Welcome to part two of why Ireland should be on your bucketlist. For this inspiring list originally written in 2018, I reached out to fellow bloggers and came up with a collaboration to celebrate our country.
I gave Irish bloggers the task to showcase why their county is the best in a few paragraphs and they did not disappoint. We hope that what we’ve said will inspire you to visit our great country and if you’re Irish, we hope that it’ll get you to staycation more.
We have a variety of different writing styles. I hope you enjoy this and thanks again to everyone who took part.
This is just part two of why Ireland should be on your bucketlist and features Connacht and Ulster – part one can be found here.
County Galway – Darragh Mullooly
I wonder what has kept me in Galway for the last 10 years? When I stand at the top of Diamond Hill, Conamara breathing in my kingdom, I know; when I wake and walk down the street and see the wild Atlantic Ocean at my feet, I know; when I sit with a pint on Quay Street watching the spirited, artistic, and bohemian locals pass by, I know. It’s a natural beauty. It’s an unspoiled spirit. It’s the city we can all call home.
County Leitrim – Breifne Earley
It’s easy to see how the small slice of Ireland’s northwest region has adopted the name of ‘Lovely Leitrim’ with its rolling hills, plentiful lakes, rivers, and valleys providing a stunning backdrop, unspoiled for the most part by houses, towns, and people.
The traditional tourist hotspot of Glencar Waterfall on the border with Sligo is still a big draw but the Shannon Blueway with its floating stretch of recreational walk and cycle path across Acres Lake will provide an excellent opportunity to really enjoy the great outdoors.
County Sligo – Debbie Woodward
To get the most out of your visit to the capital of the Northwest, you have to be prepared to get outside and explore this breathtaking section of the Wild Atlantic Way. From hiking to the top of Knocknarea Cairn in Strandhill to strolling along the beach in Mullaghmore, you’ll soon discover why it was Sligo that inspired the Nobel laureate and poet William Butler (WB) Yeats.
You can step back in time and visit Megalithic tombs at Carrowkeel followed by a quick surf lesson and seaweed bath in Strandhill. There’s truly something for everyone in Co. Sligo.
County Mayo – Tracey Smith
Ah, Mayo, God Help Us, the beautiful Yew County; the place and people are unique. The coastlines of Mayo from Killala Bay to Clew Bay spawned the concept of the Wild Atlantic Way. The ruggedness of the land from Blacksod to Cong is unique and unspoiled.
The bravery and stubbornness of the county people getting behind their county team every year, facing yearly heartbreak from losses we shouldn’t have suffered, watching grown men break down in tears constantly seeking a sequel to 1951.
County Roscommon – Darina Ahern
Roscommon, the forgotten county, the place most people only pass through to get somewhere else. County of flat bogland, fields, freshwater lakes, the River Shannon and hidden away in a small village The Irish National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park House.
See a fascinating snapshot of a time in our history, forgotten stories of the desperately poor and starving Irish and the British aristocracy who owned the land. Take a tour of The Big House and see how the Pakenham Mahon family lived, then see history come alive in The Famine Museum with the actual real preserved Estate documents and artifacts from the 1840s.
County Antrim – Sarah Murphy-McLarkey
Home to Northern Ireland’s capital city of Belfast, County Antrim has so much to offer both visitors and locals alike. Not only does the wee city have good food, great craic, and fascinating history, it’s also home to one of the island’s most popular tourist attractions, Titanic Belfast.
The city’s Titanic Quarter is a hive of activity, with the fabulous new Titanic Hotel located in the one-time headquarters of Harland & Wolff, the fully refurbished S.S. Nomadic, and the Dry Dock, where you can walk in the famous ship’s footprint.
Escaping the city, there is so much to see: from a drive through the scenic glens, to puffin watching on Rathlin Island, golden sandy beaches, breathtaking waterfalls and some very famous hedges (that are actually trees), you’ll never get bored of the sights and sounds of the Glen County.
The jewel in the county’s crown is the inimitable Giant’s Causeway, where columns of basalt stand side-by-side to create one of the most breathtaking landscapes I’ve seen on our little island, or anywhere in the world.
County Cavan – Helen Leddy
Cavan is one of those counties that is often overlooked as a destination for domestic tourists but it’s actually visited by 150,000 international visitors a year. But what’s there to see in Cavan- plenty as it turns out!
Cavan is home to 365 lakes, one for every day of the year, making it a very popular fishing destination. Many Cavan fisheries are considered to be the finest in Europe. Cavan also claims Neven Maguire as one of their own. This little county is definitely holding its own when it comes to food.
The Taste of Cavan Festival is becoming a very important date in the diary for any foodies. Restaurants such as St Kyrans in Virginia, Richard Corrigans Park Lodge Hotel, The Olde Post Inn, and MacNean House are just some of the famous restaurants in the county.
