Tullamore and Environs (Co. Offaly)

Tullamore (Tulach Mhór – “The Big Mound”) (pop. 15,000), a major regional commercial and industrial centre and lively cultural hub, is on the Tullamore River and served by the Grand Canal. (above Photo by Kman999)

Tullamore is a fine example of late C18th provincial town planning at its best, with spacious streets and well finished public, commercial and residential buildings, most notably around O’Connor Square. There are several good pubs, eateries and accommodation options available in the town and attractive rural surroundings. Continue reading Tullamore and Environs (Co. Offaly)

The River Shannon’s Main Lakes

Lough Ree (above) funnels into the River Shannon north of Athlone, Ireland Photo Sarah777

Co. Longford

Gurteen, approximately four miles west of Ballymahon, was the childhood home of John Keegan Casey (1846 – 1870), a populist balladeer who participated in the 1867 Fenian uprising and was imprisoned in Mountjoy for eight months, as a result of which his health was broken. He died on St Patrick’s day and is buried in Glasnevin cemetery. A museum commemorating both John and his father was housed for a time in the Leo Casey Schoolhouse, currently for sale.

Co. Westmeath

The neighbouring village of Auburn was where an RIC lorry was ambushed on 1st November 1920, resulting in the death of one policeman and one IRA volunteer Continue reading The River Shannon’s Main Lakes

The North Midlands Lakes

Lough Ramor, the northernmost of the big Midlands Lakes, is one of the largest lakes in County Cavan stretching approx. 7km in length by 1km at the narrowest point and feeds into the Blackwater and Boyne river systems. It is a popular lake with anglers and a wide variety of fish species are to be found including pike, bream, roach, hybrids, trout and eel. Some record catches have been recorded in recent times, and most noted with visiting anglers from Britain.. It is particularly popular for pike fishing. Continue reading The North Midlands Lakes

Mullingar and Environs (Co. Westmeath)

Mullingar (An Muileann gCearr – ‘The Lefthandwise Mill”) (pop. 21,000) is a prosperous town, vying with Athlone as the largest  in the Midlands. Long known for its army barracks and cattle market, it is nowadays a major regional centre for engineering / high-tech companies, retail outlets and a wide range of services.

The town is situated on the River Brosna, partly encircled by the Royal Canal and close to Lough EnnellLough Owel, Lough Derravaragh and Lough Lene. The surrounding countryside is green and lush, ideal for cattle rearing.

It is probably best known in Ireland for its bachelors and the charming expression commonly used to refer to large women: “beef to the ankle, like a Mullingar heifer“. While it is probably unfair, or at least out of date,  to call Mullingar “a smug provincial dullsville“, the town cannot really be described as very exciting. However, it does have good leisure amenities and accommodation, eating and drinking facilities. Continue reading Mullingar and Environs (Co. Westmeath)

Limerick City and Environs

Limerick City (Luimnach) (pop. 94,000), occupying a northeastern protrusion of County Limerick and extending into southwestern County Clare, just above the head of the River Shannon Estuary (Loch Luimneach), has long suffered a terrible reputation but, the city has a colourful history, and there are plenty of interesting landmarks and places to visit, both in the city centre and its outskirts, along with a good range of acommodation options etc. (Above photo – Lukemcurley  )

Continue reading Limerick City and Environs

Athlone and Environs

Athlone (Baile Átha Luain) (pop.21,000) straddles the River Shannon just south of Lough Ree and close to the geographical centre of Ireland. Long an important garrison town, it nowadays likes to be regarded as “the commercial capital of the midlands”, and is also a major regional centre for a a range of state and semi-state organisations and services.

Athlone’s best feature, the River Shannon itself, is still plied by working vessels and pleasure craft, from barges to sailing dinghies; river cruisers can be hired at a centrally located 87-berth marina. The river last flooded seriously in November 2009. (above image wikipedia) Continue reading Athlone and Environs

Wexford’s Islands

Co. Wexford is not famous for its islands; only birdwatchers and historians are likely to know anything about the Saltees & Keeraghs off the south coast. Nevertheless, the county can lay claim to one Ireland’s most important offshore outposts in the shape of the Tuskar Rock.

The Saltee Islands, two large granite outcrops just off the south coast of Co. Wexford, give their name to Ireland’s most famous bird sanctuary. (Photo by Edd BC) Continue reading Wexford’s Islands

Wexford Harbour, Town and Environs

The above image is from the Wexford harbour website which gives you harbour navigation and other information.

Wexford Harbour is a large inlet near the southern end of Wexford Bay, forming a natural haven at the mouth of the River Slaney, long guarded by two sandy peninsulas to the north and south of the entrance, called the Raven and Rosslare Point respectively.

Loch Garman, the Irish name for this body of estuarine water (and Wexford town and all of Co. Wexford) derives from Garman Garbh, an obscure hero of conflicting legends about robbers and princess brides, who was supposedly drowned in a flood invoked by a wicked Enchantress.

The area is believed to have been occupied over 6,000 years ago, but little is known of its prehistory beyond a few intriguing artefacts left by the shadowy predecessors of the Gaels. The earliest Classical map reference is to Menapia, after a Belgic tribe who were believed by the cartographer Ptolomey to occupy the area. Continue reading Wexford Harbour, Town and Environs

Waterford City and Environs

Waterford (Port Lairge) (pop. 50,000), the Republic of Ireland’s fifth largest (i.e. second smallest) city, has been described as “basically a modern European port wrapped around an old provincial town“. The old docks on the River Suir and some of the suburbs are rather grim, but between them lies a vibrant and interesting nucleus with a distinctly urban ambience.

Waterford by night. (Photo by Typhoon)

There are some excellent pubs, both traditional and modern. The students attending the modern Waterford Institute of Technology have created a burgeoning youth scene, and I’m told that the nightlife is quite sophisticated. Apart from the ghastly concentration of fast-food joints on John Street, there are a couple of good restaurants, where you will learn that “Blaa” is a doughy, white bread roll peculiar to Waterford City. Continue reading Waterford City and Environs

Trim and Environs (Co. Meath)

Trim (Co. Meath / West)

Trim (Baile Átha Troim – “town at the ford of elderflowers”) (pop. 7000) is a small town of great historical interest on the banks of the River Boyne, with several good pubs, restaurants andaccommodation options.

Long the County Town, Trim was replaced by Navan as the administrative capital of Meath under the Local Government Act 1898. Twenty years earlier the guidebook author Rev.Eugene Conwell had written that “Trim being formerly a place of great strength and consequence” was “at present a town of no great magnitude and very dimly reflects the important person [sic] it occupied in the affairs of Ireland a few centuries ago”. This has been only partially remedied. Continue reading Trim and Environs (Co. Meath)

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