48 Hours in the Cruising Hub of Carrick-on-Shannon

Duration of Itinerary: 2 days      

Highlights: Acres Lake, Boyle Abbey, Lough Key Adventure Park, Moon River Cruise, Parkes Castle, Glencar Waterfall, The Shannon Blueway.

Morning

Cruising and Carrick-on-Shannon are synonymous so begin your day by making your way to the marina for a boat trip. Carrickcraft, Emerald Star and Shannon Cultural Holidays have plenty of options, allowing you to experience panoramic views of the local countryside that simply cannot be accessed through any other form of transport. You can take a short cruise at Carrick or Lough Key; or hire your own boat for a few days. Complete the handy tutorial on the boat hire website to learn the ropes.

Cruise through the tree-lined river into Lough Key and take in the magical scenery on your way to Boyle. Once you’ve docked, a 20-minute stroll takes you to the pretty town where you can visit the magnificently restored Georgian mansion King House.

Once the home of the King family, the house was sold to the British War Office when the Kings moved residence to Lough Key. Today, King House holds a varied collection of furniture, artefacts and art and, every Saturday, hosts the award-winning Boyle Farmer’s Market in its walled courtyard.

The impressively preserved Boyle Abbey is also worth a visit to uncover the life of quiet contemplation, prayer and farming of the Cistercian monks who once lived there.

Wander down the street to lunch at Drumanilra Farm Kitchen where you can dine on a menu crafted with local ingredients straight from Liam and Justina Gavin’s organic farm. Its latest accolade is the Best Café Food 2019. All the pork is from the Gavin family’s farm from their outdoor reared pigs. Vegetarians need not fear as the array of veggie options include mushroom and tomato bruschetta as well as organic pancakes. Stay indoors and enjoy the roaring wood fire in the renovated old house or sit outside in the pretty garden during the summer.

woman ziplining
Ziplining in Lough Key Forest Park, Co Roscommon

Afternoon

Make sure to stop at Lough Key Forest Park on the outskirts of Boyle where you could easily spend the entire afternoon. The Lough Key experience takes you on a journey to discover how humans shaped the landscape over thousands of years. Explore the 19th-century underground tunnels, climb to the top of the Moylurg viewing tower and stroll along the park’s unique tree canopy walk.

For something a little more adventurous, try zip-line action at Zipit Forest Adventures, or rent an electric bike to cycle the 8km of woodland trails. If you’d like to try gliding around the park instead, join the Rockingham Roll guided Segway tour for 30 minutes of fun.

For afternoon tea don’t miss the stunning views over Lough Key and Castle Island from the deck at the Lakeside Cafe before heading back towards Carrick-on-Shannon. Another nearby option for afternoon tea is the stunning Kilronan Castle, near Keadue.

Lough Key Forest Park, Co Roscommon
Lough Key Forest Park, Co Roscommon

Evening

You can start your evening with a locally sourced menu at the award winning Oarsman gastro pub on Bridge Street back in Carrick-on-Shannon, just 15 minutes from Lough Key.

For your final stop on day one of your trip, drop into one of Carrick-on Shannon’s other charming pubs for a sup of whatever-you’re-having-yourself and a spot of live entertainment. Or for something entirely different, take the Moon River Cruise, sailing from 10pm to midnight.




Morning

In this part of the country, the river is always calling so head to the Shannon Blueway at Leitrim Village to take it all in. Explore wild open and natural places on a day-trip from one of experienced providers at Slow Adventure, which could include anything from kayaking to foraging to paddle-boarding or all three!

Once you’re back on dry land continue to Drumshanbo, (about an hour's leisurely spin along the canal bank by bike or 15 minutes by car). A real highlight of this lovely town is the floating boardwalk at Acres Lake, nicknamed the 'snake in the lake'. You could happily spend the morning here lolling by the water or swimming in the open-air pool.

You may also want to explore the story of renowned Gunpower Irish Gin made in The Shed Distillery overlooking Lough Allen (due to open to the public early 2020).

Leitrim Village
Leitrim Village

Afternoon

In the afternoon continue your scenic drive around the shores of Lough Allen to the pretty town of Dromahair and stop off for a riverside stroll to the preserved ruins of Creevylea Abbey.

Just outside the town in the North Leitrim hills is Ard Nahoo Eco Retreat and Yoga School. Check before your trip to see when the yoga workshops are running or to book a pampering treatment. You could also extend your stay in this peaceful place in one of their quiet eco cabins.

Travel on just ten minutes towards the lake to Parkes Castle and enjoy the wonderful views of Lough Gill. A guided tour of the early 17th century plantation castle takes place every hour.

Head back to Carrick-on Shannon for the evening and visit the Costello Chapel - Ireland’s smallest church. If you want to bring back original local craft from your trip, drop into Leitrim Design House – a beautiful, lofty space on the ground floor of the Dock Arts Centre.

Evening

For your final foodie treat of your trip, make your way into Jamestown for a fusion Asian-Irish feast at The Cottage Restaurant, nestling by the river and weir. A traditional half door leads into a contemporary dining space where well-known chef Sham serves up an ever-changing menu from Thursday to Sunday.

After dinner wrap up your stay up with a live music session in a local pub and recount all the wonderful places you uncovered on your trip or plan your next visit back.

Carrick-on-Shannon is the hub from which to explore the waterways and lakes around Roscommon, Leitrim and Cavan, but there’s plenty more to discover in this region. Extend your trip with this 2-day itinerary of the Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands Roscommon, Leitrim and Cavan





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