River Shannon

At two hundred and forty miles long, The River Shannon (an tSionainn) is both the Republic of Ireland's longest river and the longest river in the British Isles.

The river's name comes from one of Ireland's many Celtic Goddesses of Knowledge, Sionna. The river's history goes back to ancient times, with it's first known charted course, created by Roman geographer Ptolomy, who lived between AD 90 and AD 168.

The river rises in an area called the Shannon Pot in the Cuilcagh Mountains of County Cavan and travels south towards it's seventy mile long estuary, situated just outside the City of Limerick, before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean.

The river forms a natural border between the Republic of Ireland's eastern and western counties and passes through large swathes of agricultural land.

The river is shallow, not rising more than two hundred and fifty feet above sea level at it's highest point meaning it has never seen much in the way of heavy, industrial shipping, this fact coupled with it's routes sparsely populated towns and little in the way of industry, makes for a healthy and little polluted river that is well stocked with fish, particularly trout, salmon, bream and pike.

Despite the river's length it is only spanned by twenty bridges, three of which are located in the city of Limerick and the oldest of which is the Shannon Bridge in County Offaly, pictured above, a stone built, multi arched bridge which was completed in 1757.

The river passes through a sparsely populated area of small towns and villages, including the river's only city, Limerick in southern Ireland and the towns of Athlone, Killaloe, Drogheda, Newtown of Shannon, Kilrush and the centre of Ireland's pleasure boating industry at Carrick - on - Shannon, The river also passes the picturesque marina at Leitrim, the village of Dowra, situated just a few miles from the river's source and the river's only industrial area, a power station, dam and canal situated at Ardnacrusha.

As a whole, the areas that surround the River Shannon are a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers, with activities on offer such as river, lough and canal cruises, hill walking, cycling, horse riding, fishing and a myriad of water sports. Most of the area's towns, and the City of Limerick, have several historic places of interest including castles, forts, churches and a cathedral.

The River Shannon Estuary is a seventy mile long body of water situated west of the City of Limerick. The estuary's marine limits are from Loop Head in County Clare, to the north,and to Kerry Head in County Kerry, to the south.

Situated along the estuary is Shannon Airport (SNN), the coastal village of Foynes, and the power station at Moneypoint, Kilrush, whose chimneys at two hundred and eighteen meters high, are the Republic of Ireland's tallest, free standing structures. The estuary is also served by the Shannon Ferry, a service which sails between Killimer and Tarbert Island.

The estuary is surrounded by several rocky headlands, points and coves and long, sandy beaches, which despite it's busy shipping route and port area, is a zoologically important area for several species of marine mammals, including bottle nosed dolphins.

Image courtesy of Eric The Fish, wikimedia commons


The River Shannon has eleven tributaries, they are ;

River Brosna, River Camlin, River Deel, River Erne, River Eslin, River Feale, River Inny, River Loobagh, River Maigue, River Mulkear and the River Suck.


The River Shannon links with eight canals, the largest of these being the Grand Canal which links the River Liffey in Dublin with the Royal Canal, which also passes through Dublin.Because the river is so shallow the river is only served by six locks and six swing bridge locks along it's entire route. The canals are:

The Ardnacrusha Canal, The Boyle Canal, The Erne Waterway, The Grand Canal, The Jamestown Canal, Le Carrow Canal, The Royal Canal and the Shannon - Erne Waterway.


The River Shannon feeds thirteen lakes or loughs and traverses through eleven of Ireland's counties, forming one of Ireland's largest waterway systems and covering an area of just over one fifth of Ireland's entire landmass.

The thirteen loughs which the River Shannon feeds includes the forty five square mile Lough Derg in the south of the country and the eleven mile long Lough Allen and Lough Ree in the north of the country.

Lough Allen, Lough Arrow, Lough Bofin, Lough Boderg, Lough Derg, Lough Forbes, Lough Gara, Lough Grange, Lough Key, Lough Killglas, Lough Nanoge, Lough O'Flynn and Lough Ree.


Visit - www.river-shannon.com

Boating - www.shannon-river.com

Angling - www.fishshannon.info

River Basin - www.shannonrbd.com

Shannon Estuary Ferry - www.shannonferries.com