The Shannon is the longest river in all of the British Isles, and runs from County Cavan to Limerick, where it merges with the sea. The river is internationally renowned among anglers for its salmon and trout fishing.
Its name is derived from the mythical character Sionan, who is said to have drowned in it after committing the travesty of eating the Salmon of Knowledge, a privilege reserved only for males. The River Shannon played an integral part in Irish history, from the first Neolithic settlements along its banks, through the Celtic period, when it separated and protected warring tribes from each other, through the Viking era, when it provided access to the inner parts of the country for their invasions. The Normans built countless fortifications along its banks. Cromwell’s forces drove the defeated Irish across the river to the province of Connaught in the west.
The Importance of the Shannon
More recently, the Shannon River has been used for the transportation of goods and power generation. Several plants have been erected, including the Ardnacrusha hydroelectric plant, built in 1929 and a station at Shannonbridge that generates electricity using local peat.
The system of waterways connected to the Shannon serves as the recreational heart of Ireland. It links to a variety of lakes and streams, as well as the Grand Canal, providing endless opportunities for excellent boating, fishing and outdoor recreation.
The best place to hire a boat is to cruise down the Shannon is probably Carrick-on-Shannon in County Leitrim. From there, be sure to take your boat to nearby Lough Key, with its beautiful islands and forest park. For a guide to the best fishing spots on the river Shannon, check out the Fishing in Ireland website.