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Carrick on Shannon   0 0:00  
Jamestown N4 4 0:06  
Dromod N4 11 0:18  
Newtown Forbes N4 20 0:31  
Longford N4 23 0:36 N4 -> N63
Lanesborough N63 32 0:55  
Roscommon N63 42 1:13 N63 -> N61
Kiltoom N61 55 1:40  
Athlone N61 61 1:50 N61 -> N6
Clonmacnoise N61 -- 69 2:00 Diversion
Ballinasloe N6 77 2:16 N6 -> R355
Laurencetown R355 85 2:33  
Portumna N65 96 2:56 N65 -> R353
Abbey R353 104 3:12  
Derrybrien R353 113 3:33  
    122 3:52 R353 -> N18
Gort N18 123 3:53  
Crusheen N18 132 4:09  
Barefield N18 137 4:16  
Ennis N18 140 4:22  
Clarecastle N18 143 4:26  
Newmarket on Fergus N18 148 4:34  
Hurlers Cross N18 152 4:40  
Bunratty N18 154 4:44  
Limerick City N18 163 5:00  

Distance & times are do not allow for stops
or visiting areas of interest

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This is a proposed 4-day tour itinary covering the West Coast of Ireland and the River Shannon. The tour is optimised with four starting points which will enable you to begin your tour from you own location. This tour will allow you to follow a leisurely pace, seeing as much as possible of the area as your time allows. Many suggestions will be made for each area which will allow you to plan your activities.

Starting points:     Limerick    Galway    Sligo    Carrick-on-Shannon    Photo Gallery   Index

Starting Point 4 - Carrick-on-Shannon

Carrick-on-Shannon is one of the busiest 'ports' on the Shannon. With 2 major cruiser hire companies located here, there are literally 100's of rivercraft to be seen. Cruisers range in size for those suitable for a couple of small family taking a day cruise, to those that could carry a group of 10 or more for a weeks cruising in luxury.

From Carrick-on-Shannon we will continue by road along the Shannon to Longford. If time allows it is worth while following the byroads to the right to the river ( normally only 500 metres away) for the picturesque views. From Longford we take the N63 crossing over the Royal Canal to Lanesborough. A wide bridge crosses the Shannon where you can watch cruisers passing by. This is a very popular place for course fishing as the fish are drawn by the warm water coming from the electricity power station. Lanesborough is at the top of Lough Ree (the middle lake on the Shannon).

Some other places worth visiting in Co. Longford are;

  • Tullynally Castle: for over 300 years this large Castle has been the seat of the Pakenhams, Earls of Longford. Situated close to Castlepollard. Tullynally is set in rolling countryside beside Lough Derravaragh. Kitchen, museum, tower and gardens open to visitors.
  • Longford Diocesan Museum: situated behind St. Mel's Cathedral, the museum contains vestments and objects dating back to Ireland's 'penal' days.
  • Maria Edgeworth Museum: located in St. John's Church of Ireland church and the old school at Edgeworthstown (also called Mostrim), this museum contains mementos associated with novelist Maria Edgeworth.

    More information on Co. Longford

    Continue on the N63 to Roscommon town, one of the main towns in Connaught where a 6th century castle with a typical iron gateway entrance can be seen. We follow the N61 along the west bank of Lough Ree to Athlone. About 4 miles north of Athlone is Hudson Bay, one of the many riverside / lakeside harbours on the Shannon. There is a fine hotel and golf course here and hovercraft trips across the lake are possible.

    Athlone which is as close to the center of Ireland as you will come, is a large medieval town which over the centuries has dominated one of the main crossing points of the Shannon. In the town you'll immediatly see the huge castle and cathederal on the west side of the river. This 13th century castle was built purly for defence and was still in use up to 1969. Athlone is a mix of the old and new; with old historical buildings and winding streets mixed with new modern shopping centres. A large weir dominates the Shannon below the castle with locks that allow the passage of river craft.

    Other antiquities worth seeing are;

  • Athlone Castle: built in the 13th century, this famous military post on the west bank of the river Shannon remained in military use until 1969.
  • Inchleraun Monastery: built on an island on Lough Ree and probably dating from the early 6th century. Interesting church ruins and inscribed ogham stones to be seen.

    More information on Co. Roscommon


    Co. Longford
  • Tullynally Castle: close to Castlepollard.
  • Longford Diocesan Museum:
  • Maria Edgeworth Museum: at Edgeworthstown.

