Spencer Harbour is one of my favourite spots on Lough Allen. The first time I visited the harbour it was shrouded in thick fog and we couldn’t see the jetty or the water. The November sunshine quickly burned through to reveal the lovely scene below.
Spencer Harbour is named after John Poyntz Spencer, the 5th Earl of Spencer (1835 – 1910) and Viscount Althorp, also known as the ‘Red Earl’ thanks to his flowing red beard. The names Spencer and Althorp are probably ringing a bell, and that is because he is an ancestor of the late Diana, Princess of Wales whose family home is the Althorp Estate in England. The 5th Earl was Lord Lieutenant or Viceroy of Ireland twice, first for 6 years in 1886 and then for three years in 1882. His second term as Lord Lieutenant came about when the Chief Secretary for Ireland resigned following the release of the Irish nationalist Charles Stewart Parnell from prison. Spencer’s other political duties were neglected so that he could take charge of the government’s Irish policy. Spencer was a close friend of the British Prime Minister William Gladstone and an early supporter of Irish home rule.
A solitary red brick chimney stands in the middle of a field behind the harbour. It is all that remains of a 19th century ironworking site. Although there are no facilities to speak of in Spencer Harbour, the harbour has beauty and peace to offer the boater who manages to make it this far north on the Shannon. Lough Allen is not a widely used section of the Shannon navigation, so if it is peace and quiet you are after I can highly recommend a visit.