Carrick-on-Shannon is the county town of County Leitrim in northwest Ireland, and grew up at a place where the Shannon could be forded. (A soggy experience, as the town's Irish name of Cora Droma Rúisc means "weir of the marshy ridge"). Later the river was bridged, so Carrick and the south bank village of Cortober in County Roscommon became a single settlement. In the early 19th century Carrick was an important river port when the Shannon navigation was improved, and the Royal Canal connected all the way to Dublin. Water traffic faded with the coming of the railways, but in the 20th / 21st century was revived by pleasure craft. In 2016 Carrick had a population of 4062.
Although the town is often simply referred to as Carrick, always give it the full "on Shannon" when organising transport, as several other places are called Carrick. An Charraig means crag or rock.
Trains from Dublin Connolly take 2 hr 20 min to Carrick-on-Shannon via Drumcondra, Maynooth, Mullingar, Longford and Dromod, and continue to Boyle, Ballymote and Sligo. There are 7 M-F, 6 Sa, 5 Sunday. See Irish Rail for fare deals. The 1 railway station is on the retail park south bank of the river, 1 km from town centre.
Expressway Bus 23 runs six times a day from Dublin Busáras, taking 3 hours via Dublin Airport, Lucan, Maynooth, Mullingar, Longford and Dromod, and continuing from Carrick to Boyle and Sligo; it bypasses Ballymote. The town bus stop is on N4 opposite Landmark Hotel.
There's also a Local Link bus on Tu, Th, Sa. It sets off from Manorhamilton around 09:00 and runs south via Dromahair, Drumshanbo and Leitrim to Carrick, in time for the midday train from Sligo to Dublin. It sets off back once the 13:00 train from Dublin to Sligo arrives, to reach Manorhamilton for 15:00.
By road from Dublin follow M4 then N4 through Mullingar and Longford.
The Shannon is navigable by small craft at Carrick and linked by waterways north to Drumshanbo and Lough Allen, northeast to Enniskillen, south to Athlone and Limerick, southeast to Waterford and east to Dublin.
The town won't take long to explore on foot. You need wheels or a boat to explore along the river.
Local Link Bus 568 runs from Carrick to Leitrim village, Drumshanbo and Arigna. It runs 3 times M-Sa, taking 45 min, so you can use it to visit Arigna Mines.
- 1 Costello's Memorial Chapel, Main St. This was built in 1879 by Edward Costello for his late wife, and he himself was buried there in 1891. It's not been used as a chapel since but was restored in 2010. Measuring only 16 ft by 12 ft (4.88 x 3.66 m), it's one of the world's smallest churches.
- Churches of normal size are St Mary's (RC) and St George's (C of I), side-by-side on Main St and both 19th century.
- Castle: if there's an award for Ireland's most ruined castle then here's a contender, a little knuckle of masonry by the bridge.
- Hatley Manor is an elegant mansion of 1830 on St George's Terrace. It's privately owned, no tours.
- 2 The Workhouse is now St Patrick's Community Hospital. A plaque marks the Famine graveyard next to it. An inspector of 1846 rated this workhouse the worst he had ever seen.
- 3 Drumsna, home to Anthony Trollope in the 1840s, has a scenic stone river bridge. This was the upper limit of navigation of the Shannon until a 2.6 km canal was cut to bypass the shallows, enabling shipping to reach Carrick and beyond. The old locks and lock-keeper's cottage still stand.
- 4 Jamestown, the upstream end of the canal, has another stone bridge and the gnarly stump of an abbey on the Leitrim riverbank.
- 5 Leitrim is a village 5 km upriver from Carrick, with O'Rourke's Castle the scrappy remains of a 15th century tower house. It's the upper limit of natural navigation of the River Shannon, which above here is shallow in its descent from Lough Allen. That meant it could be forded: in 1270 the Normans marched here but were routed by the Irish of Connacht, and the place previously called "the ford with the tree-stump" became known as Battlebridge. The Lough Allen Canal ascends from Battlebridge (1 km northwest of Leitrim) to Acres Lough, Drumshanbo and into the extensive Lough Allen; there's no onward navigation from there. And Leitrim village itself is the south terminus of the 63 km Shannon-Erne waterway, re-opened to navigation in 2009.
- Arigna Mining Experience: see Drumshanbo for this coal mine museum.
- What's on: check the Leitrim Observer.
