Leitrim is a hidden gem that is often overlooked by tourists. This beautiful county is steeped in history, culture, and natural beauty, making it the perfect destination for anyone seeking an authentic Irish experience. In this guide, we will take you through the best things to do in Leitrim, as well as a brief overview of the country’s history and cultural significance.
Historical And Cultural Significance Of Leitrim
Leitrim has a rich and fascinating history, dating back to the Neolithic period. Throughout the centuries, it has been home to various groups, including the Celts, Vikings, and Normans, all of whom left their mark on the county’s landscape. Today, visitors can explore the many historical sites and monuments that have been preserved, including the Carrick-on-Shannon Workhouse, which was used during the Great Famine, and the 12th-century Lough Rynn Castle.
In addition to its historical significance, Leitrim is also renowned for its cultural heritage. The county has a strong tradition of music, dance, and storytelling, and visitors can experience these art forms firsthand by attending a local festival or visiting a traditional pub. Leitrim is also home to many talented artists and craftsmen, and visitors can browse their wares at the various craft fairs and galleries throughout the county.
Map Of Leitrim And How To Get There
Leitrim is located in the northwest of Ireland, bordering the counties of Donegal, Sligo, Roscommon, and Cavan. The county’s main town is Carrick-on-Shannon, which is accessible by bus, train, and car. The nearest airport is Ireland West Airport Knock, which is approximately 1.5 hour’s drive from Carrick-on-Shannon. Visitors can also fly into Dublin Airport and take a train or bus to Carrick-on-Shannon.
Best Time To Visit Leitrim And Weather Conditions
The best time to visit Leitrim is during the summer months of June, July, and August when the weather is mild and sunny. However, visitors should be prepared for occasional rain showers, as Leitrim is known for its unpredictable weather. The winter months can be quite cold and damp, but the county’s stunning natural landscapes are still worth exploring, especially during the autumn months when the foliage is at its most vibrant.
Practical Information About Leitrim
- Getting around Leitrim: There are several ways to get around Leitrim, including car rental, public transport, and walking tours. Car rental is a popular option and can be arranged at the airport or in larger towns. Public transport options include buses and trains, which connect major towns and cities in the area. Walking tours are also available and can be a great way to explore the local area on foot.
- Safety and emergency contacts: Like any place, it’s important to take certain precautions when traveling in Leitrim. It’s a good idea to keep important numbers, such as the local emergency services and your accommodation’s contact information, handy. Additionally, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings, especially at night, and to avoid walking alone in unlit areas.
- Currency and payment: The currency used in Ireland is the Euro (€), which is accepted throughout Leitrim. Credit cards are widely accepted, but it’s a good idea to have some cash on hand for smaller purchases or in case of emergencies. ATMs can be found in most towns and cities in the area.
- Language and communication: English is the primary language spoken in Leitrim, although you may hear some locals speaking Irish (Gaeilge) as well. While there are some differences in pronunciation and vocabulary, most visitors to the area should have no trouble communicating in English.
- Local customs and etiquette: Irish culture places a high value on politeness and hospitality, so it’s a good idea to be polite and respectful when interacting with locals. It’s also common to greet people with a handshake or a simple “hello” when entering a shop or restaurant. When in doubt, simply observe those around you and follow their lead.
Natural Attractions In Leitrim
Leitrim is blessed with some of the most stunning natural attractions in Ireland. From rolling hills and verdant forests to shimmering lakes and cascading waterfalls, there is no shortage of breathtaking landscapes to explore in this beautiful county. Here are some of the top natural attractions in Leitrim:
Glencar Waterfall is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful natural attractions in Leitrim. Located in the north of the county, near the border with Sligo, this stunning waterfall is surrounded by beautiful woodland, making it a popular spot for photographers and nature lovers.
The waterfall itself is a magnificent sight to behold, with water cascading down a steep cliff face into a serene pool below. The sound of the rushing water and the mist that rises from the pool create a magical atmosphere that is sure to take your breath away.
Lough Allen is one of the most beautiful natural attractions in Leitrim. This large lake is situated in the west of the county and is a popular destination for anglers and water sports enthusiasts.
Visitors who prefer a more leisurely pace can also take a boat ride on the lake and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The lake is surrounded by rolling hills and verdant forests, and the scenery is truly breathtaking.
Sliabh An Iarainn Mountain
Sliabh an Iarainn Mountain is one of the most impressive natural landmarks in Leitrim. Located in the south of the county, this mountain rises to a height of 585 meters and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.
The name Sliabh an Iarainn means “mountain of iron” in Irish, and the mountain is known for its rich deposits of iron ore. The mines that once operated on the mountain have long since closed, but the rugged beauty of the landscape remains.
The Shannon-Erne Waterway
The Shannon-Erne Waterway is a beautiful and unique attraction that spans 63 km from Leitrim Village to Belleek in County Fermanagh. The waterway connects the River Shannon in the Republic of Ireland to the River Erne in Northern Ireland, making it the only cross-border inland waterway in Ireland.
