Where to Go Rafting in Ireland

The How To’s of Rafting the Rapids in Ireland

Did you know that rubber rafts were invented by U.S. soldiers as survey vehicles? Before them, boats were smashed into pieces in most of the world’s rivers. Thankfully, we don’t have that problem now. 

Ever since tourists used war surplus rafts in 1956 at the Grand Teton National Park and rafting boomed in popularity in the 60s and 70s, there are now plenty of places to go and enjoy the activity, especially in Ireland. 

Listed below are some of the most popular spots in the country to go rafting and what you can expect on the ride. Discover what you need to know to choose the best place to sail down for your adventure and companies that can offer their services to you. 

Top Spots to River Raft in Ireland 

Sore the Rapids along the Annacloy River

Sore the Rapids along the Annacloy River

Location: Downpatrick, Ireland

Difficulty Level: Medium to Hard 

Pros: Challenging and Exciting

Nestled in the serene Dromara Hills, the Annacloy River promised an exhilarating rafting and it delivered. This river takes you into the Strangford Lough and the journey there is exciting to say the least. 

The section from Mason’s Bridge to Kilmore, has challenging weirs and a thrilling grade III section that has everything you expect in a good rafting experience from speed to changes in elevation. From Kilmore to Annacloy, it calms down but still has a few weirs. 

The river’s dynamic currents provide an exciting dance for thrill-seekers, navigating through twists and turns with the occasional rush of white water. Keep an eye out for the large house on the right bank which is the last warning before the rapids.

Pro Tip: 
You can access the river at Mason’s Bridge along the main road in Annacloy village. The river itself is challenging and fallen tree trunks sometimes block the way, so be sure to watch the water ahead. Only experienced rafters should try this river. 

Experience the Thrill of A New and Improved River Lagan

Experience the Thrill of A New and Improved River Lagan

Location: Belfast, Ireland

Difficulty Level: Easy to Medium

Pros: Great for beginners or not so experienced rafters

Unveiling its watery ways across 86 kilometers, the River Lagan originates from the Slieve Croob mountain and then makes its way through County Antrim all the way through Belfast. 

This river has made a name for itself as a great spot for watersports post its 1987 makeover. You can enjoy easy flows for the majority of the river. The slow cruise is kicked up a notch by an exciting meter drop midstream. 

The speed is increased and intensifies with the rush over rocky obstacles in that section. The Lagan’s dynamic currents offer a mix of calm stretches and invigorating rapids, creating an exhilarating ride for rafters.

Pro Tip: 
After its revamp, the River Lagan slowly regained a steady population of wildlife to call it home. Be on the lookout for birds flying overhead, some yellow-bellied slider turtles, and lots of fish underneath including eels, flounder, and starlings. 

Ride the Currents on One of Ireland’s Most Popular Rafting Rivers at River Liffey

Ride the Currents on One of Ireland's Most Popular Rafting Rivers at River Liffey

Location: Dublin, Ireland

Difficulty Level: Easy to Medium

Pros: Tried and tested location for river rafting, versatile

Just a stone’s throw from Dublin’s bustling city center, the River Liffey is considered one of the country’s best and most well-known rivers for rafting. The river itself has many sections and portions which you can group together for different trips. 

The complete experience comprises a 2.5-hour journey through different places, with the iconic Strawberry Beds being the most famous one. For thrill seekers, the river will have you navigating four weirs as nature surrounds you. 

If you complete the entire route, a portion of the river will take you through some parts of the city which look beautiful at night with the lights. 

Pro Tip: 
If you are river rafting with kids or rafters with less experience than yourself, you can go for The Short Loop Trip which is just an hour and a half through the calmer parts of the River Liffey. 

Experience the Exhilarating Weirs of River Boyne

Experience the Exhilarating Weirs of River Boyne

Location: Reim, Meath County, Ireland

Difficulty Level: Hard

Pros: Challenging course, historical sites in view

For an unforgettable rafting experience, you should definitely set your sights on the mighty weirs of the River Boyne, nestled near the town of Slane.

The weirs here are challenging to say the least and require a lot of presence of mind and experience to maneuver. Set against Boyne Valley, the Boyne’s water currents feature thrilling and a great view. You can spot some historical sites at the banks. 

After you make it through the speedier portions, you’re treated to milder waters where you can float along and appreciate the buildings you can spot from the water.You can even unwind after rafting by exploring the Boyne Valley nearby. 

