Ireland page 5-6

           Counties Of Ireland           


Longford is an inland County of quiet farmlands and brown bog, with occasional low hills and pleasant views of lake and river. It is bordered by Counties Leitrim, Cavan, Westmeath and Roscommon - being separated from County Roscommon on the west by the River Shannon and its lakes.

The highest point in Longford is Carn Clonhugh (916 feet) one of a range of low round hills extending south-west from Lough Gowna on the County Cavan boarder.
The county offers angling, hunting and shooting, and should interest the lover of literature in the association with Oliver Goldsmith, Maria Edgeworth, John Casey and Padraic Colum.

The general aspect of the county of Longford, viewed from a height on a fine summers day, is inviting and pleasing. Taking one's stand on the summit of Lisduff, and looking due north, the visitor will see a deep rolling plain stretch out before him for a distance of perhaps ten kms. bounded by historic cairn Hill. On the right and left of this hill the country slopes down to a fertile level plain, beautifully wooded, through whch the Camlin flows to the Shannon. In a north eastern direction the rising country about Granard looms up in a succession


County Leitrim extends for over 50 miles from the County Longford border to Donegal Bay, where it has a coastline of two and a half miles. It is divided into two parts almost wholly separated from one another by an expansion of the River Shannon, Lough Allen.

The area north of the lake is mountainous, reaching its highest point of just over 2,000 feet on the Sligo border, north of Glencar Lake. East of Lough Allen is another mountainous area in which Slieveanierin (1,922 feet) is prominent. South of the lake is an area of little hills interspersed with many lakes. Leitrim is a county of fine lake and mountain scenery and of good angling waters, with many attractions for the climber, the walker and the cyclist. One of Ireland's least populated counties, the tiny capital county town of Carrick-on-Shannon has become a thriving tourist centre. The town's location on a tight bend on the river Shannon has made it a popular centre for boating. The newly opened Shannon-Erne waterway is a labyrinthine system of rivers and lakes passing through unspoilt border country from Leitrim to Fermanagh. The wonderful victorian brick canal with it's 34 bridges and state-of-the-art technology which open the 16 locks was completed in 1993, a cross border joint venture billed as a symbol of peaceful cooperation between the North of Ireland and the Republic.Leitrim remains unspoiled, a haven from the stresses and strains of modern urban living. Wherever you are in Leitrim,

you are sure to be made welcome and perhaps even join in the music, song and dance, so characteristic of the area


The County Mayo coastline, from Kilary Harbour to Kilala Bay, has a wonderful succession of views of sandy beaches, cliffs, rugged headlands and islands. The shore of the bay known as Killary Harbour marks the border seperating the counties of Galway and Mayo.

From here the road leads through wild and romantic valley containing the 'black lake' of Doo Lough, and then on to the pretty village of Louisburgh with it's 18th century houses. The natural beauty of the green countryside, the friendliness of its people and general ambience make Mayo a place where visitors can relax and enjoy nature far removed from the hassle and pressure of modern city life. Mayo, with an area of 5,398, is the third largest county in Ireland.

To the east is Croagh Patrick, Louisburgh, a conical mountain on which St Patrick spent the 40 days of Lent in AD 441, before defeating the pagan deity Crom, and from this peak rang his bell and banished all the reptiles from Ireland which is the reason there are no snakes in Ireland to this day.

Croagh Patrick (also known as The Reek) has an oratory on its summit, and thousands of pilgrims (as many as 60,000) climb its 2,510 ft height each July for a mass. The climb begins beside the beautiful ruin of Murrisk Abbey, a 14th-century Augustinian foundation. Spectacular views await climbers at the summit.

To the south the Twelve Pins can be seen, and to the north is island studded Clew Bay. A prominent feature is Achill, the largest island off the Irish Coast. Inland, too the landscape is remarkably varied, with mountains rising from level plain or moorland or forming colourful backgrounds to islet-studded lakes.

Mayo's attractions include unspoilt holiday resorts, angling, sailing, climbing and golf.


County Meath consists almost entirely of rich limestone plain, with occasional low hills. 'Royal Meath' was for centuries a separate province which included the area of County Westmeath. Meath was part of the Irish middle kingdom from the 2d century BC. It was chartered as a county in 1296. The Royal County…so called because it contained the seat of the High Kings of Ireland on Tara Hill. Proof of human habitation has been discovered in Co Meath, which dates back 9,000 years.

The richness of its soil has sustained hunters and farmers from ancient times up to the present day and will continue to do so, we hope, into the distant future. This abundance gave artisans and craftsmen the time and sustenance to provide complex structures such as Newgrange, Knowth, Dowth and the passage graves at Lough Crew; to create the High Crosses of Kells and Castlekiernan as well as the striking calligraphy of the Book of Kells.

