Ballyconnell is a vibrant and picturesque town which has won numerous National Tidy Town awards and is located on the Shannon-Erne Waterway. The waterway is a canal which links the River Shannon with the River Erne. It was originally opened in 1856, but was revamped and re-opened in recent years for cruisers, boats, and canoes to explore the waterway.
Ballyconnell is highly regarded for its coarse fishing and is a good location to sample some golf courses and outdoor activity. The area has many sites of archaeological interest, including the promontory fort at Ballyhugh (5km) and Killycluggin (6km), where the decorated Killycluggin Stone was found. Dating back to the Iron Age, this important stone contains Celtic motifs first found at La Tsne in Switzerland. A replica of the stone is now there - the original is on display in the National Museum.
The Ballyconnell Loop starts from the bridge in the middle of the town and explores the banks of the Woodford River and Annagh Lough Woods, a wonderful woodland of oak, ash, and beech trees and also a wildlife reserve.
A-B: Starting from the entrance to the car park, follow the purple arrows through the park and onto the bank of the Woodford River. After 100m, you'll reach a metal footbridge on your left. From here, continue straight on, following the sandy path. The loop sweeps right, then left and reaches a metal gate (on the right). From here, the loop proper begins: you will return to this point through the metal gate. For now, proceed straight on, staying on the path along the riverbank.
B-C: Continue to follow the purple arrows along the riverbank for a further one kilometre before crossing two stiles and entering Annagh Lough Wood.
C-D: After 2km in the woods (during which the path travels close to the edge of Annagh Lough), the loop joins a sandy farm roadway at a stile and turns left. Pass some farm buildings on your left and, after 100m, pay attention as the loop turns right through a metal gate.
D-A: Follow the laneway downhill for 100m to reach another metal gate – this is the one you passed at Point B earlier. Exit and turn left for the return to the trailhead.
Drop down to the Slieve Russell and take a look at the amazing 200BC Aughrim Wedge Tomb on the grounds.