Carrick on Shannon
A flurry of fabulous pubs and restaurants, the beautiful sweep of the river and a hive of top sightseeing spots makes Carrick-on-Shannon the ideal go-to for a fun-filled family break
Situated on a beautiful spot along Ireland’s longest river, Carrick-on-Shannon is an ever-surprising mix of natural beauty, elegant architecture, bobbing boats and bustling pubs. Take a walk around the knot of streets here and the town’s layers of history peel back to reveal a story that spans centuries, from the remains of an old gaol by the quays to the chunky stone Market Yard, which dates back to 1839. Along the way, Carrick will charm you with little treasures such as jewel-sized Costello’s Chapel, thought to be the second smallest church in the world; will wow you with architectural showpieces such as 18th century Hatley House; and will move you with poignant reminders of the past, such as the Workhouse Attic Memorial. But for all its historic appeal, Carrick stands out as a place that most definitely knows how to have a good time. In the summer, cruisers and barges roll into town along the mighty River Shannon, the waft of smoke and the summery scent of barbecues fills the air, and a festival atmosphere seems to spill onto the sun-warmed streets.
It'd be easy to visit here and never leave town, but follow the river and you’ll find yourself surrounded by a bountiful natural wonderland. Heading south, the Shannon curves along to Jamestown, surges through Lough Boderg and Lough Bofin to Dromod and Roosky, and pushes on through Lough Forbes to the quiet riverside village of Termonbarry. Detour away from the river and you're into a pastoral landscape cloaked in an endless patchwork of green. The mellow beauty of rural Leitrim and Roscommon – with sheep-dotted fields surrounded by the snowy summer bloom of fairy trees – casts something of a spell. But dig a little deeper and you’ll discover tales of horrific hardship at Strokestown Park; stories of Cromwellian sieges at Boyle Abbey; and an underground tour into the darkness of what was Ireland’s first and last coal mine at Arigna.
Thankfully, the water is always there to soothe and comfort. Follow strolls into forest parks and along wildflower-strewn river banks; drift slowly along glassy waters on a stand-up paddleboard; or sit quietly on jetties that reach out into dark navy loughs. Whatever you choose to do, the water is always waiting.