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Killaloe (pronounced kill-uh-LOO) is a village in County Clare, Ireland. It's on the west bank of the River Shannon and forms a combined town with Ballina in County Tipperary on the east bank. The towns grew up at a crossing point on the river, with a bridge by 1013. Killaloe (2016 population 1484) was the birthplace of Brian Boru, and has several medieval sights. Ballina (2016 population 2632) is modern and has the bulk of places to eat, drink and stay.

The TIC[dead link] is on the bridge.


The Shannon is both a barrier and a communication route across Ireland. In 1650 Cromwell was held up for ten days at Ballina, seeking ways to cross and advance on Limerick. The upper course of the river has little fall and is navigable, aided by three large lakes; the lowest Lough Derg reaches Killaloe-Ballina. In the 19th century two canals (the Grand and the Royal) were cut at huge expense all the way from Dublin to the upper Shannon. But the final stretch of river was the missing link: below Lough Derg it descends 30 m in 20 km, with waterfalls, to reach the tidal estuary at Limerick. A canal and lock system was needed; construction was expensively botched but it opened in 1799, and the twin towns became important river ports. That trade was killed by the railways in the 1850s. The waterways fell into disuse, and the lower river was dammed in 1930 to serve Ardnacrusha hydroelectric power station near Limerick. Nevertheless the value to leisure craft was recognised, and the Shannon remains navigable from the Atlantic up into Lough Derg and beyond.

Get in[edit]

Paddy McGinty's Goat

Killaloe is the scene of the goings-on described in this song, written in 1917. The village women try to protect themselves from the depredations of an aggressive whiskery beast that is partial to their falderals. Being a comic song for the Edwardian music hall, any innuendo in these lyrics is surely unintentional.

Public transport to Killaloe / Ballina is poor. Bus 323 runs once or twice M-F from Limerick to Killaloe, Nenagh and Birr.

Express buses between Dublin, Nenagh and Limerick call at Birdhill, on the M7 interchange 3 km south of Ballina. Birdhill has two trains M-Sa and one on Sunday from Limerick to Nenagh and Ballybrophy, where they connect with the Dublin trains.

By road from Dublin leave M7 at Junction 26 just beyond Nenagh and follow R445 southwest.

Get around[edit]

Map of Killaloe (Ireland)

Walk wherever possible. The bridge is pleasant on foot, but causes long tailbacks for vehicles. There's no crossing over the Shannon to the south before O'Briensbridge on the approach to Limerick, and none to the north before Portumna way up in County Galway. A new bridge is to be built 1 km south of the old one, to open in 2024.


St Molua's Church was moved from a river island when the water level rose
  • 1 Killaloe Cathedral, Royal Parade, Killaloe. C of I (Anglican) cathedral built in the 13th century in a mix of Romanesque and Gothic, adjoining an earlier chapel or oratory dedicated to St Flannan, the 7th century first bishop of Killaloe. There's a High Cross and the Thorgrim Stone, carved in both old Scandinavian runes and in Irish Ogham script.
  • 2 St Flannan's Church, Chapel St, Killaloe. The Roman Catholic church is modern. Within its grounds is the transplanted little St Molua's (or Lua's) Church, built circa 1000 in the time of Brian Boru on Friar's Island in the River Shannon. In 1929–30 the Ardnacrusha hydroelectric scheme raised the water level and submerged the island, so the church was dismantled and brought to its present site.
  • Brian Boru Heritage Centre, Lock House, Killaloe Bridge. May-Sept daily 10:00-17:00. Brian Boru (941-1014) was born at Kincora 1 km north of Killaloe. He rose to be High King of Ireland from 1002 and was continually at war. He was killed at the battle of Clontarf but his Irish forces defeated the Vikings that day, and his O'Brien dynasty continued to dominate Ireland. This small museum attached to the TIC describes his life and times.
  • The Bridge is a handsome 13-arch structure. River floods have often swept away bridges here, but this one has lasted since 1825. There's a sidewalk; it's not wide enough for two vehicles to pass so traffic is signal-controlled and mustn't stop for photos. Cruises of the river and Lough Derg start from the nearby quays. A canal flanks the river to the west, and "Between the Waters" is the narrow island this creates.
  • A scenic drive stretches north of Killaloe along the west (Clare) side of Lough Derg. Take R463 then R352 for:
  • 3 Brian Boru's Fort is your man's likely birthplace. It's a Neolithic ring fort, a mound 70 m in diameter, reinforced in the 11th century. The river could be forded at this point until its level was raised in 1930, with a toll or boruma raised on the crossing of cattle herds - this may be the origin of Brian's nickname. The area is nowadays parkland, but often messed up with trash, vandalism and bonfire remains. Perhaps that's what decided the Normans against converting it to a proper stone castle.
  • 4 Moylussa is the 532 m mountain east of the lake, the highest point in County Clare. It's one of many noble contenders for the title of Ireland's boggiest hilltop, but the path has been lain with shale shards.
  • 5 Tuamgraney is a village where the 10th century St Cronan's (C of I) is Ireland's oldest church in continuous use; its round tower has been swept away. It's probably named for the same fellow that founded Roscrea. Two km east is what's left of the primordial oak forest of Suidain, where "Brian Boru's Oak Tree" may be 1000 years old. His family would indeed have managed these forests for timber, charcoal and acorns for pigs, though young Brian was more likely to have trodden on the sprig while hunting than to have planted it. The writer Edna O'Brien was born in Tuamgraney in 1930; her career was much boosted by denunciations from the pulpit. The village straggles north into Scariff and east into Raheen.
  • 6 Mountshannon is a picturesque village built from 1738 to host linen manufacture, and to so amaze and impress the populace that they would convert to being Protestant. But the linen industry collapsed, the founding Woods family died young and deep in debt, and Saint Caimin's C of I church is the last bastion within a Catholic village. The main attraction is Inis Cealtra or Holy Island, which has a round tower, the ruin of several small churches, an ancient graveyard, four High Crosses and a Holy Well. Boats ply from Mountshannon, and boat trips from Killaloe also come this way. Don't confuse the village with Mountshannon House, a once-imposing mansion towards Limerick but now in ruins.
  • 7 O'Brien's Bridge (Droichead Uí Bhriain) is where the Shannon and the navigable canal diverge upstream of Limerick. There's a fine 12-arch river bridge circa 1842, but nothing remains of the castles at each end. On the east bank is Montpelier in County Limerick.
  • 8 Ardnacrusha is the dam and hydroelectric power station that changed not only the lower Shannon, but the entire face of rural Ireland through electrification. The lock system is impressive and the power station has tours, but it's more easily accessed from Limerick city.


