River Shannon

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The River Shannon (Irish: Abha na Sionainne / an tSionainn / an tSionna) is a river in Ireland, and at 386 km (240 miles), is the longest river on the island of Ireland.[1] It divides the west of Ireland (principally the province of Connacht) from the east and south (Leinster and most of Munster). County Clare, being west of the Shannon but part of the province of Munster, is the major exception. The river represents a major physical barrier between east and west, with fewer than twenty crossing-points between Limerick city in the south and the village of Dowra in the north.

The origin of the name is presumably that of the name of the Goddess associated with the river, "Sionna".

The Shannon has been an important waterway since antiquity, having first been mapped by the Graeco-Egyptian geographer Ptolemy. The river flows generally southward from the Shannon Pot in County Cavan before turning west and emptying into the Atlantic Ocean through the 113 km (70 mi) long Shannon Estuary. Limerick city stands at the point where the river water meets the sea water of the estuary. The Shannon is unaffected by sea tides east of Limerick.



By tradition the Shannon is said to rise in the Shannon Pot, a small pool on the slopes of Cuilcagh Mountain in County Cavan, from where the young river appears as a small trout stream. Surveys have defined a 12.8 kmĀ² immediate pot catchment area covering the slopes of Cuilcagh. This area includes Garvah Lough, Cavan, 2.2 km to the northeast, drained by Pollnaowen.[n 1] Further sinks that source the pot include Pollboy and, through Shannon Cave, Pollahune in Cavan and Polltulyard and Tullyrrakeeragh in Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. The highest point in the catchment is a spring at Tiltinbane on the western end of the Cuilcagh mountain ridge.[2]

From the Shannon Pot, the river subsumes a number of tributaries before replenishing Lough Allen at its head.[3]

The river runs through or between 11 of Ireland's counties. Lakes on the Shannon include Lough Allen, Lough Ree and Lough Derg. Tributaries of the Shannon include the rivers Inny, Suck and Brosna.

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