Carrick-on-Shannon is a small, picturesque town on the River Shannon, and is the main town of County Leitrim. It is currently the boating capital of the Irish inland waterways, and features an attractive marina. The regional office of the newly created All Ireland Waterway Authority is located here as well.
Historically, Carrick-on-Shannon was a trade depot for goods coming from the ports of Limerick, Athlone and Dublin. When the Grand Canal Company closed in 1960, the town suffered.
The trade business was gradually replaced by tourism, as the River Shannon and connecting lakes and waterways became the centre for holiday cruises. Today, visitors enjoy a variety of cruises that depart from this gateway to the almost 300 miles / 480 km of continuously linked rivers and lakes that extend from Belleek in County Fermanagh (Northern Ireland) to Killaloe in County Clare.
Stag & Hen Nights
On weekends, Carrick becomes a popular spot for pub crawls -- particularly among visiting hen nights and stag nights. With a wide variety of old style, traditional Irish pubs -- such as the charming Gings, Carrick is a great spot for sampling a beer in one pub and then moving along, a tradition known, of course, as a "pub crawl".
A word of caution for stags and hens: While people in Carrick are used to accommodating groups of young lads or lasses, "binge drinking" is still not wise. If you're going for a pub crawl in Carrick, or anywhere in Ireland, try to blend in. Chat with the locals, and they'll be more welcoming of you. Even if it's a pub crawl, if you find a place you like, stay a little -- don't move along unless you have to. And don't drink more than you can handle.
Another reason Carrick is popular with Hen and Stag nights is because there are some other things to do, such as boat cruises. And, for the hale and hearty after a night's entertainment, bike tours or, more the adventurous, karting, abseiling and other extreme sports are on offer in the area.
Old home movie footage (silent) from Carrick-on-Shannon in the 1960s -- the streets look much the same today, but other things have changed A LOT.
The Town Hall was built at the request of the residents, who needed a gathering place for assemblies, record keeping and court proceedings. The land for the site was donated by the Whytes, a prominent local family.
Lake Walk House
Near Town Hall, on Bridge Street, stands Lake Walk House. Susan Langstaff Mitchell was born here in 1866. She was a popular poet and satirist who began her career as the assistant of A.E. George Russell. She became part of a circle of writers that included Yeats, Stephens, Colum and others who initiated the Irish Literary Revival.
Also known as the McCann Memorial Monument, the Carrick-on-Shannon Town clock and sculpture honours Owen McCann, the first chairman of Leitrim County Council.
He lived from 1851-1901. The clock attached to the monument was removed for a time due to disrepair, but was restored and replaced. It is a great source of pride to the residents of County Leitrim.
An old courthouse once stood near the site of the monument. It was the site of some interesting events following the rising of 1798, after the defeat of Humbert’s army and the United Irishmen by Cornwallis and Lake.
A large group of Irish prisoners was brought here and a fixed number were sentenced to death by Cornwallis. An officer named Captain Kay received the duty of determining which prisoners would be hanged by conducting a lottery, choosing the assigned numbers of prisoners from a hat.
It should be noted that Lord Cornwallis was the same English General who surrendered to General George Washington at the end of the American Revolutionary War in 1781.
Literary Figures from Carrick-On-Shannon
Carrick-on-Shannon has two prominent Irish literary figures: John McGahern and M.J. McManus.
John McGahern, born in 1934, is an author of many novels, including the Man-Booker prize nominated "Amongst Women". Considered one of Ireland's most important literary figures of the late 20th / early 21st centuries, he was educated at Carrick's Presentation Brothers’ College, before pursuing a career in teaching.
M.J. McManus, journalist and poet, was born in Carrick-on-Shannon at the Workhouse, which is now St. Patrick’s Hospital, in 1887. A student at London University, his accomplishments include founding the Irish Free Press newspaper, publishing many poems, and writing the biography of Eamon DeValera -- perhaps the most important political figure in the founding of the Irish state. He died in 1951.
Boats at Carrick-on-Shannon. Image by davesandford