Boating Holidays Masthead
Boating Holidays Masthead

Boating Holidays on Lough Erne and the Shannon-Erne Waterway

The River Shannon and the Erne are connected by the restored Shannon-Erne waterway. The 63km long canal has 16 locks, electronically operated by "smart card", built and faced with the original hand cut stone.

The waterway leaves the River Shannon at Leitrim village, just upstream of Carrick on Shannon. It has opened up to boaters an undiscovered region of great natural beauty with a wide variety of cruising waters, scenery, wildlife and activity.

From our Narrowboat base at Ballinamore you head north on the Shannon-Erne Waterway through Ballyconnell to reach the Erne, the second great Irish river system.

The Upper Lough Erne is filled with hundreds of islands amidst lush green rolling meadowlands. This is a land of lakes - paradise for birdspotters, botanists and fisherman.

Enniskillen, lying midway between Lower and Upper Lough Erne, is a picturesque market town and fascinating heritage centre. This busy town has a castle, a museum, and a wealth of shops, pubs, and restaurants.

Lower Lough Erne, the most northerly of the two loughs stretches from Enniskillen to Belleek. This great expanse of open water is fringed by spectacular cliffs rising to 900 feet that then lead on to uninterrupted open moorland.

Narrowboats are not able to cruise above Enniskillen or below Carrick on the River Shannon. We have access to other boats able to explore the Lower Erne lakes and waterways - please contact us for details.

Upper and Lower Lough Erne are waters particularly prized by fishermen - a fishing permit and rod licence is required in Northern Ireland only.

Area Highlights

Highlights of Ireland - Erne Waterways

  • Belleek’s pottery
  • Picturesque villages of Ballyconnell and Belturbet
  • Golf at Slieve Russell Hotel in Ballyconnell
  • Swan Island Open Farm in Ballinamore
  • Cycle Kingfisher Trail
Penichette in Ireland

Useful Information:

  • To cruise on the Shannon-Erne waterway, you will need to buy a smart card to operate the locks, these are available from all bases at a cost of approxomately €13 for 20 units. Locks and bridges on the River Shannon cost approx €1.50 each.
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Ireland Boating Map

View Routes from:

Carrick on Shannon

Carrick-On-Shannon is the largest town in County Leitrim. The ruins of the old Carrick Castle can be glimpsed on the Carrick Bridge. Stop in this pretty town and visit the great Saint-Mary's Church. Learn its history and discover its culture in the art centre.

One Way Routes

Carrick-on-Shannon - Portumna (or vice versa)

1 Week • 160km • 5 Locks • 2 Lift Bridges • 19hrs

You pull up to the ancient monastic site at Clonmacnoise, truly an impressive remnant of the Shannon’s storied past and a highlight of barge holidays in Ireland. The stones seem to speak to you, sending a message through time. From your sundeck, you admire Birr Castle Demesne, and you cruise into Lough Derg and stop for a picnic at Portumna Forest Park.

Out and Back Routes

Carrick-on-Shannon - Lanesborough - Carrick-on-Shannon

3 - 4 Days • 104km • 6 Locks • 14hrs

The River Shannon marks a swath of blue through emerald-green hills dotted with Celtic ruins and postcard-perfect villages, entrancing you with every mile you make south toward Lanesborough at the head of Lough Ree. A boat hire in Ireland immerses you in the Irish way of life, slow and easy as you cycle the towpaths or play a round of golf.

Carrick-on-Shannon - Belturbet - Carrick-on-Shannon

1 Week Return • 150km • 34 Locks • 29hrs

You head out on your barge holiday in Ireland through lakes, the Shannon-Erne Waterway and the River Shannon. You feel relaxed as the scenery slowly passes by, and you see friendly people wave at you from the towpath. Along the way, you enjoy the waterfront bistro in Leitrim, fishing at Drumshanbo and playing the 18-hole championship golf course at Ballyconnell.

Carrick-on-Shannon - Athlone - Carrick-on-Shannon

1 Week Return • 200km • 6 Locks • 4 Lift Bridges • 22hrs

You’ve revelled in the friendly pubs and tried the Guinness and Jameson whisky, Calcannon (potato and cabbage) and Boxty (fried potato cakes). Now you’re up for golf — even more natural on barge holidays in Ireland than neighbourhood leprechauns and four-leaf clovers! At Glasson and Hodson Bay, you hit the greens with gusto and the luck of the Irish!

Carrick-on-Shannon - Enniskillen - Carrick-on-Shannon

2 Weeks Return • 220km • 34 Locks • 36hrs

Carrick-on-Shannon - Belleek - Carrick-on-Shannon

2 Weeks Return • 280km • 46 Locks • 36hrs

Carrick-on-Shannon - Keshcarrigan - Ballinamore - Leitrim - Lough Key - Forest Park - Boyle - Carrick-on-Shannon

1 Week Return • 208km • 22 Locks • 3 / 45 hr day

Carrick-on-Shannon - Dromod - Rooskey - Killinure - Athlone - Lanesborough - Carrick-on-Shannon

1 Week Return • 176km • 6 Locks • 3 / 15 hr day

Carrick-on-Shannon - Enniskillen - Devenish Island - Kesh - Belleek - Tully Castle - Enniskillen - Carrick-on-Shannon

1 Week Return • 119km • 0 Locks • 2 / 45 hr day

Carrick-on-Shannon - Boyle - Dromod - Portunny - Athlone - Clonmacnoise - Killnure - Lanesborough - Carrick-on-Shannon

10/11 Days Return • 260km • 10 Locks • 3 / 45 hr day

Carrick-on-Shannon - Boyle - Dromod - Tarmonbarry - Killnure - Athlone - Banagher - Terryglass - Garrykennedy - Killaloe - Portumna - Athlone - Lanesborough - Carrick-on-Shannon

2 Weeks Return • 415km • 12 Locks • 3 / 45 hr day


In County Fermanagh the base at Bellanaleck is just 8km from lovely Enniskillen and is ideally located for exploring upper and lower Lough Erne, and the traditional villages of Northern Ireland. It’s also a paradise for bird watching and fishing.

One Way Routes

Bellanaleck - Enniskillen - Ballconnell - Carrick-on-Shannon

1 Week • 168km • 16 Locks • 3 / 45 hr day

Out and Back Routes

Bellanaleck - Enniskillen - Belleek - Tully Castle - Bellanaleck

1 week • 119km • 0 Locks • 2 / 45 hr day

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