Carrick Bridge and Quay are some of the town’s more iconic landmarks and show the trading history of this area of the river better than anything else. Carrick-on-Shannon is also home to the Dock, an art centre housed within a renovated former 19th-century courthouse building.

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Begin your journey heading north to Lough Key

Once you have secured your Shannon-on-Carrick boat rental, you will need to decide on which route you will take along the River Shannon. Heading northwest, your canal barge route will take you to Lough Key from Carrick on Shannon. The start of this river route will mean you cross your first county border, crossing from County Leitrim to County Roscommon. As you cross the county border, you will enter your first lough, Lough Drumharlow. Known for its rich wildlife and fish species, this is a great introduction to the Irish waterways. Heading farther north-west, you will arrive at the first main stop off of the Shannon-Erne waterway, Lough Key.

This two-thousand-acre lake is a scene of breath-taking beauty and has a number of must-see sights dotted around its green shores. Lough Key boat hire is also possible if you wish to start your journey here. Lough Key has many natural charms that make it a great place to stop off as you make your way down the River Shannon. Dotted with numerous small islands, Lough Key has been inhabited for centuries and even boasts a folly castle on the aptly named Castle Island. Along the southern shore is the 800-hectare Lough Key Forest Park. The forest is a natural wonder and is well worth a stop-off. The park is home to a visitors’ centre, numerous hiking trails and a tree canopy walk. This is the perfect place to immerse yourself in Ireland’s woodlands.

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Continuing your route past the scenic Lough Allen

Coming back on to the River Shannon, the Shannon-Erne waterway takes you north, diverting your trip to the uppermost main lake of Lough Allen. Sitting just south of the river’s source of Shannon Pot, Lough Allen covers a huge 14 square miles and is one of the larger lakes in the area. Nestled between two mountain ranges, the Slieve Anierin mountain range to the east and the Arigna hills to the west, Lough Allen becomes the perfect place for windsurfing – perfect if you fancy a change from your Lough Allen boat hire. Apart from the excellent windsurfing conditions, Lough Allen is also home to the award-winning Lough Allen Adventure Centre. This centre is a hub for all sporting activities around the water’s edge, including kayaking, hiking and more. The town of Drumshanbo sits at the southernmost point of Lough Allen and is a great stop-off point for stretching your legs and visiting a well-preserved Irish town, complete with pubs, restaurants and jobs.

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Cross the border into Northern Island and the waters of Lough Erne

Continuing on the River Shannon Erne waterway, you will wind your way through the northernmost countryside of the county and across the border into Northern Ireland. This section of the route joins the River Shannon with the River Erne via the Shannon–Erne Waterway canal, and canal boat hire here is also possible. On entering this section of the canal, you will come up against a series of Shannon Erne waterway locks. These locks are simple to navigate, yet there is always a friendly local there to give boaters a hand.

A few miles over the border, you will arrive at Lower Lough Erne; a lake system joined to Upper Lough Erne. These two loughs make up one of the largest lake systems in all of Ireland. Lough Erne boat hire means you can start and end your Shannon River cruise here, depending on your chosen route. As the lough is made up of two separate lakes, Lough Erne boat trips can take you across 43 square miles of water, an epic trip that can allow you to see so much of both rural Ireland and rural Northern Island. Lough Erne has gathered a reputation for all things watersports, with the World Waterski Championships held here as well as wakeboarding compositions. Securing your Lough Erne cruiser hire during the same time as these competitions will add something special to your Lough Erne visit.

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Taking an alternative route through Ireland’s midlands

A journey through the Royal Canal Way and its surrounding areas

Heading north isn’t the only route you can take from Carrick-on-Shannon; with all of Ireland’s midland interior to discover, venturing south is just as rewarding. Setting out from Carrick-on-Shannon, boaters will come to a fork in the waterway, with the Royal Canal to your left and the River Shannon on your Right. Taking the Royal Canal will open up a route that can take your Carrick on Shannon cruiser hire all the way to the nation’s capital, Dublin. The man-made Royal Canal way is a little more structured than the naturally occurring River Shannon and adds a whole new dynamic to your boating holidays in Ireland.

The 89 miles of canals crosses a number of different counties and is the perfect balance of rural and built up Ireland. Boaters may even start their journey from Dublin, taking in the famous sights, then head west down the Royal Canal Way, joining back with the River Shannon. This route can also be turned into a loop, taking in the River Shannon, the Royal Canal and the Grand Canal into the route.

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Shannon cruises down to Lough Ree

Shannon cruises can take any shape or form! Taking the right fork in the River Shannon after leaving Carrick on Shannon will take you farther into Ireland’s interior and will eventually mean you and your boat arrive at Lough Ree. Lough Ree boat hire enables you to boat across the second biggest lake in all of Ireland, a feat that helps you really take in the natural beauty of the lake. Lough Ree covers three different counties Westmeath, Longford and Roscommon, making it a perfect destination to really soak up Ireland’s culture and history.

