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Thread: Journey through Ireland Part 2 - The Shannon

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Amersfoort, Netherlands

    Default Journey through Ireland Part 2 - The Shannon

    This is part 2 of our journey through Ireland from North to South

    Day 10 Leitrim – James Town – 18 km

    On entering the Shannon, the amount of boat traffic increased enormously. This seems to be a motorway for enormous rental boats, chartered mainly by Germans.

    Joining of the Shannon and the Erne-Shannon waterway

    Approaching Carrick-on-Shannon

    The rental boat skippers plough past us at top speed and create enormous wakes. The private boat skippers are much more polite and normally slow down to pass us.
    We moored the canoe in Carrick-on-Shannon and visited the town and stocked up on shopping.

    A friendly woman in the tourist office helped us to locate a source of screw-top gas cylinders at a sports shop located at an out-of-town retail park. (long walk). We choose to cook on gas but after having initially purchased cylinders in Coleraine before the trip, we had not been able to find them again. We stocked up with enough to last the rest of the trip.


    This evening, after talking to a woman who had come down to the mooring at James Town for a short paddle in her LIDL inflatable kayak, we were invited to her home for a few beers. Fortunately, she lived only a 10-minute walk from where we had pitched the tent.

    Camp at James Town

    Day 11 James Town – Dromod – 18.5 km

    There is a small amount of current in the Shannon so paddling goes quite quickly.
    We stop for lunch at a headland and find a deserted Scout camp in the woods behind us.
    Good camping spot but wrong time – middle of the day.

    Dromod is a good place to camp and there is a small shop and a pub in the village. We are an item of interest for all passers-by in the marina’s as we are the only people camping with a tent. People constantly come along for a chat. Waterways Ireland has created a number of “Blueways” indicating locations where camping for canoeists is officially permitted but until now we have not seen a single other canoe or kayak except for the group of kids doing their DOE award.

    Day 12 Dromod – Lainsborough – 27 km

    The wind was forecast NE 2 (favourable) but turned out to be W 3-4 so today was a hard slog. Officially canoes are not allowed in the locks but heavily loaded canoes can be dragged thru on ropes. The lock keeper at Tremoran was reluctant to let us through but after I talked with him he agreed to fill the lock for us and let us pass.

    As we approach Lainsborough, the sky line is dominated by the peat burning power station although I understand operations are now suspended due to concerns about the water discharges into the Shannon.

    Tonight in Lainsborough we are camped next to the slipway and a group of kayakkers came along for an evening paddle. They gave us a tip of the best way to carry round the lock in Athlone, as no canoes are allowed in the lock there. The head of operations has his office next to the lock and the lock keepers respect the official rules.

    Day 13 Lainsborough – Galey Bay, Lough Ree – 15km

    Today we are starting paddling Lough Ree, a large lake nearly 25 km in length. The predicted West wind is today in reality a South wind. It is again hard work but a relatively short distance. There are 2 campsites on Lough Ree, one in Galey Bay in the NW corner and another one at Ballykeeran in the SE corner. To our surprise, there is only 1 other camper on the site, and the friendly owner of the site, gives us a lift into Le Carrow for the afternoon. After a walk around the harbour, a visit to the shop and pub, we walk the 8 km back to the campsite.

    PS You could also camp at Le Carrow harbour which has a nice green lawn and service block with showers.

    Head of Lough Ree

    Finally, out of the wind at the landing in Galey Bay

    Service block and possible camping at Le Carrow harbour?

    Walking back to the campsite

    A fine evening at Galey Bay

    Day 14 Galey Bay, Lough Ree – Ballykeeran, Lough Ree – 22 km

    We woke up to be greeted with pouring rain. This campsite here has a kitchen and lounge so it was not so bad. Today the wind is an improvement on the forecast. It is a favourable NW2 and there are no waves on the lake. It took an hour to paddle to the ruins of Rinn Duin.

    Here after, there is a forbidden area close to shore, so we had to paddle quite a way out. Using the navigational maps, we paddled from buoy to buoy and a further 2-hour paddle took us to Coosan point with park and pub.

