Ashley Park House is thrilled to continue our exploration of areas around Lough Derg, as part of the cross-county initiative to turn Lough Derg into a Blueway! On the third “familiarization” day trip on 15th February, we discovered activities offered in the Southern part of the lake, particularly around Killaloe and Ballina.
We started our day on a high note (literally!) at the University of Limerick’s Sport Adventure Centre in Killaloe. Our group had the opportunity to participate in the “Challenge by Choice” activity— a high ropes course with views overlooking Lough Derg. A few brave souls took on the challenge, including Ashley Park House’s own WorkAway volunteer Charlie Shelton-Ormond! This high ropes course is only one of many activities the UL Sport Adventure Centre offers, making it the perfect location for groups looking to be active outdoors. Whether you’re having a family reunion, a hen or stag party, or a workplace team-building retreat, the UL Sport Adventure Centre has a great variety of activities to offer. (For more on activities and rates, check out their website!) And why not stay at Ashley Park House— 30 minutes away, where you can relax after a day of activity!
After a nice cup of tea and coffee (much needed after the exhilarating climb!), our group took to the waters. James from Killaloe River Cruises met us at the UL Sports Adventure Centre for a one-hour tour of Lough Derg and the River Shannon. We bunkered down in a cosy, enclosed boat cabin, with spectacular views of the landscape surrounding Lough Derg as we rode towards Killaloe and Ballina. Along the way, we heard historical commentary and stories about Killaloe and Ballina’s rich past. James even let a few of us steer the boat! Killaloe River Cruises conducts rides every day of the year (even in winter), and can arrange private bookings for parties anywhere from four to 50 people. It’s best to book tickets online. We highly recommend this activity for those looking to get on the water (regardless of weather, thanks to the covered cabin!) and hear about hidden gems of Irish history.
James kindly dropped us off at Flanagan’s On the Lake for a delicious lunch. Flanagan’s offers a variety of Irish cuisine and delicious desserts— the perfect place for an afternoon break with views of the water! Once our bellies were full, we crossed the street for an afternoon at Quay Arts, a bright and lovely creative space in Ballina/Killaloe, on the Tipperary side of Lough Derg. Our group spent a refreshing hour and a half painting watercolors of a Killaloe water bank lined with houses, led by a Quay Arts instructor who encouraged us as many of us picked up a paint brush for the first time in years! No matter your artistic expertise, Quay Arts is a brilliant spot to come with families, friends celebrating a special weekend, or other groups looking for a unique way to spend time together. Rates range from 7 to 15 euro per person, depending on what you want— a private event, an instructor-led session, or just to drop by and be creative for a few minutes. During the summer, the drop-in option can be great for families looking for a quiet but still active break.
To end our day, our group had two options: a heritage walking tour of Killaloe or a trek in Ballycuggaran Forest Recreation Area. Our two WorkAway volunteers chose the latter, and even though the weather wasn’t on our side, it was a fun and scenic hike, as we were quickly rewarded with excellent views overlooking Lough Derg. This forest walk is great not only for the views, but because there are a variety of paths you can take, depending on the time you have and the level of intensity you’re looking for in a hike. The entrance to Ballycuggaran is across from the UL Sports Adventure Centre, so we were all set to conclude a fun, active day on the Southern part of Lough Derg.
Once again, we could have easily spent more than one day here, as there is so much to do in the area. We highly recommend that groups of families and friends looking to spend time around Lough Derg consider these diverse options, and let Ashley Park House help you unwind at the end of an active day!