Glasson to Athlone
This morning begins our journey along River Shannon to the mystical inner lakes of Lough Ree—the Lake of Kings. Lough Ree may be the second largest lake that the River Shannon feeds into, but it is also the geographical center of the island with fascinating historical ties. The many islands of Lough Ree were once home to monasteries that flourished from the early Christian era up until Henry VIII’s mass dissolution of the cloisters throughout his empire. Monasteries and other medieval settlements became sites of religious pilgrimages as well as sites of interest of the Viking scourge who sought the treasures housed within the ecclesiastic halls. Ancient ruins can be found on various islands, and stories of mystical lore still pervade the region and engender a haunting sense of the otherworld.
Much like its Scottish cousin, Lough Ness, Lough Ree is thought to be inhabited by an ethereal sea monster sited by priests in 1960. According to the priests, its eel-like body emerged from the misty waters. Although the monster has never been found, the hunt for the Lough Ree monster continues.
With over fifty islands within Lough Ree, there is plenty of shoreline to explore. Once we satisfy our curiosity, though, we return to the waterways of River Shannon as we head south to the lively town of Athlone. Athlone’s abundant river traffic keeps the community thriving amid the historic pubs and watchful eye of Athlone Castle. The River Shannon flows through the center of the town, and on the Left Bank you find winding, cobbled streets, brightly painted houses, and authentic Irish restaurants such as the iconic Sean’s Bar--the oldest pub in Ireland.
Today truly is a day for visiting historic landmarks, for after eating lunch in Athlone we continue our tour through Ireland’s Lakelands via coach to arrive at the historic Kilbeggan Distillery. The Kilbeggan Distillery has the distinction of being Ireland’s oldest licensed distillery, dating back to 1757. Sip on some smooth Irish Whiskey and tour the distillery's grounds that have retained much of their original architecture before we head off to our final stop of the day.
Our afternoon brings us to the tranquil town of Ballinahown, known as an artisan craft village where many Midlands Arts & Crafts workers reside as well as the renewed Celtic Roots studio. Set in a stunning Irish setting and housing incredible works of art, this town is truly an indulgence for your senses.
As our evening comes to a close, we return to The Shannon Princess for dinner and some rest.
Meals Included: B, L, D