Linssen Grand Sturdy 35.0 AC on the river Shanon
With a charter yacht on the River Shannon in Ireland
We fly with Airlingus with the recognisable green/white colours and the cloverleaf in the logo, the Seamróg, which is apparently called the 'non-official' symbol of Ireland. From the Netherlands it is only a short flight to Dublin, where we take our rental car and drive the 150 kilometres to Banagher in about 2 hours.
International Booking Office
3 - 9 Fairgreen Road
BT60 1PW Markethill, Co. Armagh
Telephone: +44 28 3834 4993
The Marina Banagher
Co. Offaly, R42 DH51
Tel: 05791 51187
Linssen charter base Carrick Craft
In Banagher is one of the boat charter bases of Carrick Craft (Cruise-Ireland). From here, we will take our Linssen charter yacht, a Grand Sturdy 35.0 AC, for a nice trip on the River Shannon. The river is the dividing line between several Irish counties. Banagher is situated on the east river in Offaly and the other side of the river is Galway county.
We meet the crew of Carrick and go to our floating home for the next week. As we have sailed on a motor yacht before, the explanation is limited to some technical details and we can start. We load our bags and then go shopping in town, so that we can leave with a well-stocked galley. There are two of us in this four-person Linssen motor yacht. That gives us more than enough room to leave our bags in the aft cabin and to claim the 'owners cabin' in the front. The saloon has a nice sofa and the kitchen (pantry) is big enough for our culinary limited cooking skills...
Banagher is a town with a long history, dating back to the 17th century. As the town was strategically located on the river and was an important point for crossing the river, there are several ruined castles dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries. The old walls on the east bank replace an old fortification from the 1600s known as Fort Falkland and Fort Eliza is just downstream of Banagher on the east bank.
About fifty 'Martello' towers were built throughout Ireland in the 19th century. These were relatively simple round towers with walls up to 2.5 metres thick and 12 metres high. The entrance was at a height of three metres, so you had to climb a ladder to get in. Because of the height, the gun slots could also fire downwards at attackers. On top of the flat roof was a platform on which a cannon could rotate and fire in all directions. All towers stand on the Irish coastline. The only inland Martello Tower can be seen at Banagher on the west bank, opposite the town.
If you want to see Ireland not only from the water but also from the land, there are several castles worth visiting. For example, there is Cloughan Castle about 3 kilometres west of Banagher. Easy to do by bike and to see something of the surroundings. There is a B&B in the castle. A little further away, but perhaps more interesting, is Birr Castle Demesne. This is about eight kilometres south-east of Banagher. The castle offers guided tours, a fantastic garden to look at and a Science Visitor Centre. The early days of photography are explained here, as well as electrical and mechanical equipment. In the garden is the Great Telescope, which was built around 1840 by the Third Earl of Rosse. Scientists discovered the various spiral structures in the universe there.
In the gardens there is also a LOFAR radio antenna. This radio antenna is part of an international network of radio antennae, with the central point located in Exloo, the Netherlands.
A good place to eat is Flynn's Pub food and restaurant in Galagher.
Biir Castle near Banagher
Cast off. We are going sailing
We haven't even set sail on our steel charter yacht on the Shannon yet and we've already had so many impressions. But now it's finally happening. We cast off the lines and head south down the river. The fantastic rugged Irish landscape glides past us. Apart from nature and greenery, we regularly see old remains of defence works, such as the Keelogue Battery (on our port side).
We make our first stop in Meelick Quay at the Victoria Lock. Here we walk to the Meelick church. Started around 1414 by a Franciscan settlement, this church is still in use today. Also worth seeing is the old canal where the Hamilton Lock is situated. This was the first lock to be built in the Shannon around 1750. This lock is no longer in use.
We continue to sail our charter yacht until we reach Portumna. This will be our first stop. Just before the town, there is also a harbour (Emerald Star) on the starboard side, but we sailed under the drawbridge and came out onto Lough Derg, one of the Irish 'Loughs' (lakes). We kept to starboard and moored in Portumna Castle Harbour.
