Waterway Walks
Athlone to Portumna – Banagher * * * 

Nearby Walks . . 
   Upstream . . 
  Ballinasloe Line  
  &
  Callows at Shannon Harbour 
   Downstream . . 
  Meelick  

Maps:
Ordnance Survey of Ireland, Discovery Series 1:50,000
– Map 53, Shannon Harbour to Illaunmore on Lough Derg


1 km plus; 0.25 hr plus; Start: Map 53 N007158
On footpaths and the path of a dismantled railway. A number of short walks to places of historical and literary interest.
For years we passed through Banagher without realising the depth of the town’s historical heritage. This is well documented in Valentine Trodd’s book and in Delany 1987, pages 137 to 143. Time spent reading one of these books will add greatly to the pleasure of a visit to the town. Other sources of information are the Tourist Office on Main Street and the Library.

Places of interest at Banagher include:

  • On the Leinster side of the river:
    1. The track of the Banagher to Clara railway line can be seen at the north-east corner of the new marina (N008160). In September 2000 we followed the track for about one kilometer. At that point the track was so overgrown that further progress was impossible. The Callows at Shannon Harbour walk provides another opportunity to see part of the path of the dismantled railway.Banagher Station was located on the site of the main harbour by the bridge. The possibility is that you may moor your cruiser on the site of the dismantled platform.
    2. Fort Eliza (N003155), one of a number of fortifications providing clues to the military history of the region.
    3. Harbour Street leads to the road to Shannon Harbour, a 5 km walk and the start of much longer journeys in less happy times. A visit to Harbour Street (N010155) provides a poignant opportunity to reflect on an aspect of life in Ireland in the middle of the 19th century. Valentine Trodd paints the picture:”With the panic to leave Ireland during the Great Famine (An Gorta Mór) of 1845-50 emigration again soared to record proportions, and about 1,000,000 people fled the country for Britain, and from there to Canada and America. . . .It was once the custom in Ireland to “wake” the dead, a wake being a farewell gathering of friends of the deceased, a farewell party. This was the time of the “American Wake”, when relatives gathered (if they could afford to) to say goodbye for ever to those departing for America. Since many such unfortunate refugees would never be seen or heard of again, they were considered as “dead”. So perhaps it is fitting that Harbour Street has retained its name, for it is certain that many a local emigrant walked down this very street, turning away from friends and a town to be dreamt of perhaps, but never seen again.” (Trodd 1985, Page 33)
    4. Charlotte Bronte and Anthony Trollope spent time in the town. Charlotte Bronte honeymooned at Cuba Court and Anthony Trollope served as Deputy Postal Surveyor. The books provide more information.
  • On the Connaught side of the river:
    1. Cromwell’s Castle (N004159)
    2. Lock of disused canal just downstream from pitch and putt (N000159). This provides a clue to the evolution of the Shannon navigation.
    3. Martello Tower (N004160). In 1985 Valentine Trodd wrote:”A pleasant stroll may be had by negotiating the style on the town side of the Martello Tower, and following the old haywain road through the callows. In summer one is enchanted here by the scented meadow breeze, or the lofty warbling of skylarks; but in winter all about us is covered by water.” (Page 13)This stroll is on the ‘to be researched’ list.