Trip idea: Hidden Ireland

Glencar Lake, County Leitrim

Looking to veer off the beaten path and taste the magic of hidden Ireland? Then we’ve got an adventure to suit your mindset!

Come and see what makes Ireland a feast for the traveller within as we unravel the mysterious secret gems at the heart of where history meets culture.

Hidden Ireland

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Glencar to Lough Allen

If life is meant to be an adventure, then the dreamy vistas and hidden world of counties Leitrim and Roscommon is bliss.

A driving 20 mins
Glencar waterfall

Chasing waterfalls

Just off the Wild Atlantic Way, a photographer’s dream awaits at Glencar Waterfall where pristine water cascades from a 15m rocky headland into a deep pool below. This natural beauty served as inspiration for the WB Yeats poem, The Stolen Child, and when you gaze upon this lyrical playground it’s easy to see why the wordsmith fell in love with the place. Further along a magical wooded walk, you’ll chance upon another visual treat: the wild and spectacular Glencar Lough, where a sense of wellbeing enwraps the senses.

B driving 40 mins
Parke's Castle

A flavour of castle life

There’s no finer example of the melancholy romance of Ireland than Parke’s Castle, picturesquely situated on the shores of Lough Gill in County Leitrim. The historic walls of this 17th century beauty are filled with tales of exile – the ultimate portal into a bygone era. Marvel at the stunning craftsmanship of the dovecote interior and the imposing Tower House of this restored plantation castle at the heart of Irish history.

If you have more time

Hop aboard the Rose of Innisfree and experience the spectacular scenery of Yeats Country.

C driving 15 mins
Arigna Mines

An underground labyrinth

Situated in the unspoiled landscape of County Roscommon lies an unexpected hidden world at the Arigna Mining Experience. Discover what coal mining life was like in this underground architectural wonder. Ex-miners conduct all the tours here, offering a fascinating insight into the endurance required to handle the cramped areas and intense darkness of this cavernous abyss.

Lough Allen © Shutterstock

A floating paradise

A trip to Lough Allen is an attack on the senses in the best possible way. Soak up the natural beauty of County Leitrim and its abundant wildlife by exploring the Shannon Blueway. Follow the path along a delightful looped walk from an incredible floating boardwalk at Acres Lake to Battlebridge Lock near the busy village of Leitrim.

If you have more time

Squeeze in a visit to Glenview Folk Museum, or stop at the picture-postcard village of Dromod and grab a bite at Cox’s Steakhouse.

Lough Key

Lough Key to Strokestown

Get ready for epic history, friendly locals and mega adventure as you travel south from Lough Key to Strokestown Park.

E driving 15 mins
Lough Key © Shutterstock

Fairytale bliss

History, flora and fauna combine at Lough Key Forest Park in County Roscommon. There’s a world of adventure to explore here: think tree canopy walks, woodland Segway trails, an outdoor adventure kingdom and over 900 metres of zip-line. Lough Key is also home to one of the county’s most important and symbolic sites: the grandiose 12th century fortress of McDermott’s Castle from where the McDermott clan ruled the Moylurg dynasty.

If you have more time

Pay a visit to a magnificently restored Georgian mansion at King House in nearby Boyle. If you’re feeling peckish, drop into the cosy tearoom.

F driving 25 mins

Tales along the Shannon

You’ll fit in the perfect mix of sightseeing and relaxation during a trip to Carrick-on-Shannon. There’s a multitude of attractions just waiting to be explored: get your foodie fix at award-winning restaurant The Oarsman, or try your hand at culinary creation at St George’s Terrace Cookery School. The town also has some cracking pubs: try Anderson’s Thatched Pub where lively music fuses with an old-world atmosphere. There’s an impressive arts scene where you can watch crystal being cut and engraved by the masters at Leitrim Crystal, or check out the grand surrounds of the Dock Arts Centre for exhibitions and workshops. And don’t miss a visit to the Market Yard Centre for a farmers’ market offering an array of top-notch organic produce from local producers.

If you have more time

Visit the quaint village of Leitrim and take a stand-up paddleboarding safari along the Shannon Blueway with Leitrim Surf.


Strokestown House

Opulence and tranquility

Set foot inside a historical time capsule at Strokestown House, a Georgian mansion full of whimsical charm and complete with original 18th century furnishings. But it’s real draw is its role as the thought-provoking National Famine Museum, which tells the story of a very tragic chapter in Irish history. Once you’ve sated your appetite for history, explore the walled gardens and stroll along the lily pond and Victorian rose garden.

If you have more time

Keep the historical theme going at the burial grounds of long-forgotten heroes and kings at Rathcroghan, walk through the imposing 13th century Roscommon Castle; and enjoy the beautiful gardens at Castlecoote House.

Lough Ree

St Mel's Cathedral to Saints Island

Delve into sacred Ireland as you travel through the enigmatic landscape of County Longford along Ireland’s Ancient East.

H driving 15 mins
St Mel's © Shutterstock

Majesty of St Mel’s

There’s no denying the aesthetic draw of cathedrals. And in the charming town of Longford you’ll discover exquisite examples of Christian architecture at St Mel’s. With its lofty steeple, underground vaults and many ornate works of art, the cathedral is a feast for the senses and has been an important place of pilgrimage since the 19th century. While in Longford, pay a visit to the candlelit VM Restaurant, situated in the old stables of a magnificent 17th century manor at Viewmount House. Or check out the latest in creative experimentation at the ultra-cool Backstage Theatre to the south of the town.


Come at festival time

Experience a true passion for food and fishing at the Taste of the Lakelands International Food Festival.

I driving 15 mins
Corlea trackway

Tracks of history

There are not many places where you can marvel at the preserved remains of a wooden Iron Age bog road dating back to 148BC! An important archaeological find and one of the largest bog trackways in Europe, take a guided tour of the Corlea Trackway Visitor Centre and learn all about Iron Age trackways and bog culture. Remarkably, a further stretch of trackway still lies under the four hectares of preserved bog surrounding the centre.

If you have more time

Say hello to the friendly folk at Inny Kayaker  and go for a paddle along the glorious River Inny

Lough Ree © Shutterstock

Serenity and solitude

Nestled on the banks of Lough Ree and accessible via a series of winding country roads, Saints Island offers a fascinating glimpse into ancient island living. Amidst the gothic ruins at this remote and peaceful setting, what’s not to love about a bewitching place that also acts as a wildlife sanctuary? Pure bliss.

If you have more time

Admire a Cistercian monastery in the pretty village Abbeyshule, or take it up a notch with a countryside cycle along the Longford-Clondra Greenway for a glimpse of the tranquility of rural Ireland.

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