22nd September

A Taste of the Waterways: favourite places to eat, drink and stay

Messin’ around on boats is both a pastime and for some a lifestyle enjoyed by a growing number of people as the inland navigable waterways throughout this island became more accessible, opening up hidden beauty spots, many of which only recently explored.

Waterways Ireland, which manages, maintains, develops and restores these corridors, is responsible for keeping almost 1,000 km of lakes, rivers and stillwater canals open to domestic and international boat loving folk that a are linked to a network of seven navigations: Barrow, Erne, Grand Canal, Lower Bann, Royal and Shannon-Erne waterway.

review Tase-of-the-waterway

When not charting a passage, tending to daily boat chores or simply enjoying the unspoilt, natural beauty of the countryside, food and hospitality are never far from the mind. Indeed, ask anyone who has spent time ‘afloat’ and they’ll tell you that you build up a hungry rarely equalled on land!

Part of the pleasure of messin’ around on boats is exactly that – looking for new areas to explore and of course places to visit. The task of wondering where to visit once a general passage is planned is taken care in the latest edition of A Taste of the Waterways produced by Georgina Campbell Guides in association with Waterways Ireland.

You’ll find many places that take pride in local produce and, although cutting edge cuisine many not be the norm, there are surprises,’ remarks editor, Georgina Campbell.

The guide comprises over 100 establishments, independently assessed. From traditional old style cottages to modern contemporary restaurants, their names alone beckon you across the threshold: 

Hanged Man’s; Lusty Beg Island; Seagrass; Tilley Lamp Restaurant; The Twelfth Lock; The Wooden Spoon, to name but a few.

 ‘This new edition also provides visitors with a “flavour” of the diverse range of attractions and activities that they can enjoy in and around each of the seven waterways,’ adds Éanna Rowe, Waterways Ireland.

For a free copy of A Taste of the Waterways contact www.shopwaterwaysireland.org/

At a glimpse…

The Barrow Line and the River Barrow pass through a region that is blessed by nature and the presence of this lovely, active waterway adds enormously to the experience…

By this time the scenery is perfect, and after descending several locks, including the beautiful Clashganna, we reach the charming little river port of Graiguenamanagh. People voyage here, and go no further…’

 The Erne System, with its pretty island-studded upper Lough and the open mountain-fringed waters of the Lower Lough ― and large island town of Enniskillen…..is unique, offering an exceptional range of experiences on both water and land in one of the most attractive and varied landscapes in Ireland.

Constructed in the eighteenth century to transport goods and passengers between Dublin city centre and destinations west of the capital, the main line of the Grand Canal crosses large areas of the Irish midlands in order to reach the River Shannon, and it is acknowledged as one of Ireland’s greatest engineering achievements.

Along the quieter stretches of the canal there is an abundance of wildlife to watch ― herons, kingfishers and even otters may be observed ― and the towpath provides for good walking at any time.

Lower Bann is very popular with watersports enthusiasts of all kinds…While this may sound like a recipe for disaster, there is a well organised zoning system in place which enables everyone to pursue their chosen sport safely and without annoyance to others. Canoeing is a lovely was to see the river and the 58km Lower Bann Canoe Trail which is suitable for all levels of ability begins at Toome and eventually reaches the Atlantic Ocean beyond Coleraine.

Following the completion of recent restoration works, the Royal Canal once again links Dublin to the Upper Shannon… Its reopening to run all of the 146km from Dublin Port to the northern River Shannon is a testimony to modern personal dedication and the wayward eccentricity of those who built the Royal Canal between 1789 and 1817.

Boating and canoeing are among the main activities enjoyed on the Royal Canal and it is a wonderful place for walking as it passes through some exceptionally beautiful countryside and the towpath is now designated The Royal Canal Way.

The Shannonis Ireland’s longest river and while it is no longer a major commercial waterway, it is now a treasured leisure amenity. Yet for many luck visitors it is still waiting to be discovered.

The Shannon Navigation begins atypicall, in Limerick….and once the locks of the Ardnasrusha dam have been negotiated is Lough Derg, a handsome inland sea with an attractive backdrop of wooded hillsides, prosperous farmland and many charming harbours…

The Mid Shannon Area between Portunmna and Athlone is very different with a sense of history ever present. North of Athlone, Lough Ree is one of the Shannon’s three main lakes and offers a varied shoreline… North of Lough Ree, the Upper Shannon is one of the most popular areas for boating visitors… With 41 lakes within a six mile radius of Carrick-on-Shannon, fishing is the major activity…At the northern end of the Shannon Navigation Lough Key and Lough Allen offer contrasting visitor experiences…. 

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