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My Ireland

Looking for inspiration? Planning a trip? Or just want to scroll yourself happy? We'll show you an Ireland that's tailor-made for you.

  • #Landscapes
  • #CultureandHeritage
  • #OutdoorActivities
  • #Landmarks
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    Cruising on the Shannon, County Offaly Cruising on the Shannon, County Offaly

    Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands: On the water

    There’s simply no better way to discover the thrilling sights and local secrets of our beautiful heartlands, than by making waves through the waterways!

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    • #Watersports
    • #Adventure
    • #IrelandsHiddenHeartlands
    • #Watersports

    When it comes to Ireland’s rivers, canals and lakes, you’ll get a lot more enjoyment on the water than on the banks!

    Kayaking Shannon Blueway, County Leitrim Kayaking Shannon Blueway, County Leitrim

    Shannon Blueway, County Leitrim

    1. Kayaking and canoeing

    Is there any better feeling than forging your own path through waters you’ve never explored before? Whether going solo or getting the gang together, canoeing or kayaking the Shannon is the perfect way to tour Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands. You can set your own pace, stopping as little or as often as you like—but we’d recommend at least taking a break to grab some food at a local favourite, like The Oarsman in Carrick-on-Shannon, or Thyme in Athlone, with its Michelin Bib Gourmand.

    From guided trips to DIY adventures, journeying the Shannon Blueway will help you really get to know the area. A rich network of multi-activity trails, it stretches all the way from Lough Allen in County Leitrim, through to Carrick-on-Shannon – aka, the marina capital of Ireland – and beyond to the border of counties Roscommon and Longford. Our tip? Check out the 30km route from Carrick-on-Shannon to Rooskey; or tackle the next 25km from Rooskey to Lanesborough. What are you waiting for? Grab a paddle and get going!

    SUP at Grand Canal Dock, County Dublin SUP at Grand Canal Dock, County Dublin

    Grand Canal Dock, County Dublin

    2. Stand-up paddleboarding

    If you’re seeking something even more chilled than kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) might be just the thing. All you need is good balance and a few free hours, and you’ll be gliding along the water as smoothly as the swans beside you! Ireland’s calm canals are the ideal spot for this activity: the Grand Canal in particular rewards its visitors with long stretches of serene waters and gorgeous natural bounty, from wild birds to otters and even the occasional bankside badger.

    If you have your own board, it’s simply a case of taking to the water and enjoying the serenity of somewhere like Glencar Lake or Lough Gill in County Leitrim, or a longer route from Drumshanbo to Carrick-on-Shannon. Otherwise, you can always join a guided SUP tour along the Shannon Blueway with Lough Allen Adventure or Mid Ireland Adventure.

    Cruising Portumna, County Galway Cruising Portumna, County Galway

    Cruising Portumna, County Galway

    3. Cruising

    If you’re more into splendour than splashing about, a Shannon river cruise is the way to go. There’s something a little luxurious about renting out a boat for a few days, waking up to nothing but birdsong and the gentle slap of waves against the hull. Whether casting off against the backdrop of Athlone Castle for a couple of days on the mid-Shannon, or spending a week floating easily from Carrick-on-Shannon down to Lough Key Forest Park, living on the water is a truly unforgettable experience. Fishing for your supper, cooking in the galley and serving it all up on the deck before curling up in a cosy berth with your family and friends in the cabins beside you: what could be more blissful?

    Of course, if you don’t fancy being captain of the ship, day cruises run by local businesses are easy to find, too, with many offering meals, music and storytelling about the surrounding area as you float by just hop aboard, and have fun!

    Swimming at Lough Derg Killaloe, County Clare Swimming at Lough Derg Killaloe, County Clare

    Lough Derg Killaloe, County Clare

     4. Wild swimming

    Ireland is blessed with countless wild swimming havens: with more than 12,000 lakes dotted around the island, you’re bound to find something as easy or as challenging as you like.One of our biggest freshwater lakes, Lough Derg has every water-based activity imaginable on offer, and wild swimming is no exception. Try the Blue Flag beaches at Mountshannon or Twomilegate Lakeside Park, both of which are lifeguard-patrolled in bathing season (June 1st to September 15th). For something a little smaller, Cavetown Lough is one of the few lakes in County Roscommon and is serviced by excellent amenities, including toilets and picnic tables.

    Remember, water safety should always be your number one priority: don’t swim alone, only enter where you know it’s safe to do so, pay attention to local signage and make sure to wear the appropriate swimming gear.

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    Carrick Day Boats, County Leitrim

    5. Day boats

    Be the captain of your adventure in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands. Hiring a boat for the day from companies such as Carrick Day Boats allows you to sustainably explore the peaceful setting of the island of Ireland’s longest river on one of their completely electric boats. Bring a picnic and let the River Shannon be your guide for the day, or moor up at one of the waterside villages such as Leitrim Village or Jamestown for a spot of lunch and a meander before hopping back aboard and moving onto the next location.

    No experience is required before hiring one of the Carrick Day Boats; a team member will talk you through how they work before you set off.