Lough Derg is the third largest lake in the island of Ireland and sits between counties Clare, Galway and Tipperary. A number of towns and villages in County Clare sit on the banks of the lake including Mountshannon, Scarriff and Killaloe.
Stretching over 45.5 square miles, the lake is located on the River Shannon and gives visitors and locals alike a wonderful natural resource by offering something for everyone to do and see including boating, sailing, fishing, walking and cycling trails, and places of historical interest. If you are interested in activities such as yachting, kayaking, windsurfing and canoeing, visit the University of Limerick Activity Centre, just north of Killaloe.
Most of the neighbouring villages and towns have boat-hiring facilities and you can take daily lake cruises from Killaloe. You can also hire boats for extended periods of up to 2/3 weeks and cruise up the Shannon where there are many places to dock and stay the night.
The Slieve Bernagh range in East Clare that flanks the lake offers hill climbers a perfect opportunity to get out into the mountain air and appreciate the wonderful lakeside views from the top. The East Clare Way is a 180 kilometre circular route that takes in the Lough, Killaloe, Tulla, Feakle and Scarriff before walking back to Killaloe. However, there are local, shorter routes available.
The lake is also home to a large number of small islands that are worth exploring on your trip. Holy Island, near Mountshannon, is associated with several Irish saints, including St Caimin, who founded a monastery on the island in the seventh century There are numerous features of interest including ruins of five churches, graveyards, a holy well, early monastic cells and stone carvings. Other islands include Malt Island, Red Island, Rabbit Island, Inishparran / Pages Island, Cribby Islands, Bushy Island and Young's Island.
Lough Derg is a wondrous natural lake and dominates the East of County Clare. There are areas for swimming protected by Life Guards in Mountshannon and Killaloe and also marinas are located in both towns.
The area is full of local history and there are many monuments and historical sites to visit including Brian Boru's Fort. Brian Boru was the last Ard Ri (High King) of Ireland and defeated the Vikings in the battle of Clontarf in 1014, losing his own life after the battle had ended.
Lough Derg is just a forty minute drive from Ennis and is well served by buses from Ennis and Limerick. There is lots of excellent restaurants and accommodation available in Mountshannon and Killaloe.