The Breakaway List- Explore your own County- Leinster

Its official! We don’t need to stay within the borders of our own County. Since last Monday we can travel (safely) to any other County in Ireland for a bit of Galavanting! Its pretty fitting that this is the last in our series of explore your own County. We have saved the biggest province until last- Leinster. Home to Irelands ancient East and Irelands hidden heartlands. We hope this might give you some inspiration for galavants this weekend or a bucket list for the summer. So here we go- our top picks for each County in Leinster

Co Louth

This little county is packed full of things to do. You haven’t lived if you haven’t had a night out in Carlingford! Here are our top spots

  1. Walk the Boyne Valley Camino: This 25 km looped walk is a great way to stretch the legs (a lot) and see some of the beautiful countryside. The walk goes along the Boyne, through beautiful Townley Hall woods, via two OPW sites of Mellifont Abbey and Oldbridge House, through the village of Tullyallen, along the Boyne Canal, and returns to Drogheda along the stunning Boyneside Trail.   
  2. Visit Carlingford: As well as being a great night out this is also a great town to visit for walks. Visit the Carlingford to Omeath greenway or climb to the top of Slieve Foy! Check out Visit Carlingford here.
  3. Get the wind in your face at Clogherhead: As well as there being a beautiful beach here, you can also walk along the cliffs to port Oriel- you have to call into Fishermans catch for their chowder- its beautiful!

Co Dublin

The home of our capital city! Dublin will need a lot of love this summer to help some of the businesses there recover from the pandemic. I can’t wait to get back up there for a stroll around the streets and few glasses of vino. Here are our top spots for Galavanting

  1. Howth Cliff Walk: Howth in general is such a pretty little village, try to go mid week when it isn’t really busy. Take the cliff walk from the village all the way around Howth head for amazing views.
  2. Poolbeg lighthouse: We only did this walk last year and it really is the perfect place to get away from the city. Watch the boats roll into Dublin Harbour and get great pictures of the red lighthouse!
  3. Phoenix park: The saving grace for a lot of Dubliners during lockdown. The sheer expanse of this park means you can walk for miles and miles and still see something new. Check out the Wellington monument and the Papal cross. The perfect destination for people watching too- I hear there are ALOT of dates happening in the Phoenix park at the moment!

Co Meath

The Royal County and the place where we call home- at the moment! County Meath is so rich in history and the remnants of Castles, Abbeys and prehistoric tombs. These are our top picks

  1. Loughcrew Cairns: The highest point in the County and also a beautiful walk. The views from up here are amazing! If you are visiting DON’T climb on the cairn. So much damage has been done to the inner chamber from people climbing on it.
  2. Bective Abbey: Just a beautiful place, full of history and a great place to take photos. Grab a picnic and listen to the Boyne flow past on a sunny day.
  3. Bettystown: This beach, that connects to Laytown in the South and Mornington in the North, is the perfect spot for a big long walk, or a dip in the sea or just with a sun chair someday soon!

Co Westmeath

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Sometimes referred to as the lake County- no….sorry, thats Cavan. Westmeath does in fairness have some beautiful waterways. Very easy to get to from the entirety of Ireland too. These are our top spots

  1. Tullynally Castle: This castle is a must visit. They have beautiful tea rooms in the courtyard and a beautiful castle owned by the Pakenham family since 1900. They do tours during the summer. They also have a lovely a garden walk and a small pet farm within it. It is well worth a visit.
  2. The old rail trail greenway: This completely off road greenway takes you from Athlone all the way to Mullingar. Complete all 42kms or just complete sections at your own pace. We can’t wait to do this one!
  3. Get lost at Mullaghmeen: This beautiful forest walk is full of trails and paths leading off in different directions. The highest point in Co Westmeath is here and you have amazing views accross to Co Meath and Cavan!

