The Irish waterways – The best way to experience adventure and the Irish countryside

adventure on the river Barrow


I grew up in Ireland in county Cavan which is really the lake district of Ireland. They say there is a lake for every day of the year. We did a lot of fishing and swimming in the lakes during the summer but overall we didn’t use the waterways to their full potential. In the last few years I have taken more of an interest in canoeing and in particular camping trips combined with river adventure. I have canoed many rivers and lakes around Cavan and other parts of Ireland, and one thing is the same no matter where you go the feeling of

peace and solitude is tangible as very few people utilise the waterways.

canoe the barrow

Our last trip was down a stretch of the Barrow which is Ireland’s second longest river, second only to the Shannon. We covered a stretch of river from the quaint village of Leighlinbridge to the town of Graiguenamanagh ( don’t  try too hard to pronounce this it will give you brain damage). We hired our gear from go with the flow, Charlie met us and gave us some advice for the journey ahead and then took our camping  gear to our first camp spot leaving us free to start our adventure down this fantastic river.

adventure, canoe, river adventure

The weather was fantastic which made the journey all the more enjoyable. The river had a light current and there were weirs dotted along the way which were great fun to go through. There was an option at each weir to bypass it by taking a canal route which we did from time to time as canoeing through the enclosed narrow overgrown canal gave us the feeling of exploring something different. We met the odd fisherman and a few walkers when we stopped for lunch but other than that it was the perfect escape. We could have been anywhere in the world. A few of our party who had never been on a canoe trip before were stunned by the pure beauty and the undisturbed views of the Irish countryside that this type of adventure provides.

River Barrow, adventure Ireland, great outdoors

We set up camp when we arrived at our first port of call which was Goresbridge. Since we were in a town we took advantage and didn’t set up the barbecue but went for a feed and a few pints in the local pub. The locals were friendly and chatty as they usually are wherever you go in Ireland. If you talk to people they’ll talk to you is the general rule so don’t be shy!

outdoor adventure, river adventures

Another beautiful day saw us break camp leave our gear with Charlie and head off on the river again. The river provided the same challenges with weirs and a few more rapids than we had the first day but nothing too difficult. Again in was the quiet peacefulness that you experience while canoeing on Irish rivers that everyone enjoyed the most. At the end of the trip everybody was elated and all vowed to do it again the following year. I have no doubt that this will have a place on our annual calendar and I would recommend it to anybody as the stretch of river you choose can match your ability and you will always escape the mundane life to which we all become accustomed.

kayak adventure, kayak Ireland

I can’t recommend Charlie and Go with the flow highly enough for your river adventure this year. Extreme Ireland can include this as a part of a bespoke tour for any would be adventure group.

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