Visiting County Leitrim? This part of the Irish Province of Connacht has a number of attractions you will not want to miss, including lakes, small characteristic towns and even a few castles. Plus some interesting sights that are slightly off the beaten path. So why not take your time and spend a day or two in Leitrim when visiting Ireland? Here are some ideas to make it worth your while ...
Lake and Isle (and Castle)
Some of Leitrim's attractions sit right on the border with neighboring County Sligo and one such place to experience is Lough Gill, also famed for its Yeats connections and home to the "Isle of Inisfree". Just the east end of the lake is within Leitrim's borders, but the advantage certainly lies in the less famous county: Parke's Castle, quite an impressive fortress and home on the north shore, is just within Leitrim. This is also the best point to start a boat tour on the lake.
Though often claimed by neighboring Sligo, Glencar Waterfall (with its Yeats connections) actually is in County Leitrim. Here a small stream cascades and plunges from the Dartry Mountains into Glencar Lough creating what is one of Ireland's most beautiful waterfalls. A small parking lot west of the actual village of Glencar is the best place to stop, then cross the road and head into the lightly wooded area north of the lakeshore. This isn't a thundering cascade, but it is certainly a romantic and evocative place. Unless you arrive on a sunny summer weekend, in which case it will more than likely be crowded. As for why Sligo claims the waterfall: part of Glencar Lough is in Sligo, but the Glencar Waterfall and the stream that feeds it are not.
Drop in on the Franciscans
The (ruined) Franciscan Friary of Creevelea, near the village of Dromahair, may be the finest ancient monument in County Leitrim, yet it is rarely visited. Perhaps the slightly complicated way to it is the main reason - either by unmarked tracks through the back of beyond or on foot from the village, along the stream and up the hill. The interesting remains are certainly worth the trouble, but they play hard to get with the occasional visitor.
Just south of Ballinamore, dozens of lakes invite the keen angler to try his luck. Leitrim happens to be great fishing country and if you are looking to get away from the hectic life and spend some time outdoors. Many of the lakes are part of the old canal system between Ballinamore and Ballyconnell, today the Shannon-Erne-Waterway, connecting those two hotbeds of boating.
Spend a Day in Carrick-on-Shannon
At first glance, the tiny county town does not have any particularly notable attractions, except large marinas and adjoining hotels. But if you walk up the busy main street, you will find the curious Costello Chapel (maybe the smallest church in Ireland and more of a crypt than anything else) plus dozens of small, often quaint, old-fashioned shops. Here you can also catch a boat to cruise the Shannon without having to plan your schedule too carefully because afternoon and evening cruises start from the moorings on a regular basis.
By the way - if you are looking for provisions, Carrick-on-Shannon is your best bet in County Leitrim. Many major supermarkets are located on the N4 just north and south of the town.
Cruising on Lough Allen
Lough Allen (of which most belongs to County Leitrim, though the south-western corner is Roscommon territory) is maybe one of the most underrated attractions for those cruising on Shannon and Erne. Accessible through the narrow upper part of the Shannon north of Carrick-on-Shannon (the more travelled Shannon-Erne-Waterway branches off at Leitrim Town), this large lake, accessible only with smaller boats, offers peaceful and unspoilt corners. Being quite large, it also offers a challenge in windy conditions! Take note, however, that Lough Allen is low on amenities - with just two harbours, Cleghran More and Spencer Harbour.
Traditional Music in County Leitrim
If you'd like some traditional entertainment in the evening, you can't go much wrong with heading to a pub and listening to a session. Anderson's Thatch Pub in Carrick holds them on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, Paddy Mac's in Drumshanbo on Friday.
Had enough of County Leitrim? Then hop over to the neighbouring counties: