On the northwest tip of Lough Derg is Portumna, which means ‘Landing place of the oak tree’ and is one of the Shannon’s real gems. It is the most popular destination in this area for Shannon cruisers and tourists alike. From entering through the town’s new harbour you will find the great Portumna Castle which casts an historic air of authority over this Georgian town. There are two other harbours, both of which are very well maintained. The bridge which allows access to Lough Derg is the only remaining swing bridge in Europe. Portumna, a centre of activity on the Shannon, has pubs, restaurants, shops and services, making it a crucial stopover for supplies and entertainment.
Portumna is the site where the famous Norman De Burgo family and their army crossed the Shannon into Connacht. Upon conquering most of the province they took up residence in the nearby town of Loughrea. Later they moved their seat of power to Portumna, having built a fortified manor on the shores of Lough Derg (pre-1618). The castle and its geometrically laid-out gardens have been renovated in recent years and are now open to the public. The well-preserved ruins of a 14th century Dominican friary are located close to the marina and are also worth viewing.
Within the town, you will find a host of fine restaurants and pubs all offering a warm welcome. Roma pizzeria is a great place to bring the family and offers some of the best pizza in Ireland; their head chef won the European Trofeo della Pizza award in Napoli, 2007, which is one of the worlds most prestigious pizza making titles. For a more fine dining experience the Le Bouchon Restaurant offers superb food and is very popular. The Beehive restaurant oposite this is a lovely place for breakfast and lunch also. If you are in the mood for a coffee then the charming Café Rose is just around the corner on Clonfert Avenue. Live music takes place in The Caislean pub six nights a week and ranges from traditional Irish music to more contemporary acts; it’s a popular spot and is located opposite the church car park on the main street, next to the wonderful Modena Indian/ Irish Restaurant. Live traditional Irish music sessions can also be found in the cosy Ferry Inn Bar and Restaurant which is located near the bridge and is a very unique and charming place to visit.
The recently opened Irish Workhouse Centre, located in a real workhouse, is just a short walk from the town centre. Here, visitors get a real insight into life in an Irish workhouse. This institution was the last resort of the destitute poor from the 1840s to the 1920s. People lived in the workhouse where they received food in return for work. Conditions were harsh particularly during the “famine” years. As an institution, the workhouse was hated.
The Portumna Tourist Office is located in the Irish Workhouse Centre. There is internet access, wi-fi and fully accessible toilet facilities. This is a community run office. Friendly and knowledgeable staff provides assistance on all aspects of holidaying in Portumna and the local area.
Another very interesting place to visit in Portumna is the Cottage Store which is full of antiques, upcycled furniture, gifts and lots more. One can easily spend an enjoyable hour examining all of their wonderfully restored products.
The annual Portumna festival begins on the 19th of June and runs for the weekend. There will be entertainment and fun for all the family.
One the newest additions to this wonderful town is located in the heart of Portumna and is open all year round. This is the POD Umna Glamping Village and it is the first and only urbanized Glamping village in the World. You, your family and friends can enjoy the best of both worlds, the peace and quiet of the Eco Pod Village, with the river Shannon, Lough Derg, Forest Park, Portumna Castle, Abbey and Famine workhouse all within easy reach from its central base. You can park your car in the off road private car park and stroll to any of Portumna’s Shops, Pubs and restaurants. You can even stay on site and self cater in the top class Kitchen and dining room.
The Pod Umna Village is a gated 24 managed residence this secure location is ideal for young families. This family run initiative is attracting thousands of people to Podumna every year and is certainly a unique experience.
Activities in Portumna include canoeing and various water sports. There are playgrounds for the children and go-karting as well as a paintballing centre nearby for the more daring. Other activities include bike hire, pony rides, golf and fishing. However the most famous activity in Portuma is the native Irish sport of Hurling and the town’s Hurling team have recently been the All Ireland Champions which is an extremely high achievement.
Palmerston Stores and fishing tackle is on bridge road and will cater for all your angling needs and outdoor clothing needs. Nearby is O’Meara’s bar and family restaurant, which is a good place for a hearty meal.
Portumna forest walk is very popular among the locals as well as visitors. It is a deep trek into the great Portumna Demesne and is full of wildlife and nature trails. You might even see the occasional deer!