Lough Derg is one of the oldest places of Christian pilgrimage in the world. It is located on the borders of Counties Clare, Galway, and Tipperary. The Shannon River runs through its southern edge. Killaloe is a good base camp for exploring the lake, as well as its twin village of Ballina across the bridge.
Killaloe - in Irish, Cill Dalua or "The Church of Lua" - is named after a famous saint, honored locally. His monastic ruins are on an island in the Shannon. St. Flannan is the other saint venerated here. Lua and St. Flannan lived in the 7th and 8th centuries, the Age of Saints and Scholars, which was the Golden Age of early Christian Ireland, ending with the Viking invasion.
What to See and Do
Visit villages of Mountshannon, Scarriff, Ogonelloe, Killaloe, and Ballina. From Mountshannon, take a boat to the holy island. The CELT, Center for Environmental Living, hosts workshops in traditional methods of living. Contact them to learn the old ways of doing things.
Where to Eat and Drink
Crotty's Bar and Eating House in Killaloe looked appealing - there is a covered, outdoor seating area, and cozy inside tables. We went across the bridge to Ballina to Gooser's, and it really hit the spot. All the tables were taken, so we dined atop an old piano, enjoying a fresh Caesar salad and grilled plaice (20 euro). A bottle of house red wine is 20 euro. Call ahead for dinner reservations, Tel: (0)61 376965.
Where to Sleep
The Hotel Kinora is a fine lodge in Killaloe, equipped with high-speed internet access. A cozy place to call your abode while visiting the area.
How to get there
From Ennis, take the R352 to Tulla, transfer to the R466 to Broadford, and then travel east to Killaloe.
See www.buseireann.ie website for all current travel details and restrictions.
When to go
From April to October, when the days are longer and the sun comes out. Inishcealtra Festival of the Arts in Mountshannon at the end of May/beginning of June. The website is www.inishcealtra-artsfestival.org.
Written by Liz O'Malley - Summer of Travel 2007