Portumna Castle Harbour
We walk towards the city and pass Portumna Friary, one of the many ancient ruins we will see on this trip. A little further on is Portumna Castle & Gardens. Portumna itself has a nice typical Irish centre with several shops, post office, pubs and restaurants. We skip the supermarket as we still have the entire boat full of provisions.
North of the town is the Irish Workhouse Centre. Every county had such a building. Its purpose was to care for those who could not provide for themselves. These people were the most vulnerable in society, the elderly, the sick, the orphans and those without work, money or food. This building was opened in 1852 and could accommodate up to 600 people. There were 163 of these work houses in use in the whole of Ireland at that time.
For the bigger kids on board: go-karting
Are your (older) children travelling with you on board? Then it might be worthwhile to take the bike or a taxi to Pallas Karting. This is - according to its own words - the biggest karting centre in Europe. With a 1,500 m track and karts that can go up to 85 km/h, they can certainly expend their energy here. You can drive here from the age of 16. The 'Family Track' is possible from the age of 10. This track is 'only' 500 metres.
Because we have only been on the road for a day, we don't feel like cooking on board our rented yacht. We are looking for a restaurant. There are several in the town, but we are also tipped off about a restaurant just on the other side of the Shannon in front of the bridge. We decide to simply take the boat back and moor it along the bridge. Then it is just a short walk to The Ferry Inn. A typical Irish pub/restaurant with an excellent kitchen.
Tired but satisfied after this first day, we sail back to the harbour and lock up the charter ship for the night. Together we have a glass of Guinness in the saloon and go to sleep.
The next morning, we had a delicious breakfast on the afterdeck of our motor yacht. The weather forecast was fine. The temperature is still a little low, but with a jumper on, it's nice to stay in the rising sun. A little later, we left Portumna. We crossed a bit of Lough Derg and arrived in Terryglass Harbour. We moored up and went for a walk. The town of Terryglass (just the name) is very charming. It is situated on the ruins of a 6th century monastery, of which little remains. Terryglass Castle lies on the banks of the Lough. There are also two water sources. The 'Eye well' and the 'Headache well'... Both are said to have healing properties. Everyone can think of which well is for which condition. 😊
RECIPE: Perlin with broccoli and tartuffo sauce
We fry the pancetta in the frying pan for 5 minutes until crispy and put it on a plate to drain. We then fry a red onion for about 5 minutes in the same frying fat. In the meantime, we put on the fire to cook the broccoli and perline con formaggio pasta in 4 minutes. Add the tartuffo sauce to the onions and heat it. Then we spoon the pasta and broccoli on a plate, sauce on top and pancetta on top. Finished off with grated parmesan cheese, of course.
A day of complete self-sufficiency aboard our charter yacht in Rossmore
We sail our hire boat a little further and arrive on the west side of Lough Derg at Rossmore. There is a small pier where we moor our luxury charter yacht towards the end of the afternoon. We decide to stay in this oasis of peace and enjoy nature, whistling birds and the calm water around us. In the evening, we prepare a pasta in our ship's pantry. The three-burner gas cooker is perfect for preparing a delicious dinner.
With the evening sun setting on the back deck, we enjoy our food and our freedom. We take the time to read that book we have had in the cupboard for months and before we know it, it is time to go to sleep.
Williamstown harbour and Dromineer
The next day, after breakfast, we sailed on at leisure on our charter yacht. Along the western shore, we saw Williamstown harbour to starboard. From here, we crossed Lough to port to Dromineer. We had read about it and wanted to visit it. At the harbour, the view is dominated by the ruins of the 16th century Dromineer Castle and a church dating back to the 12th century. The Lough Derg Yacht Club is said to be one of the oldest yacht clubs in the world. They may well be, as they were founded in 1835...
Near the harbour is Lough Derg House with a café for a delicious lunch or dinner. Of course, in Ireland we can't avoid the whiskey either. Here in Dromineer lies 'The Whiskey Still'. Here you can have a delicious meal combined with a powerful local whiskey.
