The Shannon Estuary is a spectacular and unspoilt estuary located just off the Wild Atlantic Way. This area of remarkable beauty is where Ireland's longest river - the mighty Shannon flows into the azure water of the Atlantic Ocean. Along the Shannon Estuary Drive, you will find delightful towns, pretty villages and world famous fishing sites.
The Shannon Estuary Way driving route winds it way through the stunning and changing landscapes of West Limerick and offers everything from medieval heritage to outdoor adventure along the way.
To commence this picture postcard Estuary drive, depart Limerick City along the N69 road. You will experience the many villages and townlands in West County Limerick including Mungret, Clarina, Pallaskenry, Askeaton, Foynes and Glin.
Mungret village is only a short distance from Limerick city. The importance of the monastic site here is said to be comparable to that of Clonmacnoise, and the site has been identified as one of the most important Early Christian monasteries in North Munster.
Continue on to Kilcornan, where you will find a cluster of fantastic family fun activities to keep you and your little ones entertained. Enjoy the great outdoors at the vast Curraghchase Forest Park, check out the selection of farm and exotic animals at Stonehall Visitor Farm or for something a little less sedate try a spot of go-karting.
Bleach Lough is a 55 acre spring lake along the route, here anglers can access the lake via shore or by boat. Located just outside Pallaskenry village it offers anglers some of the very best fishing in the country.
Just off the N69 is the ancient town of Askeaton. With it's winding streets and imposing ruins you will find a rare mix of old and new. Among other attractions, the town boasts one of the most complete ruins of a Medieval Abbey, The Franciscan Friary.
Next stop is Foynes village and port, home to the Flying Boat Museum, Foynes Yacht Club, and a 17 acre recreation area. Here you can relive the pioneering days of transatlantic aviation in the Flying Boat Museum and learn how to make the world famous Irish Coffee drink.
Make sure to include a visit to one of the many gardens along the route especially in the Spring and Summer when the gardens are in full bloom.
A short drive will take you to the picturesque village of Glin which boasts a rich and varied culture dating back to early Celtic settlements. The Glin Heritage Walking Trails offer a wide variety of spectacular coastal and woodland scenery.
Further west, just over the Kerry border in Tarbert, board the Shannon Ferry for the short crossing to Killimer in County Clare. While crossing, keep an eye out for the bottlenose dolphins that live in the waters of the estuary, especially during the summer months when you might be lucky enough to spot some of the calves (baby dolphins).
From Killimer to Ennis, make sure to stop off along the way and chat to the locals in villages Labasheeda, Killadysert, Ballynacally, and Clarecastle. You’ll find some of the best story tellers in the county, relating stories of monks arriving from Europe, early river transport systems, Hollywood stars, local traditions and the area’s most famous story of them all, the ‘Coleen Bawn’.
Further east from Killadysert Pier you can charter a boat for fishing trips in the Shannon Estuary. From the village pier you can see some of the many islands that lie in the estuary. Clarecastle Village makes a perfect stopover before beginning the next leg of your journey.
Turning south consider taking a detour to the village of Quin and step back in time to explore Quin Abbey and Irish life during the bronze age at Craggaunowen. The drive will take you past Shannon International Airport which has been connecting the west of Ireland with the world for over 70 years.
Next stop is Bunratty Castle and Folk Village one of Ireland’s favourite tourist destinations. Here you can immerse yourself in rural and urban life dating back to 19th century Victorian Ireland while 15th century Bunratty Castle reveals the power struggles of the McNamara and O’Brien clans.
A short drive south brings you to Cratloe Woods where you can stretch your legs and admire the expansive views of Limerick City.
Download your full guide to the Shannon Estuary Way here.
*This route can be travelled in any direction and from any starting point.