Cruising the Shannon-Erne Waterway Canal in a Longboat

narrowboat

The Shannon-Erne Waterway is a wonderful way to travel between the River Shannon and the River Erne. During the voyage, we cross the border from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland. If you are from overseas, please check your visa status before booking your boat. The canal is 39 miles long and there are 16 locks to navigate.

Following an Ancient Waterway in a Longboat

narrowboatWe recommend a traditional narrowboat, and not a cruiser because you are following an ancient river once called Sruth Gráinne in Irish, meaning The Gravelly River. The oldest reference to it is in a poem in the Book of Maguaran dated 1291 AD. It describes it as “The Gráinne River, that clear and fairest of streams, that never ceases its moaning as it flows through the wood”.

Construction of the Irish waterways project commenced in 1780, although it took 78 years to complete after pacifying troublesome farmers along the way. It went into decline after the arrival of the railways. They even built low bridges over it because they thought nobody would ever use it again.

The 1990s Renaissance of the Clear and Fairest of Streams

As far back as the 1960s, people were beginning to return to pleasure boating. After all, what better way to travel than as the captain of your own narrowboat, and with a schedule that is as long as your imagination? You could begin your journey from Leitrim Village in the south, and eventually arrive in Lough Erne in Northern Ireland.

Leitrim Village, in the Republic of Ireland, has a wonderful marina and excellent accommodation. Lough Erne is actually two lakes that interconnect at Enniskillen which has a fine castle. During your journey, several quaint pubs and small hotels will tempt you. And why not indulge? Is this not what attracted you to the Shannon-Erne Waterway in the first place?