The River Shannon is ideal for lock-free boating holidays - with no commercial traffic, and only 6 locks in its 150 miles (220k) of cruising water. The river and the lakes flow through natural landscapes and historic sites - they are also an angler's paradise.
The centre of boating on the River Shannon is the town of Carrick-on-Shannon. Its narrow streets offer a wide selection of pubs and restaurants, and there are many boating holiday options starting from here.
From Carrick you can go north west along the Boyle river to Lough Key, with its Forest Park and nature trails. Visit the ruins of the 12th century Cistercian abbey in the little town of Boyle. (Not all boats can access Lough Key).
Going south from Carrick the River Shannon slowly widens, flowing past many small towns and villages. The river continues through many loughs to Lough Ree - a scenic inland sea home to diverse wildlife and well stocked with fish.
At the southern end of Lough Ree, historic Athlone is noted for its castle, dominating the river since the 13th century. From Athlone the Shannon flows through undulating countryside - a rambler’s heaven with parklands, historic ruins and grand houses to explore.
The river slowly snakes past Clonmacnois, the ancient Christian capital of Ireland with a cathedral and churches steeped in history. Life slows down along this stretch of the Shannon as you head to Banagher.
Further south is mighty Lough Derg, the largest lake on the Irish waterways. Lough Derg is noted for the charming lakeside towns and villages with their small harbours and moorings. Good restaurants and pubs abound in this area.
Portumna’s broad streets and majestic parades of shops and houses reflect the town’s Georgian past. The National Park on the northern shore has its own harbour and a secluded nature trail.
Killaloe is the most southerly navigable point on the Shannon. Customary Irish hospitality and fine food and drink awaits boaters here.