Hailed as Ireland’s Lake District, the best way to see County Leitrim is from the water. Put on your skipper’s hat and hire a Carrickcraft or Emerald Star cruiser from Carrick-on-Shannon to cruise along the scenic River Shannon and Erne waterways. Or sit back and let someone else do the hard work with a Moon River or Rose of Innisfree boat tour.
Hop on board an early 20th century steam train at Cavan and Leitrim Railway. You’ll find the original station beside the current Dublin to Sligo stop, in the pretty fishing village of Dromod. History buffs and those with a keen interest in transport and engineering love the collection of old aircraft and vehicles. There’s also a variety of artefacts from the two World Wars on display, demonstrating the part transport played in battle and civilian survival.
Hire bikes from Electric Bike Trails in Leitrim village and cycle the scenic Shannon Blueway to Drumshanbo. The leisurely 20km round trip is tranquil and traffic-free and takes in the floating Acres Lake Boardwalk across beautiful lakelands. Pack refreshments for the many picnic spots along the family-friendly route.
On the edge of Lough Allen in Drumshanbo at the Shed Distillery of PJ Rigney, Leitrim’s famous Gunpowder Gin is distilled in copper pot stills. Rigney’s quest to fuse oriental botanicals with the local Irish ones resulted in the world-famous tipple which is bottled and labelled by local hands.
Just west of the River Boney in Dromahair, the medieval Franciscan friary of Creevelea Abbey was one of the last abbeys founded before Henry VIII set about dissolving all of the monasteries throughout Ireland and Britain. Built in 1508, existing architectural features like the cloisters, bell tower and chapter house give an insight into the abbey’s intended life. Today, it’s a peaceful spot for a scenic stroll.
Set just off the Shannon Blueway at Battlebridge, Drumhierny Woodland Escape is the ideal place for a peaceful getaway with friends or family. There are 16 different kinds of lodges spread out among the native trees, all of which have floor-to-ceiling glass at the front to give immersive views of the surrounding nature.
You can take a walk around the trails that weave through the 100 acre estate, and there’s also a woodland spa in the old walled garden, with outdoor seaweed baths, hot tubs and a sauna. In the evening, guests gather around the firepit at the Cedaroo for a glass of wine.
Originally the stronghold of the O'Rourke Clan, Parkes Castle is a plantation era fortified manor house overlooking the beautiful banks of Lough Gill. In the cobbled courtyard, you’ll find the foundations of an earlier defensive structure and remnants of a traditional 17th century blacksmith forge. Inside, learn all about the rulers of the kingdom of Breffni at the audio-visual exhibition before exploring the impressive turrets and round towers.
Referenced in the The Stolen Child by W.B. Yeats, a walk through the woods near Glencar Lough brings you to Glencar Waterfall. Pack some lunch to enjoy in the pretty picnic area below, this is a place where you’ll happily spend a few hours. "Where the wandering water gushes, from the hills above Glen-Car. In pools among the rushes, that scarce could bathe a star".
The highest free-standing natural rock tower on the island of Ireland, Hag’s Leap stands at 330m in north Leitrim’s stunning Dartry Mountains. The limestone has changed dramatically over the years with the occurrence of acid rain, creating plenty of nooks and crannies that are perfect for exploring. One such cave is known as Poll na mBear, where the bones of brown bears and their cubs, dating back to 2000BC were discovered.
Hag’s Leap can be viewed from the viewing area adjacent to the carpark. Please Note: there is no access,for walking or hiking in this area.
Leitrim has some wonderful places to enjoy a pint in, and maybe catch a traditional music session or singalong. During the day, stop by Charlie Farrelly's cosy bar in Carrigallen. And for dining, The Courthouse restaurant in Kinlough and The Oarsman gastropub in Carrick leaves you with no doubt as to why they have so many plaques around their doors.