The Shannon Region is an ideal destination for canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts with the River Shannon and its magnificent Lough Derg... more » Lake providing two fantastic canoeing trails; a 10km trail from O'Briensbridge to Limerick City and an 93km trail stretching all the way from Portumna in County Galway to the twin towns of Killaloe/Ballina on the Clare/Tipperary border. This longer trail can also be divided into a number of shorter routes which are ideal for novice paddlers.
The River Shannon and Lough Derg are areas rich in history and heritage. Lough Derg’s shores have been settled since prehistoric times and its channel has been part of one of Ireland's oldest routes. In early medieval times, hermits, heroes, soldiers, raiders, and pilgrims, all travelled along this 'highway' from the Atlantic Ocean to the Irish midlands. Today's travellers along the Shannon Region’s canoe trails can continue to explore its famous castles, tower houses, ancient ruins, monasteries, churches and other ecclesiastical treasures. As well as this the legacy of nineteenth century commercial activity on the lake, steam navigation, and barge traffic also remain alive in story and legend.
The area provides rich habitats for diverse flora and fauna. Lough Derg’s northern shores are particularly rich in flora species as the limestone underfoot provides suitable soils. Here the Irish fleabane, unknown elsewhere in Ireland or Britain, flourishes on some rocky shores and islands during July and August. A variety of plants can be seen including water lilies, hemp agrimony of the reedbeds, the rushes, grasses and sedges of the fens, and buckthorn, dogwood, spindle and Irish whitebeam of the rocky shores. Most of Ireland's larger wild animals can also be found around Lough Derg. Some like the rabbit, hare, grey squirrel, stoat and mink are active during the day; others like the hedgehog, badger, otter like the night. The fox is most often seen at dawn or dusk. And in the woody shores of western Lough Derg the pine marten seems to be growing in numbers.
The Shannon system is unequalled in Europe for the quality of its birdlife and Lough Derg shares in this distinction, having permanent residents and summer or winter visitors in its relatively undisturbed habitats. The coot, moorhen, grebe, duck, heron, gull, kingfisher, cormorant, bunting and of course the mute swans are among the permanent Shannon birds. In terms of the summer visitors warblers, swifts, swallows and house martins remain widespread.
The Shannon Region canoe trails offer you adventure, a good workout, an insight into Irish heritage as well as a unique view of the wilderness. less «