Co Longford

The home of Centre Parcs 🙂 There is so much more to Longford than centre parcs though. If you have never been- get it on your bucket list this summer along with these top spots:

  1. Corlea trackway: Still closed at the moment but hopefully it will open again soon. This ancient trackway dates back to 148 BC! Its been here for over 2000 years and preserved in the bog. I will let you get the rest of the amazing history when you visit.
  2. Newcastle wood: This great amenity provides 28 kilometres of forest roads, trails and walkways ranging in length from the 400 meter Access for All Walk to the 5km Church Walk. There is also a surfaced walk down along the River Inny and a 1 kilometre wheelchair accessible pathway though the wood, along with picnic and car parking areas.  New walking trails are also surrounding the perimeter of Center Parcs and down to the Royal Canal.
  3. Barley Harbour: Situated along the shores of Lough Ree, this beautiful harbour provides a very relaxing place to spend a while. Apparently the sunsets are magnificent.

Co Offaly

Offaly is one of those counties that is packed with so much to do but no-one really knows about it! It has lots of history, beautiful waterside activities, famous whiskey and what was once the worlds largest telescope! Bet ya didn’t know that! Here are our top spots

  1. Lough Boora Park: Once a boring old bog thats main aim was to heat the homes of Ireland. Lough Boora discovery park is now home to a permanent exhibition of huge outdoor sculptures. Its also home to countless species of birds and wildlife. This place is definitely worth a visit.
  2. Birr Castle: Set right in the middle of Birr, this Castle demesne is a great day out for the entire family. You can take a tour of the castle if you like but just spending time around the gardens and science centre is a great day out. Read all about out trip here.
  3. Walk the Slieve Blooms: There are 17 looped walks in the Slieve Blooms. You will find the county highpoint of Laois and Offaly here on Arderin. To grab a map and a list of all the walks just click here.

Co Laois

Did you know that County Laois is the only County in Ireland that is surrounded by land locked counties? There’s one that might come up on a quiz soon! These are our top spots.

  1. The Rock of Dunamase

The Rock of Dunamase is a popular historic attraction found overlooking the valley of the O’Moores, just outside Portlaoise. It was the location of an early Christian settlement known as Dun Masc and later became an important Anglo Norman fortification. The views from this fort are out of this world.

2. Emo house: Take a galavant to visit Emo Court House to enjoy the beautiful gardens and parklands which were first laid out in the 18th century, containing formal lawns and a lake. Walks through the woodland are a popular way to explore the beautiful grounds. Tours can be booked of the house itself and they also have tea rooms on site.

3. Explore the Glenbarrow looped walks: This is the starting point to three very popular looped walks which offer a great introduction to the Slieve Blooms. The long distance Slieve Bloom Way can also be accessed from this point. Whether you are just looking for a short stroll up to the waterfall or a more substantial hike into the heart of the Slieve Blooms then there is something here for you.

Co Kilkenny

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The home of the marble city and a really good hurling team (sorry Galway). If you are taking a trip to Kilkenny it usually means that you are visiting the city rather than the County. Look a bit closer though and you will find lots to do outside the city too! Here are our top spots

  1. Climb Brandon Hill: The County high point of County Kilkenny is a fairly moderate walk to the top with stunning views all the way up. At the summit you will find a cairn, a rusted crusifix and a concrete structure that shows all the views from the summit.
  2. Explore Dunmore Cave: Apparently the site where Viking leader Guthfrith of Ivar massacred a thousand people in AD 928. Yaysus! Dunmore is now a show cave, with guided tours that will take you deep into the earth – and even deeper into the past.
  3. Take a walk around Kilkenny Castle: So you kinda have to visit the actual city for this one! The grounds around Kilkenny Castle are beautiful and include fifty acres of rolling parkland with mature trees and an abundance of wildlife. Other features include a formal terraced rose garden, woodlands and a man-made lake, which were added in the nineteenth century. There is also a tearoom, playground and several orienteering trails for visitors to enjoy.

