This county lies between Fermanagh to the west
and Armagh to the east, and has a beautiful landscape
of low, rolling hills. Lakes too, makes this a popular place with
coarse fishermen. The central part of the county is hilly but heavily
Monaghan is a market town, built
on a monastic site, with some fine examples of architecture. The
Monaghan County Museum on Market Street has among
its treasures the Clogher Cross, a sample of early Christian metalwork.
Castleblaney sits at the head of Lough
Muckno, the county’s largest lake and a place
for excellent coarse fishing. Carrickmacross, south
of Ballybay, is famous for its handmade lace. To
the north stands Mannan Castle,
a 12th-century bailey and motte.
Known to anglers as a place of rivers and lakes and the very best
in coarse fishing. Non-anglers scarcely know it at all for this
is an undiscovered county, peaceful and unspoilt, an attractive
countryside dotted with woodlands and folded into glens that rise
to the summit of Cuilcagh at 665m or 2182ft, which it shares with
Cavan, the town is uninspiring,
but nearby Clough Oughter, a circular
tower castle, tells of a time when this was the base of the O’Reillys,
the princes of Breffni. A short way out of Cavan, is a group of
standing stones, Finn MacCool’s Fingers, believed to be the place where the princes
were crowned. West of the town, Lough Oughter
is the name given to a series of lakes, part of the River Erne system,
and a major coarse fishing area.
Like Co Cavan, Longford holds appeal for anglers. It sits in the
middle of Ireland, and lies in the catchments of the River Shannon. Lakes abound, Lough Gowna
in the north and Lough Kinale
in the east. Today, Co Longford is primarily farming.
Along the River Camlin, Longford Town grew up around a fortress of the O’Farrells.
The towers of Cathedral of St Mel dominate the
town. A few miles west, Cloondara is worthy of
a visit: an attractive village on the Royal Canal.
During the summer months, music is performed in the teach cheoil (Irish music house). Ballymahon
is famous for Oliver Goldsmith, author of ‘She Stoops to Conquer’
and the classic poem ‘The Deserted Village’.
This county has an air of beauty, being a place of lakes and wooded
countryside, and a large area of untamed bogland, producing a unique
habitat for flora and fauna. Old-fashioned pubs and ruins dot the
landscape, and make Westmeath a great place to explore.
The former garrison town of Mullingar is now a
main centre for angling, and one of the most agreeable market towns
in Ireland, with an atmosphere that is lacking in other towns in
The Midlands. Hunting, shooting and fishing are the main activities
In Crookedwood, at the foot of Lough
Derravaragh, stands St Munna’s Church,
like a fairytale, complete with 15th-century tower and battlements
and a lakeside setting. At Castlepollard are the
beautiful landscaped grounds of Tullynally Castle,
the family seat of the earls of Longford.
Offaly and Laios
Unaffected by mass tourism – the counties of Laios and Offaly
lie at the heart of The Midlands. Co Offaly is bordered to the west
by the River Shannon, offering cruising tours, as does the Grand
Canal that runs through the middle of the county. Co Laios
(pronounced Leash) is a place of attractive villages with nice homes.
Co Offaly shares with Co Laios the beautiful glens of the Slieve
Bloom Mountains, which in spite of a low elevation and
a boggy feel about them, nevertheless convey a sense of grandeur
One of Ireland’s holiest places, Clonmacnoise,
was founded in AD 548 by St Ciaran at a strategic crossing point
of the Shannon. During medieval times, it developed into a seat
of learning, acknowledged by kings. Using a track bed built for
the transportation of peat, the Clonmacnoise and West Offaly
Railway is the key to the natural history of bogs, as it
fashions an 8.8km or 5.5-mile course around the Blackwater Bog.
Birr is an pretty town of Georgian streets
and buildings. The grounds of Birr Castle are superb
but the castle is not open to the public. Here, too, is the Historic
Science Centre, that houses a large reflecting telescope,
in its day the largest in the world.
west of Kildare, is an neo-Classical building constructed in 1792.
Not far from Mountrath is Roundwood House,
a Palladian mansion, now a guest-house.
The lack of a coastline does not take away the beauty of this county
in any way, as a walk to the top of Slievenamon
(the mountain of the fairies), north of Clonmel, will demonstrate.
Northwards rises the limestone Rock of Cashel and to the south are the Comeragh Mountains.
The countryside of Tipperary is dotted with churches,
Norman castles and Stone Iron
The town of Clonmel on the banks of the River Suir, dates from the tenth century, but there is
considerable evidence of occupation from prehistoric times. Clonmel
is the most important town in the county. The County Museum
on Parnell Street has a collection of artefacts, including Roman
coins and prehistoric items.
The Comeragh and Knockmealdown
mountain ranges are large uplands of forest and bog, but easy to
explore by car or on foot. Ballymacarbry on the
River Nier is also a good base
Carrick-on-Suir, a market town
east of Clonmel is today best known for Sean Kelly the cyclist who
had success in the Tour de France. Ormond Castle,
just outside the town is an Elizabethan mansion, and well worth