11 August Gorumna Island Co Galway

Enjoying Glendalough 

In Glendalough valley, the titanic forces of the last great ice age have sculpted a landscape where the wild spirit of the Wicklow mountains mingles with an air of peace and serenity. For many, Glendalough’s awe-inspiring setting coupled with its ancient history and rich biodiversity make it easy to relish. Visitors can wander along the lakeshore, follow waymarked paths deep into the woods, or scale the steep cliffs that envelop this ancient sanctuary, where the beauty that attracted the wandering ascetic St Kevin still abounds. Highlights include a deserted miners village that sits beneath looming cliffs where peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) roost, the Poulanass Waterfall, and ‘the Spinc’, from the anglicisation of ‘An Spinc’, meaning a ‘pointed hill’ which separates Glendalough valley from the Glenmalure valley and furnishes spectacular views of the lakes and valley as well as the mountains beyond.

Glendalough is also the National Parks and Wildlife Services headquarters within the Wicklow Mountains National Park. Their head office and an education centre are situated in the valley. Due to the vulnerability of the lakes and their designation as a nature preserve, many water-based activities are restricted on the upper and lower lakes.  Canoeing, kayaking, power boating, water-skiing and jet skiing are not permitted.

Enjoying the Lakes of Killarney

The lakes of Killarney are a renowned scenic attraction that offer plenty in the way of stunning scenic walks as well as kayaking routes. Killarney and the surrounding district have some of the best salmon and trout waters in Ireland and constitute an ideal basecamp for fishing enthusiasts. For those with a head for heights, the lakes lie in a mountain-ringed valley, among them Ireland’s highest, Carrauntoohil, at 1,038 m.

There are many sites of natural, historic and religious interest in the area of the lakes, largely contained by the surrounding Killarney National Park. On the shores of various islands lie Ross Castle, Muckross Abbey and Muckross House. Ross Island, a peninsula on the eastern shore of Lough Leane, is the site of the earliest known copper mines in the UK or Ireland, dating back to 2,400 BC.  The area was also extensively mined in the early 19th century by the Herbert family of Muckross House. Muckross Peninsula, which separates Lough Leane from Muckross Lake, contains one of the few yew woods in Europe. Yew woods are very rare and as a result are afforded the highest level of protection under Irish and European Law.

Enjoying Lough Carra

Over the centuries, Lough Carra has drawn many great writers, poets, artists and scientists to this picturesque corner of Co Mayo. Although Lough Carra has a rich and ancient history, today the lake is an important tourist attraction and anglers’ haven. It also provides significant habitat for Mayo’s abundant flora and fauna, both common and rare. Recreational activities on the lake include canoeing, leisure boating and swimming.

The conservation value of the lake includes the continued presence of otters (Lutra lutra) and white-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes). Lakeshore habitats include Cladium fen, alkaline fen, limestone pavement and orchid-rich grassland. Indeed, the lakeshore has at least 18 species of orchid and boasts what is probably the best wild orchid site in the country. Lough Carra is a top angling destination with a world-class wild brown trout fishery; pike fishing is also a major recreational activity on the lake.

The surrounding area around Lough Carra is rich in archaeological heritage and dotted with a plethora of forts, raths and crannogs. Among the most impressive sites is the Burriscarra Medieval Ecclesiastical Complex.

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Enjoying Lough Derg

Lough Derg has been described as the “Jewel in the Crown” of Ireland’s midwestern region. Rich in wildlife, its many islands offer excellent habitat for significant stocks of wild brown trout, pike, perch, roach and bream, among others. As a tourist destination for angling, sailing, cruising and other water sports, Lough Derg is significant.

Lough Derg offers visitors breathtaking scenery. Much of the land around the lake rises quite steeply, with areas such as the “Look Out” or the “Graves of the Leinster Men” providing views of the lake comparable with any of the more well-known tourists spots in Ireland. Furthermore, the islands near Mountshannon are home to Ireland’s re-introduced white-tailed eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla); their wingspan, with a midpoint of 2.18 m, is on average the largest of any eagle. The Slieve Aughty Mountains, which rise above the Western shores of Lough Derg, are also home to one of Ireland’s most threatened birds of prey, the Hen Harrier (Cyrcus cyaneus).

In the nineteenth century, Lough Derg played an important role in the transport of goods throughout the country. Navigable over its full 40 km length, Lough Derg is today popular with cruisers and other pleasure craft. Nenagh in Co. Tipperary is the closest sizeable town to Lough Derg, though along the Tipperary shoreline, the villages of Terryglass, Dromineer and Garrykennedy all have marinas and facilities for boating, sailing and fishing. On the Clare shoreline, the villages of Scariff, Whitegate and Mountshannon offer similar facilities. The University of Limerick has an activity centre by the lake just north of Killaloe, where it’s possible to experience canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing, dinghy-sailing, and other recreational activities.