The waterway offers a peaceful and scenic way to explore the stunning countryside of Leitrim and Fermanagh. Visitors can hire a boat or join a guided tour and travel along the tranquil waters, passing through beautiful landscapes and picturesque towns and villages.
The Glenade Valley
The Glenade Valley is also a popular spot for fishing enthusiasts, with the lake containing a variety of fish species, including brown trout, pike, and perch. There are plenty of fishing opportunities available on the lake, and visitors can also enjoy fishing in nearby rivers and streams.
The valley is also steeped in history, with a number of ancient monuments and historic sites located in the area. These include the ruins of Creevelea Abbey, a 16th-century Franciscan friary, and the Dolmen of Aghalun, a megalithic tomb dating back to the Neolithic period.
The Arigna Mining Experience
The Arigna Mining Experience is housed in a restored mine building and features an exhibition area that showcases the history of mining in the area. Visitors can take a guided tour of the mine and see the tools and equipment used by the miners, as well as learn about the techniques used to extract coal from the earth.
The experience also includes a multimedia show that uses audio and visual effects to recreate the atmosphere of the mine and to give visitors a sense of what it was like to work underground
Lough Key Forest Park
Lough Key Forest Park is a stunningly beautiful park located in County Roscommon, just a short distance from the Leitrim border. The park covers an area of over 800 acres and is home to a wide variety of attractions and activities that are sure to delight visitors of all ages.
One of the highlights of the park is the beautiful Lough Key Lake, which is surrounded by lush forests and rolling hills. Visitors can take a leisurely walk around the lake and enjoy the stunning views, or rent a boat and explore the lake and its surroundings.
The park is also home to a number of historic buildings and monuments, including the ruins of an old abbey, a 19th-century folly, and the impressive Rockingham Estate House. Visitors can take a guided tour of these historic sites and learn about the rich history of the region.
Cultural and Historical Attractions
Check out of few cool cultural and historic attractions that will keep you busy!
Fenagh Abbey is a historical site located in the town of Fenagh, County Leitrim, Ireland. The abbey was founded in the 6th century by St. Caillin and became an important center of learning and religion in the region.
The abbey complex includes a church, a round tower, and several other buildings. The church is a Romanesque structure built in the 12th century and features a unique doorway with sculpted figures and intricate carvings.
The round tower, built in the 11th century, is one of the best-preserved in Ireland and stands at over 30 meters tall. It is believed to have been used as a lookout tower, a bell tower, and a refuge during times of attack.
Glencar Tea Shed
Glencar TeaShed offers a range of homemade cakes, sandwiches, soups, and other meals, along with tea and coffee. It has a cozy and rustic atmosphere with indoor and outdoor seating and offers beautiful views of the surrounding countryside.
The cafe is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike and is often praised for its friendly staff, delicious food, and relaxing atmosphere. It is also known for its commitment to using locally sourced ingredients and supporting local farmers and producers.
Saint Georges Heritage Centre
The Heritage Centre features exhibits on the history of the church and its restoration, as well as displays on local history and heritage, including the region’s natural environment, industry, and social history.
In addition to its exhibits, the center also hosts cultural events, workshops, and performances throughout the year, showcasing traditional Irish music, dance, and other forms of art.
The Dock Art Centre
The Dock Arts Centre is a contemporary arts center located in the town of Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim, Ireland. The center is housed in a beautifully restored 19th-century courthouse building, which has been transformed into a vibrant hub for the arts.
In addition to its exhibitions and performances, The Dock Arts Centre also provides artist studios and rehearsal spaces, as well as community outreach and education programs.
The Dock Arts Centre features a range of exhibitions, performances, and workshops, showcasing the work of local, national, and international artists. Its programming includes visual arts, music, theatre, dance, film, and literature, offering a diverse and dynamic cultural experience for visitors.
The Leitrim Design House
The Leitrim Design House features a retail space where visitors can browse and purchase a range of crafts, including ceramics, glassware, textiles, jewelry, and woodwork. The center also hosts workshops and classes, providing opportunities for visitors to learn new skills and techniques from local artisans.
The retail and educational offerings, the Leitrim Design House also provides support and resources for local craftspeople, including business development advice and networking opportunities.
Carrick On Shannon
Carrick-on-Shannon is situated on the River Shannon, which is the longest river in Ireland. The town is a popular destination for boating and fishing enthusiasts, with many opportunities to explore the river and its surrounding waterways.
The town is also known for its lively nightlife, with many traditional pubs, bars, and nightclubs offering a range of entertainment options. It has a vibrant cultural scene, with several art galleries, museums, and theatres showcasing the work of local artists and performers.
