A River Divides Them

Oct 9, 2013 by

I was told to take the “lake road” because of the views. I drove along and thought to myself, “what is she on about?” Until I climbed a hill, rounded a bend and there stretched the most stunning view of Lough Derg it made me gasp. I would have caused an accident if I had stopped to take a picture. But no camera could have done it justice anyway.

Where Loug Derg flows into The Shannon, on one side you have Killaloe, Co. Clare, cross the bridge over the river and you are in Ballina, Co. Tipperary.

Both are equally picturesque. We were spending the weekend on the boat and the marina is well-maintained and well-equipped for boaters. The towns well-equipped to feed, water (okay wine) and entertain you.

The marina

I am ashamed to say I knew little of the rich history of Killaloe. The name means church of St.Lua (an ancient monastic settlement). It was from here that Brian Boru ruled his kingdom of Ireland.

We got up Saturday morning and went for a wander about the town. We came across St. Lua’s little church, moved from an island in the middle of the Shannon when it was submerged due to the construction of the power station at Ardnacrusha.

St Lua’s

St. Flannan’s Cathedral http://cathedral.killaloe.anglican.org/history.html has the most beautiful stained glass and a really old window.

Killaloe is full of lovely little craft and gift shops and a really great cafe where you can browse the bookshelves and sit beside the fire (in winter) or just inhale the wine, charcuterie and cheese on sale in the shop.

One of the gift shops and Ponte Vecchio

And then there is the food.

The Wooden Spoon Cafe has an eye-watering display of cakes, proper cakes, like you’d make at home (albeit much more professionally finished.) The lunch menu is equally good especially the predominantly middle eastern vegetarian specials. It was packed every time we were there. I presumed it was with boaters but no, I was informed it was mostly locals. Lucky locals.

Temptation on display

Falafel in pita with all the trimmings

Choices for evening are every bit as good. The Cherry Tree overlooking the river in a stunning dining room. We had a very good meal here. Brasserie Mark Anderson a few kilometers outside Killaloe but worth the journey. We had some great food here too.

Brasserie Mark Anderson

After eating you can walk across the bridge to the quaint Liam O’Riains in Ballina for music and porter. Or if you prefer wine try the Ponte Vecchio where you can also just have a pizza.

On Sundays the farmers’ market is a bustling space with many of the traders from the Milk Market in Limerick present. We were able to cruise right up to it and moor along side.

The small towns along the Shannon have always been better for food than most provincial Irish towns. I remember years ago being able to get ground coffee in a small corner shop in Drumsna, Leitrim. In those days a rare occurrence. They were catering for the large number of French and Germans hiring cruisers.

It’s great to see that they are continuing and improving the tradition, despite the loss of so many cruising Europeans.

Tags: Lough Derg The Shannon  Killaloe Co. Clare  Ballina Co. Tipperary  St. Lua St Flannan’s Cathedral  Wooden Spoon Cafe  Cherrytree Restaurant  Brasserie Mark Anderson  Ponte Vecchio  Milk Market  Drumsna Co. Leitrim  Food on the Shannon


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  1. I almost ended up in the lake with the shock of it. Stunning!

  2. I told you taking the scenic route was worth it… that view is amazing 🙂

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