The Shannon River Tour
Riverstown → Lough Arrow → Ballindoon Priory → Ballinafad Castle → Boyle Abbey and King House → Lough Key Forest Park → Carrick on Shannon
Riverstown Folk Park provides an opportunity to experience real Rural, Irish Heritage, History, Folklore and Customs, It is a place where all ages can discover how their Grand-Parents used to live and how life used to be in days gone by. The park has Vintage Cars, Tractors and Machinery showing how life has progressed. It gives a very good feeling of how Irish Life used to be. Come and experience the olde days of the north-west Ireland.
Lough Arrow at the foot of the Curlew Mountains lies 22 kilometres from Sligo town on the Sligo Roscommon Border and it is the largest lake in Sligo. It spans 8 kilometres long and 2.4 kilometres across at the widest point. The lake’s waters are fed by spring wells. Lough Arrow is drained by the Ushin River which in turn flows into the Owenmore river near Ballysadare before making its way to the Atlantic Ocean. One of the few limestone lakes in Connaught It contains four main Islands named Anaghgonda, Innismore, Innisbeg, and Much Island. It boasts some of the finest wild Trout fishing in Europe and is especially popular during the Mayfly season.
Ballindoon Abbey on the north east shore of lough Arrow is a Dominican Priory founded by the McDonaghs in 1507. Terence McDonagh was buried here in 1713 . He maintained an active political roll in Irish History and was the only catholic in an influential position when the penal laws were introduced. He practiced Law until 1692 in which time he helped many families including the O ‘Connors and O’ Rourkes to hold onto their Hereditary Possessions and Lands. As we leave Ballindoon and lough arrow we travel to Castlebaldwin, turn left on the N4 and head for Ballinafad.
The Castle, known as the Castle of the Curlews, was built around 1590 to protect the Pass over the Curlew Hills . The layout of the Castle is modeled on those of the 13th Century Castles, with a small central square dwarfed by four massive Towers at each corner. The Castle is located at the edge of the village just off the N4 Dublin road. “There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met” William Butler Yeats. From Ballinafad its just a short drive south to Boyle and its Abbey.
Boyle Abbey was mutilated when used as a Garrison during the 17th and 18th Century. It is an impressive Cistercian Monastery founded in the 12th Century by the local ruling family the McDermotts. Boyle Abbey retains its ability to impress the visitor as one of the most formidable of the early Cistercian Foundations in Ireland. A restored Gate-House 17/18 Century houses an Exibition.
King House a magnificently restored Georgian Mansion, built in the early 1700 for Sir Henry King whose family were the most powerful and wealthy in Ireland. It was restored by Roscommon County Council in 1995. It is the home of the Boyle Civic Collection widely considered one of the finest collections of Irish Paintings and Sculptures. The Connaught Rangers Museum (a museum to honour this famous Regiment) is located in the house which is the historic home of the Special Reserve Battalions of The Connaught Rangers. Every year an Arts Festival takes place in Boyle and takes up residence in the house in July and August. From here we make the short journey across the N4 to Lough Key Forest Park.
When we arrive here it’s an amazing place, steeped in history. First we head for the 5-story Moylurg Viewing Tower built on the original foundation of the Rockingham House with spectacular views of the lake and surrounding park. Next we go to the Jetty and you can board the ferry for a trip around the lake which takes an hour. On the boat trip we visit Trinity Island where the Monks came from Boyle Abbey in 1228. They brought with them the Manuscripts and learning which under Clarus’ directions developed eventually into the Annals of Lough Key and the Annals of Connaught. The Monastery was granted protection by the Justicier of Connaught when he came to pray prior to attacking McDermott’s Castle in 1235. After the suppression of the Monasteries by Henry VIII in 1536-7 this monastery was granted to the Mc Dermotts who allowed the cannons to remain in occupation and they occupied the house until it was confiscated by James 1, in 1608. The Island is the Burial place of Sir Conyers Clifford the commander of the British forces in the battle of the Curlews. Castle Island has passed through two ownerships of famous families, Mc Creeveys and Mc Dermotts. It is known as Mc Dermotts Island to this day. The castle is mentioned frequently in the ancient Annals being the focus of both Fighting and Partying. After the cruise we head for Carrick on Shannon.
Carrick on Shannon, or Carrick as its better known, is a small town on the Shannon river. Built on the site of the old ford across the Shannon. An arched stone bridge spans the river and links the Roscommon part of town to the county town of Leitrim. An active romantic town overlooking the Carric Marina River Shannon with the Sliabh Annerian Mountains acting as a backdrop. Carrick has a large Marine housing and cruiser fleet and a flourishing Rowing Club which holds a regatta here on August 5th. You can book a cruise up or down the Shannon. In Carrick we visit the Costello Chapel the second smallest chapel in the world built by Edward Costello in memory of his wife Mary Josephine who died at 47 on 6th Oct 1877. He had her body embalmed and placed in the safe hands of the Marist Sisters in Carrick. He immediately commissioned, at no expense spared, this beautiful chapel as a memorial and final resting place for both of them.