We are all about Leitrim this month. This little county packs a punch for its size and has so much to offer; stunning landscapes, lower property prices, great communities and virtually no traffic (Leitrim only got its first traffic lights in 2003!)
The greatest thing about Leitrim is that because it’s off the beaten path, even in the height of tourist seasons, when the busloads are trundling around the Ring of Kerry, you will find so many beautiful places to visit and things to do in Leitrim that don’t involve jostling with the crowds.
To make things even more appealing the welcome is warm; locals aren’t jaded by volumes of visitors and so the welcome is always a warm and personal one. We can vouch for that.
Here are our Top 10 Things to Do in Leitrim.
1. Glencar Waterfall
Leitrim is home to some of the most breath-taking scenery in the entire world. Full of lakes and mountains, the county is a photographer’s dream. Topping the must-see list is Glencar Waterfall, on the shore of Glencar Lough, this beautiful waterfall is extremely visitor-friendly and accessible. In 2014 the Teashed at Glencar opened making a trip even more appealing with its lovely cafe and outdoor playground.
2. Stunning Lakelands
Did you know that Leitrim is home to no fewer than ten lakes to take your breath away. Be sure to walk around Glencar Lough when you vist the waterfall, take a tour of Parkes Castle when at Lough Gill and consider renting a boat to cruise around Lough Allen, especially beautiful in the late afternoon as the sun sets over the lake.
3. Get Your Adventure On:
There is no doubt that the best of what Leitrim has to offer involves fresh air. See the locals list below of the best things to do in the great outdoors.
- Visit Ireland’s first floating boardwalk at Acres Lake in Co Leitrim. The 600m boardwalk – between Drumshanbo and Carrick-on-Shannon – serves as the final leg of the Shannon Blueway, part of an expanding network of recreational trails that offer walking, kayaking, and cycling routes in lesser-known parts of the State.
- Lots of scenic walks, local favourites are:
- O Donnells Rock
- O’Rourkes Table Walk
- Eagle’s Rock
- Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUPing) has exploded in popularity. Locals and tourists alike rave about walking on water down the River Bonet near Dromahair with local provider SUP for All or head for the Leitrim Blueway with Leitrim Surf Company
- If you prefer sitting down, kayaking with Adventure Gently is another great option for a jaunt down the River Bonet
- For a bit more adrenalin, head for a surf on Leitrim’s coastline at Tullaghan with Leitrim Surf Co
- Hire a day boat from Leitrim Quay
- Swim at Spenser harbour
4. Visit the heart of Ireland’s Eco-Tourism Industry
- The Organic Centre offers eco-tourism every weekend from end of February to the beginning of November with interesting and entertaining courses on gardening, food and crafts. Our top: do a weekend eco-tourism course. More at The Organic Centre
- Tucked away near Dromahair in North Leitrim, Ard Nahoo is a unique retreat, based around Eco Cabins stocked with antique furniture, wood pellet stoves and views of the rolling countryside. Indulge your inner yogi, soak in the outdoor hot tub overlooking Lough Nahoo, or indulge in a massage. Insider tip: try their Uisce Hour. More at ardnahoo.com
- Go glamping at Pink Apple Orchard
5. Hang Out At:
- You will always meet great people in Stanford’s Inn (great Guinness)
- Trad sessions in the Clubhouse Bar (Dromahair)
- Pint in Gings beer garden on a sunny afternoon
- Friday night blue-grass session in Cryans Traditional Bar, Carrick on Shannon
- Beirnes of Battlebridge for a Summer Sunday of music and relaxed eating/meeting with friends
6. Great Eats:
Leitrim’s foodie scene has really taken off in recent years and with its eco-conscious population promoting a self-sustainable lifestyle, it’s great to see so many eateries using local produce. Here is our list of recommendations from the locals. Check out TasteLeitrim for more.
- Luna Restaurant Dromahair
- The Riverbank, Dromahair
- The Pulled Pork Sandwich from the Oarsman’s lunch menu
- Edergole Supper-Club in Dromahair
- Sweet Geranium Cafe in Drumshanbo
- Anything in the Cottage Restaurant Jamestown
- Healthy nourishment from the Grass Roof Cafe at the Organic Centre, run by Aisling Stone, from Aisling’s Home Cooked Food
7. Get Your Culture On:
Leitrim’s population is small but we would bet that it’s the most culturally active in Ireland. That landscape inspires. For great cultural happenings there is always lots to see and do at:
- The Glens Centre in Manorhamilton
- The Dock is Carrick-on-Shannon’s premiere cultural venue and is also home to the Leitrim Design House.
8. Follow Yeats Trail
Ireland celebrated WB Yeats’ 150th birthday in 2015. Leitrim featured heavily in Yeats’ poetry when he wanted to get away from the world.
One of Yeats’s best loved poems refers to Glencar Waterfall (“where the wandering water gushes from the hills above Glencar”). Leitrim also lays claim to part of Lough Gill, so beloved of Yeats.
On the Yeats2015 website there are two great tours around Sligo / Leitrim articulating what Yeats’ could expect to discover on a contemporary journey through his favourite haunts:
9. Visit the home of Boxty
Boxty is often described as a potato pancake. They say that the name boxty derives from the Irish language name of arán bocht tí ,with the literal meaning of poor house bread. Its origin dates back to before the famine times . It is really synonymous with the North/West of Ireland, in particular counties Leitrim and Cavan.
Co. Leitrim’s burgeoning boxty industry is now home to three producers – McNiffes, Dromod Boxty and Shannonside Savouries. For more on the Leitrim Boxty story visit http://www.tasteleitrim.com/Trail-Info/Boxty-Story
10. Hidden Gems
Finally, here’s the good stuff. We asked locals for their list of favourite places off the beaten path and the response was huge. Here’s our list of offbeat things to do in Co Leitrim:
Lots of folks telling us that Fowleys Falls in Rossinver is unmissable.
- St. Catherine’s church in Fenagh is right beside Fenagh Abbey with the only intact window of its kind in Europe.
- Leitrim Landscapes Guided Walks offer a great slow adventure, foraging, archaeology and hill walks in conjunction with Tawnylust Lodge Self Catering Accommodation Leitrim Ireland including Fowleys Falls & The Organic Centre.
- The fab new Arroo Trail Head Walk in the beautiful Glenade Valley; it is a national trails approved route. It’s 8km in total.
- A visit to @ballroomrainbow in Glenfarne, a paddle, cycle & stay with Way to Go Adventures in #Fenagh.
Ephrinagh dancing at the Crossroads at St. John’s Eve
The Sculpture Trails along Lough MacNean in Glenfarne
Corry Strand Beach at Lough Allen for swimming or just hanging at the lake
- A walk in the Bluebell Wood in spring at Dereen Woods, near Knockvicar
Have we missed something? Let us know.
All landscape photos via Colin Gillen photography except Glencar Waterfall and Keshcarrigan Cottage via Ireland’s Content Pool
SUP photo from Leitrim Surf Co
Yoga photo via Ard Nahoo