While Shannon Town is a relatively new town, the land itself has been inhabited for centuries. A Stone Age (Neolithic ) axe found in 1977 at Tullyglass Point indicates settlement in the area going back 4,500 years. The axe was manufactured in Antrim and likely arrived at the site via water. Vikings settled in the area of Tullyglass in C.843. The earliest embankments to Bunratty were built at the time.
Various historical documents suggest that there may have been a Viking settlement at Tradaree. Given the Vikings’ settlement in Limerick and their presence on Scattery Island, it is not surprising that they would have also occupied areas along the Shannon Estuary.
The Anglo-Normans arrived in Ireland in 1169. The earliest castle at Bunratty was likely a Motte and Bailey castle, a typical Norman fortress.
In the 1990s, an intertidal survey of the Shannon and Fergus estuaries was undertaken, revealing several medieval and post-medieval fish traps. The closest fish trap to Shannon Town was found at Inisbonane Point, just east of Saint’s Island. The last piece of modern history is the partial ruins of Hasting Cottage, located just 100 meters north from this point. Please take a little detour to visit this area. Works are ongoing to restore it to its state in the 1960s.
Shannon Town Estuary Trails consists of two loops around Shannon Town of between 1 and 2 and half hours taking in the scenic area around the estuary.
Shannon Town Estuary Loop
Hastings Farmhouse was one of several farmhouses located along the old routeway into Tullyvarraga which can still be traced today along what is known as the Slí na Mara boreen. The farmhouse was located at the end of the boreen close to Illaunamanagh Point and within a few hundred metres of the Shannon Estuary. The site is beautifully sheltered in the lee of the hillside.
Brigadier Lucas of the British Army was held at Hastings Cottage for one month during the War of Independence (1919 – 1921). A ‘difficult’ prisoner, he demanded a bottle of whiskey a day – but helped with the haymaking. His capture was a major propaganda coup for the IRA. Lucas was transferred to the Limerick Brigade and released to a British Army patrol which was ambushed later the same day by Dan Breen. Lucas escaped.
Illaunameanagh likely derives its name from the ‘meanagh’ meaning ‘middle’: it being the middle island situated between Inniscullen and Illaunagowan. Most of the ‘points’ in the locality were originally islands before the embankments were built or improved. However, McLysaght, the noted historian comes down in favour of the meaning ‘monks island’. This is a likely meaning as the estuary was how all the early monks moved about and numerous settlements existed on the other nearby islands.
Good to Know
- The Shannon Town Estuary Loop (the Purple Loop) is approximately 9.5km. The route is considered easy and takes circa 2 to 2.5 hours to complete
- The Illaunmanagh Loop (The Yellow Loop) is approximately 4.5hrs. The route is considered easy and takes circa one hour to complete.