The Ballinamore – Ballyconnell canal is the best facilitated fully navigable canal in Ireland. The canal has 16 locks in total and is a very popular stretch for holiday makers and fishing enthusiasts. The canal was built in the 1860’s as a public works project in the aftermath of the great Irish famine but quickly fell in disuse as the more the popular method of travel (steam engines) began to emerge. The canal was untouched for over a hundred years until restoration works started with an aim to making the region a holiday destination. It is now a beautiful stretch of waterway known as the Shannon-Erne and attracts thousands of visitors every year. It is one of a very few locations in Ireland suitable for a Barging holiday and the base in Balinamore is where you and your crew will set out from.
There are a few fascinating places to explore in Ballinamore and chief among these is the Glenview Folk Museum. This is located at lock 4 and is a wonderful place to visit. There are over 4,000 artefacts on show and several exhibition depicting early 20th century life in Leitrim. The museum is well worth visiting. Further into the town is the Solas art gallery which exhibits the work of local artists and is a great place to walk around. From Ballinamore you can travel west along the canal towards the towns of Keshcarrigan and the tourist town of Leitrim village or east to Ballyconnell. Keshcarrigan is small but is located amidst some beautiful scenery. Leitrim village is a very popular location and has some lovely restaurants and pubs to enjoy. The marina here is very well facilitated and is a great place to spend the evening.
Cruising back from Leitrim village, Ballyconnell will be the destination for today. To get here you must travel back through Ballinamore and through three lakes, Garadice Lough, Ballymagauran Lough and Derrycassan Lough. By far the largest of these is Garadice Lough which is famous for fishing. The scenery is stunning around here and it is an extremely peaceful and rural area, perfect for relaxing. When you arrive in Ballyconnell you will easily find places to moor near the bridge and there are a few bar’s and restaurants to enjoy in the town. You can also stock up on supplies in the local supermarket.
Belturbet is another famous place for fishing and this Lakeland region attracts thousands of anglers from all over the world. Before you reach Belturbet the canal will open up into the upper Lough Erne, from here you will have to navigate south through Drummard Lough and down into the town. The people are really friendly in Belturbet and some of the pubs like the Widows bar are great fun in the evenings. Anglers and pleasure craft users have been coming to Belturbet for years and it is a real tourist town.
Time to make your way back to Ballinamore. Back through the lakes and along the canal. This is probably the most peaceful and secluded of all waterways in Ireland so we hope you enjoyed your barging cruise and are recharged to take of the real world once again.