20 Jan 2020
Promise yourself an unforgettable voyage of discovery this year on one of Ireland's inland waterways.
With over 1,000 km of lakes, rivers and canals linked into a network of seven main navigable waterways and a multitude of individual loughs and rivers, the island of Ireland is a paradise for those who like to explore on the water.
The famous Irish welcome, crystal clear water, dramatic scenery and lush, green landscapes await, whether you’re travelling by luxury six-berth cruiser, fishing boat, narrow boat or small cabin cruiser, ideal for a couple.
Simply pick up your ride at one of the many boat hire stations around the waterways and you are ready to go where the fancy takes you.
One of the main cruising waters is the beautiful Erne System, comprising the unique island-dotted expanses of Upper Lough Erne, the mountain-fringed waters of Lower Lough Erne and the County Fermanagh island town of Enniskillen at its heart.
This truly unspoilt waterway is ideal for all types of boating enthusiasts, game and coarse anglers and those who like water-skiing, kayaking, wakeboarding and other watersports.
Moor for a quiet night on Devenish Island, complete with monastic round tower, or in lively Enniskillen, where you can discover a medieval castle, theatre, museums, fine restaurants, shopping, a food trail and traditional Irish pubs.
Alternatively, head across the lough to explore the world famous Belleek Pottery or tie up at one of the many excellent restaurants and gastro-pubs dotting the perimeter of Lough Erne – some right at your mooring, others a short walk away.
Skip cooking on board your cruiser in favour of some fine dining at the Watermill Lodge restaurant, or pull into the Boatyard Gin Distillery on the lakeshore for an intimate taste and tour experience.
The Shannon – wide, slow and the longest river in Ireland – is another tranquil waterway waiting to be discovered. Easy to navigate and simply a delight to explore at your own pace, the many harbours and marinas in towns and villages along the river’s length will welcome you like a long lost relative.
Cruise into picturesque Carrick-on-Shannon in County Leitrim, for example. There is a lot happening in this thriving town, the centre of boating holidays on the Upper Shannon.
The Shannon meanders further down the country through undulating countryside steeped in real Irish character and thousands of years of history. Don’t miss world-renowned Clonmacnois, the ancient Christian capital of Ireland in County Offaly, and places such as Athlone Castle in County Westmeath and the Brian Boru Heritage Centre in Killaloe, County Clare, among the many heritage sites.
And on a voyage you will never forget, there can also be as much walking, cycling, fishing, golf, horse-riding, shopping, pubs, restaurants and nightlife as your itinerary will allow.
Lough Erne, County Fermanagh
River Shannon, Clonmacnoise, County Offaly
Clonmacnoise, County Offaly
Need more resources? View our images and videos from across Ireland