Other than messing about on the water, CARRICK-ON-SHANNON, Leitrim’s county town, does not offer a vast amount to see or do, but with plenty of facilities it’s a pleasant enough focus for investigating the area, despite ugly sprawling commercial developments on its fringes. The town owes much of its prosperity to its proximity to the water, and its busy marina is often jam-packed with barges and cruisers. Carrick grew up around a strategic crossing point on the River Shannon, the importance of which was recognized by the English who began building a planned settlement that was incorporated as a borough in 1613. Nothing remains from those times and modern Carrick only began to develop after the 1840s when the Shannon navigation scheme reached the town. Its stone bridge and quays date from this period.
Continue reading to find out more about...
From Carrick the Shannon meanders northwards before entering the vast Lough Allen just by pleasant Drumshanbo, a place with a rich musical tradition. It’s a fine base for investigating the local countryside, which with rivers, streams and, to the east, a collection of tiny lakes provides plenty of opportunities for watersports enthusiasts.
Drumshanbo and Lough Allen
Some 12km north of Carrick, DRUMSHANBO is a lively village at the tip of Lough Allen’s southern shore. Right in its centre, the Sliabh an Iarainn Visitor Centre is a good source of detailed background information on local customs and history, including the iron-and-coal mining industries centred on Arigna in County Roscommon, as well as a reconstruction of a typical sweathouse. Drumshanbo has a strong musical tradition and, in the third week of July, holds the seven-day Joe Mooney Summer School, offering traditional music classes and concerts. At the beginning of June it also hosts the An Tostal Festival, with a variety of music and street entertainment.
From Drumshanbo roads lead north along both eastern and western shores of Lough Allen. The western route crosses into County Roscommon and skirts the Arigna Mountains, while its alternative to the east heads up through bleak flatlands below Slieve Anierin. The waymarked 48-kilometre Leitrim Way (map available from local tourist offices) follows Lough Allen’s shoreline before taking in higher ground on its way to the remote village of Dowra, the starting point for the Cavan Way. At Ballinaglera, 13km north of Drumshanbo, the Lough Allen Adventure Centre offers a variety of activities, such as windsurfing, kayaking and hill-walking.
KESHCARRIGAN, about 8km east of Drumshanbo on the Shannon–Erne Waterway, is worth a stop (even though the village has been blighted by inappropriate modern housing developments) for its amiable bars, the Canal Stop, right beside the canal, which also serves hearty meals, and McKeon’s, across the road.
BALLINAMORE is a focus for cruising on the Shannon–Erne Waterway, with barges available from Riversdale Barge Holidays (wwww.riversdalebargeholidays.com). There’s little to see in the town itself, but it still offers a pleasant overnight stop.