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Technical & Scenic Tours
Tour 1: Tour of Shannon hydro-electric scheme at Ardnacrusha and the South Shannon
The Shannon hydro-electric scheme, at Ardnacrusha is the main focus of this tour. Constructed by 5000 workers over just four years from 1925 to 1929, it cost more than IR£5m to construct at the time. By international standards at the time, the Shannon Scheme was one of the largest civil and electrical engineering projects of its kind and Ardnacrusha became a symbol of forward thinking in relation to harnessing Ireland’s natural resources. With the national grid constructed at the same time, the 86 MW capacity was then enough to meet the electricity demands of the whole country. Boat passage through the dam is via two locks together creating the longest drop on Ireland’s navigations approximately 30metres. Still operating today, the station is still a part of the islands energy infrastructure. The tour accesses the very heart of the station with unique views of the turbine hall and a visit to the original control room. The tour will also take in scenic Lough Derg and local projects
The tour will leave Athlone early and with stops for comfort breaks and lunch is expected to last 9-10 hours. Ardnacrusha is approximately 2.5 hours from Athlone. The Ardnacrusha Generating Station tour requires visitors to climb a significant number of steep steps and therefore is most suitable for those with full mobility and a moderate level of fitness. Spaces are restricted on this tour and bookings will be taken on a first come first served basis. Early Registration and tour selection is advised.
Tour 2: Re-imagining the Lough Allen Canal
This tour begins in the Upper Shannon, where a network of canals, lakes and rivers interconnect in Co Leitrim. Highlights of this tour include a visit to one of the first Blueways in Ireland, running between Leitrim village and Drumshanbo along the Lough Allen Canal which opened in Autumn 2014.
The Shannon Blueway (now over 200km long) is recreational outdoor activity trails facilitating cycling & walking and complement the paddling trails. Trail development has been supported by capacity building with local communities and businesses to grow recreational and tourist accessibility to the waterways. This tour will feature a visit to the iconic new boardwalk which has been constructed partly on land with a significant section designed to float over the water.
The Shannon-Erne Waterway is also a key feature of this tour. Restored and reopened in 1994, the Waterway features electro-hydraulic locks and a customer operated smart card system. The Shannon-Erne Waterway created a waterway link between Ireland and Northern Ireland, and 23 years since its reopening, the tour will show how the waterway and its communities continue to develop and grow.
The tour will also include further stops to locations nearby, including a boat trip on the majestic river Shannon.
The tour will leave Athlone in the morning and with comfort breaks and lunch is expected to last 8-9 hours. Carrick on Shannon is approximately 1.5 hours from Athlone. The boat used is fully accessible. A low level of fitness is required to take part in the full tour and the short walk on the boardwalk is optional.
Tour 3: A flavour of Ireland’s Ancient East
This tour incorporates the timeless River Shannon and the 213 year old Grand Canal. Highlights will include a visit to see Clonmacnoise, built by early waterways users in the mid-6th century. The Early Christian site founded by St. Ciarán in on the eastern bank of the River Shannon, just south of Athlone includes the ruins of a cathedral, seven churches (10th -13th century), two round towers, three high crosses and the largest collection of Early Christian graveslabs in Western Europe. A boat trip will ensure the best views from the water.
The tour will also visit the main Waterways Ireland workshop for the Grand Canal in Tullamore where visitors will see lock gates in construction.
On this tour, you will also get the opportunity to visit another business set-up by the canal to both use its water for production and the canal boats for distribution. Tullamore Dew Whiskey is known globally and the tour of the old distillery will include a sample of the whiskey produced here.
The tour will leave Athlone in the morning and with stops for comfort breaks and lunch is expected to last 8-9 hours. Tullamore is approximately 45 minutes from Athlone. The boat tour will be fully accessible. A low level of fitness is required to take part in the full tour.
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