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Lough Derg Way

With breathtaking scenery and fascinating heritage, this is one of Ireland's greatest lakeside long distance walks

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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 42.875 miles
Duration: Multiple days

Overview:  The Lough Derg Way is a spectacular linear route that stretches from Limerick City, to Killaloe/Ballina (26km) and from Killaloe... more »

Tips:  This Guide describes the Lough Derg Way starting from Limerick City, however the walk is equally stunning whether you begin in... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Trailhead, Limerick Tourist Office

Limerick is the Republic of Ireland’s third largest city and has a beautiful location on one of Ireland’s most picturesque rivers, the River Shannon. With a charter older than that of London, there is plenty of history to absorb in this finer riverside city. Conquered by the Vikings in the ninth century, this bustling modern city has a rich... More

2. Park Canal

This section follows the old tow path of the Park Canal and the banks of the River Shannon for approximately 4km as far as the University of Limerick campus.

The Park Canal was constructed in 1757/58 to transport goods to and from Limerick City. During this era, the canal system was invaluable in the transport of heavy goods, such as... More

3. University Bridge

As you approach the bridge, watch out for the quaint old fishermans' cottages on your right. The route now crosses the River Shannon at the University of Limerick campus. You have now left co. Limerick and have crossed into Co. Clare! Note that the route loops itself for a very short distance at this point near Thomond Student Village, to enable... More

4. Headrace Canal

The route now leaves the road and uses the bank of the Headrace Canal for the next 2km or so as far as Clonlara Village.

This canal was constructed in the late 1920s as part of the Shannon Hydroelectric Scheme, one of the largest civil engineering schemes of its kind in the world at that time. The core of the scheme was to construct a... More

5. Clonlara Village

The pretty village of Clonara is located between the Headrace Canal and the Errina Canal, just 11km from Limerick City. O'Sheas Pub in the centre of the viilage offers hearty pub food and lively music sessions at weekends. The nearby Clonara Equestrian Centre is situated on over 100 acres of East Clare countryside - ideal for trekking. Horse and... More

6. Errina Bridge

After passing under Errina Bridge you are on Errina Canal. The Errina Canal is an old unused canal which has taken on a rich habitat of woodland canopy that almost seems like a waterway through a rain forest! This was once part of the Limerick to Killaloe Navigation System along which horses pulled barges laden with cargo. The route continues... More

7. Mouth of the Errina Canal

The 2km is a tranquil walk along the Shannon as far as the village of O'Briensbridge. You will pass seven quaint humpback bridges on this stretch, all of which were beautifully restored by the local community. The wall is always lower on the river side of the bridges in order to accommodate the barge ropes to the horses tackle. The high walls on... More

8. O'Briensbridge

The picturesque village of O'Briensbridge, Co Clare nestles on the banks of the River Shannon and borders three counties namely Clare, Limerick and Tipperary. The twin village is linked to its sister village, Montpelier in Co. Limerick on the other side of the river Shannon, by a 15th Century stone bridge.

The first bridge at this point was... More

9. Rejoin the Headrace Canal

Pass through the village, over the humpback bridge and turn right onto the Headrace Canal embankment. Follow the embankment for about 2km until you reach the Parteen Weir Hydro Dam.

10. Parteen Weir Hydro Dam

This is the E.S.B. Hydro Dam which was built in the 1920s as part of the Shannon Scheme. The dam holds back the mighty Lough Derg and diverts two thirds of the River Shannon down the Headrace Canal to feed Ardnacrusha Power Station. The Shannon Scheme was such a major undertaking of international status, that the construction itself became a... More

11. Busy road for 300m

Caution is advised on this 300m stretch of the R483 road from Limerick to Killaloe. Just after Ardcloney Bridge turn left onto a quiet country road. The next 6km is along local roads until you reach Killaloe, known as the gateway to Lough Derg.

The picturesque twin towns of Ballina/Killaloe are hugely popular with visitors who come to enjoy its watersports and bustling pubs and restaurants. In Killaloe you have a network of charming narrow streets, flanked by old shops and houses that climb up the steep hillside and down over the 13th century cathedral. Killaloe is closely associated... More

After crossing the bridge into Ballina, Co. Tipperary, turn left on Main Street and after approximately 200 metres turn right onto Grange Road. The Lough Derg Way follows this local road for about 3km until the route goes off-road into the Sliabh Arra mountains.

Ballina is the sister town to Killaloe and is a busy village with many fine pubs and ... More

14. Arra Mountains

The route now leaves the road and gently ascends into the Arra Mountains. The name comes from the Irish word Aradh meaning "ridged". The highest point is Tountinna (459m). These mountains were formerly an important slate producing area and at one point some 15,000 tons of slate product was exported through Killaloe.

15. Tountinna

You have now reached the summit of Tountinna (459m), meaning the "Hill of the Wave" which refers to a tremendous flood that, according to the mythology in the ancient Book of Invasions, drowned all the first Irish inhabitants except those survivors who took refuge on Tountinna.

From here you can drink in some truly spectacular views of Lough Derg... More

16. Graves of the Leinstermen

On the north western side of Tountinna mountain are the Bronze Age (1,500 BC) stones commonly called “the Graves of the Leinstermen”. One stone is standing, the rest are covered in undergrowth. The site could have originally been a stone circle or a Neolithic Tomb.

According to tradition, it is here that the men of Leinster and their King met... More

17. Path to Millennium Cross

Follow the signs, turning left at this junction towards the Millennium Cross

18. Millennium Cross

A sixty-foot stainless steel cross weighing more than four tonnes was erected (2002) on Cloneybrien Hill near Portroe, to commemorate the millennium and to replace a cross that was placed on the spot to mark the Eucharistic Congress in 1932. The original cross was destroyed by lightning in 1945.

19. The Lookout

There are splendid views from here of Lough Derg, a place known as the "Lookout", possibly the most spectacular throughout Lough Derg.

20. Castlelough

This amenity area is a great stopping point. There are public toilets, picnic tables and great lakeshore views. This is also a safe bathing area.

Approximately 1km from the Amenity Area is the entrance to Castlelough Woods, a Coillte-owned recreation site. The woods comprise over 50 hectares of mixed woodland that include a network of forest... More

One of the best ways to experience the magic of Lough Derg is to visit the beautiful hamlet of Garrykennedy on the lake’s North Tipperary shoreline. Situated less than 3.2km (2ml) off the Nenagh – Portroe lake drive road, the village is a true gem. It’s a small unspoiled fishing and boating village with a great reputation for traditional Irish... More

22. Path through fields

Turn left here to leave the road as the route goes cross country for the next 7km.

23. The Callows

This part of the Lough Derg Way contains many streams close to the Lakeshore and is known as the Callows. Cross a footbridge at this point and about 1km later the route joins the road for about 1.5km.

24. Gortanoura

Turn left here and the route travels through open fields for about 2km. Turn left again when you reach the road.

25. Private Road

After 2km the road ceases to be a public roadway, although walkers on the Lough Derg Way are welcome to continue their journey of course! You are now on the northern shores of Youghal Bay, a renowned angling location within Lough Derg.

26. Garraunfadda

The route rejoins the road once more for the final 2.5km to Dromineer. Continue along the road and follow the signs to turn left at the water pump for Dromineer. Caution is advised on this final stretch of roadway which can be quite busy in the summer months.

27. Dromineer

Dromineer is one of the oldest villages located on the Lough. Once known as the 'Port of Ormond', Dromineer offers a range of visitor facilities and services including accommodation, a pub and places to eat.

Dromineer’s beach facilities can cater for swimmers, while windsurfers, sailors and those who like to cruise can avail of the modern and... More