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Shannon & Erne

South Ireland - Shannon, Shannon-Erne Waterway

Welcoming, poetical, musical and great enthusiasts for their country, they will introduce you to all their byways and the warmth of their pubs and bars. You will experience the legendary Irish hospitality, dating back to the 5th century, with its duty never to let the welcoming fire on one's hearth ever go out. And even if your command of Shakespeare's tongue is less than perfect, you'll soon be downing a pint of beer and feeling yourself an Irishman by adoption!

From Ballinamore, fairest village in the county, you enter the majestic Shannon, Ireland's longest river, which unrolls before you in all its variety.

Free from all commercial traffic, and navigable for 220km with only 6 locks, this river and the lakes it flows through, some more like inland seas, make a delicious combination of natural landscapes and historic sites... On its banks all the way is superb parkland, as well as bird and wildlife sanctuaries. In County Roscommon the charming little town of Boyle boasts the ruins of a Cistercian abbey founded in 1161, a stunning mixture of Romanesque and Gothic styles.

In the Irish Republic you're absolutely free to fish as you will. Welcome to a fisherman's paradise : bream, roach, tench, pike, perch and salmon ( special regulations apply for this) are all abundant. In Northern Ireland however a fishing licence is required, and checks are made. Upper and Lower lough Erne are waters particularly prized by fishermen. Ballinamore has an excellent shop for fishermen where you can get good advice and where they will recommend suitable baits for each type of fish at differing times of year.

Further south, the town of Athlone is notable for its imposing castle which has dominated a strategic crossing ever since the 13th century. Not far away is Clonmacnoise, the largest monastic site in Ireland, founded in 548 and flourishing over many centuries: you will find here eight churches, a cathedral, two round towers, three great carved crosses, the remains of a castle, and more than 200 carved headstones dating from the 6th to the 12th centuries. Limerick, Ireland's fourth city, is a lively artistic centre and boasts fine Georgian houses as well as noble bridges across the Shannon.

North Ireland - Erne, Shannon-Erne Waterway.

Ireland by water is all about the pleasure of dropping your anchor where you will, and discovering all its secrets. You have the freedom to moor wherever you want, to walk, climb hills, sightsee, listen to local musicmaking, go for a bicycle ride, play golf, go fishing. The Irish are just as delightful as their land.

From Ballinamore you head north on the "Shannon-Erne Waterway" to reach the Erne, the second great Irish river system.

The 63km long canal has 16 locks and has been magnificently restored. With its 34 fine old bridges, it allows one to cruise, for the first time this century, through a dream landscape. Rivers alternate with canals and lakes studded with islands, in an unique mixture of peaceful untouched landscapes and villages offering a traditional welcome.

Ireland boasts around 300 of the world's finest golfcourses. The game arrived here from Scotland at the end of the 18th century and has become a part of the way of life, played on lush courses often set in magnificent scenery. Along your cruising route there are a number of 9 and 18 hole courses open to the public.

You will head towards Ballyconnell and Belturbet, both with a strong folkloric tradition, and then onwards into County Fermanagh, a land of lakes,a paradise for birdspotters, botanists and fisherman, and your introduction to Northern Ireland. The historic town of Enniskillen is an excellent starting point for discovering the special attractions of Ulster. Built on an island between Upper and Lower Lough Erne, the town is dominated by its castle, the oldest parts of which date back to the 15th century.

Still very little used, this network of canals, rivers and lakes is full of the magic of these ancient lands and their celtic chiefs, its islands dotted with megalithic tombs and old carved figures. Here you are at the heart of one of Europe's last unpolluted natural paradises.

Music has always played an important part in Irish life and still does so without any false touristic overtones. The songs and ballads of the past are handed down from one generation to the next. Typical instruments like the fiddle, and uillean pipes (a variety of bagpipe) are still played, and every Irishman knows the words of dozens of folksongs.

In Ireland the gentle climate is ideal for the many well-stocked gardens lovingly tended by generations of gardeners. In this verdant land, the golfcourses too benefit from the softness of the climate

The lush pastures produce lamb, hams and sausages incomparable in flavour. Irish cuisine will agreeably surprise the most demanding gourmet.


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