Once you’ve been to Ireland, you’ll want to go there again and again. No wonder with the varied landscapes that stretch across the country. Besides the beaches, rocky cliffs, mountains and green meadows, the Midlands also captivate with their large lakes and river landscapes. The Shannon is Ireland’s longest river and navigable throughout. Due to its location on Ireland’s most important waterway, the Irish have settled here since prehistoric times. Later an important trade route (18th and 19th century) ran here.
So if you want to explore the green Midlands from a different perspective, it is best to travel by houseboat! The lake is particularly popular in the summer months. Nevertheless, there are many lonely places to moor. With our new departure base in Banagher, one can now also comfortably explore the lower Shannon with the big lake called Lough Derg. The region is one of the most beautiful in the Midlands. Within one week, the whole Lough Derg Lake can be navigated easily and without stress. The tour is especially worthwhile for houseboat lovers – as well as newcomers, because the lake landscape in combination with the lush green hills radiates a unique flair and no crew member is bored by the varied activities. No other houseboat region combines history, landscape, flair and activities, as Ireland does. On Lough Derg, anglers will find their true paradise! No lake along the Shannon is better suited to catching roach, pike and bream. Trout can also be caught at certain places along the shore. A dinghy is also very useful in Ireland when exploring the Shannon, as it is a great way to visit some of the uninhabited island on the lake.
Must See- Lake Lough Derg
- Holy Island – one of the most important monastery ruins in Ireland
- Tountinna – highest point of the nearby Arra Mountains, magnificent panoramic lake view
- Portumna Forest Park – many hiking and cycling trails
- Two-Mile-Gate Lakeside Park & Ballycuggeran Woods – a few minutes from Killaloe, perfect for a nature getaway
- Killaloe and Ballina – Old town with dreamy alleys, old shops, experience history
- Portumna Castle and Gardens
- Castlelough – picnic, water skiing, fishing, shore walks
Suggested tour for one week on Lough Derg from Banagher
Day 1: Banagher to Portumna (about 3 hours of navigation, 1 lock, 1 bridge)
The tour starts at our base in Banagher, a place steeped in history. Worth seeing is the Castle Clonony, which was built in 1490. Now a museum, the castle shows the life of the inhabitants in the 16th century. Please pay attention to the opening times. St. Paul’s Church is located at the southern end of Main Street. Especially remarkable are the stained glass windows that were intended for the famous Westminster Abbey. As everywhere in Ireland, there are also some pubs that invite to a cosy get-together with live music. Near the harbour there is also a SuperValu supermarket. After you have taken over the boat in Banagher, you drive in the first section on the Shannon and pass the Meelick Lock. The fee for the lock and the following bridge is 1,50€ each. After an approx. 3 hours drive you reach Portumna, one of the most beautiful cities in County Galway. It is definitely worth a longer stay to get to know all the sights. The Portumna Castle makes an imposing impression. It is a castle from the beginning of the 17th century. Beside the castle there is an interesting kitchen garden and a tea house. The Forest Park on the shore of Lough Derg is suitable for a long walk. Those who are interested in Irish history should visit the Irish Workhouse Centre – an impressive museum about families who could not provide for themselves in former times. In Portumna there are also some restaurants – La Bouche is particularly recommendable: Irish cuisine served in regional and organic quality.
Larkins Pub Garrykennedy
Day 2: Portumna to Garrykennedy via Terryglass (approx. 4.15 hours of navigation)
On this day, a large part of the lake is sailed. Since there are few stops, half the day is spent in beautiful nature. The region is considered to be the most beautiful part of the entire Shannon. In Terryglass a stopover can be made again. Here you will find good food, entertainment and simply a great atmosphere. The village centre is only 5 minutes away from the harbour. The history of the village goes back to the 6th century. The famous book of Leinster (currently at Trinity College in Dublin) was written here by monks from the 12th century. There is a playground for children right next to the harbour, in the village itself there are two restaurants. The trail continues towards Garrykennedy past many wooded peninsulas. At Cooldoney you can also change to another kind of water sports in Lough Derg Watersports Centre. On the way, a visit to the island of Illaunmore is a must. The island is the largest on Lough Derg Lake. After a navigating on the lake you reach Garrykennedy. The village was once a fortress of the O’Kennedy Clan – a 15th century family. The port used to be an important trading spot. Slate in particular was brought from nearby mines and shipped to Limerick. The harbour is beautifully situated and therefore very popular amongst leisure captains today. Especially beautiful is the visit of the two nearby pubs to enjoy a cool beer with Irish live music. Larkin’s also offers good Irish cuisine.
Day 3: Garrykennedy to Killaloe (approx. 2.5 hours of navigation)
The route leads to the lower end of the lake to Killaloe. On the way, the beautiful natural landscape speaks for itself. Perfect to enjoy the peace and quiet. There are hardly any villages on the way, which is why it is advisable to complete the entire day’s stage. At the end you reach the two villages Killaloe and Ballina. Both parts are separated by the river. Due to the short navigation time there is enough time to explore both villages and above all to replenish the supplies on board or to indulge in typical Irish culinary delights. One of the most famous sights is the stone bridge that connects the two villages. Fans of regional history can learn all about the city’s most important person at the Brian Boru Heritage Center. A music festival is held in Killaloe in July. Nature lovers can walk extensively around the two towns and admire the Celtic landscape. There are easy hikes such as the signposted Killaloe Heritage Trail or more challenging mountain tours.
Day 4: Killaloe to Mountshannon (approx. 4 hours of navigation)
Shortly after Killaloe, on the way to Scarriff, it is worth stopping for a walk along Ballycuggaran Loop Walk (red arrows). From here you have a fantastic view of Lough Derg Lake, the Annacarriga Valley and the nearby mountains. The somewhat sporty ascent will be fully rewarded. After the beautiful excursion the journey continues to Scarriff. The village is well known for its harbour. The perfect stop for a little refreshment. On the further way to Mountshannon you will pass some small islands: like Rabbit Island, Red Island and Holy Island. Especially worth seeing on Holy Island are the monastery ruins. The island is also called “church island”. The settlement began in the 6th century. The ruins date back to the late 10th century. Beside the visit of the well preserved ruins and the round tower a stay on the island is worthwhile, in order to enjoy simply the beautiful environment and the view on the lake. Shortly after Holy Island you will arrive at your destination of the day: the marina Mountshannon. A big harbour, a picturesque village with playground and labyrinth, a forest, a minigolf course and a half closed swimming area in the harbour await you.
Day 5: Mountshannon to Portumna (approx. 5.5 hours of navigation)
This day is spent mainly on the lake. It is worthwhile to enjoy the evening again in Portumna.
Day 6: Portumna to Banagher (approx. 3h of navigation, 1 lock, 1 bridge)
The last part of the tour leads back to the river Shannon to Banagher.
Day 7: Banagher
The return of your boat will take place between 8 am and 9 am.