Clough Oughter Castle, County Cavan
Where: Once the home of the powerful O’Reilly clan, the 12th century fortress of Clough Oughter Castle is built on a crannóg (man-made island) in the middle of Lough Oughter in County Cavan. These ancient stones hold secrets of warring families, fearless battles, and weathered history. Guided boat trips are offered around the lake and to the castle, which is part of the Marble Arch Caves Geopark, located beside the lush Killykeen Forest Park.
What’s nearby: Situated beneath counties Cavan and Fermanagh you’ll discover the hidden underworld of the Marble Arch Caves. And back on the surface, Dún na Rí Forest Park holds tales of legends in a lush wonderland of flourishing flora and riverside walks.
Derryvegal Lough, County Cork
Where: Deep in the wilds of wonderful West Cork you’ll find a lake so magical it could very well be the real-life location of Neverland! While you might not spot Peter Pan here, Derryvegal Lake is a haven of wildlife where misty mountain peaks meet sparkling waters. What better place to escape and get away from it all?
What’s nearby:This beautiful lake is situated on the showstopping Beara Peninsula. For a real treat (and stunning views) take a cable car to Dursey Island and explore the ruins of a church said to have been founded by monks from Skellig Michael. While in Bantry Bay the subtropical wonderland of Garnish Island awaits, complete with 15 hectares of lush woodland gardens and a Grecian temple. Stop by charming seaside towns like Castletownbere, where you can sample delicious seafood at The Olde Bakery.
Glenariff Glen, County Antrim
Where: Glenariff is one of the nine Glens of Antrim – forged by giant glaciers during the Ice Age and each with a unique beauty and character. Its name means “valley of the ploughman” and it's sometimes called the “Queen of the Glens”. One look at this photo and you can see why – its beauty is simply majestic!
What’s nearby: Glenariff Forest Park is a leafy oasis full of surging waterfalls and riverside rambles. Perched on the headland north of Glenariff sits the crumbling 13th century Red Bay Castle – perfect for exploring and scenic ocean views. Stop by the pretty village of Cushendun for a pint in one of Ireland’s smallest pub, Mary McBride’s, and explore the local 400-million-year-old caves – a key filming location in the hit HBO TV series Game of Thrones®.
Slieve League, County Donegal
Where: Want to feel as if you’re standing on the edge of the world? Welcome to the elemental heights of County Donegal’s Slieve League sea cliffs. With the bracing, salty sea air swirling around you and the fearsome Atlantic Ocean crashing on the rocks below, the might of Mother Nature is felt in full force! From the highest point on the cliffs, it’s a staggering 609m (1,998 ft) drop to the bottom – don’t be surprised if your knees start knocking!
What’s nearby: Explore Donegal’s craft heritage with a guided tour of Glencolmcille Folk Village nearby. Or watch master crafters at Triona Donegal Tweed Visitor Centre in Ardara town weaves wonders on looms that are centuries old. For a fine dining experience and lakeside views, book a table at award-winning Harvey’s Point.
Hill of Uisneach, County Westmeath
Where: When it comes to legends and lore, the Hill of Uisneach in Ireland’s Ancient East is a treasure trove of discovery. This area is said to be the ancient centre of Ireland – marked by the famous Aill na Míreann (the Stone of Divisions). It’s also claimed to be the resting place of the sun god, Lugh. Keep an eye out for the beautiful wooden sculpture by master carver, Richie Clarke, depicting the legendary deity on the banks of Lough Lugh, where he is said to have met his mortal end.
What’s nearby: In the nearby town of Athlone, explore the noble history of Athlone Castle and stop for a pint at Sean’s Bar – one of the oldest pubs in Ireland. Hear tales of wicked spouses, grand gestures and a battle between brothers at Belvedere House and Gardens. And for a touch of luxury, head to the shores of Lough Ree for a cosy meal at Wineport Lodge.
Flagstaff viewpoint, County Armagh
What’s nearby: Carlingford Lough is a beauty in its own right – and it’s not short on legendary tales, as local Leprechaun Whisperer Kevin Woods can tell you! Treat yourself to some retail therapy in the shopping haven of nearby Newry city. And history buffs can explore the area's fascinating past with a visit to the Newry and Mourne Museum.
Glencar Lake, County Leitrim
Where: Steep cliffs drop dramatically to the shores of Glencar Lake, which straddles the border between counties Leitrim and Sligo. The only sound you're likely to hear in this tranquil oasis is the water cascading over nearby waterfalls, the most famous of which was immortalised in words by the great WB Yeats in his mystical poem, The Stolen Child.
What’s nearby: After taking in the peaceful lake, wander over to Glencar Waterfall, found on the hills above. Explore the unique crafts of the area at Leitrim Design House in the town of Carrick-on-Shannon. If you love the water, be sure to enjoy a cruise along the Shannon-Erne Waterway, which starts in the quaint Leitrim Village and winds its way to the town of Belturbet in County Cavan.