Lough Ree and Mid Shannon
Westmeath to Roscommon
Start your journey in the bustling Viking town of Athlone, once known as Ireland’s ‘gateway to the west’. There’s plenty to see and do in the town, from sailing on a replica Viking ship to playing a round of golf at nearby Glasson the course is a Christy O’Connor Jnr masterpiece.
Stop of in nearby Sean’s Bar which claims the title of the oldest pub in Europe, with the archaeological dating of the walls showing that people have been enjoying a drink in this pub since 900AD.
Just a short drive to the next county of Roscommon, where the village of Lecarrow holds one of the most impressive medieval towns in Ireland: Rindoon.
Rindoon is situated on the peninsula of St John’s Point, abandoned in the 14th century. The Norman Castle at Rindoon is thought to date back to 1227 and was built by Geoffrey de Marisco, an unsavoury character who amassed a large fortune by seizing goods, lands and taxes in the King of England’s name and then keeping the rewards for himself.
Roscommon to Longford
In Ballyleague-Lanesborough you are stopping off in two counties with Ballyleague in Roscommmon and over a bridge in the town takes you into Lanesborough in Longford.
Ballyleague is a popular place to stop for a spot of angling, while over the bridge at Lanesborough you can admire one of the town’s oldest, and most interesting, buildings: St John’s Church of Ireland. This church was built on the site of an abbey dating back to the 5th century. Plundered during the Cromwellian and Williamite wars, it was later rebuilt in 1862.
More medieval await at Rathcline Castle, situated 2km from the town of Lanesborough, overlooking Lough Ree, built around the 9th Century by the O’Quinn clan. Later it was fought for and taken by the O’Farrell clan and subsequently taken over by the Normans around the beginning of the 12th Century.
Head clockwise around Lough Ree now to the village of Newtowncashel, a little town that has won ‘Ireland’s Best Village’ twice. As you explore this rural Irish village look out for the bog oak sculptures created from the dark peat of the bog lands of Longford.
Leave this village behind and take a detour of Saints Island. Be sure to stop of in Strokestown and visit The Irish National Famine Museum.
Located on the western side of Lough Ree, Saint’s Island can be reached via a series of winding country roads and a narrow 1 kilometre long causeway that now connects the island.
Reaching this remote, peaceful location you will see what remains of the first monastery on the island built in the 6th century by St Ciarán, who later founded the monastery at nearby Clonmacnoise.