The Shannon Estuary Way is a spectacular and unspoiled riverside destination off the Wild Atlantic Way. This area of remarkable beauty is where the Serene Shannon flows into the wild waters of the Mighty Atlantic. The river connects the peoples of Clare to Limerick and Kerry and this new 207km-long loop drive will bring you through all three counties in one day! It’s also a fantastic day trip if you’re based in any of the nearby gateway towns such as Limerick, Ennis, Shannon, Bunratty, Listowel or Kilrush.
Along the drive, you will find yourself passing through a string of delightful towns and pretty villages – stop off in any one for a chance to meet the locals whose lives and places have been shaped by the great river. This is a place full of stories and storytellers and perhaps ones you won’t have heard of before – such as life farming the Estuary Islands, or harvesting reeds for thatch, the tragic tale of Colleen Bawn, the story of punt guns along the Shannon and how St. Senan of Scattery Island defeated the serpent. And that’s just to name a few!
The driving route winds its way through stunning and changing landscapes and river vistas, offering everything from medieval heritage to outdoor adventure along the way. The Estuary is home to dolphins that live there all year round, even giving birth to their calves there. Take the beautiful ferry ride between Killimer Clare and Tarbert and look out for them!
It is the ideal location for explorers, who want to beat the crowds and experience a new destination, as well as birdwatching and angling enthusiasts and families of all ages. The kids can be let loose in Curraghchase Forest Park or visit the animals at Stonehall Wildlife Park. Perhaps they would like to check out Foynes Flying Boat Maritime Museum or get dirty at Basecamp Adventure Park in Shanagolden. There are also plenty of playgrounds with stunning backdrops of the Estuary, such as Ábha Bhan Playground in Loughill, or the accessible and inclusive Mungret Playground.
For the adventure-seekers that want to escape into the country to where others have not been, there are many walking trails or cycling routes along the way. There is also a grand selection of traditional rural pubs for those who want a taste of rural life and meet the locals.
For the nature lovers, the heritage and culture enthusiasts, The Estuary is dotted with old fortresses that tell a tale of the Estuary’s past such as King John’s Castle, Glin Castle, Adare Manor, the Dysert Aengusa Round Tower & Church, and the Augustinian Friary.
So, why choose the Shannon Estuary Way? It gives visitors a sense of freedom from it’s off-the-beaten track location. It offers a chance to reconnect with who they are travelling with, as well as with nature.
There are endless hidden gems that are perfect for that Instagram shot, opportunities for families to go wild and for others to wind down and relax. It immerses the visitors in the outdoors, brings them away from the crowds and connects them with the local communities.
Download a map and guide to the Shannon Estuary Way here.