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Cruising The Upper Shannon

The Upper Shannon covers the river from Lough Ree to Leitrim Village and on up to Lough Key Forest Park. The center of activity on the upper Shannon is Carrick-on-Shannon, a busy town with plenty of good pubs and restaurants - be aware that the town is very popular with Stag and Hens parties (bachelor and bacholerette parties in some parts of the world) and can get very busy at weekends. The area around Carrick-on-Shannon and up to Lough Key Forest Park have a wealth of activities including zip-lining, quadding, segways, indoor shooting and the Boda Borg. Lough Key Forest Park is about 3 hours cruising up the Boyle River, it's a lovely spin and the park is well worth a visit - bear in mind that everything closes at about 6pm and the closest town is a 20-25 minute walk from the end of navigation.

The river from Carrick-on-Shannon down to Athlone is mostly small villages, most with good places to eat and plenty of pubs. To the north is Leitrim Village and the Shannon-Erne waterway that joins the Shannon Navigation to the Erne Navigation. North is also the Lough Allen Canal that goes to Lough Allen and Drumshanbo but most of the hire boats can't navigate this canal as the locks are too small.

Upper Shannon Cruising Guide Map

See the full interactive map


There are a wealth of activities around Carrick-on-Shannon - there's zip-lining, segways and the Boda Borg at Lough Key Forest Park, indoor shooting at Leitrim Village and golf, quadding and karting near the town. There's water based activities at Shannon River Adventure near Rooskey and Ireland's largest inflatable water park at Hodson Bay on Lough Ree.

Golf and Cruising the Shannon


While there are many minor historical points of interest along the Upper Shannon the only visitors centres are at Lough Key and Boyle - King House is a magnificently restored Georgian mansion located in Boyle and Boyle Abbey is an impressive and well preserved Cistercian Monastery which was founded in the 12th century

Holy Island on Lough Derg


There's good coarse fishing on the upper Shannon, one of the favourite spots is the warm water outlets at the power station. There are small lakes dotted along the river that offer good fishing and there's a village-by-village guide on angling in our Travel Guide. There's no licence required for coarse fishing on the upper Shannon but you'll need a licence for game fishing. There good information on the Fishing in Ireland website.

Fishing on the Shannon River

There's no wrong choice when choosing a route on the Shannon, Ireland is a small country and the landscape is pretty much the same all through the midlands.

The Upper Shannon has some of the best activities and pubs/restaurants on the Shannon - award winning cuisine in the Cottage in Jamestown to home-cooked meals on Cox's Steakhouse in Dromod. Lough Key Forest Park is worth a visit with some great family-based activities, and Shannon River Adventure on Kilglass Lake near Rooskey will keep you busy for the day - you'll sleep well afterwards!

There are cosy pubs all along the upper Shannon, many with live music at weekends. Traditional music sessions are getting harder to find, but are available periodically in Leitrim Village and Rooskey. Kilglass Lake and Grange Lake near Rooskey offer an isolated atmosphere, not much here but water and tranquility.

There are three cruiser companies offering boats for hire from Carrick-on-Shannon with the widest choice of boats on the river. The river on the Upper Shannon is mostly wide and slow and there are four locks from Athlone to Carrick-on-Shannon and one Lock at the entrance to Lock Key - locks cost €2.50 to pass through at the time of writing. The locks on the upper Shannon are manned and the lock-keepers will be happy to help you through the locks, and offer any advice you need on your destination.

Navigation on the lakes and rivers is easy, there are green and red markers that outline the cruising channels, they're painted white on the side that you need to be on. The markers are accurately marked on the navigation maps that will be on board your boat when you take over and full tuition is provided.

There's free mooring at every town and village along the Shannon and most mooring is within 5 minutes walk of the village or town. Mooring is paid at Athlone as it's supervised, the last time we were there it was €12 for the night including power if required.

Due to the rural location of the boat hire marinas on the river they can be hard to reach with the exception of Carrick-on-Shannon which is served by both bus and train from Dublin. All of the cruiser companies offer a shared transfer service from Dublin airport to Carrick-on-Shannon on Saturdays but there's no shared transfer from Shannon airport or Knock airport. Some cruiser companies offer transfers on weekdays and prices vary depending on the company and the day of the week. Sometimes it's good value and less hassle to hire a car, particularly for short breaks.

Theres's more detailed information on how to get to your boat on our web page - aptly titled Getting to your Boat.

Shannon River are have been boat hire agents for the Shannon River in Ireland since 2002. We're passionate about boat hire holidays on the Shannon and our mission is to share the Shannon experience with as many people as we can. It's the same price to book through us as it is to book directly with the cruiser companies and we offer impartial advice on the best boat for your cruising holiday.

A Shannon cruise is all about relaxation. The boats go very slowly, you'll be overtaken by cyclists (and some joggers if they're fast enough) and you don't have much choice but to relax and watch the beautiful scenery go by. But it's not all about cruising, a Shannon cruise offers many great restaurants and, of course, an abundance of pubs to have a nice creamy Guinness.

To help you plan your cruise we have an interactive map, Approximate cruising times and a Travel Guide. There are also some suggested cruises to help you on your way. Our motto is make a plan - if you stick to it, that's good. If you don't stick to it, that's good too.

Find Your Boat

Shannon Navigation Map