Visiting Scattery Island in the Shannon Estuary

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Ireland is filled with wonderful monastic sites. And while you can expect a few similarities at all of them- spectacular ruins, a round tower, and a great story- each has something special.

Glendalough, an easy day trip from Dublin, has the beauty of the Wicklow Mountains with wonderful walks and hikes.

Clonmacnoise in County Offaly has incredible high crosses.

And Scattery Island in the Shannon Estuary can only be reached by boat. Another unique feature is that the round tower has its door at ground level.

Podcast Extra: Learn more about Scattery Island and Scattery Island Tours from owner Irene Hamilton

A Visit to Scattery Island

You'll need a boat to visit Scattery Island. Situated in the Shannon Estuary approximately 1 mile from Kilrush Marina the ride with Scattery Island Tours takes only 30 minutes across quite calm water.

Scattery Island Tours, Kilrush, County Clare, Ireland
Scattery island Tours offers ferry service to Scattery Island with multiple options for your visit.

Upon landing you are met by an OPW guide who will lead you through the churches, across grassy pathways to the cathedral and round tower, and a bit beyond, sharing stories of the ages.

St Senan's Monastery from churchyard, Scattery Island, County Clare, Ireland
St Senan's Monastery viewed from one of the churches on Scattery Island

The island has a spectacular history. The monastic site where you land dates to the 5th century while the other end of the island holds an early-1800s Napoleonic artillery battery and working lighthouse built in 1872.

View of lighthouse and Napoleonic artillery battery on Scattery island, Ireland
Artillery battery and lighthouse

The island was also home to the Shannon River Pilots, river navigators who served as guides for large ships entering the River Shannon.

Note: Scattery Island is an OPW Heritage site. While the island is free to visit your OPW Heritage Card will not cover the boat fare.

Exploring Scattery Island

A tour with a knowledgeable guide is always a great way to understand your surroundings, but then you need to explore on your own.

Round Tower on Scattery Island, County Clare, Ireland
The round tower on Scattery Island is one of only 2 with its door at ground level.

Depending on which tour you have chosen – the Scattery Island Visit or the Great Island Experience- you will have between 1 and 4 hours to explore the island after the guided tour.

We chose the shorter tour and found the one hour time frame suitable to walk from the monastic site to the artillery battery and do a tiny bit of exploring.

Lighthouse on Scattery Island, County Clare, Ireland
Walls of the artillery battery and the signal light

If you would like to explore the entire 170 acre island choose the Great Island Experience- which also includes a packed lunch (we plan to do this the next time we visit).

What Makes Scattery Island So Special

Beyond the fact that Scattery Island is a pretty amazing site historically, it is also a protected site and tourism is regulated.

Round tower and cathedral ruins on Scattery Island, County Clare, Ireland
Round tower and cathedral viewed from near the lighthouse

Not everyone will add this stop to their itinerary due to time constraints. You won't find mass tourism here, and you may, at times, feel like you are the only people on the island.

It may be be the most tranquil and peaceful place you visit during your Ireland vacation.

Ireland Itineraries that Include Scattery Island

Use one of these FREE itineraries to plan your Ireland vacation!

Southwest Sampler – A week-long itinerary perfect for a first trip to Ireland. Filled with lodging and attraction recommendations, this itinerary can be used for travelers of all ages.

2 Week Ireland Road Trip for Adventurers – A 2 week itinerary built with active families and groups in mind! Filled with activities, attractions, and lodging for all budgets.

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Round tower on Scattery Island, Ireland
Scattery Island, Ireland

Jody Halsted
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