The hundreds of rivers that criss-cross Ireland contribute much to the greenery of this Emerald Isle. Below you will find information on some of Ireland’s favourite rivers, whether you are an angler, a bird watcher, or you just appreciate the beauty of flowing water.
Gougane Barra, Cork, Cork
Carving a course through farm- and woodland to Cork city the River Lee begins its journey in the lake of the enchanting Gougane Barra Park.
The Lee flows through several Irish -speaking market towns, and villages. Some, such as Ballingeary, with its fine lake-side views, have good angling. The town is also noted for its Irish language college.
Further east, near the town of Inchigeela, stand the ruins of Carrignacurra Castle. Further downstream lies the Gearagh, an alluvial stretch of marsh and woods that has been designated a wildlife sanctuary.
The river then passes through the Sullane valley, home of the thriving market town of Macroom. The hulk of a medieval castle, with its restored entrance, lies just off the main square.
The Shannon is the longest river in Ireland, rising in County Cavan and meandering down to the Atlantic. Flowing through the heart of the island, it has traditionally marked the border between the provinces of Leinster and Connaught.
In medieval times, castles guarded the major fords from Limerick to Portumna, and numerous monasteries were built along the riverbanks, including the celebrated Clonmacnoise.
Work began on the Shannon navigation system in the 1750′s, but it fell into disuse with the advent of the railways. It has since been revived, with an additional boost given by the recent restoration of the Shannon -Erne Waterway.
There are subtle changes of landscape along the length of the river. South of Lough Allen, the countryside is covered with the drumlins or low hills typical of the northern Midlands.
Towards Lough Ree, islands stud the river in an area rich in otters, geese, grey herons and whooper swans. Continuing south beyond Athlone, the river flows through flood plains and bog before reaching Lough Derg, the biggest of the lakes on the Shannon.
The scenery is more dramatic here, with the lough’ s southern end edged by wooded mountains.
The Blackwater rises in high bogland in County Kerry, before flowing east through County Cork until it reaches Cappoquin, County Waterford, where it changes course south through wooded sandstone gorges to the sea at Youghal. Much of the valley is wooded, a reminder that the entire area was forested until the 17th century. The river passes some magnificent country houses and pastoral views, but the region is best known for its fishing, especially for roach, rudd, perch, and pike. The Blackwater’s tributaries are filled with fine brown trout. The best way to see the valley is to take the scenic Blackwater Valley Drive from Youghal to Mallow, which passes through Fermoy, a town founded by Scottish merchant John Anderson in 1789.
The River Boyne
From its source at Trinity Well, near Carbury in County Kildare, the River Boyne flows majestically past wooded vales and rolling hills to the sea at historic Drogheda. Its course winds through the Boyne Valley, which is celebrated in Irish mythology, folklore, and history.
The River Slaney
Although it is also fished for brown trout, the River Slaney is one of the foremost salmon fishing rivers in Ireland. Salmon angling is available downstream from Tullow town in Co. Carlow and this stretch is club-controlled by the Tullow Salmon and Trout Angling Club. In the Co Wicklow stretch of the Slaney north of Tullow, brown trout is the dominant species. Fishing for brown trout in these waters is free, but in all such cases it is advisable to check with the local riparian owners.
The Barrow River and its tributaries offer some game angling waters, but it is better known as a coarse angling river. Carlow Town, Bagenalstown, and Graiguenamanagh are the major population centres along its path.
The River Inny
The River Inny flows through Lough Sheelin, Lough Kinale, and Lough Derravaragh. The stretch just upstream from Finea has good stocks of roach, especially in September and October. Between Finea and Derravaragh, some good roach and hybrid can be caught during the early part of the year.
Along The Barrow Navigation
Saint Mullins, Athy, Kildare
The Barrow is the second-longest river in Ireland. It is navigable for 69 kilometres between Athy and St. Mullins, and this stretch is known as the Barrow Navigation.