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Why Visit Carrick-on-Shannon: Memories from 2 Crazy Canadians

The northern county or Leitrim in Ireland became the Nomad Newlyweds adopted home for a few months in 2015. We posted a few photos of Carrick-on-Shannon back in June and wanted to add a few more pics to provide a better sense of this hidden gem.

In this photo diary, get a revealing look at Carrick-on-Shannon from the perspective of two Cazy Canadians that spent the better part of 6 months integrating into Carrick town life, and making friends with the locals.

Shannon River Waterway

I never once got tired of the view as we walked over the bridge either into the main town, or back home to Cortober. I can’t count the number of times I would stop right in the middle of the bridge and turn to Meredith saying, “Look at that view. We are so lucky to be living here in Carrick!”

The old stone bridge was built in the 19th century with a modern addition added more recently. On sunny days in particular, it was a wonderful feeling to walk across the bridge and look out onto the Shannon River.

I could have taken photos of the bridge everyday and from every angle.

The marina is home to many pleasure crafts, which visitors love to captain along the Shannon River. From Carrick you can sail down the Shannon River and explore different towns/villages along the way. Check out this Shannon River interactive map for an in depth look.

Arriving in Carrick-on-Shannon

To some people, Carrick-on-Shannon looks like just another picturesque small town in Ireland, complete with old churches, grand buildings, and a river running through the heart of the old town. To the Nomad Newlyweds, Carrick was an oasis of hospitality and community with warm people and Irish charm.

From the moment we stepped off the train in late April, we felt at home in Carrick-on-Shannon. We made our way on foot with heavy suitcases dragging behind us, over the old stone bridge, up main street with its colorful Irish colored bunting banners criss-crossing above us, and arriving at the Bush Hotel.

I still remember that first hour in the Bush Hotel. We must have looked like a couple of foreign travelers (another name for gypsies in Ireland) who were looking for a place to stay for the night. Mish-mash of suitcases sprawled out along side the local hurling team’s gear, we approached the receptionist with a disheveled look that can only come from two Canadians bunking in a new town for the first time.

“Hello, we just moved to Carrick-on-Shannon about 15 minutes ago – the train pulled into the station and we hauled our crap across the bridge. The town looks amazing, and we were wondering if you had any insight into where we might be able to secure a house or apartment.”

I am sure I said something along those lines.

Rosey looked at me and smiled. “Why yes — JOE!” she yelled to the well dressed man walking briskly across the Bush Hotel’s lobby, “Come over here a moment and talk to these two nice young Canadians.”

“Why hello! Come back to me in about 10 minutes and I will have a chat with you,” replied Joe.

Having spoken to Joe about which locations in Carrick were worthy of habitation, and which were not, we felt more at ease that we made the right choice in choosing Carrick as an inaugural landing spot in Ireland. They say you always remember your first: first kiss, first time driving a car, and first time living in a foreign land you have never stepped foot on before. Carrick was the correct first for us.

We spotted Rosie at the reception desk a short while later and told her how happy we were that she connected us with Joe. “Such a nice man,” Meredith told Rosie. Unbeknownst to us, Rosie replied “Why thank you for saying, he’s my husband!”

Joe is the proprieter of the Bush Hotel, and a true Irish gentleman. In fact, when we departed three days later to take up residence in our new Carrick home, Joe insisted that he drive us and our mountain of luggage, squeezed into the back of his BMW. The trunk would not close fully, but Joe didn’t seem to take notice.

“This is Carrick, and we are only going across the bridge. No one will mind,” Joe said.

If you ever find yourself booked into the Bush Hotel, tell them the Crazy Canadians of 2015 sent you!

Around Carrick-on-Shannon

 

So many images of Carrick’s quaint locations, bars, beauty, and people are forever etched in my memory. I only wish that I had captured a few more photos to show off the town on the river, in order to provide a better appreciation.

Things to Do in Carrick-On-Shannon

Carrick Carnival – Visit in late May and partake in the annual Carrick Carnival – a ten day festival with local food, nightly music, and street entertainment like pig races down main street!

Anderson’s Thatch Pub – We went here one night with Meredith’s dad and had a rousing evening of traditional music and drink. Small would be an understatement. I would be surprised if they could get more than 50 people under crammed into The Thatch Pub.

One of Ireland’s oldest bars, Anderson’s Thatch Pub is renowned for its music sessions. The night we went, a group of five young musicians from Oregon who were on tour said they simply had to come to Anderson’s for a jam session. The rhythmic music is intoxicating and anyone who attends is guaranteed a good time.

The Dock – A beautiful 19th Century former Courthouse building, overlooking the majestic river Shannon, has been restored into the counties first arts center. The Dock houses a 100+ seat performance space, three art galleries, artists studios, cafe bar, an arts education room. We checked out The Dock one rainy afternoon and perused the local art exhibits and wonderful gift shop showcasing talented local artists.

The Market Yard – Every Thursday we would try to make an appearance at the old Market Yard for its farmer’s market. That, and to talk with our market yard friends – Declan and Carole. They are an older couple with an entrepreneurial spirit and zest for life. We met them early in our time in Carrick and always enjoyed going for a chat. The first time we stepped foot in their shop, The Little Cottage, Declan played his enchanting spacedrum for us. We each took a turn and had a good laugh at our attempts to produce useful harmonies.

The Costello Memorial Chapel – Billed as The smallest church in Ireland and the 2nd smallest in the world. Check it out on main street right across from the old clock tower, you can’t miss it!

Moon River – The Moon River pleasure cruiser is equipped with a luxury bar service and dedicated crew and is one of the best ways to see the Shannon River.

That being said, we never made it on the Moon River. Of course, having just watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s for the first time in our lives, we yearn to return to Carrick and take a spin down the Shannon on the Moon River.

We did manage to meet the owner of the Moon River, Jerry and his son Kenny, through volunteering at the Carrick Carnival. Both nice guys. The Moon River seems to have become a bit of an institution if Carrick, and I would say you have to take a cruise on it!

For up-to-date information and event listings regarding Carrick-on-Shannon, check out the ever popular MyCarrick website.

Attractions Near Carrick-On-Shannon

Lough Key Forest Park – The main attraction near Carrick is Lough Key Forest Park – a haven for families and tourists who flock to its bike trails, boating, camping grounds, and other activities.

On one occasion, Meredith and I biked the 13 kilometers each way from our house in Carrick-on-Shannon to the park. Never again. At least not without proper cycling gear and rain repellent outfits. The rain pelted us most of the way there, when finally the sun decided to make an appearance as we pulled up to the park entrance.

On another occasion, we took our niece and sister in law to see the park. The photos below capture that particular event where we managed to maneuver a rowboat out to the middle of the lake and explore the ruins of Castle Island.

Lough Rynn Castle

(Coming Soon)

Lough Rynn Castle is one of our favorite castles in Ireland, and as such we decided that it deserves its own post on Nomad Newlyweds blog!

Why Visit Carrick-on-Shannon

Writing about something you know and enjoy is easy. Here are my top three reasons why you should consider visiting Carrick-on-Shannon:

  1. Hospitality – its genuine and remarkable.
  2. Natural Beauty – between the Shannon River and the surrounding countryside, its never ending.
  3. Travel Experience – you won’t be disappointed.
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