At the very root of the Shannon Estuary Way lies busy Limerick city, with a slew of historic landmarks and a thriving food scene. Visit the medieval structure of King John’s Castle and see how you would’ve fared at the once popular courtyard games of its time.
You’ll need some snacks for the rest of your journey, so if you’re starting your venture on a Friday or over the weekend, squeeze in a visit to the famous Milk Market on Cornmarket Row and pick up some goodies.
Make your first pitstop in Bunratty village and check out Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, one of the country’s most well-known landmarks. Built on land that was originally a Viking trading camp in the 10th century, admire the restored castle before getting involved with the actors and musicians re-enacting everyday life in the 1900s in the adjacent Folk Park.
Named after the river itself, Shannon town only came to be in the 1960s to accommodate the workers of Shannon Airport nearby. Now, the town boasts a range of activities for those passing through. Bring along your golf clubs and tee off at the championship golf course at Shannon Golf Club. Or, if you’ve ever dreamt of becoming a pilot, visit the Shannon Aviation Museum on Link Road and take a virtual flying lesson.
Reach Ennis, the capital of Clare, and immerse yourself in 6,000 years of the town’s history. Just 4km from the heart of the town lies Clare Abbey. Marvel at the monastery’s remains, from the 12th century main church structure to the 15th century chapels and towers.
Just down the road in Ballynacally, visit Shannon Estuary Way Retreat, an environmentally conscious well-being centre where you can cleanse your entire body in their outdoor sauna, cool off in the ice bath and feast on a delicious, organic meal.
Take a relaxing break in Kildysart and head over to Retreat Yourself to join in on a SUP-ing or kayaking lesson. Once you’ve found your inner peace on the water, take it back to the shore for a yoga lesson.
Close out a busy day of travel with a night of peaceful relaxation. Rest up by an open fire in one of the Shannon View Farmhouse’s range of rooms, from a suite in the main farmhouse to the cosy outhouse conversion. Or opt for a night of glamping at Beds of Silk, also based in Labasheeda village.
Chill out in one of their six luxury huts, which are all decked out with their own private bathrooms, kitchenettes, BBQs and more. If it’s available, sink into a hot seaweed bath in the most exclusive room on the grounds.
In the morning, stop by Charm Bee pottery shop and café for a caffeine hit and if you fancy, you can even craft your own piece of pottery to keep as a souvenir.
Pay a visit to Kilrush, a great coastal spot with a range of water activities on offer. Visit West Coast RIB Adventures and hold on tight while soaking up views of hidden coves, sea stacks and panoramic views of Scattery Island on one of their guided boat tours. You might even spot the estuary’s resident group of bottlenose dolphins amongst the waves.
Take a closer look at Scattery Island with Scattery Island Tours. Following an expert tour guide, learn about the supposed ancient burial place of St Senan, admire the island’s six church ruins and look out for the birdlife that call Scattery Island home.
Back on the mainland, Vandeleur Walled Gardens, with its old stone walls, 170-hectares of beautiful woodland and Victorian-style glasshouse, serves as a central hub for the area’s history. Have a go of the interactive audio-visual experience and learn the story of Kilrush, or browse the local artwork and artisan jewellery on sale in the gift shop before grabbing a bite to eat in the Woodland Bistro.
Continue your adventure along the Shannon Estuary Way with a quick 20-minute trip across the river with Shannon Ferries from Killimer to Tarbert.
If you’re a fan of crime and courtroom dramas, stop off in Tarbert and pay a visit to Tarbert Bridewell Courthouse and Jail Museum. Witness a live re-enactment of a court case from the 1830s, explore the actual jail cells once inhabited by the accused and learn a fact or two about early 19th century Irish law.
Known for its ties to ancient knights, Glin town sits right on the shoreline of the River Shannon and still hosts elements from its Anglo-Norman history. Follow in the footsteps of knights gone by on the Glin Heritage Trails – Knight’s Walk, which covers everything from the Glin Demesne to Glin Castle.
Make your way to the seaport town of Foynes. If you’re looking for a bit of fresh air, wander along the Foynes Shannon Estuary Walk, which weaves through a number of scenic paths along the riverside – you may even spot a bottle-nosed dolphin or two.
Another feather in the cap of Foynes is its Flying Boat and Maritime Museum, which stands on the town’s original terminal. Browse the maritime collection in the restored control tower, learn about the town’s significance in the aviation world between 1939 and 1945 and grab a bite in O’ Regan’s restaurant on-site before hitting the road.
Once you’re back on track, you’ll find yourself in the town of Askeaton, which claims to be the oldest town in all of County Limerick. Learn about the town’s history at the 12th century settlement of Askeaton Castle, or visit the 14th century Franciscan Friary just north of the town centre, one of the most intact ruins of a medieval abbey in the country.
Before circling back to Limerick city, make one final stop in the small town of Kilcornan and get in touch with nature. Venture to Stonehall Wildlife Park and say hello to the variety of furry and feathered creatures that call it home, from adorable meerkats to formidable ostriches. Or lace up your hiking boots and delve into the depths of Curragh Chase Forest Park and admire the sky-scraping trees surrounding you.