Pro Tip: 
We recommend inviting lots of friends with you to fill an 8-person raft to reduce the vertical bounce in the tougher areas. Although, if that’s what you’re after, then a 4-man raft should make things rather exciting. 

Glide through the Currents of River Barrow in Peace

Glide through the Currents of River Barrow in Peace

Location: Clashganny, Co. Carlow, Ireland

Difficulty Level: Low

Pros: Lengthy trip

If you like river rafting, but you’d prefer calmer trips, then the River Barrow is the best choice to consider. This river is the 2nd longest in Ireland and offers manageable waters throughout its entire length although there are some exciting parts as well. 

Not only that, but it also has great views around the water that you can enjoy as you meander along the currents. You can spot quaint villages along the river banks while boating events are usually held here in May. 

Nature lovers will love the presence of marine animals there including herons and kingfishers, as well as woodpeckers in the forests. 

Pro Tip: 
Other watersports take place here, so be patient when you’re crossing open waters. Once the area gets narrower, the people lessen as well. Just be careful not to hit them, and navigate the water slowly especially when paddling with more people. 

Go on an Extended Ride on the Longest River along Shannon River 

Go on an Extended Ride on the Longest River along Shannon River

Location: Athlone, Ireland 

Difficulty Level: Medium to High

Pros: Exciting portions and lots of attractions nearby

As Ireland’s longest river, the Shannon River is a scenic playground for rafting enthusiasts. You can opt for a half-day white-water rafting trip or complete the entire length of the river for a whole day of paddling out in the water. 

The river takes you through Limerick’s picturesque countryside for great views. Some parts boast challenging rapids and drops including 6 weirs. The first 4 weird come one right after another so it’s best to try and pace yourself so you don’t lose steam quickly. 

The last 2 are more spaced out and give you ample time to prepare for them. 

Pro Tip: 
The River Shannon is located near Roosley and Dromod. These villages hold a lot of fun things to do after your rafting adventures like the Roscommon Castle in Roosley and the Hag’s Leap, the tallest freestanding tower in Dromod. 

Water Sports Guide and Equipment Rental Companies You Can Check

Shannon River Adventure Centre

Address: Shannon River Adventure, Drummanmore, Roosky, Co. Roscommon, N41 X902, Ireland


Phone Number: +353 71 963 8300


  • Open from Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm 
  • Open on Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm

The Shannon River Adventure Centre offers a diverse array of outdoor activities. Ideal for thrill seekers of all ages, the center serves as a hub for nature lovers who don’t mind getting down and dirty in the great outdoors. 

They specialize in watersports from heart-pounding river rafting and kayaking to more relaxed SUPs and canoeing trips.They also have a course on raft building if you really want to get into rafting. 

Rafting.ie – Kayaking & Rafting Activities

Address: Canoe Centre, Mill Ln, Palmerston Lower, Palmerstown, Co. Dublin, D20 DY26, Ireland


Phone Number:  +353 1 626 4363


  • Open everyday from 9 am to 5 pm

You can go on an exhilarating rafting adventure with Rafting.ie on the renowned River Liffey in Dublin. The journey begins at the Canoe Centre, where you’re equipped with everything needed for a memorable experience, including all the gear and tools.

A quick shuttle transports you to the trip’s starting point in Lucan, setting the stage for a thrilling descent down the river. Upon completion, they return you to the Canoe Centre for warm showers, a change of clothes, and some snacks. 

Go With The Flow River Adventures

Address: The Lock House, Clashganny, Borris, Co. Carlow, Ireland


Phone Number: +353 87 252 9700

Hours: Open everyday from 9 am to 6 pm

With over two decades of expertise, Go With the Flow beckons adventurers to explore exceptionally beautiful river trails in a very safe environment. This adventure service center has a roster of qualified instructors to guide you. 

They build tours that cater to everyone regardless of age or skills, ensuring a welcoming experience for everyone. All necessary equipment is provided, and no prior experience is required, making it an accessible option for beginners and seasoned enthusiasts 

North West Adventure

Address: North West Adventure, Drumsillagh, Cootehall, Co. Roscommon, F52 YH72, Ireland


Phone Number: +353 86 195 2663

Hours: Open from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm

For over a decade, Northwest Adventure Tours has provided assistance to adventurers in the North West of Ireland. An award-winning tour company, it specializes in guided hiking, biking, stand-up paddleboarding tours, and freediving. 

They have a source solely dedicated to river rafting too with equipment and an instructor included in the deal. With them, you can delve into the beauty of Sligo with full and half-day adventures.