The North of Ireland has been "off the beaten path" for so long
that many travelers simply forget it's there. In addition,
the major cities in the north of Ireland and Northern
Ireland are perceived by many to be somewhat bland and lacking
in significant attractions that would interest most travelers.
We recommend that you visit the North of Ireland (including Northern
Ireland) on a second trip to
Ireland or at the end of a whole island tour. If you do head north, we have
a few suggestions for you, depending on where you choose to journey.
On this page we cover the northern counties of the Republic of
Ireland, while we cover the best places to visit in Northern
Republic of Ireland
County Donegal has amazing seascapes, extraordinary seaside cliffs
(see Slieve League
rugged mountains and some of the most spectacular scenery in Ireland.
Driving the Donegal coast is a rewarding experience, but you will find
services and facilities somewhat limited. Although it doesn't seem to fit
with most travelers' vision of Ireland, Bundoran in County Donegal is
considered Ireland's surfing capital, although its waters could hardly be
considered temperate (wetsuit required).
If you wander near Donegal Town, be sure to stop off at the
Diamond (the centre of Donegal Town) to visit Magees, the world
famous weavers of Donegal Tweed since 1866. In addition,
the recently restored Donegal Castle is close by. Dating
from the 15th century the castle was once the home of the
troubled O'Donnell clan. If you are headed south out of Donegal
Town, consider visiting the Donegal Craft Village about 7 miles
southwest on N15 towards Ballyshannon.
The climate in Donegal is temperate and quite moist.
You can expect rain and/or low-lying clouds almost anytime, so be prepared.
Unfortunately, the sun seems to return at random and you will be equipping
and stripping layers of clothes as you tour County Donegal )especially in
the far north of the county (Don't forget, County Donegal extends the
furthest north of any county in either the Republic or Northern Ireland).
For more information on tourism in County Donegal, see this
Leitrim bills itself as "the land of lakes and legend" and is a
good place for country walks. Due to its many lakes,
Leitrim is also a popular area for fishing.
One interesting historic site in the county is Parke's Castle located on
the shore of the scenic Lough Gill
The estate is a restored 17th century "plantation" castle. The
plantation movement was a strategy to take land away from the rebellious
Irish Catholics and awarded it to loyal Protestant "planters from England
and Scotland. For information about visiting Parke's Castle see
Heritage Ireland's website.
County Sligo provides the fabric comprising many of the poems by W. B.
Yeats. Although Yeats was born in Dublin, his family had links to Sligo and
he celebrated County Sligo by including aspects of the area in several of
his poems. See the
Yeats Society Sligo website for information on its Yeats
Exhibition. Although he died in France, Yeats was thought buried in
nearby Drumcliff, but there now seems to be some confusion over the
Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery is about 3 miles (5km) from the town on
Sligo and is the largest and reputedly the oldest collection of megalithic,
single-chambered tombs in Ireland. To the uninitiated, Carrowmore
looks like a rolling grassland filled with boulders. The difference is
that many of the boulders were positioned to form dolmens or portals to help
convey the dead to the afterlife.
over a large area, there are numerous tombs remaining, although
only half of the surveyed sites have been unearthed (either
totally or partially). The ages of these monuments vary
and a controversy rages about the dating methods used.
Some sources suggest that the tombs are five to six thousand
years old, while carbon dating that is more recent suggests that
some of the sites may be nearer to seven and half thousand years
old. If the dating holds true, then some of these tombs are
older than the pyramids, although certainly much simpler in
There is a modest visitor centre at the site and tours are offered.
Heritage Ireland for more information.
The Carrowmore complex includes Knocknarea Mountain, a prominent
limestone knob that is crowned with a large cairn of loose rocks known as
Queen Maeve's Grave. (Queen Maeve was reputed a warrior queen from
prehistoric time, or perhaps a queen from Celtic mythology.) Although
never excavated, the site is thought to be another tomb, but one that
is very expansive (approximately 180ft in width and 33ft high or 55m by
10m). Knocknarea is thought to have been a site of religious
importance during the Neolithic Age, as it is crowned with a number of tombs
and several sites likely built to hold religious ceremonies. If you plan to
stop of Carrowmore, be sure to explore Knocknarea.
here for the best places to visit in Northern Ireland