    After a pub lunch we continued on to the Ballykeran campsite. This was an extreme contrast to last nights site. It was extremely crowded but we had a friendly welcome and other campers helped carry our bags to our allocated spot. In the early evening we were smoked out with the clouds of smoke from every one’s BBQ and campfire. We retreated to the Dog and Duck. At least the campers were very disciplined and at 11 pm on the site you could hear a pin drop.

    Evening quiet at Lough Ree East campsite

    Day 15 Ballykeeran, Lough Ree – Athlone (Shannonside) – 15km

    We left the smouldering BBQ’s and campfires early in the morning, stopping for coffee in Athlone before carrying round the weir.
    We had to make good time because the kayakkers in Lainsborough had already warned us that today a triathlon was being held in Athlone, the “Triathlone” and the river though the town is closed from 2 – 5 pm.

    We have now left the area with the Blueways (marked trails and official camping spots for canoeists) but the river banks do not promise good camp sites. Most fields have cows and bullocks in them. We decide for the next two nights to stay at Bed and Breakfasts. Today we have found a B and B about 3 km south of Athlone. I rang the owner and asked if it was accessible from the river. She asked her husband who said it was possible. We left the canoe and all our bags in the river meadow and plunged thru knee high grass in a beautiful meadow to reach the place. We walked back along a pleasant country lane to enjoy an evening in Athlone.

    Canoe left in meadow.

    Comfortable bed this evening

    Triathlone runners

    Enjoying an evening in Athlone

    Day 16 Athlone – Shannon Bridge – 22 km

    The river and countryside are a bit featureless today, but with the current, the km pass by quickly.

    It gives us time to spend an afternoon visiting Clonmacnoise, an Early Christian site founded by St. Ciarán in the mid-6th century on the eastern bank of the River Shannon. The site includes the ruins of a cathedral, seven churches (10th -13th century), two round towers, three high crosses and the largest collection of Early Christian graveslabs in Western Europe.

    At Shannonbridge there is no grass at the harbour to put up a tent, only space for camper buses.

    Shannon Bridge

    Camper bus parking only

    Off to a B and B again about 1 km from the river.

    The Lukers pub on the river bank is a good place for dinner. Later in the evening, young people turned up with a collection of musical instruments and entertained us with spontaneous Irish folk music.

    Day 17 – Shannon Bridge – Shannon Harbour 12 km
    Grand Canal Shannon Harbour - Lock 33 5km – See part 3

    This morning, while packing the boat, we met Kevin O’Sullivan, a guy on holiday for a week on a motorboat with his family. He is also a sea kayaker and is paddling around Ireland by sea in stages as solo trips. We go and have breakfast with Kevin and his wife at the Old Fort restaurant.

    Waving goodbye to Kevin.

    Today we paddled a further 12 km down the Shannon and then at Shannon Harbour made a left-hand turn into the Grand Canal, which connects Dublin with the Shannon.

    Last few km on the Shannon

    Entering a new waterway

    The Shannon continues further southwards via Lough Derg to Limerick.
    In Lough Derg, there are more Blueway canoe trails but we have made another route via the Grand Canal and River Barrow to get to the South coast.

    A description of the Grand Canal and the Barrow follows in Part 3

    Last edited by; 28th-August-2019 at 02:21 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Bangor, Co Down.


    This truely inspiring, if this blog doesn't make people want to paddle over here, nothing will. So glad you enjoyed our country.
    Big Al.

    Only when the last tree has died
    and the last river been poisoned
    and the last fish been caught
    will we realise we cannot eat money.
    ~Cree Indian Proverb

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Newtownards, Northern Ireland.


    Excellent expedition.
    You have gone further in one trip than I have managed in 7 years with my cruiser and canoe combination.
    Looking forward to part 3


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Lochwinnoch, Scotland


    I’ve been saving reading this till I had time to savour it. Now onto part 3.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Amsterdam, Netherlands


    i'm doing it in revers order. next is part 1

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Eastern England


    Beautiful photos. And, yes, I'm inspired to come and paddle in Ireland. Now how to find some time ... (I can't afford to retire yet—but I will make it sometime.) :-)
    Nice to see an Ally being put to good use.

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