2-3 days in Lough Derg – Circumnavigate the lake by car.
Day 1 Killaloe Ballina to Terryglass
Start your day with a visit to the Brian Boru Heritage centre in Killaloe Ballina to learn about Ireland’s most famous High King. From here you can explore the lake by taking a relaxing lake cruise on the Spirit of Killaloe near the bridge or try Stand Up Paddling at the canal. Leaving Killaloe behind travel along the R494 until you come to the Lookout viewing point just before Portroe village. The viewing point offers panoramic views of the lake and is one of the best viewing points to see Lough Derg.
Visit Castlelough lakeside park to dip your toes in the lake and take a trip into Castlelough woods to view some magnificent beech, oak, alder, birch and cherry tress which form a canopy cover for the woods.
At this stage it’s nearly time for lunch and Garrykennedy is a picturesque village which can be reached by taking a left turn after Portroe. There are excellent picnic & BBQ facilities, public toilets and lake access with a public slipway. Award winning Larkins Bar & Restaurant serves up delicious lunches and dinners as well as homemade ice cream.
After lunch visit Nenagh and climb the 101 steps of the magnificent Norman castle in the centre of the town. With lots of quirky shops, boutiques and cafes it’s easy to spend an hour or two wandering around and walking tours are available. Call into the Tourist Office for more information (seasonal opening hours).
The choice from here is to continue the circumference of the lake and visit more of the lakeside villages. Dromineer can be reached by taking the R495 out of Nenagh. A delightful village with playgrounds, cafe, pub, marina and picnic and BBQ facilities all at the lakeshore, it’s also home to one of world’s oldest yacht clubs, Lough Derg Yacht Club. Shannon Sailing rents out small lake boats if you fancy taking a trip onto the lake.
From Dromineer follow the signs for the R493 which will bring you all the way from Puckane to Terryglass Village on winding country roads. Make this your base for the evening and choose from the self catering or B&B options in area and drop into the Derg Inn or Paddys Bar for a bite to eat and a traditional music session. The Terryglass Arts Festival is held annually in the village in August.
Day 2 Terryglass to Killaloe
From Terryglass follow the R493 onto the N65 heading towards Portumna. For some heritage insights from Lough Derg, turn right on the R498 to Lorrha and visit St Ruadhan’s Church and the Dominican priory site and the Augustinian Abbey. Drive back to the N65 and you will reach Portumna in a short drive. The highlights of this County Galway town include the semi fortified Portumna Castle and Gardens, Portumna Harbour, Portumna Forest Park and the Irish Workhouse Centre.
Get on the water here by trying wakeboarding and waterskiing with WaterMark Ski Club (minimum of four required). There are plenty of welcoming cafes and pubs in the town for visitors before departing towards the western shores of Lough Derg on the R352 towards Whitegate and Mountshannon. Try out your riding skills at An Sibin Riding Centre in Whitegate and then catch a glimpse of the White Tailed Eagles from the bird hide at Mountshannon.
A trip out to Holy Island is a must as it’s one of the most famous monastic sites in Ireland and trips can be arranged from East Clare Heritage Centre or by going to the pier at Mountshannon where trips depart daily from April to October. Mountshannon is well known for its blue flag beach, the only one around Lough Derg where there’s easy access and a lifeguard on duty during the summer months.
Call into Wilde Irish Chocolates in Tuamgraney, an excellent artisan chocolate maker with a small visitors shop and a window into the production rooms to see chocolates being made. Driving out of Tuamgraney towards Killaloe, the road provides plenty of vistas of the lake to enjoy.
Back in Killaloe Ballina check into your hotel, B&B or self catering base and explore the wonderful charm of the heritage towns with an excellent choice of places to eat and drink, you’ll find it difficult to choose where to go!
Finish off the evening in a traditional Irish pub with some music, dancing and story telling.
TIP: Taking the itinerary at a slower pace, stay over in Mountshannon, Scarriff or Tuamgraney before continuing to complete the round trip to Killaloe Ballina the following day.