Arriving early in the most picturesque town of Killaloe, we had a little time to soak up our beautiful surroundings, get a coffee, before meeting with our kayaking guide Tadhg O’Mara from My Next Adventure.
The option for all three McKeever women to travel in a canoe was available, but we chose two double kayaks instead.
The competition was on. We opted for The Brian Ború experience and Tadhg adeptly guided us through over 1,000 years of history while also answering an array of botany and bird-related questions from the small girls.
We started on the canal negotiating through a lock on our way to Lough Derg. The Gothic St Flannan’s Cathedral rises in front of you as you glide under the 16th century stone bridge. Another highlight is getting to see the foundation stone of electric power in this country that is the Shannon hydroelectric scheme at Ardnacrusha. From the view point of the river, it was a fabulous experience. The biggest of its kind when it was built (1925-1929), until surpassed by the Hoover dam, the 86 MW capacity was then enough to meet the electricity demands of the whole country. Today, Ardnacrusha represents around 2% of our total installed capacity.
All in all, the tour gets a high vote of confidence, the children returning to Killaloe confident in their kayaking prowess. There are other options including a night kayak. Groups are kept small, no experience is necessary and all your gear is provided. I would suggest a change of clothes however so that you can go straight for a bite to eat afterwards.
We choose to have that bite at Flanagans on the Lake. The food and service were great and only for the children were wrecked after their 2+ hours of kayaking and swimming, we would have returned to also have dinner that night. Instead we opted for soup and sandwiches bought form the very impressive SuperValu in the town.
If paddling your own canoe sounds like too much effort, Killaloe River Cruises will let you explore the river and lake. The boats are purpose built and depart from the quay on Lakeside Drive just outside the aforementioned restaurant.
The aforementioned swimming was happened upon by accident. After lunch, during our stroll along the river (which is dotted with exercise machines and a playground) we found a public, life-guarded outdoor pool. A mad dash back to the carpark for a change into swimmers turned a good day into a great day for the kids.
Recently an app was launched for the area; “Adventure Lough Derg”. This initiative came about through the Lough Derg Destination Recovery Task Force in response to the COVID-19 impact on tourism in the region. It comprises of a series of 12 weekly outdoor challenges which people can try when they visit the area. Visitors are encouraged to take pictures of the activities that they get involved in such as the kayaking or the hill climbing.
Moylussa is the highest mountain in Clare and is on the East Clare Way. According to Discover Ireland, this 180km loop takes eight days to complete in total. However, it is easy to jump on and off at one of the nine trailheads which offer plenty of accommodation and dining options on the loop. Starting and finishing in Killaloe it weaves its way through this region’s roads, forest tracks, bog roads, open ground and field paths.
The 12 O’Clock Hills is a recreational and heritage project near Kilkishen in east Clare. Situated in a Coillte forestry, there are three loop walks, 5km, 8.5km and 13km, all looped. Along the trails, you will find the restored Crag River Bridge, a famine road, Mion Rua bog and there is a fairyland facility for younger children.
As we left east Clare, we travelled through the Burren National park to Kinvarra to meet with Anna, our Burren Explore guide (P14). Anna is sourcing the lunches for her Burren Explore tours from Roosters in Gort and if your direction of travel from Clare is east, I would highly recommend that you make this your anytime of the day food stop.
Champions of regional food, the farm shop also boasts as large selection of Irish jams, chutneys, marinades and chocolate, a showcase of what the area produces. This farmer-owned business uses (as the seasons allow) beef, lamb and pork from their own farm.
I love a good salad and in Ireland, it is something that we are getting better at. Roosters is already there. We tried a selection of their salads but it was the beef shorthorn salad that sealed the deal; marinated beef, rocket leaves, Kylemore cheese and croutons drizzled with balsamic dressing – heaven. Roosters was too good not to revisit so keep an eye out for that in the coming weeks. And if you can’t wait, you can purchase online roosters.ie