Tarbert is 16km north of Listowel on the N69. Shannon Ferry Limited runs a half-hourly ferry between Tarbert and Killimer in County Clare, skipping the traffic congestion around Limerick city. The ferry dock is clearly signposted 2.2km west of Tarbert. If you do go through Limerick city from here, the N69 is the most scenic route.
Before you hop on the ferry, it's worth visiting the historic Tarbert Bridewell Jail & Courthouse, which has exhibits (including stoic mannequins) on the rough social and political conditions of the 19th century. From the jail, the 6.1km John F Leslie Woodland Walk runs along Tarbert Bay towards the mouth of the Shannon.
If you want to stay overnight, the colourfully renovated 18th-century Ferry House Hostel, bang in the centre of town, is run by a well-travelled family and has clean, airy dorms and private rooms and a cute onsite cafe. Wi-fi is available in parts of the historic stone building.
In July and August, buses serve Limerick (€15.40, 1¼ hours).