The Land of Saints and Scholars
The island of Ireland, the ‘land of saints and scholars’ is associated with many mythological tales from the past. As we cruise along the Shannon we visit medieval and ancient sites steeped in Irish Folklore and history. According to mythology The River Shannon is named after the Celtic goddess ‘Sionna’. Throughout the years the river was a vital source of survival for many prehistoric people that lived along its shores.
Our barge skipper Ruairi will escort you to many historical sites along the river cruise. Throughout the journey we explore medieval towns and take you to ancient ruins that have become popular places of pilgrimage for lovers of Irish Folklore. We travel to Killaloe, once a court town to the High Kings of Ireland and now a quiet riverside village. We also take a trip to the spiritual Clonmacnoise (see picture below) founded by St Ciaran, in the 6th Century. This is a monastic settlement with an ancient burial ground where the High Kings of Tara and Connacht rest.
Folklore and Legend of Queen Maeve
The Tain Bo Culaine is a legendary tale of Queen Maeve of Connacht and the prized Bull of Cooley. We join the route of the Tain Trail along the charming lake shores of Lough Ree where we retrace the journey and the battles between Maeve and her armies and Cuchulainn. It was here where Queen Maeve sought refuge for many years. She died at the hands of Conor of Ulster who struck her with a single sling fired from a mile across the lake.
Exploring Lough Ree
The 3rd largest lake in Ireland running from Lanesborough, Co. Longford to Athlone, Co. Roscommon and Westmeath. Lough Ree translates as The Lake of Kings – locals suggests it was called this due to 7 kings all named John who once ruled a place close by called Rindoon. Lough Ree is the scene of many sightings of the Lough Ree monster. You can read more about the Lough Ree monster here. It so happened that St. Ciaran’s book of gospels were dropped into the lake by his brother and it is believed that many years later were retrieved fully intact along with his altar bell.
Quaker Island/Inchcleraun Island
The island was a place of pilgrimage and religious learning with the remains of seven churches including a monastery. This is an example of how Ireland got its nickname of “the land of Saints and Scholars” as it became the refuge for pilgrims after the period of Christianity. The largest church on the island is called the Templemurray. According to old folklore any woman who enters will meet her death within twelve months, the curse of Templemurray. You can read more on how Quaker Island got its name, as well as other folklore from the era of Queen Maeve here.
Celts at Craggaunowen
Moving down southwards on the river Shannon we explore the living past at a Celtic Bronze Age Settlement at Craggaunowen located near Quin, Co. Clare. Craggaunowen features an open air museum including reconstructions of ancient Irish architecture, dolmens, crannogs and currachs. Experience how the Celts made their homes on a Crannog and gain a fascinating insight to how they lived.
Throughout your journey on the Shannon Princess, you will experience snippets of Irish folklore as we take you to some fascinating locations steeped in ancient history. Our barge cruise combines a luxurious environment with a relaxing pace, what better way to learn about Ireland’s past?
So, why not join us for an experience of a lifetime. Contact us today for further information.