‘Shannon Country: A River Journey through Time’, a travel book on the River Shannon written by travel writer and broadcaster Paul Clements, is being launched in Enniskillen this week.

Paul – the author of ‘Romancing Ireland’, the biography of Richard Hayward – retraces Hayward’s journey along the River Shannon, following the spirit of his trip 80 years on.

From the Shannon Pot in Cavan to the Shannon estuary 344 km south, his meandering odyssey takes him by car, on foot, and by bike and boat, discovering how the riverscape has changed.

While he recreates Hayward’s trip, Clements paints a compelling portrait of 21st Century Ireland, mingling travel and anecdote with an eye for the natural world.

This year, life has slowed down for many people, and there is a wish to reconnect with surroundings and to discover new places in Ireland.

For those opting for a staycation, the pages of this book are filled with nuggets of information and local lore from counties Fermanagh, Cavan, Leitrim, Longford, Roscommon, Westmeath, Offaly, Tipperary, Galway, Clare, Limerick and Kerry.

With social and political attention turning towards walking and cycling leisure trails and greenways, there is more interest than ever in cruising, kayaking and canoeing and fishing on the River Shannon.

Paul also gives attention to the hinterland of the river and its people.

He considers the work of local people who are concerned about water quality and improving the river’s image, as well as those organising festivals, fairs and boating rallies.

While the overall tone of the book is positive, the author feels that the River Shannon and its surrounding environs have been neglected by various agencies, and he is hard-hitting about the lack of investment in small Shannonside towns.

This book, filled with photographs from the author’s journey and including a full map of the Shannon route, gives a voice to stories from water gypsies, anglers, sailors, lock keepers, bog artists and ‘insta’ pilgrims, and illuminates cultural history and identity.

The author is also preparing a series of popular ‘listicles’, tailored to localities.

His mantra for this project is ‘Travel less and travel better’.

“Slow and ponderous, the Shannon is laden with memories, powerful in symbolism, prone to running rampant through fields and swamping houses, sometimes impeccably well-behaved and relaxed, other times tempestuously alive, unpredictable ... Shannonsiders are amongst the greatest talkers in the world, possibly since the Greeks. And people who love rivers love to talk about them,” writes Paul.

‘Shannon Country: A River Journey through Time’ will be launched at Waterstones in Erneside Shopping Centre, Enniskillen on Thursday, March 16 at 6pm.