We continue our charter journey along the east coast of Lough Derg and arrive at Garrykennedy. We enter the old 19th century Castle Harbour, moor our charter yacht and go for a walk. We could have taken the new marina, with its lovely floating jetty, a little further north, but this is much nicer...
There are regular musical performances by local Irish bands in this village. Larkins is a bar/restaurant that is certainly worth a visit... as far as we know, the only one in the village.
The next overnight stop is Mountshannon. We sail to the west side of Lough Der again and arrive at Mountshannon. This town is surrounded by greenery and dates from around 1740. It is situated on a hill, giving a fantastic view over Lough Derg and the surrounding area. In the centre is a maze with a path through the history of spirituality.
Mountshannon is also home to a pair of white-tailed sea eagles. They are so famous, in fact, that they have their own website (http://www.mountshannoneagles.ie/). In recent years there have been some deaths in the Eagle family, so there is currently only one male Bald Eagle left, but he remains loyal to his nest.
Mountshannon Holy Island church
We eat on board our charter yacht. As 'Dutchmen', we are simply making pancakes today. Tasty with cheese and syrup.
Opposite Mountshannon lies Holy Island. There is no jetty, harbour or anything like it, and anchoring is not possible either, so we could only get there with a dinghy or with the ferry from Mountshannon. There are churches on the island that date back to the 9th century. Many early Irish saints are attributed to this island. There are some tall crosses, a holy well, a round tower and an old cemetery. We don't know whether we can moor our charter yacht here, so we don't. There is still so much to see.
With our charter yacht into Scariff
At the most westerly point of Lough Derg, we sail our motorboat up the Scariff River. It narrows with every bend and eventually flows into a small harbour in Scariff. From there it is a 10 minute walk to the market square. There are several walking routes that start and end here, for those who want to explore the area.
From Scariff, we walk to Reddan's Quay in Tuamgraney. Here stands one of the oldest churches in Ireland still in use: St. Cronan's. Parts of the church are said to date from the 10th century and were repaired in 1012 by Brian Boru, High King of Ireland. Since 1989, it has housed the East Clare Heritage Centre, with historical documents detailing the history and origins of the region. At McKernan's Handweavers we find beautiful handmade scarves. The shop and showroom demonstrate how the scarves are made on 19th century looms.
Nearby are the remains of O'Grady Castle from the 16th century. Raheen Oak Wood between the river and Tuamgraney contains the remains of the ancient forest that once covered the whole of East Clare. It has some very old oak trees, said to be the oldest in Ireland.
Turning point of our charter trip with a Linssen motor yacht in Ireland
We sailed the charter boat from Scariff down along the west coast. We sailed past Castlebawn Castle and then followed the starboard side down to the tip of Lough Derg. There we arrive at the twin towns Killaloe (west bank) and Ballina on the east bank. Between the two is the ancient stone bridge with thirteen arches. Killaloe was once home to the High King of Ireland and is therefore very famous. It is the largest town on Lough Derg and therefore has all the facilities. We can moor to both of them to have a look at the towns.
Killaloe is characterised by its narrow, winding streets that run uphill, while Ballina is mainly along the road that runs parallel to the river. Although Killaloe is a modern town with all the amenities you would expect, it is steeped in history and everywhere there is evidence of its past as the 11th century capital of Ireland. There is a 4km walking trail that takes you past all the major heritage sites in the area, just ask at the Tourist Information Centre (near the stone bridge).
Dinner is excellent with a view of the water at Flanagan's on the Lake. If there is room, you can moor your charter boat right outside the door. Or just on the other side of the bridge, but on the same bank, Goosers Bar & Restaurant.
After this trip 'down', tomorrow we will go the same way, at a slightly higher speed, back up to return the hire boat to Carrick Craft / Cruise Ireland. It was a fantastic trip. The weather was 100% better than expected and the surroundings, ancient buildings and remains of even more than a thousand years old will remain in our memories forever.