Rivers of Ireland
The rivers of Ireland are one of the most intriguing elements of the landscape. In proportion to the size of the island of Ireland, there exists a huge amounts of rivers and river kilometres.
The River Shannon is the longest in the British Isles. Apart from the 10 longest rivers listed below, there are shorter but significant rivers of great importance to the towns and cities they pass though or where they enter the sea. Some of these would include the River Lagan, which exits through Belfast, the River Foyle, which forms a very wide expanse of water as it exits through Derry City. The Avonmore and Avonbeg Rivers form the famous Meeting of the Waters joining as the River Avoca and then enter the Irish Sea at the busy port of Arklow in County Wicklow.
10 Longest Rivers of Ireland
River Shannon 386km
River Barrow 192km
River Suir 184km
River Blackwater 168km
River Nore 140km
River Bann 129km
River Liffey 125km
River Slaney 117km
River Boyne 112km
River Lee 90km
Measuring 386 kilometers in length, the River Shannon is the longest river on the island of Ireland. Flowing in a southerly direction from where it rises in the Shannon Pot in Co. Cavan on the slopes of the Cuilcagh Mountain, it passes through ten different counties before entering the Atlantic Ocean at the Shannon Estuary in Limerick City. The river is significant from Irish historical, economic and social perspectives. As far back as the 10th century, Vikings used the Shannon to attack and raid Irish monasteries further inland. In the following centuries the Shannon played important roles in many of the battles and wars which took place in Ireland as it effectively divides the western part of Ireland from the east. The Shannon boasts much beautiful scenery along its course, and a wide variety of activities can be enjoyed in its waters including river cruises, watersports, etc.
The Bandon is a river located in Co. Cork. It rises in the Shehy Mountains in the west of the country and flows eastward through Dunmanway, Balineen, Enniskeane, Bandon and Inishannon to Kinsale Harbour. The river is a good fishing area and has an estimated catch of 1300 salmon and a similar catch of sea-trout per year.
The Bann is the longest river in Northern Ireland stretching a total of 129km from the Mourne Mountains in County Down to the northern coast of Ireland, entering the Atlantic Ocean at Portstewart. The Bann is unusual as it flows into the very large Lough Neagh at Bannfoot Co. Armagh before continuing its journey northwards. The river to the south of Lough Neagh is known as the Upper Bann, while the Lower Bann lies to the north of the Lough. Popular outdoor activities along the Bann including canoeing, rowing, water-skiing and angling. River cruises along the Bann are also available.
The River Corrib is located in Co. Galway and is one of Ireland’s shortest rivers, a mere 6kilometers in length. Despite this, it is quite well-known as it flows through the heart of Galway City after travelling the short distance from Lough Corrib where it rises. The Corrib is also one of the most powerful rivers in Ireland and excellent for whitewater kayaking, although a certain amount of experience is advised here, given the level of difficulty. Rowing is also popular in this river, and river cruises take place regularly abord the “Corrib Princess”.
The River Erne is located in the north-west of Ireland, rising in Beaghy Lough in County Cavan and flowing in a general north-westerly direction. The Erne is approximately 120 kilometers in length and winds its way through a number of loughs including Upper and Lower Lough Erne. The river derives its name from Celtic mythology, from the name of a princess named Éirne. The Erne is also rememberd in a famous Irish ballad, “Buachaill Ó nÉirne”. Boating, water-sports and swimming also take place on the River Erne, in addition to trout fishing.
The River Foyle is well known Irish river as it flows into the sea at Derry City in northern Ireland. A confluence of the rivers Finn and Mourne at the towns of Lifford in Co. Donegal and Strabane in County Tyrone, the river swells as it flows into Lough Foyle and finally into the Atlantic Ocean. The River Foyle is also the fastest flowing river in Europe for its size. A mooring facility is available for small yachts in Derry City. Sports on this river include canoeing, sailing and rowing. Swimming is prohibited here due to the strong currents.
The River Lagan rises on the slopes of the Slieve Croom Mountain in Co. Down and flows for 60 kilometers in a general north-easterly direction to Belfast city where it then enters the Irish Sea. The River Lagan is sometimes referred to as the birthplace of the Titanic which was built in the Harland and Wolffe shipyard in Belfast and launched at the mouth of the Lagan before it made its way on its doomed maiden voyage.
Stretching a total of 90 kilometers, the River Lee flows eastwards across Co. Cork, rising in the Shehy Mountains in the west of the county and flowing the city of Cork before entering the Celtic Sea near Cobh. The Lee is synonymous with Cork sport with the Cork Gaelic Football and Hurling teams commonly referred to as “The Leesiders”. Numerous water-sports also take place on the River Lee including rowing, kayaking and swimming. Most notably the “Vibes & Scribes” Lee Swom, a 2000 meter swim for charity, takes place on an annual basis attracting thousands of spectators. The river also offers an 8 kilometer stretch of salmon fishing.
Rising in the Ox Mountains in County Sligo, the River Moy flows 110 kilometers through Sligo and Mayo before entering the Atlantic Ocean at Killala Bay. Along its winding course, it passes through the town of Ballina where it is a popular destination for anglers. The Moy Valley is very popular with tourists due to the numerous historic ruins, churches, abbeys and other sites of archaeological significance which can be seen in this area. The river Moy was once one of the best salmon fisheries in Europe, however, due to drift net fishing off the coast, salmon number declined dramatically. This eventually resulted in drift net salmon fishing being banned in 2006.
The Munster Blackwater, sometimes referred to as “The Irish Rhine”, iis one of Ireland’s longest rivers and in the Irish language is known as “An Abhainn Mhór”, “The Great River”. At approximately 170 kilometers long, the river rises in the Mullaghareirk Mountains in Kerry, flowing east through County Cork before turning sharply south at Cappoquin, Co. Waterford and entering the sea at Youghal Harbour. While it has been best known as a salmon fishing river, the fish stocks have sharply declined in recent years.