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My Ireland

Looking for inspiration? Planning a trip? Or just want to scroll yourself happy? We'll show you an Ireland that's tailor-made for you.

  • #Landscapes
  • #CultureandHeritage
  • #OutdoorActivities
  • #Landmarks
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    6 days 657 km

    Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands by public transport

    • #Adventure
    • #Landscapes
    • #IrelandsHiddenHeartlands
    From County Cavan to County Limerick
    Nearest Airport Dublin Airport
    Attractions Clonmacnoise
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    Quiet canals, historic sites, green fields, vast expanses of boglands and loughs galore…

    Rural Ireland is fond of a leisurely pace of life compared to that of the island’s cities. With that in mind, we’ve planned a route which encourages you to slow down and appreciate your surroundings as you explore the 12 counties of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands.


    Day 1

    134 km


    Day 2

    127 km


    Day 3

    79 km


    Day 4

    112 km


    Day 5

    162 km


    Day 6

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    Day 1 Dublin Airport to County Cavan

    Day 1

    County Cavan has a lough (lake) for every day of the year, and you’ll find that this under-the-radar county is perfect for lovers of the great outdoors.

    Explore Day 1

    Cavan is to be explored

    Cathedral of Saints Patrick and Felim, County Cavan

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    After landing in Dublin Airport, hop on the Expressway bus which goes direct to Cavan town. Check into one of Cavan town’s hotels or B&Bs, and prepare for your firstadventure in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands.


    Cavan is one of the lesser-visited historical hotspots on the island of Ireland. As you meander through the town, you will come across a three-storey bell tower and graveyard. These are both part of St Mary’s Abbey, constructed in 1300. Look out for the 68m spire of the Cathedral of Saints Patrick and Felim, completed in 1942, and don’t miss the town hall which became Cavan’s first movie house and is over 100 years old.


    One of the best ways to get to know your surroundings in County Cavan is by bike! Book in advance and Feel Good Bicycles will deliver rental bikes straight to your accommodation.

    14 km

    To the loughs!

    Cavan Adventure Centre, County Cavan

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    Cycle the winding roads to Cavan Adventure Centre, and count how many loughs you can spot on the way!


    The adventure centre offers the unique experience of spending time in Cavan’s natural landscape while trying something new! On land, try activities like outdoor yoga and learn about different plants and animals. On the water, go canoeing or enjoy the water park – you may end up more immersed in Cavan’s loughs than you expected!


    Head back to Cavan town to get ready for dinner. Right in the town centre, you’ll find the Oak Room Restaurant, which focuses on fresh, seasonal produce. It’s a great spot for an evening out in stylish modern surrounds.

    89 km

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    Day 2 County Cavan to County Leitrim

    Day 2

    Stories and remnants of Ireland’s history, cultural traditions and charm are hidden in the heartland counties of Longford and Leitrim.

    Explore Day 2

    The Iron Age bog road

    Corlea Trackway Visitor Centre, County Longford

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    Fourteen percent of Ireland is peat bog. This one has something a little extra, however.


    Hop on the bus from Cavan Bus Station to Longford Bus Station, and from there you can take a taxi to the Corlea Trackway Visitor Centre where Europe’s largest Iron Age road built in 148BC awaits. Heavy wooden planks were placed on top of the bog to create the road, but they eventually sank into the peat causing it to be unusable. Luckily for us, the bog preserved the planks so we can see a large section of this road today. Historians reckon it once connected the Hill of Uisneach (the ritual centre of Ireland) to the royal site of Rathcroghan.

    38 km

    Art, love and song

    Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim

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    If you’re looking for a rural idyll, take the train to County Leitrim – after all, this is a place that only got its first set of traffic lights in 2003 – and a great place to kick off any visit to the county is the charming waterside town of Carrick-On-Shannon. 


    A great way to get to know this corner of the heartlands through its arts scene. Loved by locals, the Leitrim Design House is a space created over 20 years ago for handcrafted Irish design. Check out the ceramics, prints, woodwork, jewellery and more – they make the perfect gifts to bring home from your trip to Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands!


