Carrick-on-Shannon is definitely one of the top tourist destinations along the river. The town is surrounded by stunning scenery and is a buzzing hive of excitement and activity all year round. It has been described as one of the nicest riverside towns in Ireland and is full of entertainment such as galleries, live music, great pubs, nightclubs and top restaurants. It boasts designer shopping, golf, water sports and has lots of other activities to enjoy.
Just beyond the marina is The Dock Arts Centre. This wonderfully imposing structure was formally a 19th century courthouse building. It is currently at the forefront of Leitrim’s cultural and artistic offerings. It contains a theatre and three art galleries which provide exhibitions and performances all year round and regularly hosts some of Ireland’s most popular performers. A schedule of events can be obtained at the website www.thedock.ie or from the reception point. The Leitrim Design House is located inside and offers beautifully crafted goods from hand-woven garments and leather bags to bespoke sculptures and jewellery . Visiting the Dock and Design House is a must when in Carrick so take advantage.
Carrick on Shannon has a few little secrets to offer and these can be found through further exploration of the town. The first is the Costello Church. This was built in 1879 and was truly a labour of love. When Mary Costello died, her husband Edward had her body embalmed and set about building this remarkable little church to honour her. Two years later it was complete and her body was finally laid to rest. Mass was then said on the first Friday of every month until Edwards death twelve years later. The chapel is one of the smallest in the world and is a must-see for all visitors to the area.
The Second is the Famine Workhouse an Attic exhibition. In 1841 a workhouse was built in Carrick-on-Shannon to provide relief to those whose crops had failed. However, by the time of the Great Famine from 1845 onwards the workhouse which was one of three built in Leitrim, was quickly over-run with desperately starving families. The workhouse is still standing today and contains the Attic Memorial, which depicts the prevailing conditions during this sad period of Irish history. The famine graveyard at the back of the house has also been turned into a memorial garden for all those lost to starvation.
Near the Landmark Hotel is the Café Lounge, which is run by Georgia one of the foremost coffee experts in Ireland. In recent years the Café has gained a great reputation for providing an excellent coffee experience. Their very own in house brand the “Art of Coffee” is now available to buy in many locations thoughout the country with the coffee being roasted on site just behind the Café, this is one of Carrick’s newest success stories. The Landmark Hotel is one of Carrick on Shannon’s premier destinations, it contains a wonderful restaurant and bar, a café and nightclub and offers a superb atmosphere. Closer to the bridge on the main street is the Phoenix Court Restaurant which caters for Asian and Chinese cuisine and is and elegant place to enjoy a special meal in luxurious surroundings.
The Market Yard in the centre of the town hosts a farmers market every Thursday. Overlooking the Market Yard is the ever popular Vittos Restaurant. Serving wonderful, authentic Italian Pasta & Pizza, together with a large Grill and Seafood selection, Vittos always has a relaxed and buzzing atmosphere. Families are very welcome at Vittos and it is the only restaurant in Ireland to serve Barista crafted Costa Coffee, which can be enjoyed on the picturesque, sunny terrace. The Naughty Bits boat shop is also located here and provides gifts and an extensive range of boating accessories and equipment. Further on down the town is the award-winning Courtyard Kitchen which is very popular among locals and your charming host Mick always gives a special warm Irish welcome to visitors. The restaurant offers a casual dining experience in a cosy atmosphere, it is open from Wednesdays to Sundays and a wonderful early bird menu is on offer from 4 – 6pm. Next to this is Pisces Repens which is perfect if you’re in the mood for cooking something special while on your cruise, they have great special offers on a weekly basis including Cod, Hake, Haddock,
Plaice, Sea Bass, and Salmon .
Carrick has been described as an angler’s paradise, with 42 lakes within a 10km radius of the town and angling competitions held annually. The River Mania water adventure centre is located next to the marina and provides for a number of water sports including Canoeing, Kayaking, River Expeditions and Rafting. They cater for families, groups and individuals however classes must be pre-booked. The centre guarantees and fun time for all participants and your expert friendly instructors are renowned in the region and attract visitors from all over Ireland. They provide an experience that should definitely be taken advantage off.
The location of the town has been a crucial crossing point on the Shannon River for thousands of years. It has had a chequered and violent history as well as having been an important trading town over the past couple of hundred years. The meagre remains of Carrick-on-Shannon Castle are located on the outskirts of the town. The Castle was built in 1611 to house settlers coming from England. The seal of Carrick-on-Shannon from this period is still in existence and is on display in the church next to the Heritage Centre. The castle was under frequent attack from the native people (the O’Rourke’s) and the walled town of Jamestown was later built for greater protection.
A walking history tour is available which takes you through the historic sights of Carrick, and this can be provided via the towns local Heritage Centre. Carrick-on-Shannon is home to some of the most beautiful and unspoilt scenery in the whole of Ireland and there are plenty of walking and biking trails for you to take full advantage.