Cavan is also a fantastic destination for walks and trails and the Cavan Burren is definitely one for the bucket list. From easy walks in Dun na Rí forest park to more strenuous hikes on the Cuilcagh Legnabrocky trail, there really is something for every fitness level. And the scenery is to die for! So the next time your thinking of somewhere for a long weekend, a night away, or just a nice day trip- think Cavan!
County Fermanagh – Val Robus
Fermanagh has so much to offer for all ages. Enniskillen boasts a wide variety of shops and is the only place in Ireland where men can get their haircut in a Headhunters Barber Shop & Railway Museum. You can also pay a visit to Blake’s of the Hollow to see one of the Game of Thrones doors.
The town is set on the shores of the River Erne, perfect for exploring the Blueway. Marble Arch Geopark is a must-visit, go underground in the caves or walk the stunning Cuilcagh Mountain trail. If you are making a break of it check out the Finn Lough Bubble Domes and sleep under the stars in Fermanagh.
County Armagh – Sarah Murphy-McLarkey
It may be the smallest county in Northern Ireland, but Armagh cannot be overlooked when it comes to beautiful scenery and rich history. Known as the Orchard County, Armagh has become synonymous with apples, and every May, the unmissable apple blossom festival celebrates the many orchards adorned with white and pink flowers all over the county.
Armagh City is where Saint Patrick himself founded his church, and these days not one, but two, Saint Patrick’s Cathedrals can be found in the city. The city has a rich Georgian history and celebrates it every November at the annual Georgian Day festivities. Visitors are transported back in time as actors mill about in traditional garb, while horse and carriage rides trot past beautiful Georgian buildings at the mall.
County Down – Laura Anne Bradley
County Down is best known for its beautiful landscapes and fishing villages. The Mourne Mountains are synonymous with County Down, but for me observing their majesty while enjoying a relaxing stroll along Murlough Beach is the most accessible way to take in their beauty.
Or course climbing them is superb; however, you can truly appreciate their impressive silhouette from the bay – sweeping down to the Irish sea. Strangford Lough is the largest inlet in the British Isles and is designated as a Special Area of Conservation.
A drive around the Lough taking in viewpoints and villages is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. Keep an eye out for a wide variety of wildlife including birds, seals, and porpoises. Strangford Lough’s villages are also home to many a fine chowder and pint of Guinness. I’d recommend popping into The Lobster Pot in Strangford before jumping on the ferry!
County Donegal – Adrian McMyler
I live in the county known as the “forgotten County”. Well, folks if you come and experience the “Forgotten County” you will never forget it. It is absolutely beautiful. I have experienced many parts of Donegal and the scenery and I would recommend these places to visit Sliabh League, Malin Head, Dunree Fort.
And my favourite town is Buncrana in the peninsula of Inishowen. It is a very vibrant town with class scenery and lovely people I would definitely recommend Donegal to come to visit, you will never forget it!
County Derry – Yasmin Robinson
Why I love Co. Derry? Well, I only have to mention the one standout City, Derry/Legenderry. A place where everyone has a class time!
From walking the City’s famous walls, visiting the beautiful Guild Hall. Eating food in one of the fabulous restaurants and cafés, (The Limeleaf Café on the Quay is my ultimate favourite) to shopping in the amazing local vintage shops and boutiques, (be sure to visit the Yellow Yard on Palace Street).
I should also mention the County’s beautiful scenery, Forest Walks at Ness Country Park, stunning views at Mussenden Temple or building sandcastles at Magilligan Strand.
County Monaghan – Andy Hamilton
Like all upstanding border counties, Monaghan has to work twice as hard to get half the recognition.
A good example here is The Carrickmacross Arts Festival – Ireland’s Biggest Small Festival. Four days of top-quality music, comedy, art, film, and the like in mid-August, all for a ridiculously low price.
While in Carrick, take a short trip to Kavanagh Country in Inniskeen, where instead of stony grey soil you’ll sample something altogether tastier at the Brehan Brewhouse.
Monaghan is a county of lakes – well over 100 at last count, plenty to keep fans of nature, water sports, and fishing happy. One of the best in Lough Muckno near Castleblaney, set on a 900-acre forest park complete with twin wooded islands – the Black Island and the White Island.
County Tyrone – Alison Bentley Campbell
With the Sperrin mountains, the stunning peace and tranquillity of Gortin Glen forest park and the Ulster American folk park, Co. Tyrone is one of the hidden gems in Northern Ireland.
In my opinion, it is often overshadowed by the bigger more commercial tourist destinations, but if you fancy a few days of beautiful scenery and culture then maybe give Co Tyrone a chance on your next Northern Ireland visit.
Find out more of why Ireland should be on your bucketlist by browsing Part One here or you can read more about Ireland’s Great Outdoors here.