Co Wicklow

Often referred to the Garden of Ireland, wicklow is the perfect place to base yourself for any further lockdowns (joking). From beautiful beaches, to scenic walks and historic sites. We can’t wait to take a trip back this summer. Here are our top spots

  1. Glendalough: If you haven’t been, get it on the bucket list. Again try to avoid it on weekends as it gets super busy. Walk the spinc trail, have a picnic at the lake and explore St Kevins monastery ruins. The hotel does lovely food too!
  2. Spend an afternoon at Brittas Bay: We had so much fun here last September. We spent the entire day on the beach, swimming in the sea and eating salty chips from the chipper.
  3. Take the Bray to Greystones walk: Park up the car in Bray- walk towards Bray head and follow the cliff walk until you reach Greystones. Admire the amazing views along the way. Say hi to the Boys in the Happy Pear and get the dart back to Bray- or walk back if you are feeling energetic!

Co Wexford

Famous for its strawberries and beaches. It may be a bit of a trek to get there for some of us but its defintely worth it. Here are our top spots

  1. Visit Hook head lighthouse: Go South! All the way South until you reach Hook head lighthouse. Take in the spectacular view from the balcony with miles of sea rolling out before you. Enjoy the visitor centre with gift shop, artworkshop, exhibits and cafĂ©. Guided tours are on offer 7 days a week sharing with visitors one of the greatest experiences on Ireland’s Ancient East.
  2. Take a walk at JFK memorial park: Dedicated to the memory of John F Kennedy, this beautiful park is the perfect spot for a ramble. The park features woodland walks, a playground, tree houses and a lake with ducks and fish. A miniature train and a pony and trap operate during high season, while six different counties can be seen from the spectacular viewing points on nearby Slieve Coillte. 
  3. Head to the beach: Take your pick of 7 blue flag beaches in Wexford. We have been advised the best ones are Curracloe, Courtown, Rosslare strand, Cahore and Duncannon. There’s a whole other blog in that one!

Co Carlow

Did you know that Carlow was once the capital of Ireland? Hmmm…. not sure about that one. It does have the oldest working bridge in Europe in Leighlinbridge. These are our top spots:

  1. Discover Borris: Borris is a pretty little village with a whole lot of character. You can visit the grounds and gardens of Borris House on certain days of the year. The house was once the home of the King of Leinster!
  2. Climb Mount Leinster: The county highpoint of Carlow and Wexford. This is a fairly reasonable climb as its road the entire way. Don’t let that fool you though- it gets pretty steep. The views are unreal from the summit.
  3. Visit Ducketts Grove: One of the most photogenic castle ruins in Ireland. Its actually quite sad to see that it wasn’t refurbished or kept in some kind of repair over the years. The gardens have been well looked after though and they are beautiful for a walk.

Co Kildare

Wow, this is a long list! Known as the equine capital of Ireland with Punchestown, The Curragh and Naas racecourse all very popular in the horse racing world. What about Galavanting I hear you say- here is our top spots to visit.

  1. The Royal Canal Greenway: Just recently launched, the Royal Canal Greenway starts in Maynooth and runs all the way to Longford. Rent a bike in Maynooth- cycle as far as you want and get the train back!
  2. Castletown House: This is the perfect Galavant on a dry day. The parkland and river walks are open every day throughout the year. There is a little cafe onsite and there used to be a market in the courtyard of the house on the last Sunday of every month- I’m not sure if that has started up again.
  3. Donadea Forest Park: I did attempt to visit this park once but the car park is €5 and I didn’t have enough change. They accept card now and payment apps. There are 3 looped walks in the park and lots of scenery along the way. This one is also on the bucket list for this summer.

So there you have it- I hope this gives you lots of inspiration for day trips around Leinster until we can actually start staying in hotels, guesthouses, campsites etc. From next week we hope to bring you the usual blogs on our adventures around Ireland. Until then- stay safe and happy Galavanting! xxx

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