Enjoy a leisurely stroll on the boardwalk at the Clara Bog Nature Reserve, take a thrilling bike ride through the magnificent Slieve Bloom Mountains, and admire the postcard-perfect town of Banagher on a boat trip along the River Shannon. Here are some of the best things to see and do when in Offaly.
Stay in Tullamore town, perched on the picturesque banks of the Grand Canal. Start with a visit to Lough Boora Discovery Park and choose from a series of scenic strolls. See unique sculptures by Irish artists on the 3km Sculpture Loop or test your pace on the 9.3km Mesolithic Loop where you’ll spot skylarks, hares and foxes.
Next, it’s a twenty-minute drive to the Clara Bog Nature Reserve, an impressive example of a raised bog and home to several protected wildlife species. Although the visitor centre is temporarily closed, you can still embrace the great outdoors and experience 10,000 years of history at this natural heritage site. Later, make time for a trip to the Tullamore Dew Visitor Centre. Go on a guided tour to see how the whiskey is made in copper stills and hear the story behind one of Ireland’s most famous exports.
From quaint cafés to upmarket eateries, experience great food and drink in Tullamore. Begin with breakfast at Chocolate Brown – the mouthwatering pancake stack is not to be missed. Coupled with a steaming cup of coffee, the brioche French toast at nearby Foxy Bean is another must-try.
Drop into Lana Thai for some Asian street food or Sirocco’s for authentic Italian pizza and pasta prepared by expert chefs in the open kitchen. Head to Captain House for a hearty meal, the cosy nautical-themed interior is the perfect place to spend an evening.
Trek into the Slieve Bloom Mountains
Did you know that the Slieve Blooms, together with the Massif Central in France, are the oldest mountains in Europe? Trek across these majestic mountains where towering trees stand guard over the rolling hills and sunlight dances through the branches overhead. Plan a walking break and take on the long-distance Slieve Bloom Way, a 84km circular route that typically takes three days to complete. If that’s not for you, there’s plenty of shorter hikes with varying lengths and difficulty levels.
Head to the village of Kinnity for the 7km Glenafelly Eco Walk or take the 8km Glinsk Castle Loop close to the grounds of Kinnity Castle Hotel. Pass by trickling streams, broadleaf trees, and the ancient ruins of Glinsk Castle on this enchanting forest trail (watch out for fallow deer and red squirrels). The 7km Silver River Nature Walk treats you to views of the spectacular waterfall at the Silver River Gorge. Trek across moss-covered paths and secluded riverbanks to see local landmarks including May Scully’s Cottage and St Lughna’s Holy Well.
If mountain biking is your thing, discover 35kms of invigorating turns and energetic jumps across manmade trails on a day tour with Mid Ireland Adventure. See the sloping Slieve Bloom hills from another angle on a horseback ride with Birr Equestrian Centre. Trot down open valleys, gallop across bubbling brooks and bask in the bog cotton-clad mountain views.
Sail down the River Shannon
Discover the delights of the River Shannon, the longest river in Ireland. Base yourself in Banagher, a bustling town where there’s so much to see and do. Enjoy the outdoor swimming pool at Banagher Shannon Bank Park or go fishing at Shannon Harbour on the banks of the Grand Canal. Check out the colourful marina in Banagher where you can hire a self-driver cruiser from Carrickcraft, Locaboat, or Silver Line Cruisers and take a boat trip along the River Shannon.
Head north and just an hour up the river from Banagher, you’ll find Shannonbridge, where the sixteen-arch bridge is a sight to behold. Enjoy a self-guided tour of the Shannonbridge Fortifications, a Napoleonic fort that dates back to 1810, and make your way to Shannonbridge Pottery where you’ll find pretty chintz pottery to take home as a souvenir. End the day with a meal at Lukers in Shannonbridge and soak up the magical river views. Sit by the open fireplace and pour over memorabilia dating back to the 1800s in the old-world bar, it’s an unmissable experience.
Your next stop is Clonmacnoise, an ancient monastic settlement founded by Saint Ciarán in the 6th century. Although the visitor centre isn’t open at the moment, you can still experience this historical treasure. Walk around the peaceful sanctuary and marvel at the round towers, churches, and high crosses in this hallowed place.
It’s time to plan your trip to Offaly and discover places you never even knew existed. From bustling Tullamore to stunning Shannonbridge, experience outdoor adventures, historical treasures, sensational scenery, and fantastic food. Head over to our Offaly destination page now and start planning a holiday or short break to this vibrant county.
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