    Co. Roscommon

  • Athlone Castle:
  • Inchleraun Monastery: on Lough Ree.
  • Clonmacnoise

    Co. Galway

  • Fiddaun Castle: near Gort
  • Portumna Castle:
  • Portumna Priory:
  • Loughrea Carmelite Monastery:
  • Clonfert Cathedral:
  • Ballinasloe Castle:

    Co. Clare

  • Franciscan Friary, Ennis:
  • Clare Abbey: situated at Clarecastle
  • Killone Abbey: 3 miles from Ennis
  • Dysart O'Dea Church and Cross:
  • Quin Abbey:
  • Bunratty Castle and Folk Park:
  • Knappogue Castle: at Quin
  • De Valera Museum, Ennis:
  • A few miles south on the same banks of the River Shannon is Clonmacnoise. A site that includes the remains of 10 other monastice buildings. It was founded in 548 by St. Ciaran. Reaching Clonmacnoise involves a diversion of approx. 12 miles from the main road which is well sign-posted. We continue to closely follow the Shannon through the towns of Ballinasloe and Laurencetown to Portumna at the top of Lough Derg. Portumna like Carrick-on-Shannon is another busy 'port' on the Shannon.

    If you have time why not visit these places;

  • Fiddaun Castle: situated near Gort, this well-preserved 16th century O'Shaughnessy castle features an unusually planned bawn with an outer bawn of which the gatehouse remains.
  • Portumna Castle: this castle of the Clanrickarde Earls dates from 1609. Damaged by fire in 1826, but now being restored, the Castle has several outstanding features.
  • Portumna Priory: originally Cistercian, this Priory dates from 1254, having been rebuilt in the 15th century by the Dominicans.
  • Loughrea Carmelite Monastery: Richard de Burgo founded this monastery in 1300. contains tombs of old families of Loughrea.
  • Clonfert Cathedral: St. Brendan the Navigator founded a monastery in Clonfert in AD 563. The Cathedral doorway dates from c.1160 and is one of the glories of Irish Romanesque.
  • Ballinasloe Castle: built by the O'Kellys in the 14th century.

    More information on Co. Galway

    From Portumna, we leave the Shannon and head inland to the main Galway / Limerick road (N18) so we do not miss some very well known attractions in Co. Clare. The road crosses drumlin country, which consists of a large limestone plain extending to the Shannon and southwards to Co. Clare, pockmarked with 100's of small lakes and drumlins left over from the last ice age. Our next town is Gort, followed by Ennis (Ireland's first "information age" town). Ennis is the main town in Co. Clare and it has a well appointed shopping area in the town centre. Just a few miles further in the famous Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. These are two distinct attractions with the castle famous for its evening medieval banquets, which are re-enacted as they were 100's of years ago. The Folk Park gives a good impression of rural Irish life in the 18th century.

    Antiquities worth visiting include:

  • Franciscan Friary, Ennis: originally constructed in 1241, this Friary was much altered during succeeding centuries. Magnificent east window. Some interesting figure carvings.
  • Clare Abbey: situated at Clarecastle, near Ennis, this 12th century Augustinian priory was founded by Donal O'Brien, last King of Munster.
  • Killone Abbey: 3 miles (5km) from Ennis, an Augustinian nunnery dedicated to St. John. Founded in 1180 by Donal O'Brien.
  • Dysart O'Dea Church and Cross: the nave and chancel of this Romanesque church date from the 12th century. The Cross of Tola is a fine example of 12th century stone carving Nearby are remains of a round tower.
  • Quin Abbey: Franciscan friary built in 1402 on the site of a 13th century monastery. Incorporates part of a large Anglo-Norman castle. Many interesting features including tombs and altars.
  • Bunratty Castle and Folk Park: ancient stronghold of the Princes of Thomond at Bunratty, Co. Clare. Faithfully restored to convey a picture of life in the 15th and 16th centuries. Contains collection of early furniture, tapestries and works of art. Folk Park in grounds has farmhouses and craft shops re-erected and furnished as part of a display of 19th century Irish life.
  • Knappogue Castle: the MacNamara Castle at Quin, Co. Clare, was built in 1467. Georgian and Regency portions added to original Norman structure in 1856. Banquet halls, reception rooms and stairways have been restored and refurnished.
  • De Valera Museum, Ennis: situated in Harmony Row; contains numerous objects of interest, many of them associated with prominent figures of the past from Co. Clare.

    More information on Co. Clare

    From Bunratty, Limerick City is less than 20 minutes away and our tour of the West of Ireland is complete.

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