Food Cruising the Shannon River Ireland

Barge or canal cruising is very popular in Britain and on mainland Europe, where there are thousands of kilometres of major and minor waterways to discover. There is also some limited inland cruising of Ireland, and one of those is a cruise along the Shannon River to discover the excellent produce of some of Ireland’s artisan food makers.

One such cruise is available aboard the Shannon Princess II, a ten passenger luxury, hotel barge upon which you can admire the slowly-passing scenery in pure comfort.

The Irish Artisan Itinerary is a seven day cruise for which each day there is a focus on a different aspect of cooking, produce or food tasting.

The cruise begins at Quigley’s Marina near Athlone, and early on day two there is an onboard baking demonstration to make some bread. Following is a cruise along the Shannon’s inner lakes, with its 365 wooded islands before stopping at Athlone for lunch and a visit to the Moonshine Organic Dairy to taste the cow’s milk cheeses and yoghurts.

Day three begins with a relishes, pickles and preserves demonstration before sailing through the beautiful landscape of The Callows to Shannonbridge, a lovely little walled riverside village. For the foodies there is a visit to Meadowsweet Apiaries & Farm Shop. The bees here are native Irish bees and they are housed in national hives. Meadowsweet Apiaries has won numerous awards for its honey produce. Meadowsweet has extensive fruit gardens.

The next day after passing through the Portumna Swing Bridge onto idyllic Lough Derg, The Shannon Princess II moors waterside at the foot of a gentle hill that slopes up to Terryglass village and the award-winning Mossfield Organic Cheese.

On day five there is a full day excursion to Galway City as it is the Gourmet Centre of the Wild Atlantic Food Trail. There is a visit to the Clarinbridge Oyster Beds on the shores of Galway Bay. Here the 700 acres of beds lie in an ideal mixture of fresh and sea water vital for perfect oyster development. In Galway the tour drops in on MC Geoughs Craft Butchers & Smokehouse, an award winning charcuterie producing smoked Connemara lamb, smoked wild boar, and numerous Pates, fresh and cured sausages and puddings.

The last full day on board is spent in and around Tipperary where chocolate is on the menu with a visit to Wilde Irish Chocolate Makers, artisan chocolate makers located in the town of Tuamgraney. Wilde is the only Irish maker of Organic Fairtrade chocolate, which is certified by the Organic Trust and all the chocolates are handmade.

This cruise not only exposes you to some of Ireland’s best scenery, picturesque villages and interesting historic sites, it also allows you to indulge in tasting some of the best produce that Ireland has to offer.

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