    The smallest chapel in Europe (and second smallest in the world), Costello Memorial Chapel, can also be found in Leitrim. A tragic love story precedes this chapel. A widowed merchant Edward Costello erected it as a memorial for his wife when she died before her time in 1877.


    Finish the day with a trip to Cryan’s Teach Ceoil. This traditional Irish music pub is known for its great craic (fun), good pints of Guinness and spontaneous traditional music sessions.

    14 km

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    Day 3 County Leitrim to County Roscommon

    Day 3

    Breakfast with a president, a gate to hell and a castle are on today’s itinerary as you explore County Roscommon.

    Explore Day 3

    Boyle for breakfast

    Boyle Abbey, County Roscommon

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    Hop on the train to the market town of Boyle in County Roscommon. Fun fact: Boyle is the homeplace of the Republic of Ireland’s first president Douglas Hyde!


    Breakfast in Lovage at the Gate Lodge is a good way to start the day with a cosy vibe, tasty food and a view over the Boyle River. Next, head to Boyle Abbey; a Cistercian monastery founded by monks in the 12th century. Cromwellian forces once occupied this monastery, and it also accommodated a military garrison. The best way to learn about this impressive structure is to visit the interpretive centre in the restored gatehouse.

    35 km

    Ancient wonders in the heartlands

    Rathcroghan Mound, County Roscommon

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    Travel by bus to the medieval village of Tulsk where you’ll find the incredible ancient landscape of Rathcroghan. It is here that 240 archaeological sites ranging from the Neolithic era to the late medieval period have been identified, and among burial mounds, and stone forts, there is even a gate to hell!


    Visit Rathcroghan Visitor Centre to learn about the site. At the centre, you can hear stories and be guided by an expert. Find out what’s on in the visitor centre before you visit so you don’t miss out on any lectures, events or archaeological conferences.

    30 km

    Besieged, blown up and somehow still standing

    Roscommon Castle, County Roscommon

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    The ancient theme continues after a bus journey to Roscommon town where the ruins of Roscommon Castle stand today. The castle was built in 1229 and despite being besieged, blown up, and then left to decay, parts of the castle are still standing! The castle is free to enter, but it is best admired from the adjacent 14-acre Loughnaneane Park and Playground.


    For dinner in Roscommon, we recommend Gleeson’s, which serves dishes inspired by the local producers. Their Roscommon lamb stew is quite simply mouth-watering.

    30 km

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    Day 4 County Roscommon to County Offaly

    Day 4

    You’re exploring THREE counties today, but don’t worry, we’ve made sure to include a bit of luxury so you’re not worn out for your onward adventure. Prepare to take to the water like a Viking, visit the Irish Workhouse Centre, explore a castle and sleep like royalty in a luxurious hotel.

    Explore Day 4

    Vikings in Westmeath

    Athlone, County Westmeath

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    Day four begins with you gazing out of the train window as you travel to the town of Athlone, County Westmeath. Vikings attacked this lovely town in 1690, and the best way to explore is by donning a Viking helmet and climbing aboard a longship.


    The Lough Rea and Hodson Bay Cruise Viking Tour sets sail from Athlone Castle and follows the River Shannon upstream towards Lough Rea. On-board commentary will teach you about the history and stories in this area. Another option is to join a cruise to Clonmacnoise to visit the ancient monastery of Clonmacnoise from the 6th century. Located on the the banks of the River Shannon, Clonmacnoise was once a centre for Christianity and trade, which made it a popular Viking target.


    Celebrate your newfound Viking knowledge with a visit to the oldest pub in Ireland (as recognised by the Guinness Book of Records) Sean’s Bar.

    58 km

    The landing place of the oak tree

    Portumna Castle and Gardens, County Galway

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    Why not bring a picnic to enjoy as you take the train and bus to County Galway’s Portumna? This historic town derives its name from the Irish Gaelic “Port Omna” which translates to “the landing place of the oak tree”, and it suits its name well with its densely wooded Portumna Forest Park covering 450 hectares on the northern edge of Lough Derg.


