Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The River Shannon, Ireland's longest river, divides the West of Ireland (mostly the province of Connaught) from the east and south (Leinster and most of Munster). The river has been an important waterway since antiquity. First mapped by Ptolemy, the 259 km (161 mi) long river flows south from Lough Allen before turning west and empting into the Atlantic Ocean through the 113 km (70 mi) long Shannon Estuary . Limerick city stands watch at the point where the river water meets the sea water of the estuary. Only east of Limerick is the river no longer affected by the tides.
The river rises at Cuilcagh Mountain , County Cavan's highest peak, and flows through 10 of Ireland's 32 Counties. Lakes on the Shannon include Lough Allen, Lough Ree and Lough Derg. Tributaries include the River Suck and the River Brosna .
The river began flowing along its present course after the end of the Ice Age. Vikings settled in the region in 10th century and used the river to raid the rich monasteries deep inland. In 937 the Limerick Vikings clashed with those of Dublin on Lough Ree and were defeated. Oliver Cromwell once said the Irish would go to "Hell or Connaught", referring to their choice of forced migration across the river, or death.
The Shannon is the longest river in the British Isles. Despite being more than 200 miles (300 km) long, it rises only 250 feet (76 m) above sea level, so the river is easily navigable, with only a few locks along its length. There is a hydroelectric generation plant at Ardnacrusha belonging to the ESB.
Shipping in Shannon estuary was developed extensively during 1980's, with over £2 billion (€2.5Billion) investment. A tanker terminal at Foynes and an oil jetty at Shannon Airport were built. In 1982 a massive Alumina Extraction Plant was built at Aughinish. 60,000 tonne cargo vessels now carry raw bauxite from West African mines to the plant, where it is refined to Alumina. This is then exported to Canada where it is further refined to Aluminium. 1985 saw the opening of a huge coal-fired electricity plant at Moneypoint , fed by regular visits by 150,000 tonne tankers.
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