Parkes Castle is a 17th-century fortified manor house located on the shores of Lough Gill in County Leitrim, Ireland. The castle was built by the Englishman Robert Parkes in 1610 and is a well-preserved example of a typical plantation-era castle in Ireland.
The castle features a rectangular plan with four corner towers and is surrounded by a bawn or enclosed courtyard. Visitors can explore the castle’s interior, including its restored great hall, bedrooms, and kitchen, as well as its surrounding gardens and grounds.
Foods And Drink Letrim
The Oarsman: This is an award-winning restaurant and gastropub located in Carrick-on-Shannon. It offers a wide range of dishes made with locally sourced ingredients, as well as a selection of craft beers and other drinks. The Oarsman is known for its relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff.
The Cottage Restaurant: If you’re looking for fine dining in Carrick-on-Shannon, The Cottage Restaurant is a great choice. This establishment prides itself on using locally sourced ingredients and offers a range of dishes inspired by Irish and European cuisine. The restaurant also has a cozy and intimate atmosphere, perfect for a romantic night out or a special occasion.
The Shed Distillery: For those who enjoy a good drink, The Shed Distillery is a must-visit spot in Carrick-on-Shannon. This artisanal distillery offers tours and tastings of its award-winning spirits, including gin and whiskey. The distillery is also home to a cozy café and gift shop.
The Market Yard Kitchen: If you’re in the mood for casual dining, The Market Yard Kitchen is a great option. This restaurant focuses on using local produce to create fresh and flavorful dishes. They offer a range of options, including vegetarian and gluten-free dishes.
Local breweries and wineries: Carrick-on-Shannon is home to several local breweries and wineries. The Carrig Brewing Company is a popular choice for craft beer enthusiasts, while Leitrim Crystal Gin offers a unique and refreshing take on traditional gin. There are also several wineries in the area that offer tastings and tours.
Traditional Irish food and drink: Finally, no visit to Carrick-on-Shannon would be complete without trying some traditional Irish food and drink. Boxty, a potato pancake, is a popular dish in the area, as is seafood chowder and Irish stew. And of course, no trip to Ireland would be complete without trying a pint of Guinness, the iconic Irish beer.
- Lough Rynn Castle: This is a luxury castle hotel located in a picturesque setting just outside of Carrick-on-Shannon. It features elegant guest rooms, a spa, and a fine-dining restaurant. The castle is also available for weddings and other special events.
- The Bush Hotel: The Bush Hotel is a historic hotel located in the heart of Carrick-on-Shannon. It has been welcoming guests for over 200 years and offers comfortable guest rooms and a range of amenities, including a bar and restaurant.
- The Landmark Hotel: This modern hotel is situated on the banks of the River Shannon in Carrick-on-Shannon. It offers spacious and stylish guest rooms, as well as a range of amenities such as a fitness center and a swimming pool.
- Lough Allen Hotel and Spa: If you’re traveling with family, the Lough Allen Hotel and Spa might be a good option. This family-friendly hotel features a pool, spa, and a range of activities for children, such as a kids’ club and outdoor playground.
- Self-catering accommodation: There are also plenty of self-catering options available in Carrick-on-Shannon, including cottages, apartments, and houses for rent. This can be a good option for those who prefer to cook their own meals or who are traveling with a larger group.
- Camping and glamping: Finally, for those who enjoy the great outdoors, there are several campsites and glamping sites in scenic locations in and around Carrick-on-Shannon. This can be a great way to experience the beauty of the area while enjoying a more rustic accommodation option.
Finally, Leitrim is the perfect destination for those looking to relax and recharge. With its tranquil countryside and spa resorts, there are plenty of opportunities for rest and relaxation. Whether you’re soaking in a hot tub or enjoying a massage, Leitrim is the perfect place to unwind.
Overall, Leitrim is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the best that Ireland has to offer. Its combination of natural beauty, rich history, vibrant culture, and delicious food and drink make it an unforgettable destination that’s just waiting to be explored.
FAQ Frequently Asked Questions
What historical sites can I visit in Leitrim?
Leitrim has a rich history that is reflected in its many historic sites and landmarks. Some of the must-visit historical sites in Leitrim include the Lough Rynn Castle, the Glencar Waterfall, and the Famine Graveyard in Manorhamilton. and Lough Rynn Castle.
What cultural experiences can I have in Leitrim?
Leitrim is known for its vibrant arts and cultural scene, with numerous festivals and events taking place throughout the year. Some of the most popular cultural experiences in Leitrim include the Carrick Water Music Festival, the Joe Mooney Summer School, and the Kiltyclogher Drama Festival.
What family-friendly activities are there to do in Leitrim?
Leitrim is a great destination for families, with plenty of fun activities for all ages. The Ard Nahoo Eco Retreat is a popular family-friendly destination, offering yoga classes, nature walks, and wellness workshops. The Lough Key Forest Park is another popular attraction, with a range of activities such as zip-lining, tree-top walks, and boat tours.
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