Region Highlights: The Midlands
Not to be forgotten are the Midlands of Ireland. The Midlands is a thriving, vibrant region of Ireland, encompassing the counties of Laois, Offaly, Westmeath, Longford and Roscommon, there is much to see and do in this region.
In addition to the many waterside towns offering loads of family-friendly fun to part take in, you will find the Slieve Bloom Mountains, Birr Castle, Clonmacnoice Monastic Site, Kilbeggen Distillery and Tullamore Dew Visitor Center to name a few.
A county of rich contrast, Laois is a meeting point for an ancient heritage and contemporary culture. Perfect for rural tranquility but also brings you busy towns and villages, with sophisticated luxury and rustic simplicity, Laois will bring you an authentic Ireland experience.
Many beautiful heritage sites have been restored for the public to enjoy such as Emo Court and Gardens, Timahoe Round Tower, Aghaboe Abbey and Heywood Gardens. If you love nature, you’ll love Laois. A perfect county for walking, cycling, horse-riding, golfing, fishing, polo, trekking, and canal-cruising, it’s all to be discovered in the beautiful and peaceful countryside. The Slieve Blooms is undoubtedly one of Ireland’s most extraordinary mountain walking experiences. This mountain range, teeming with wildlife and fascinating ecology, offers a range of activities.
Fishing is one the best-kept secrets in Laois. The rivers Nore and Barrow run through Laois as well as the Grand Canal and the many lakes dotted throughout the county. Take a visit to the Irish Fly-Fishing and Game Shooting Museum in Attanagh which is the only one of its kind in Europe.
In lovely county Longford, the visitor is never far from water, cruise the River Shannon, Lough Ree, and the Royal Canal, or enjoy the finest fishing on the River Inny, Lough Gowna, and other watercourses. The “hot water” stretch at Lanesborough is famous among anglers.
In Ardagh, visit the heritage center in the old schoolhouse, which dates back to 1898. The exhibition outlines the history of the village which includes myth and literature. The village also played host to writers and musicians like Oliver Goldsmith, Sir Walter Scott and Turlough O’Carolan.
Longford is a haven for outdoor activities! The county has a vast array of walking and cycling routes and provides activities such as fishing, golf, archery, go-carting, horse riding, and bowling.
Admire the views across Lough Ree, the second largest lake on the River Shannon. Pay a visit to Clondra, a quaint little village with the magnificent cut stone Richmond Harbor, the terminus of the Royal Canal where it flows into the River Shannon.
The flat bogland of south Longford and the rolling hills and drumlins of north Longford offers unique habitats for the finest flora and fauna for the eco-tourist to admire.
In County Offaly, Tullamore is the county town and the Tullamore Dew Heritage Centre provides an interesting introduction to the towns distilling, canal, and urban past.
Throughout the county cruising, equestrian, golfing, walking and fishing enthusiasts are well catered for. The Grand Canal transverses the county from Edenderry and joins the River Shannon at Shannon Harbor. Edenderry is a noted angling center.
The monastic ruins of Clonmacnoise are world famous and one of Ireland’s greatest treasures. Less known, but of significant importance are Lemanaghan Monastic site, Seir Kieran, Rahan, Durrow and Birr. Cycle the Pilgrims Way, traveling from Ballycumber to Clonmacnoise with a spur to Lemanaghan from Boher.
Walking is also a major feature within the county. Choose from the Slieve Bloom Way, the Grand Canal Way, the Offaly Way and the Pilgrims Path route or a number of shorter looped walks.
Offaly boasts five peatland nature reserves, among them Clara Raised Bog, which can be viewed on the road between Clara and Rahan. A trip through the peatlands should include a visit to the Lough Boora Parklands, which was once a working bog, is now regenerated into an amenity and wildlife sanctuary.
Birr was designated a heritage town for its Georgian architecture, it also has an interesting early Christian monastic site and a medieval story to tell. Visit the formal gardens, science center, and the restored telescope all at Birr Castle, Gardens and Demesne, Seat of the Earls of Rosse. Call into Birr library, a converted Pugin Church, to view a unique copy of the ninth century Mac Regol Gospels originating from the early Christian site at Birr.
Westmeath, famous for its rivers and lakes, from the Shannon and Lough Ree to the Mullingar lakes and the Royal Canal. Numerous watersports can be enjoyed in the county as well as some of the finest golf and equestrian facilities in the country. Top class angling is available throughout Westmeath with all species of coarse fish and brown trout.
An oasis of beauty in the Midlands, Belvedere House Gardens & Park is a must for any visitor to the Midlands. The Belvedere story is one, which is steeped in scandal and provides rich opportunities to capture the visitor’s imagination. Enjoy a walk in the grounds of Tullynally Castle, one of the largest castles in Ireland still lived in as the family home, with its terraced lawns overlooking superb eighteenth-century parkland.
For more of an urban buzz, head to Mullingar, a busy market town set in, spectacular countryside or Athlone, the largest town on the River Shannon and a wonderfully lively spot with excellent restaurants and accommodation. For a landlocked county, Roscommon has its fair share of waterways, as it contains the longest stretch of the River Shannon. Great for fishing, water sports, boaters alike.
Fun for the whole family, visit Lough Gara Riding Stables, where you and the family can enjoy riding, clay pigeon shooting, falconry, boating, and archery. For the walker, there are trails aplenty. Choose from Arigna Miner’s walk, Boyles Historic Town Walk, Lake O Flynn Bogg Walk, the Lough Key Forest Park, Shannon Bridge Walk and much more.
As you will find throughout Ireland, Roscommon’s culinary offerings will delight you throughout the county and you will be delighted that the local restaurants would take price in using food from local producers.