Enjoying The Barrow

The Barrow Valley is one of Ireland’s best-kept secrets, comprised of an unspoiled passage through the southeast’s most beautiful landscapes. There are a range of sporting activities available along Ireland’s second longest river, while a range of other, more relaxing activities, such as cruising on private barges, can also be enjoyed. Many events are held during the year, including walking festivals, boating regattas and music and art festivals. The Barrow Way is a long-distance walking trail which follows the original towpath of the river; it’s one of Ireland’s most scenic long distance trails, but remains largely unexplored.

The River Barrow is renowned as angling river suitable for both coarse and game pursuits, with fish species present including bream, roach, dace, hybrids, rudd, perch, pike, brown trout, salmon and white trout.

Enjoying The Blackwater

The river Blackwater is a Salmonid area and is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).  It is world famous for its salmon angling and there are nine trout angling clubs spread along its length. Many of the salmon fisheries along the river are privately owned and are leased out to syndicates over the fishing season. The Blackwater is also a delight for coarse anglers, with good stocks of roach, dace, perch and pike especially around Fermoy and Mallow where international events are held.

The river is only navigable in the tidal reaches from Youghal to Cappoquin and is not connected to any other inland waterway.  Therefore boating and cruising activity on the river is minimal, especially above Cappoquin.  It is well used by rowers and kayakers however.   Fermoy has one of the oldest rowing clubs in the country, established in 1884, and had two members represented Ireland at the last Olympic Games.

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Enjoying The Liffey

The easiest way to enjoy the Liffey is simply to take a stroll along its banks.  Water lilies, Irises and bulrushes are common in the shade of willow and alder, as are the electric flashes of damselflies and even kingfishers.  The Liffey Valley Park Alliance has produced a series of riverside walking trail guides, available here.

Upstream from Dublin city, at Chapelizod, the river is used by number of rowing clubs. Further up at the Strawberry Beds the Irish Canoe Union has its training centre and the stretch of the Liffey between Lucan and the Strawberry Beds is wonderful resource extensively used by a number of kayak clubs throughout the year. The Liffey Descent canoeing event, held each year since 1960, covers a 27 km (17 mi) course from Straffan to Islandbridge. The Liffey Swim takes place every year in late August or early September between Watling Bridge and The Custom House.

For a guide to angling on the Liffey, along with a map of Liffey fishing in the Dublin area click here.

Enjoying The Shannon

The River Shannon is probably the single most significant feature in the Irish landscape. It is the longest river in Ireland and Britain and drains one fifth of the area of Ireland. It runs through the great central plain like a silver spine. This great divide has had a lasting effect on the very fabric of Irish culture and is closely bound up with Ireland’s social, cultural, military, economic and political history. To properly document the significant historical, archaeological and natural features that can be found between the shannon pot and the shannon estuary would take a life times effort.

The Shannon has been an important waterway since antiquity, having first been mapped by the Graeco-Egyptian geographer Ptolemy. Today the beauty and ease of navigation on the Shannon, along with its excellent lakes means that the river is the centre for inland water sports in Ireland.  There is a significant tourist market for boat rentals during the summer as beginners can cruise large sections of the river without having to go through any locks.  The Shannon is ideal for canoe touring and kayaking, and Shannon trails have developed a kayak and canoeing guide to the Shannon with trail maps and practical advice. You can also find a list of canoe trail operators in the catchment here.

The River Shannon with its numerous islands, backwaters, pools, bends and quiet bays, in addition to open lakes, forms an enormous and richly diverse fishery, which holds great stocks of a wide variety of fish including salmon, brown trout, bream, tench, rudd, roach, hybrids, eels, pike and perch. See www.fishinginireland.info for more information of fishing on the Shannon.

Enjoying Lough Erne

Lough Erne is renowned as one of the most beautiful waterways in Europe with many activities and sights to be enjoyed by any visitor. It is a canoeist’s dream, with the Lower Lough providing rough open water adventure and the meandering backwaters of the Upper Lough ideal for beginners.  An award winning canoe trail provides a map, which gives practical advice on everything required for an enjoyable canoe trip. You can also visit the website of the Erne branch of the Inland Waterways Association for more information on cruising and boating on the Erne. Alternatively you can explore the river by bike with stretches of the Kingfisher Trail, the first long-distance cycle trail in Ireland, which hug the shore of Lough Erne, making it the perfect eco-friendly of way of enjoying the lakes under your own steam. Trail maps are available here.

The Lough is a mixed coarse and game fishery with the Upper and Lower Loughs together forming one of Ireland’s most diverse fishing waters.  The Lower Lough reaches depths of over 200 feet making it ideal for Brown Trout whilst the Upper Lough, with its vast reed beds provides ideal habitat for Pike. For more information on angling visit the Fermanagh Lakelands tourism-fishing guide.

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