On the Water
Getting out onto the water may just be the highlight of your trip to Limerick and the River Shannon.
It swells under historic bridges and it swirls past Norman castles. Sometimes it’s serene; sometimes awe-inspiring. This is the River Shannon, the longest river on the island of Ireland. From its traditional source at the Shannon Pot, this monumental river gains force all the way down to the Shannon Estuary, past Limerick city, where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Standing on Thomond Bridge in Limerick city as the water rushes underneath its arches, you get a real sense of the power of the Shannon, so it’s no surprise that Ireland’s largest river hydroelectric scheme can be found just upstream at Ardnacrushna.
Here, back in 1929, the Shannon’s flow was regulated with the building of the Headrace Canal, which diverted water to the power station. Today, the Shannon, the Errinagh and the Headrace Canals combine to make this a place of tranquillity and recreation. Rowers from the Shannon Rowing Club in the city train along the river, kayakers paddle gently past, and anglers enjoy waters that are fishable all year round. It’s a gloriously relaxing place to be, and with opportunities for boating, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, especially around Limerick city, there are plenty of chances to get out on the water.
Nevsail Watersports Limerick Adventures
The waterfront just by the Hunt Museum is the kick-off point for Nevsail's Limerick Adventures, which runs kayaking and boat trips along the river. It's a great way to see the city's landmarks and the banks of the Shannon from a different perspective. Everything is provided (you just need to bring along a towel, swimwear and spare clothes) and tours range from 90 minutes to two and a half hours. Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) sessions, sailing and boating adventures are also available. After all, there are always more ways than one to get wet!
Get West Limerick City Kayaking Tour
Designed for group tours of more than six, Limerick City Kayak Tours offers fun kayaking trips that last about two hours and bring you past some of Limerick's most famous sites. Suitable for ages 8 or up, there are games and challenges along the way to keep you entertained.
Castleconnell Boat Club
You might spot Castleconnell Boat Club practising on the scenic stretch of water between O'Briensbridge and World's End, upstream from Castleconnell. This local boat club was established in 1983 and is run by a lively and enthusiastic team of volunteers. Particularly popular with kids, the club runs summer camps in June, July and August for young people aged between 11 and 16, as well as Easter camps and rowing events.
UL Sport Activity Centre (ULAC)
Beautifully situated on the shores of Lough Derg, ULAC is part of the University of Limerick's Sports Department and runs a wealth of activities in which you can participate, including lots of water sports. Try Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP), sailing, kayaking, canoeing and windsurfing. With facilities including changing rooms, showers and even a sauna – perfect for anyone who likes knowing they have everything within easy reach of the water.
Shannon Rowing Club
Occupying a historic building overlooking the water at Sarsfield Bridge, Limerick Rowing Club is central to the city's cultural, social and even political history. Established in 1866, the clubhouse is certainly an iconic Limerick institution and rowing is still a popular sport in the city, although these days it mostly takes place from the club's boathouse in Annacotty. Fancy having a go? While rowing lessons are restricted to members of the club, there are summer camps available that are open to all, regardless of experience.
Keep an eye out when you're wandering down by the water for Limerick's newest sport: Dragon Boat Paddling. Founded in October 2016, Limerick Dragons is a support group for breast cancer survivors and friends, with a focus on water-based activities and dragon boat racing. The group gets out on the water several times in their brightly coloured boats, making them a lively fixture on Shannon.