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Carrick has been regarded as the key to the west from Ulster for millennia as it is situated on a fording point of the Shannon. In the vicinity of the nearby village of Drumsna, on the County Roscommon border, may be seen remains of an Iron Age fortification, which points to the long felt need to prevent incursions and raids from that quarter. As an ancient stronghold of the O’Rourkes of Breifne and their ofttimes rivals, the O’Raghnaills (Reynolds) of North Roscommon, the town was granted a royal charter and named a borough with its own seal in 1607. The remains of Carrick Castle can still be seen on the N4 By-Pass near the Carrick Bridge. Signposted walking tours of the town allow visitors to discover its interesting historical buildings, in particular the Workhouse and Famine Graveyard, Hatley Manor (a restored Georgian period home of the St. George Family, now under the benevolent care of MBNA), St George’s Church of Ireland ( has an interactive Visitor Centre), and the Costello Chapel which is believed to be the smallest chapel in Europe.
The Quayside Until the early 19th Century, the head of the Shannon Navigation was Drumsna, where the famous English novelist, Trollope, was Postmaster. In the 1840s the improvement of the navigation entailed extensive dredging of the river, the cutting of Jamestown Canal, the construction of locks at Drumsna and Knockvicar, and the building of a new bridge and Quays at Carrick-on-Shannon. The new bridge, built in 1846, took the place of a nine arch stone bridge, which in turn replaced a wooden structure. For over a century, until the closing of the Grand Canal Company in 1960, Carrick was a major depot for river trade; timber, cemnt, hardware, and especially Guinness stout (see the Old Barrell Store, right) were all transported here from Dublin, Athlone and Limerick. Nearby is the clubhouse of Carrick-on-Shannon Rowing Club, which has been one of the foremost in the country since its establishment in 1827. Its traditions are very much alive and visitors may observe club members in practice on the river. The annual regatta at the August Holiday was a famed highlight of the festive season in the whole North West. M.J. McManus recalls that he watched…”In August sunshine, the eights and the fours and the pleasure boats and the turf-cots competing on Carrick’s day of days.”