The Shannon Estuary Way is the laidback sibling to the world-famous and rugged Wild Atlantic Way, and centres on the mighty River Shannon as it flows out by the coastline of counties Clare, Limerick and Kerry to meet the Wild Atlantic. Like every family, they're as different as they are similar!
Both of these scenic routes have bustling villages, stunning vistas and history at every turn, but where the Wild Atlantic Way boasts rugged cliffs that drop abruptly to the crashing waves, the Shannon Estuary Way enjoys gentle slopes that roll down to the lapping water. And like the Estuary waters, the pace of life here is easy-going.
Taking the Shannon Estuary Way
From Labasheeda's Beds of Silk, the Drive leads along the Coast Road, as the R473 is known, towards Kildysart, renowned for its angling. Beyond this picturesque village, the Drive continues towards the many picturesque towns and villages that dot the coastline and call the Shannon Estuary home:
Ballynacally, the town of the hag;
Ennis, the medieval abbey town now famed for its traditional Irish music and dancing;
Clarecastle, seat of Norman power in Thomond;
and Bunratty, with its famous castle and Theme Park.
Leaving County Clare, the Shannon Estuary Drive swoops south into Limerick route Adare, Askeaton, Bunratty, Clarecastle, Foynes, Kilcornan, Killimer, Kildysart, Labasheeda and Tarbert.
The Shannon Estuary is situated on Limerick's west coast, on the Atlantic Ocean. The Shannon is Ireland's longest river.
Foynes Harbour is Ireland's second deepest port. It has a flying boat museum and Irish Coffee was reputedly invented here.
This short guide gives an overview, identifying key highlights of the Shannon Estuary Way for visitors and providing links to further useful information.
The Burren, in County Clare, is an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Tipperary boasts stunning scenery such as the Golden Vale and the Galtee mountains. The Golden Vale is a scenic drive not to be missed, while the Galtees can be climbed by any anyone of reasonable fitness.
Limerick City, home to Richard Harris, Kate O'Brien, Angela's Ashes and Munster Rugby Club, has historical and cultural highlights to offer, including the Hunt Museum and The White House Poetry Revival.
Munster Rugby Club is based at Thomond Park in Limerick. This has a museum and conducted tours are available.
Those who are interested in history may wish to visit the Treaty Stone or King John's Castle.
If on the other hand, you are interested in sealife, bottle-nosed dolphins are regularly seen in the estuary.
Shannon Airport, where the first duty-free shop was opened, is close by. Non-flying visitors are welcome.