There is much to interest the visitor by way of scenic beauty and of historic sites, particularly in the Boyne Valley. There are also seaside resorts along the county's coastline. Meath, a county in Leinster province in eastern Ireland, is located on the Irish Sea coast with an area of 2,336 sq km (902 sq mi). The chief rivers are the Blackwater and the Boyne.

Newgrange is the site of one of the largest of the prehistoric passage graves in the Boyne valley. It measures approximately 85 m (280 ft) wide and still stands 12 m (40 ft) high, rivaling a companion structure at nearby Knowth. A single passage 25 m (82.5 ft) in length leads to a cruciform chamber with characteristic corbeled roof and with side chambers containing ornamental stone basins among its grave furniture.
Around the outside of the mound stood a circle of standing stones, of which 12 now survive. The stones of the passage and of its entrance curbstone were ornamented with spiral and other designs characteristic of megalithic art in the Atlantic region of prehistoric Europe. The tomb was in use throughout the late Neolithic Period of the 3d millennium BC.

For years Meath's tourism potential remained practically untapped, but this state of affairs is rapidly hanging. There is an increasing awareness and pride in the breathtaking beauty of the Boyne Valley and its capacity to attract visitors today just as it enticed the Celts and Normans who came and remained.


County Monaghan is remarkable for the great number of its little hills. Only a few rise higher than 1,000 feet, but from many points there are good views over the well tilled, undulating countryside with its lakes set here and there between the hills.

Monaghan formed part of the ancient territory of Oriel, and was known as the MacMahon country because of the dominance of that powerful clan. From the 13th to the 16th century the MacMahon family controlled Monaghan, but in 1589 control passed to the British crown.

Monaghan is in the traditional province of Ulster in northeastern Ireland bordered on the northwest, north, and northeast by Northern Ireland and on the southeast, south, and southwest by counties Louth, Meath, and Cavan.

The county covers 1,290 sq km (498 sq mi). It is the perfect destination for the serious angler, casual golfers walker or cyclist who prefers the peace and quiet of winding country lanes. This is a county of great cultural and artistic wealth, with several bronze age megalithic sites and pre-historic remains.

The poet Patrick Kavanagh found his early inspiration here at Inniskeen, where there is now an information centre on his poetry and life. The famous lace-making towns of Carrickmacross and Clones are world renowned for their traditional crafts. Recent developments include the re-opening of Monaghan County Museum,

Lough Muckno and the leisure park at Castleblaney. Visitors to County Monaghan will be surprised at the diverse range of activities and entertainment available to all in this


Offaly lies near the centre of Ireland. In the south-east of the county are the Heathery Slieve Bloom Mountains, among which there are pretty valleys to be explored. The rest of the county is largely level plain and bogland, with occasional elevations.

In the west the River Shannon separates the county from Counties Galway and Roscommon.

There are numerous points of interest in the towns and countryside of Offaly, including of the most important historic sites in Ireland is Clonmacnois.

Offaly has an area of 1,997 sq km (771 sq. mi). The River Shannon flows along most of the western border, the Slieve Bloom Mountains rise to 518 m (1700 ft) in the southwest., and the Bog of Allen covers the northeast. Peat is produced here. Dried peat, often compressed into briquettes, is used in many European countries, particularly Ireland, as a fuel, although it is not as efficient as coal because of its large content of water and ash.

The Grand Canal crosses the width of the county. Danish raths, or hill fortresses, and remains of ancient churches and monasteries are among the points of interest. Part of the kingdom of Offaly in ancient Ireland, the area was known as King's County from 1556 until the Irish Free State was established in 1922.


Roscommon is an inland county where the main attraction is the beauty of island-dotted lakes. Much of the county is level plain, bogland and river meadow broken with low hills and many lakes. The highest point (1,385 feet) is on the County Leitrim border in the north; also prominent are the Curlew Hills (867 feet) in the north-west and the Slievebawn hills (864 feet in the east.

The county's eastern boundary is formed by the River Shannon and its lakes. Located on Ireland's fertile central plain, the county has an area of 2,463 sq. km (951 sq. MI). Most of the county is situated between the Shannon River, to the east, and its chief tributary, the Suck River, to the west.

Roscommon, in the province of Connacht, was home to the last of Ireland's High Kings, King Rory O'Connor, whose home, Clonalis House is a library for the O'Connor Clan, and is open to the public. Strokestown house, is now the national Famine Museum, commemorating the Great Hunger.

Roscommon, mainly a farming county, also benefits from tourism on the Shannon river, Lough Ree, Lough Arrow and Lough Key (Lough Key national Park, shown here). The neolithic monuments in the Curlew mountains in the north attract a steady flow of European visitors.