Ireland may be famous for its coastline, but the island’s watery pleasures don’t end there. Explore Ireland’s inland waterways and get ready for a holiday like no other.
A ray of sunshine warms the bridge, fish wriggle in the water and peaceful villages parade through your view. Silence is everywhere. Life is sweet on a cruise on the rivers of Ireland.
A succession of excursions to island monasteries, long afternoons of fishing, lazy lunches by the water’s edge and open-air dinners: this is what cruises in Ireland are all about. Say goodbye to stress and hello to tranquillity.
River tourism gives you a direct connection to authentic Ireland. These unspoilt lake and river landscapes have hardly changed for thousands of years and their serenity is nowadays not disturbed by any commercial traffic.
It is a fact: there are 400 km of navigable waterways between Belleek, at the far north of Lough Erne in County Fermanagh, and Killaloe in County Clare.
Along the way you will see many purely Irish attractions, such as the 12th century White Island Church on Lower Lough Erne, with its strange stone statues, or the ruined monastery on Devenish Island. Pass the bustling island town of Enniskillen (and its waterfront castle) at the junction of the lakes on your way to Upper Lough Erne and explore its maze of forested islands. Crom Castle, a splendid Victorian mansion, is nestled here amidst ancient woodlands that are home to some of Ireland’s oldest yew trees (said to be over 800 years old).
Go under the tiny ivy-covered horseshoe bridge at the entrance to Lough Allen. Fishermen should be sure to bring their rods, as breams and roach are plentiful in these waters. Children (young and old) will have a great time at the Lough Key Forest and Activity Park. One of its highlights is the canopy walk, a unique experience in Ireland, which offers an impressive course with a panoramic aerial view of the lake. As a bonus, access to Lough Key is facilitated by a wide choice of moorings.
While going down the river Shannon, make sure to visit one of the most beautiful places in Ireland: Clonmacnoise. Founded in the 6th century, this “monastic town” became a university and the former Christian capital of Ireland. To see more of the countryside, rent a bike and explore further inland.
That’s the great thing about cruising in Ireland: you’re free to stop and explore as you please. Gourmet meals, island picnics, activity parks, castles, gardens, bike tours, canoeing, fishing: all this and more is within easy reach of the water. If you’re tempted by a night on land, you’re spoilt for choice between a cozy B&B or a luxury castle hotel.
So when you reach the end of your trip and moor your boat for the last time, be sure to caress its hull and promise to return – you’ve only just scratched the surface of the possibilities.