- The Dock on St George's Terrace is an art gallery and performance space, in the 1822 former courthouse. Prisoners were led down from the court dock through a tunnel to the cells of the gaol opposite - this was demolished in 1968 and became, fittingly, a dock, the kind used by boats. The courthouse also held Council offices but these are now in a modern building next door.
- Moon River Cruises sail the Shannon from the quay by the bridge. Daytime sailings are an hour, adult €15. They also do evening booze cruises and stag and hen events.
- Cinema: Carrick Cineplex is on Sligo Rd, Cortober.
- Aura Leisure Centre northeast of town centre has a gym and pool.
- Boat hire is available from several operators. This includes long-distance hire, with one-way rentals available from Carrick to Bellanaleck near Enniskillen and Banagher in County Offaly. You don't need a boat licence, anyone over 21 can hire.
- Gaelic games: the County GAA play Gaelic football and hurling at Seán Mac Diarmada Park (capacity 9331) at the east edge of town.
- Carrick Golf Club is 5 km west along N4 towards Sligo. Blue tees 5767 m, par 69, visitor round €30-40.
- Coarse fishing is plentiful near town on the river and lakes.
- Shannon Blueway is a riverside route between Drumshanbo, Leitrim and Carrick, with several side-trails. The first 600 m across Acres Lake in Drumshanbo is a floating boardwalk - cyclists must dismount and marching armies break step over this section. The Blueway continues downstream from Carrick to Rooskey near Dromod: this section is only on water, suitable for kayaks and paddle-boards.
- Carrick Carnival is in June. The next is probably 4-13 June 2021, tbc.
- Carrick Water Music Festival is in July, dates for 2021 tba.
- Tesco is on the main retail park east edge of town, open daily 08:00-22:00. Aldi is a little way further east.
- There's also a retail strip south of the river, with Lidl and SuperValu.
- Bank of Ireland and AIB in town centre have ATMs.
- Coffey's Pastry Case on Bridge St does light meals M-Sa 08:00-18:00, Su 10:00-16:00.
- Lena's Tea Room at the top of Main St is a delightful 1920s experience.
- Vitto's, St Georges Terrace, ☏ . W-F 17:00-21:00, Sa Su 13:00-21:00. Lively family-friendly Italian-cum-Irish restaurant.
- Boardwalk Restaurant within Landmark Hotel serves modern Irish food.
- Toppers on Main St is open W-Su 17:00-21:30.
- Red Bank restaurant on St George's Terrace is open W Th 17:00-21:00, F-Su 13:00-21:00.
- Buffalo Boy is a steak house on Main St, open W-Su 15:00-23:00.
- Oarsman, Bridge St, ☏ . Tu-Sa 12:30-21:00. This gastropub gets great reviews for food and service, booking recommended.
- Leitrim has Barge Steakhouse, and Waves Restaurant within the Marina Hotel.
- Cryan's Bar on Bridge St has trad music and a great atmosphere.
- An Poitín Still on Main St also has a restaurant and accommodation.
- Flynn's Bar is a grand old-style pub on Main St, open daily 12:00-23:00.
- 1 Anderson's Thatched Pub, Elphin Rd, Ballindrehid (3 km south of town), ☏ . Trad country pub established 1734, with live music W F Sa. Dog-friendly, free camping available.
- The hostel closed down in 2018.
- Camping in Carrick is available on the Roscommon side of the river, eg at Anderson's pub, see Drink.
- Battlebridge Camping & Caravan Site is on the riverside 1 km northwest of Leitrim village. A caravan or tent is €22. They also have glamping pods and run Beirne's pub adjacent.
- 1 Bush Hotel, Main St, ☏ . Comfy mid-range hotel founded circa 1800. B&B double €110.
- 2 Landmark Hotel, Carrick N41 N9W4, ☏ . Smart friendly place with good restaurant. B&B double €130.
- Leitrim Marina Hotel, Leitrim N41 AE86, ☏ . Comfy modern place at the waterside. B&B double €130.
As of Nov 2020, the town has 5G from Eir and Three, and 4G from Vodafone.
- Longford has a fine cathedral, a mysterious "bog road" and several Neolithic portal tombs.
- Boyle has a grand Georgian mansion and a ruined abbey.
- Sligo is set in the haunting landscape of WB Yeats, with limestone scarps and Atlantic coastline.