The village of Shannonbridge is named after the bridge built in 1757 which spanned the river. The village has recently run a small jazz festival, and a vintage car rally and a boat regatta stop in the village during the summer months. The village is close to Clonmacnois, a site world famous for the ancient monastic buildings found there, and is about 8 miles from the town of Athlone.
Shannonbridge has two major attractions – angling and ecology. The peat bogs which surround the village are home to an abundance of flora and fauna, and is preserved as a natural habitat to the now rare corncrake. Also along the river are eskers, which are winding ridges of raised ground caused by melting ice during the Ice Age and were used by early settlers to cross the river. The proximity to the peat bog influenced the building of Irelands largest peat burning power station at Shannonbridge.
It’s said that the first town of Shannonbridge was built by the military to protect the ford in the river. The remains of the nineteenth century Napoleonic fortifications found at Shannonbridge are considered to be a unique example of fortifications of the period. They were completed in 1817 at a cost of £30,000. There was originally a lock here, but the Shannon commissioners decided to remove it and dredge a channel in the 1840’s.
The River Suck runs deep and slow, providing excellent coarse fishing with large shoals of bream up to 8lbs 100lb bags are quite common. Rudd of up to 2lbs are also common here.
The river at Clonmacnoise has some clear banks for easy fishing, and fishes well for Bream, Roach and some Tench, although Pike can be a problem. There are some good fishing banks at Devinish Island.
The power station at Shannonbridge is an anglers Mecca. The hot water outlet gives rise to big shoals of Bream, Hybrids, Roach, Rudd and Tench.
Clonfert Cathedral is about ten miles from Shannonbridge, and is regarded as a classic example of Irish-Romanesque architecture. Built on the site of a monastery founded by St. Brendan, the intricate sandstone carvings of the building make this well worth a visit.
The ancient abbey at Clonmacnoise is one of the most famous sites of its kind in Europe. Built by St. Kieran in about 545AD, the abbey grew in stature to become one of the great monastic cities of early Europe. There are many crosses and towers still standing at the site, and the interpretive centre draws about 100,000 visitors every year. There are exhibitions and an audio-visual show, and a tea room.