Explore 6 Towns on the Shannon-Erne Canals

Ireland boasts some of the most scenic landscapes in the United Kingdom. Within those landscapes, rich rivers filled with lore and history wind themselves through the lands while nourishing its rich green fields. The tranquil rivers of Shannon and Erne were once Ireland’s most important waterways and hold secrets that extend back to the age of the Celtic Kings and beloved saints that once sailed its waters.

Let’s take a look at some of the best towns and sites to visit along the rivers.


  1. Ballyconnell
  2. Roosky
  3. Athlone
  4. Clonmacnoise
  5. Mountshannon
  6. Terryglass



This quiet town offers a fantastic look into ancient Ireland as it lies along the Sharon-Erne Rivers. Ballyconnell’s beautiful rich valley between the mountains has much to offer visitors. It’s believed that human settlement existed from as early as 3500 BC, with tribes fishing and hunting along the river and in the woods. Ancient monolithic sites lay homage to ancient graves and well known myth and legend of the Isles.

Ballyconnell’s current main attraction is the Sliev Russel Hotel, which houses a variety of attractions for all ages. You can enjoy some scenic walking trails along the Cuilcagh Mountain. Cavan Burren Park, a water park for the summer, a network of ancient caves, fishing and a fairy and teddy museum for the kids!





Fishing in Ireland along these canals has also become a popular activity and can be enjoyed by the whole family. Roosky just happens to be a great stop for some fantastic fishing. The town has a rather rich history of wars, a visit from St. Patrick himself and was once home to a pleasure house! Today, many visit Roosky for its calm and relaxing atmosphere and rich marine life.





Athlone is the most populous town along the Shannon River and is bountiful in fresh air and natural beauty. This small town is also rich in history, culture and activities for the whole family. Athlone once played an important role during the medieval and early late 20th century wars, as its strategic positon along the Rhone and Shannon Rivers made it a great look out point for invaders coming in from the South.

Visitors can delight in the ancient archaeological Castle ruins, pre-historic sites of ancient folklore at Rathcrogan, a craft centre, outdoor activities at Lough Borra Park and a medieval village to explore. Visit Athlone’s excellent restaurants, pubs and go on one of the whisky tasting tours.






Clonmacnoise has a deep and interesting history that still holds many important beacons pertaining to Irish culture. Clonmacnoise is home to several ancient pre-historic and medieval sites worth visiting. Founded in 554 AD, this town’s strategic location along the rivers made it an excellent spot for building a monastery. The town’s main economic growth came from trade, religious learning and local craftsmanship.

Many of the great Irish Kings were buried here, and the monastery became a centre of religious learning in the country. After the fall and raid of Athlone, Clonmacnoise was pillaged afterwards. The town was victim to many plagues before that and the invasion eventually left the town in the ruins that is visible today. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful abbeys, castles and view some of the fine workmanship of the area. An archaeological site known as the Fairy’s Stone stands testament to ancient Gaelic practises before the rise of Christianity. If you are not sure where else to go, the Clocmacnoise visitor centre offers tourists some great suggestions to suit all travellers needs.





This sleepy town boasts some excellent outdoor activities and a wonderful arts and music festival during the month of June. Mountshannon in a haven of traditional culture in Ireland, with a mix of ancient and modern sites for visitors. There is also a Holy Island with some ruins to visit that can be reached by boat!





Terryglass is a charming town steeped in Irish history and legend and also makes a fun stop along the river. Terryglass was once home to an abbey founded by Saint Columba, however the abbey was frequently raided by Vikings during that time. Protective walls were built then demolished by the invaders. You can view a remainder of these walls behind on of the town’s local pubs.

Terryglass’ main attraction are its holy wells. These wells are known as the Eye and Headache Wells, and are believed to cure eye ailments and headaches! Otherwise, Terry Glass has plenty of outdoors activities, fantastic restaurants, fishing and angling opportunities as well as a 16th century castle to explore.



Are you ready to discover the green isles of Ireland and retrace the steps of legeneds?

Book your cruise along the Shannon-Erne