The very southern point of Lough Ree narrows back into the River Shannon and flows through the town of Athlone, a destination that most Lough Ree boat trips make a stop. Athlone is a town not far from Ireland’s exact geographical centre, yet there is more to this humble town other than its location. There is plenty to see and do in Athlone, from popping in for a drink at Sean’s Bar – the oldest pub in Ireland and possibly Europe, to visiting Athlone’s 13th-century castle.

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Follow the Shannon River south to Banagher

As the River Shannon meanders further to the Lower Shannon area south, you and your boat will cross the county border and enter County Offaly, bordering on County Galway. Apart from more of the idyllic countryside passing by, you will eventually arrive at the quaint riverside town of Banagher. Although a small town, Banagher has a substantial river port, meaning you can opt for a Banagher boat hire if you wish to end or start your Shannon River boating holiday here. Along with being a practical place to start and finish your boating holiday, Banagher itself is a great place to pause the river travel and take in a new Irish town. As Banagher has always been a major crossing of the Shannon River throughout history, the town has its fair share of historical buildings and sights that are worth a visit. Top of these historical locations is Banagher’s, Fort Eliza. This early 19th-century fort was constructed to repel a Naoploianic invasion and is as impressive on the riverside today as it must have been then.

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Find the right boat for your own Shannon-Erne waterway cruises

Smaller boats for couples or small groups

If you’re looking to take a romantic boat trip away for two or are simply seeking a smaller capacity boat to navigate the winding rivers of the emerald isle, you are then opting for a boat such as the PĂ©nichettes ClassiqueÂź is the perfect option. These boats hold around two to five people and are ideal for navigating the sometimes narrow waters of the River Shannon. Whether your Ireland holiday is one of the economical money-saving or of luxurious opulence, there is a boat perfect for your needs.

Although these smaller boats are ideal for easy navigation on the Irish waterways, it is important to remember that they will have limited storage space for food and supplies. This is something that can be overlooked if you are simply using the boat as a means of travel and not home.

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Larger boats to take the whole family to Ireland

Those looking to go on a Shannon River cruise with far more people, with your large extended family, for example, will be better off hiring a larger boat such as a PĂ©nichetteÂź Aft Deck. These boats are capable of accommodating four to twelve people, and each cabin is equipped with a double bed, basin, hanging space and storage. Although these barges are much larger than the classic boats, they are just as responsive and agile.

The advantages of the larger vessels are the ability not only to carry more passengers but to keep far more supplies on board. This is ideal if you are looking to do an extended boating holiday and travel the entire Shannon River route. Remember that although they manoeuvre the same, these larger boats need far more care, especially in narrower sections of the river.

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Must-see historical sites found along Ireland’s longest river

Stop off at Portumna Castle near Lough Derg

Travelling down to one of the River Shannon’s most southern points is hugely rewarding. Not only to see the impressive Lough Derg but to see the semi-fortified house of Portumna Castle. Portumna Castle and gardens were constructed in 1617 and at the time had no equal in its grandeur and style. Visitors can now visit the 17th-century house in all its glory, harking back to a time in Ireland that is now gone. As Well as the castled house itself, Portumna is home to an impressive 17th century walled the kitchen garden.This garden is a feast for the senses, with fruit trees, herbs, flowers and vegetables all growing in a display just as impressive as Portumna Castle itself.

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Discover one of Ireland’s earliest Christian sites at Clonmacnoise

A few miles south of Athone and Lake Ree is one of the nation’s earliest Christian sites, Clonmacnoise. This 6th-century abbey stands in partial ruins along the River Shannon, making it a sight that is easy to see not only on foot but from your Carrick on Shannon boat hire itself. The site is an impressive mixture of the ruins of a cathedral, seven churches, two round towers, three high crosses and a large collection of Early Christian grave slabs.

Pre-dating much of northern Europe’s conversion to Christianity, Clonmacnoise stands as an important site not only in Ireland but across the globe. On the verge of gaining UNESCO status, it is easy to see why it receives hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Special tours of Clonmacnoise can be organised by visiting the Shannonbridge Tourist Office or simply pulling your boat into the marina here. Being directly along the river bank means you can see one of the country’s most famous sites with a simple jump from the boat.

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If you want to book this cruise
Browse online the availabilities

Your departure
base Carrick-on-Shannon

Carrickcraft

The Marina St George’s Terrace, Carrick-On-Shannon, Co.
N41 XA00 – Leitrim
IRELAND

If you have already booked your cruise and you want to reach your departure base:

+353 (0) 7196 20236

[email protected]

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