Measuring 386 kilometres in length, the River Shannon is the longest river on the island of Ireland. Flowing in a southerly direction, the Shannon rises in the Shannon Pot in County Cavan on the slopes of the Cuilcagh mountain, passes through or between 10 different counties and enters the Atlantic Ocean at the Shannon Estuary near Limerick. The River Shannon is significant from Irish historical, economical and social perspectives. As far back as the 10th century, Vikings used the Shannon in order to attack and raid Irish monasteries further inland. In the following centuries the Shannon played an important role in many of the battles and wars which took place in Ireland as it effectively divides the western part of the island from the east. The Shannon boasts much beautiful scenery along its course and a wide variety of activities take place including cruises, water sports, etc.
The Barrow is one of the “Three Sisters” rivers which are comprised of the Nore, the Suir and the Barrow. All three rise in the same mountainous area of Tipperary and flow in a southerly direction. The Barrow is 192 kilometres in length (the second longest in Ireland) and enters the Atlantic Ocean at Waterford. It also links with the Grand Canal at Athy, which connects Dublin with the Shannon in the west. The Barrow also passes through the town of New Ross in County Wexford where the replica famine ship “The Dunbrody” can be seen.
The River Suir (184 kilometres in length) is the third of the Three Sisters and flows south from the Devil’s Bit Mountain before turning sharply east at the Comeragh Mountains (forming the border between County Waterford and County Kilkenny) and entering the Atlantic Ocean at Wexford Harbour. The River Suir has a rich history; stone settlements near the mouth of the river indicate that human settlement of this area dates back as far as 4000 B.C. It also formed the western border of the ancient Irish Kingdom of Osraí (the Barrow formed the eastern border). In recent years, Viking settlements have been discovered on the banks of the river. Many activities now take place on the Suir, with fishing and boating being two of the more popular ones.
The Munster Blackwater
The Munster Blackwater (so called to differentiate it from the Leinster Blackwater that joins the River Boyne at Navan) is one of Ireland’s largest rivers and one the fastest flowing, which causes flooding problems in the towns it passes through after heavy rains. The river is approximately 170 kilometres long, rising in the Mullaghareirk Mountains in Kerry, flowing east through County Cork before turning sharply south at Cappoquin, County Waterford and entering the sea at Youghal Harbour. The Munster Blackwater is best known as an excellent area for salmon fishing, although in recent years salmon stocks have sharply declined.
The second of the Three Sisters, the Nore, rises on the slopes of the Devil’s Bit Mountain in County Tipperary and flows in a south-easterly direction for 140 kilometres before joining the Barrow just north of New Ross in County Wexford. The Nore also flows through the Mount Juliet Estate, one of Ireland’s top golf courses and fishing clubs. Salmon and brown trout are plentiful and fishing rights on the Nore are held by Kilkenny Fishing Club. Historically, many water-reliant industries were based on the Nore, such as breweries and distilleries.