Uncover our pick of must-visit destinations and hidden gems in County Monaghan.
In the midst of 1000 acres of mature, rolling parkland with ancient trees and glittering lakes teeming with wildlife, Castle Leslie Estate is one of the most intact castle estates in Ireland. It is also one of the last great Irish castle estates still in the hands of its founding family, the Leslies can trace their fascinating ancestry back to Atilla the Hun.
Every corner of the house tells a tale; in The Mauve Room, an Earl famously hid in the big white wardrobe in order to surprise a Queen and in The Nursery, the giant dollhouse has been ingeniously turned into a bathroom. Original features, unique antiques and captivating curios are dotted throughout the beautifully maintained house. If you’re not staying, drop by for a sumptuous meal at the award-winning Snaffles Restaurant or horse-riding lessons on the beautiful estate.
Dedicated to the life and work of the Irish poet and novelist, the Patrick Kavanagh Centre has a 60-seat audiovisual theatre and research library. Twelve specially commissioned paintings are on permanent exhibition illustrating Kavanagh's epic poem The Great Hunger, along with a miniature model depicting Kavanagh's classic, A Christmas Childhood.
Set in the home town and birthplace of the poet, a special feature of the Patrick Kavanagh Centre is the unique performance tour of Kavanagh Country, which takes in many local sites immortalised by Inniskeen's most famous son, with anecdotes, historical facts, wild rumours and, of course, poetry.
It’s said that the beautiful tin church in Laragh was a gift from the mill owner James McKean to his wife after their honeymoon in Switzerland where she saw and fell in love with it. Constructed of metal, St. Peter’s Tin Church is designed in a Swiss-gothic hybrid style and is one of a kind on the island of Ireland.
Listed as a Building of National Importance, St. Peter’s is built on a rock, in a beautiful woodland setting amongst ferns and ivy. It was deconsecrated in the 1950s and was restored by the community of Laragh. Proudly re-opened in 2014, it’s now a popular venue for touring musicians and drama groups.
Set on 900 acres of wooded country in the mid-Monaghan town of Castleblayney, Lough Muckno Leisure Park is a great destination for many adventures like orienteering, nature trails, water-skiing, wakeboarding and coarse fishing. If you’re after a more relaxed experience, there’s a pretty peace garden and picnic areas. The lake itself is the largest and most beautiful of Monaghan’s lakes with spectacular views of the surrounding area so don’t miss it on your visit.
A scenic mix of quiet country roads, riverside walkways, cross-country trekking and lakeshore approaches, walking or cycling The Monaghan Way is a wonderful trail to enjoy the pretty scenery of the county. Stretching from Clontibret to Inniskeen, the 54km route can be tackled over two days and contains a mix of gentle sloping hill gradients with flat stretches of open countryside.
Discover the rich culture and heritage of The Oriel County at Monaghan County Museum in Monaghan town. A treasure trove of local history, it features fascinating exhibits like the Cross of Clogher, a bronze-encased oak cross with richly decorated panels showing Christian iconography, and items found in medieval crannógs, like ancient leather shoes, ornate combs made of bone and needles made of antler.
While you’re in Monaghan make time to explore its urban and rural landscapes by bike on The Monaghan Town Greenway. This wonderful route follows the path of the Ulster Canal and passes close to many of Monaghan Town’s residential and commercial areas.
The urban walking and cycle track is a 4.2km linear route and is generally flat with some gentle slopes, suitable for fair weather cyclists and family groups. Taking about half an hour to cycle, the route can also be walked in 45 minutes. Those who wish to explore further can continue along the Threemilehouse Road by footpath to nearby Rossmore Forest Park.
Explore the sprawling woodlands, five fishing lakes and giant sculpture trail at Rossmore Forest Park, near Monaghan Town. There are several well-posted forest walks to choose from including the Nature Trail, Yew Walk and, arguably the most scenic, the Priestfield Walk. The three-mile route leads you past rows of towering yews and the Rossmore family crypt. As well as impressive remnants of its past life as an estate, there’s also a great play park for children and the well-maintained paths are suitable for wheelchair users.
Made famous by its inclusion in the wedding dresses of Princess Diana and the Duchess of Cambridge, Carrickmacross Lace was introduced to Ireland in 1820. Mrs Grey Porter of Donaghmoyne taught local women lacemaking so they could earn some extra income.
At the Carrickmacross Lace Gallery explore the craft inspired by Italian lace that originated in the 19th century, eventually becoming an important part of rural Irish family life. The tradition is maintained today, with beautiful lace still hand-worked by a select group of craftspeople at the Market Square gallery.
While you’re visiting Castle Leslie, don’t forget to take a walk through the picturesque Glaslough Village. Just outside the estate walls, the community has been closely linked with the house for over 350 years. Start the 2km walking trail beside the Famine Monument and finish at Saint Salvator’s Church, discovering local stories along the way.
Find out about Glaslough’s past role as a centre of agricultural innovation, the differences between life upstairs and downstairs in the great house, and some of the colourful characters who have stayed in Glaslough over the years.
The Drumlin County is full of gentle hills and northern charm, head over to our Monaghan destination page for more great things to do in this beautiful county.