    Gaze upon a fantastic view of Lough Derg from Portumna Castle and Gardens, and then enjoy a stroll around Portumna Castle’s grounds as you admire one of the best examples of 1600s Irish architecture. Visit the exhibition on the ground floor of the castle where you can learn about its past inhabitants and tumultuous history, including the fire of 1826 which cost this castle its roof.


    The Irish Workhouse Centre is an important stop to make in Portumna if you want to get under the skin of Ireland’s Famine history. Destitute families moved to these 163 workhouses as a last resort between the 1840s and 1920s, but conditions were bad. Enter through what was once the real waiting room, before taking a guided tour of the workhouses and museum.

    24 km

    Luxury in Offaly

    The Great Telescope, Birr, County Offaly

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    Take a taxi to Birr, County Offaly – the home of the Great Telescope which was built in 1845 and remained the biggest for 75 years! See this 15-metre-long telescope for yourself on the grounds of Birr Castle.


    You can enjoy a bit of luxury in Birr, too. Treat yourself to a stay in the 4-star County Arms Hotel, which is in a beautiful Georgian House offering a comfy stay, leisure facilities and dining that has been perfected over 60 years. Dooly’s Hotel is another great option. It's very central to Birr, so you can dine in their award-winning Emmet Restaurant before heading out to catch a show at the loved-by-locals Birr Theatre.

    92 km

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    Day 5 County Offaly to County Limerick

    Day 5

    Explore Ballina and Killaloe, twin towns with a significant role in the island of Ireland’s history, before heading to your final Hidden Heartlands destination in the Ballyhoura Mountains.

    Explore Day 5

    Twin towns

    Killaloe, County Clare

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    Hop on the bus to the twin towns of Ballina and Killaloe. These towns lie at either side of the River Shannon from one another and are actually in different counties. With Killaloe in County Clare and Ballina in County Tipperary, there’s a friendly sense of rivalry when it comes to county GAA hurling matches! Joined together by an 18th century, 13-arch bridge, and packed full of charming streets and gorgeous riverside walks, the two towns make for a fun addition to your Hidden Heartlands trip.


    Killaloe was the birthplace of the High King of Ireland Brian Boru who ruled from 1002 to his death in 1014AD. The Killaloe Historic Town Trail includes the site where Brian Boru’s fort once stood, as well as many other sites in Killaloe that will help you understand this town’s historical value.


    Lovely walks in the Ballina area include the Ballina Riverside Walk and the Graves of the Leinsterman Walk which ascends through the Tipperary countryside to the summit of the Tountinna Hill.

    70 km

    Into the mountains

    Ballyhoura Mountains, County Limerick

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    Soak in the rural surroundings on your last bus journey of this adventure as you make your way to Kilfinane in County Limerick. This small, rural town is hidden within the Ballyhoura Mountain range. You will need to book a place in a B&B or guesthouse here well in advance as there arent many options. Trust us when we say its worth the forward planning to be able to stay in one of the truly hidden gems of Irelands Hidden Heartlands.

    43 km

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    Day 6 County Limerick

    Day 6

    Spend day 6 exploring Kilfinane and the surrounding Ballyhoura Mountains. After this, it's time to say goodbye to the heartlands and hello to your next island of Ireland adventure.

    Explore Day 6

    Exploring Kilfinane

    Ballyhoura Apple Farm, County Limerick

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    Many different walking routes through the Ballyhoura Mountains surround Kilfinane, including the Ballyhoura Way. The highest point on this walk is 510m so if you get a nice day, you could be looking at the most spectacular views over this region. Perhaps you want to go a little faster... Try mountain biking at Ballyhoura Mountain Bike Trails for a thrilling ride through natures scenery and that all-important boost of adrenaline.


    If youre thirsty after mountain adventures, visit Ballyhoura Apple Farm for delicious apple juice. They have won many awards for their fresh and tangy juice. The juice, as well as other apple-based products including apple cider vinegar, are grown and manufactured right there in Kilfinane.


    After exploring Kilfinane, you have a couple options. You can go to Limerick Train Station or Cork (Kent) Station to continue your journey across Ireland.

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