Killaloe-Ballina bridge over the Shannon
  • Boat trips sail Apr-Sept from Killaloe into Lough Derg. The operator is Killaloe River Cruises.
  • Lough Derg Way is a 64 km trail upstream along the river from Limerick through O'Brien's Bridge, Killaloe and Ballina then along the east bank of Lough Derg to Dromineer in County Tipperary.
  • Water activities: centres are along the west bank of the lough, such as the University of Limerick Activity Centre (which has facilities available to the public) and Lough Derg Holiday Village.
  • Manage eels: the Shannon Eel Management Programme aspires to manage eels in the Shannon that do not necessarily wish to be managed. Salmon, eels and other fish had their upriver migration disrupted by Ardnacrusha HEP plant in 1930, though fish ladders were provided. The programme has ferried eels past that section of river. But their population decline may also reflect their life in the Atlantic, which is not amenable to measures in their Shannon spawning grounds.


  • The Farmer's Market is held on Sunday 11:00-15:00 at "Between the Waters".


A Pelican at Blandings

Killaloe is the name of an Irish and British Army quick marching tune. It was written in 1887 for the musical Miss Esmeralda, ever-so-loosely based on The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Its composer Robert Martin was the brother of Violet Martin aka "Martin Ross" of Oughterard, co-author of Experiences of an Irish RM. Robert Martin was a diehard Unionist who despised Irish aspirations for Home Rule, and a member of the spendthrift Pelican Club. He was lampooned as "Galahad Threepwood" in several Jeeves & Wooster stories by PG Wodehouse, eg A Pelican at Blandings (1969). Galahad often threatens to tell all about the incident of Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe and the prawns at Ascot, but this is a tale for which the world is not yet ready.

  • Scoops Ice Cream is on Lakeside Drive north of the bridge. It's open Tu-Su 10:00-17:00.
  • Gooser's, Ballina (R494 south of bridge, corner with Boher Rd), +353 61 376 791. Su-Th 12:00-21:00, F Sa 12:00-22:00. Riverside bar and restaurant gets great reviews for food variety, quality and service.
  • Brian Boru on the Hill, Ballina V94 X0RF (500 m north of bridge), +353 61 374 458. M-F 17:00-23:30, Sa 12:00-00:30, Su 12:00-23:30. Great food and atmosphere.
  • Others in Ballina are Flanagan's (daily 12:00-23:30), Wooden Spoon Cafe, and Tuscany Bistro (Th-Su 16:00-20:30).


  • Anchor Inn, Bridge St, Killaloe (west end of bridge), +353 61 376 108. Lively pub, often has live music Wednesdays and weekends.
  • Reddans further along Killaloe Main St is among the few on the west bank.
  • Ballina has the main pub strip. South from the bridge are Mills Bar, Washer Woman, Liam O'Riain's (listed) and Goosers (see Eat). North is Flanagan's and Brian Boru.
  • Liam O'Riain's, Main St, Ballina, +353 61 376 722. Great traditional pub, live music Saturday nights.


Lough Derg above Killaloe
  • 1 Blossom Hill B&B, Abbey St, Killaloe, +353 87 252 5279. One of the few places in Killaloe itself, immaculate welcoming B&B with pleasant garden. B&B double €100.
  • 2 Lakeside Hotel, Lakeside Drive, Ballina V94 E2D6, +353 61 376 122. Slick riverside hotel with leisure centre, gets great reviews for comfort and service. B&B double €150.
  • The main B&B strip is in Ballina. South to north along R494 find Carramore Lodge, Lakeland House, Celtic B&B and Whitehorn Lodge.


As of Dec 2020, Killaloe and Ballina have 5G from Eir, and 4G from Three and Vodafone.

Go next[edit]

  • Limerick is the lively city to the southwest.
  • South of Tipperary town is the scenic Glen of Aherlow.
  • Nenagh has a castle and ruined abbey.

This city travel guide to Killaloe is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.