The least populated county in Ireland is also one of the country’s most lush. With lakes, glens, rivers, and waterfalls in abundance, Leitrim, in northwest Ireland, boasts a stunning array of scenery and views. The towns and villages that fill in the landscape offer traditional Irish architecture and an abundance of opportunities for enjoying classic music sessions and a great pint around new friends and a lively crowd. Come with us as we explore the top 7 things to do in County Leitrim.
ANDERSON’S THATCH PUB
There is little that screams Ireland as much as a white thatched cottage, and across the country, several are home to lovely pubs. According to this bar’s owner, Anderson’s pub is the only rye straw thatched pub in the entire country. Listed on Ireland’s register of historic places, the building has been home to some form of public house since at least 1734 and boasts an impressive array of antiques and furniture inside, including a pot-bellied stove which burns turf for an added bit of rural Irish flavor.
One of the three main lakes along the River Shannon, Lough Allen is globally famed for its pike, trout, and coarse fishing. Every year it is host to national and international angling competitions that are a marvel to watch even if you don’t fish yourself. You can even visit a pike fishery to learn about the ecosystem of the upper Shannon. Or, charter a boat to take in the magnificent views from anywhere on the lake. Most days you can also find sail boats and windsurfing on the lake as well.
Currently ranked as the number one attraction in County Leitrim on TrimAdvisor, Glencar Waterfall is a stunning tiered falls. If it rains while you’re in the area (which, it’s Ireland, so it’s almost certainly bound to rain), don’t hesitate to make a bee-line for the falls, which become especially beautiful after a deluge. And while you’re there, finish off your evening with a coffee or tea at the Glencar Teashed, which is just a footbridge away from the famous falls.
Constructed in the 17th century by Robert Parke and his family, this exquisitely restored castle sits picturesquely on the shores of Lough Gill, a popular setting for many of the poems of W.B. Yeats and renowned for its natural environment and scenery. The castle grounds also boast evidence of a previous tower house in its courtyard that was occupied by Sir Brian Parke. Parke was executed at the Tower of London in 1591, setting the stage for the construction of the current iteration of the Parke family home open to the public.
Also known as Rinn Lough, this secluded freshwater lake is the perfect spot to catch the sunset, where you’ll almost certainly be the only person there. On its banks is Lough Rynn Castle, now a luxury hotel with a public bar and restaurant. Stop by after dark for a nightcap in unparalleled splendor.
Pull your boat up to this quayside beer garden and brew pub. Carrick-on-Shannon is a hot spot for session music, and is increasingly popular with the Irish bachelor and bachelorette party crowd, so you can use Gings as a launchpad for your pub crawl, or spend the day sipping some of Ireland’s finest beers in full view of the River Shannon, Ireland’s largest river, and its working fishermen and pleasure boats. On days with good weather, the bar also offers live outdoor music and endless people watching.
Though it may not look like it on a map, County Leitrim does indeed have an Atlantic coastline, wedged in for a few hundred yards between counties Donegal and Sligo. And while you won’t find any sandy beaches here, the Drowes River, which forms the border between County Donegal and County Leitrim, at Tullaghan offers unparalleled fishing and otter watching. Many years, Ireland’s first salmon catch of the year happens in the Drowes River. Otters know this, too, and can often be seen jockeying for position in the final pools before the river completes its journey to the ocean.