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Discover the best of Lough Derg in Tipperary
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Three counties, one lake. The magnificent Lough Derg’s pristinely clean and naturally sparkling blue waters make it an enchanting find. Galway, Clare and Tipperary border this famous lough and its lakeshores are dotted with picturesque villages and memorable places to stop.

Discover leisurely strolls, adventures on the water, and top Irish cuisine. Read on for our guide to the Tipperary side of this magical lake.

The Lough Derg Way

Combining a mix of riverbank routes, canal adventures, forest tracks and old roadways, the Lough Derg Way can be explored across five key trailheads. The 64km route starts in Limerick and follows the River Shannon but you can jump in at three trailheads in Tipperary: one in the Killaloe/Ballina area, one in Garrykennedy and the final one in Dromineer. 

Lace up your hiking boots and set off to explore the wilds of Tipperary – expect dirt tracks and boggy hillsides with increasingly stunning views on the Killaloe/Ballina trailhead which takes you up Tountinna Hill to the remains of a mammoth concrete cross from the 1930s. 

The Garrykennedy trailhead guides you across rich green pastures and through the town filled with busy gastropubs and along by the marina – this is a great spot to bed down for the night if you’re spreading your hike across a few days. Meander along the lakeshores and into the picturesque town of Dromineer to bring the Tipperary end of this trail to a close near the popular harbour and marina.
The lakeside views across the full trail are glorious so even if you choose just one section, you can always come back to tackle the rest.

On the water at Lough Derg

Exploring Lough Derg by boat

A boat trip is a magical way to see Lough Derg. Delight in the magnificent views and stop in some of the quaint villages along the 120km route.

Rent a lakeboat with Shannon Lakeboat and Mini Cruiser Hire and try a spot of angling, all of the boats are fitted with fishfinders. Lough Derg is an ideal fishing location populated with several different species including brown trout, pike, perch, roach, salmon and bream. Or if you would prefer a longer trip to explore the lough, mini cruisers sleep two and can be hired on a weekly or daily basis. 

Rental company, Emerald Star has three stations on the waterway where staff are on hand to advise both boating beginners and visitors with previous experience. Plan your personalised itinerary and soak up the stunning scenery.

For a day trip, book in with Killaloe River Cruises where the open deck is the place to be. Listen to the insider knowledge provided by the commentary onboard, taking you through the monastic settlements and amazing landscapes. Book your ticket online in advance as these cruises fill up fast.

Lough Derg Watersports

Get out onto Lough Derg in a kayak.

Get out on the water and enjoy a day of fun with Lough Derg Watersports at Kilgarvan Quay. Hop in a kayak or try your hand at canoeing and visit the hidden marinas and islands dotted all around Lough Derg. You might spot white-tailed eagles, leaping trout and slinking wildcats along the way, and keen birdwatchers may even see large flocks of grebes and swans that often grace the area.

You’ll be safe in the hands of quality instructors who are ready to guide you along the way. Discover the area with bespoke trips that allow you to experience the best of this alluring lake destination.

Explore Nenagh Castle

Nearby to Lough Derg is the buzzing town of Nenagh. The oldest building in town, Nenagh Castle dates back to the 13th-century, serving as the main seat of the Butler family, and is a good place to start your visit. Explore the cylindrical keep, its four storeys and five-sided courtyard. If you’re feeling fit, head up the 101 steps on the stone spiral staircase to take in the views from the top.

Indulge your inner foodie around Lough Derg

Tipperary has lots of top restaurants and some of the best are found surrounding Lough Derg. Dine in style at Tuscany Bistro in Ballina, which serves some of the country’s best Italian food with a modern twist. Mix it up with some tapas at The Peppermill, a trendy wine bar with delectable, shareable bites, or treat yourself to some delicious traditional Irish fare at Goosers Restaurant.

Soak in the views out over the lake while you tuck in at Larkins Bar and Restaurant – stay for the trad session that’s sure to follow after dinner. Or head riverside to Paddy’s Bar, a family-run pub serving food and velvety pints for nearly 200 years – it’s a local favourite. 

If you’ve left the kids at home, The Old Barracks Coffee Roastery is a delight for adults-only groups with eight different origin coffees freshly roasted on site in the 1000kg cast iron Giesen roasting machine. Don’t skimp on dessert - the tasty treats made in house are a delight. 

A short break on Lough Derg can take you on beautiful walking trails, out on the water and into some of Tipperary’s best restaurants - it’s not to be missed. Use our Tipperary destination page to find great reasons to stay a while longer and find more amazing things nearby.