If a B&B in a quiet and picturesque waterside setting with a pub serving good food only yards away takes your fancy, you won’t do better than Grainne Kirwan’s charming and hospitable Harbour Master’s House at Shannon Harbour.
Built in 1806 on the banks of the Grand Canal, the name is far from fanciful as Grainne’s father was the harbour master when she was growing up here, and – although it has been modernised where necessary to provide all the necessary comforts - this delightful place is full of history.
The 3-storey house is beautifully proportioned, with 2-storey wings on either side of the main building and a flight of stone steps leading up to the front door. Inside, it’s furnished elegantly and appropriately, with all the age and history that visitors hope for when staying in old houses (and no shortage of interesting information from the Kirwans), yet with modern conveniences and the comfort of central heating as well open fires.
The bedrooms vary in character, as rooms in old houses do, but they are all ensuite, furnished with antiques and have TV and tea/coffee making facilities. Some rooms – including the interesting semi-basement where breakfast is served - overlook immaculately maintained formal gardens at the back, and the extensive view from upstairs windows is fascinating, notably for guests relaxing in a peaceful first floor sunroom overlooking the garden.
Fishing, boating and pubs are all nearby, and it is a lovely, unspoilt area to explore - the Kirwans are more than happy to share their local knowledge with guests, to ensure an interesting and rewarding stay in this relatively little known area.
Shannon Harbour was, until lately, a sleepy backwater where old boats came to ‘rest’; but now this sleeping beauty has woken from her slumbers and – thanks to a €1.3 million plan by Waterways Ireland, Failte Ireland, Shannon Development and the county council - emerged immensely improved.
There’s now a new road outside the Harbour Master’s House, lighting, seating, a childrens playground and picnic area, wheelchair-friendly paths beside the Canal, an exhibition hall, and showers and laundry facilities for visiting boats.
Beyond the bridge, the street outside McIntyres (formerly Gleesons) pub is also being upgraded, with new lighting and paths; unless visitors are keen to go further afield (to nearby Banagher, for example, or even to The Old Fort at Shannonbridge) dinner and good company are to be found just a few yards away at McIntyre’s.
Boats, engines and bicycles are available for hire locally.