Your day boat hire from Lakeside Marina gives you the excellent opportunity to explore the Islands in the Shannon and Lough Ree.
Friars’ Island/Oilean na mBraithre (53®27.376’N 7®54.138’W)
Thought to have been the 17th-century refuge of the Athlone Observantine Franciscans. All that resides here now are a few remains of the friars’ residence.
Temples Island (53®27.652’N 7®53.561’W)
Was the site of a 19th century lodge of the Temple/Harris-Temple family, owners of the Richard Castle designed Waterston House. Was the home for the headquarters of the short lived Killinure Yacht Club, circa 1830, which ran for a total of 6 years and then merged into what is now the Athlone Yacht club.
Hare Island/Inis Ainghin (Ainin’s island) (53®28.428’N 7®56.029’W)
The early Christian settlement on Hare Island is attributed to St Ciaran, who is said to have founded a monastery here in 542 before moving south to establish what we know as Clonmacnoise. A lot of history surrounds this island, from the retrieval of a valuable gospel book from the lake, which was miraculously recovered undamaged, to the evidence of Viking occupancy when in 1802 masses of silver and gold, comprising of gold arm rings, rings etc. were found! A sporting lodge, was built on the island in the early 1800’s and in the 20th century this lodge hosted many distinguished visitors such as Sean MacBride, sometime IRA chief of staff, founder of amnesty international and winner of both the Nobel and Lenin peace prizes; the German writer Heinrich Boll, winner of the Nobel prize for literature as well as LAG Strong, a novelist, whose last book, light above the lake (1958), was inspired by Lough Ree.
Nun’s Island (53®30.744´N 7®57.877´W)
Commonly linked to the Poor Clare convent at Bethlehem. The east gable of a church remain circa 1150-1200. This building was believed to have been used as a fisherman’s dwelling in the 19th century.
Inchmore (53®30.456´N 7®56.247´W)
This is the largest Island on Lough Ree (apart from the land-linked Saints´ Island), covering an area of almost 200 acres. This Island may have been the site of a 5th century monastery allegedly founded by St Laobhan. There are the remains of what is believed to be a 12th century church on this Island and it is the general belief that in the 1st half of the 20th century this island was home to a total of 6 families whose children, together with those from nearby Inchturk, attended a one room national school on the island.
Inchbofin (53®32.270’N 7®55.180’W)
This Island was the location of an early Christian monastery which held some significance. This monastery was founded in the 6th century by St Moriog whom some believe to be the nephew of St Patrick. Relics from this structure have now been removed for safe keeping. The earliest reference to anyone who may have resided here is to a Christian recluse ‘Duiblittir’, whose death is recorded in 735.
Saints Island /Holy Island (53®33.297’N 7®53.349’W)
This Island, long united to the mainland by a causeway which has existed since at least 1650, is the location of a long standing and important religious home, from which it takes its name. The population of the island was believed to have been thirty five people in 1901.
Quaker Island (53®35.103’N 8®00.710’W)
This island is said to take its name from irish for ‘clothru’s island. In Irish legend, Clothru was a daughter of Eochu Feidlech, then high king of Ireland. She became queen of Connacht after her father’s death and once owned the island. Her sister, Medb, retired to the island after her husband, Ailill mac Mata killer her lover Fergus mac Roich. An Ulsterman, Forbaid, and a believed nephew of Clothru, wielded his slingshot on the shore of cashel to cast a piece of hard cheese that struck and killed the queen while she bathed. An early Christian monastery was founded here in the mid 6th century by St Diarmuid, who was said to have been the 1st teacher of St Ciarans of Clonmacnoise.
The name ‘Quaker Island’ is more recent, and comes from the island being owned at one time by a Quaker. Today it is owned by the Irish state.
Clawinch (53®36.456’N 8®01.866’W)
Iron age occupation of this island of approx. 50 acres, is suggested by the presence of two ringforts located at either end. In the 18th century it was occupied by the Delamere family, from whom the Brennans descended, giving a total of 8 people present on the island in 1911. One of these people was the father of Seamus Brennan (1948-2008), the prominent Fianna Fail politician and government minister.
Inishenagh (53®37.467’N 8®01.816’W)
This 70 acre island was the refuge of Caencomrac, abbot and bishop of Clonmacnoise, who retired here in the pursuit of solitude and died in 898. There is no record of evidence of a religious house and the island seems to have been no more than a hermitage, owned then or later by the monks of Inch Cleraun. During the ‘Troubles’, the island was a refuge for wounded republicans. In the subsequent civil war, it was a base for anti-treatyites who raided the occasional passing barges for supplies, up until their capture by the free state forces from Athlone. The houses, abandoned in the 1950’s, due to the inhabitants re settling on the mainland, can still be seen.