Portumna in Galway is a great place to visit as part of a boating holiday. The historical town is situated in a beautiful landscape and can be easily accessed by boat. Natural sights, historical landmarks and cultural centres are among the settlement's most popular attractions.
Ireland is renowned for its natural beauty, and, if you decide to take a river holiday in the country, you should turn your attention to the Shannon waterway. The watercourse is ideal for cruising down to a variety of charming towns and villages, and you'll start your adventure on the water in one such location - Portumna.
- Portumna Castle
Portumna is located at the head of Lough Derg, a lake in Galway. The settlement is particularly well known for its castle, which is fortified in places and dates back to the 1600s. Built by the 4th Earl of Clanricarde, Richard de Burgo, the fortress was home to the de Burgo family for over two centuries before fire made it uninhabitable. Parts have since been restored and the public is invited to tour the ground floor of the structure.
The castle is open from April to September, and you can delve into its history if you book a place on a guided tour. Among the facts you'll learn more about are the visits to the castle made by important monarchs, including King James I and Queen Elizabeth I. Afterwards, make your way around the grounds to admire the fruit trees, flowerbeds and herbs.
- Portumna Forest Park
Another attraction in the area is Portumna Forest Park, which iPortumna s a must-visit for activity fans looking to burn off some energy. With four looped trails, the park is a great spot for hiking or bike riding, and you'll be able to view a wide variety of trees here, such as yew, silver birch, Scots pine and Norway spruce. Also in the park are the ruins of an abbey, which are centuries old, while animals like badgers, red squirrels, deer and foxes are all native to the park.
To find out more about Portumna in general, take an architectural walking tour, during which a historian will give you an introduction to the area and provide you with maps and suggested walking routes to follow, along with a list of places of interest you'll encounter on your walk.
- Irish Workhouse Centre
You can take in a little of the town's heritage by making a stop at the Irish Workhouse Centre, which is located in an original workhouse and aims to educate visitors about life in the communal homes-cum-workplaces. Poor families often entered workhouses, where they would receive food for completing tasks, but have to live in often cramped conditions with hundreds of other people. You can watch short films and view the exhibitions inside to find out more.
When you've got established on your boat, travel from Portumna onwards down the river to visit some other interesting ports of call. Banagher may be your first stop, and it's worth climbing ashore here to stretch your legs and enjoy some renowned Irish craic with a lively musical performance that lasts until the early hours.
From here, journey on to Shannonbridge, where fishing aficionados will want to cast a line. The settlement is an important centre for angling and also boasts a rich history, the latter of which you can spot by visiting a local restaurant that was once a massive artillery fortification. Children, meanwhile, will love taking a train ride for 9 km through Blackwater Bog, learning all about how swamps are formed and the creatures and plants that reside within them.
Your next stopping point, Athlone, is known as a wonderful place for picking up traditional Celtic crafts and knitted garments, while you might also want to visit the Derryglad Folk Museum to find out more about local folk and farm life. Before you leave, call in at the castle here and walk along the battlements for truly stunning views of the River Shannon below.
Journey on to Tarmonbarry to admire a 12th century abbey and the beautifully restored Carrigglas Manor, which was built in the Gothic Revival style in 1837, and stop for a meal at one of the renowned pubs here, which are famous for their tasty fare.
The last stop you make might be at Roosky, where you can hone your angling abilities at Lakeland Fishery and - if you're lucky - reel in some carp, bream or tench. Alternatively, take a taxi ride over to Mohill in Leitrim and explore the grounds of Lough Rynn House, which include nature trails, lakeside walks and historical buildings.