The River Shannon provides some excellent itinerary options if you want to book a luxury boating break in Ireland for your next holiday. Take a look at our guide to see just what you can see and do along this popular waterway.
Ireland has no shortage of historic sites to visit, and the region around the River Shannon is no exception. Ballykeeran is where you'll find Friars Island, famous for being the destination for the Franciscans who were forced to leave Athlone when the English brought the Penal Laws into being.
Moor up in Belturbet and you can visit another island with historic significance - Turbet Island, which was abandoned by the Anglo-Normans in the early 13th century. This is home to the remnants of a castle that was one of the region's first settlements. Visitors will be able to see the remains of the motte and bailey, as well as a circular structure that can be viewed from the top of the motte.
Staying in Belturbet, the local train station is a fascinating sight in its own right. It has been restored to match the magnificence it enjoyed when it was first built in the 19th century and has a display relating to County Cavan's railways.
Many holidaymakers on boating breaks to this part of island stop in Shannonbridge, thanks to the fact that it was once an important river crossing for tradesmen for centuries. Visitors go there today to take in the ambience of this pretty town and head to attractions like Clonmacnoise.
This is the site of a monastery that was founded in the 6th century by St Ciaran. While it's been a long time since the building was intact, you can still view three high crosses, what is left of a pair of round towers and the ruins of a cathedral. Make sure to head to the visitor centre to learn more about what life at the monastery was like in its heyday.
More religious sites can be found at the linked towns of Killaloe and Ballina, including the Romanesque 12th-century St Flannan's Oratory in Killaloe and the remains of a similar church in Ballina on the other side of the river. Another top attraction here is Brian Boru's fort, which is where the 11th-century high king is believed to have either been born or grown up.
Last but certainly not least is Portumna. This is often chosen as a start or end point for Irish boating holidays and is packed with plenty of sights of its own. The main place to head to here is Portumna Castle, which was built in the 17th century.
Unfortunately, the structure was gutted in a fire in the early 19th century, but it's still open to the public while it undergoes renovation and restoration work, so make sure to pay the impressive building a visit.
As you might expect, there are many opportunities for keen fishermen to indulge in their passion along the River Shannon. Popular spots include Belturbet - which has its own fishing centre - as well as Portumna.
However, the best area for fishing has to be Lanesborough. The town is notable for harbouring Ireland's first turf-fired generator, which has in turn led to a warming of the local atmosphere. This has resulted in a host of fish swimming to the area - creating some excellent fishing conditions.
You might find yourself landing tench, bream, eels, perch, roach and pike while in Lanesborough, depending on the particular spot you pick. Many fishermen head to Lough Forbes, a 3 km long lake near where the Feorish and Camlin rivers run into the Shannon.
There are many other things to see and do on your boating break in Ireland. If you want to keep active, golf, cycling and hiking - especially along the Hymany Way near Portumna - are just a few of the pursuits on offer in addition to fishing.
Nature lovers also have several activities to choose from; you can admire some magnificent lake scenery by travelling along the high road from Ballykeeran to Glasson for a picnic in a beautiful setting, or you could look out for otters, foxes, ferret minks and a host of wild birds at the Shannon Callows grassland area in Shannonbridge.
With so many things to see and do on your holiday on the River Shannon, the waterway will offer the perfect itinerary whatever kind of break you're looking for.