County Leitrim offers lush landscapes with magnificent mountains overlooking tranquil lakes. This Irish county may not be on many tourists' radars, but trust me the scenery in Leitrim is simply spectacular.
And so today, I continue our alphabetical, photographic tour of the Emerald Isle with a stop in Lovely Leitrim.
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Don't think I'm being facetious by calling this amazing little county "Lovely Leitrim."
Even some of Leitrim's welcome signs, found at the county border beside highways and byways, boast this well earned title.
Of the eighteen counties that hug Ireland's rugged island perimeter, Leitrim boasts the shortest coastline of all. It touches the Atlantic ocean for merely 3 kilometers.
Leitrim is one of the five counties in the province of Connaught.
Out of Ireland's thirty-two counties, Leitrim is twenty-sixth in size, but has the smallest population at about 32,000.
It borders Ulster to the north and in ancient times a ditch or dyke separated the two provinces. Remnants of this ditch can be seen to this very day.
Leitrim's county crest or coat of arms consists of a lion above three fountains, with a green background.
I believe these water symbols reflect the many lakes and waterways of County Leitrim.
And so without further ado, let me take you on a quick photographic tour of this lovely part of Ireland.
Leitrim's neighbor, County Sligo, may be more famous internationally because of its association with the poet W.B. Yeats, but Leitrim is not short on spectacular scenery to rival all its neighbors.
Yeats frequently visited Leitrim on his trips to the northwest.
The most renowned spot in the county is Glencar Waterfall. This 50 foot falls was immortalized by Yeats in his poem "The Stolen Child."
"Where wandering water gushes,
From the hills above Glencar,
In pools above the rushes,
That scarce would bathe a star."
Lakes and Waterways
County Leitrim is dotted with picturesque lakes nestled in glacial valleys beneath its many mountains.
Here's a little sampling of the beauty of Leitrim's waterways.
Lough Melvin, which lies between Leitrim and Fermanagh, is renowned as an angler's paradise.
Three varieties of trout live in this pristine lake, which is also famous for its early run of Atlantic salmon in spring.
Lough Allen is the upper most of the tree large lakes on the river Shannon.
Boating is popular on Lough Gill, which borders with County Sligo and is home to the Lake Isle of Inishfree, the setting for another of Yeats' famous poems.
And where there are lakes, there are bound to be spectacular mountains, and Leitrim is home to some of the most breathtaking peaks in all of Ireland.
Here are a few photos of the splendor these peaks add to the landscape.
Leitrim is home to the Dartry Mountains, a large limestone plateau which includes Ben Bulben.
For those who look forward to scenic driving tours, then County Leitrim will not disappoint.
Mountain streams cascade down these hillsides, and forest walks can be found all over the county.
Old castle ruins dot the landscape, but there are some beautiful castles offering guided tours to visitors.
Built by Sir Frederick Hamilton in 1634 during the plantation of Leitrim, Manorhamilton Castle was his baronial mansion.
Unfortunately, Hamilton was a bit of a tyrant and was known to be fond of hanging his foes. The native Irish did not take kindly to their castle owning neighbor, so they burned Hamilton's fortress to the ground in 1652.
Lough Rynn Castle is a beautiful hotel, but even if you are not staying there, the gardens are well worth a visit.
Parkes Castle is found on the shores of Lough Gill.
Beautifully restored, the castle is open to visitors from the end of March through September.
During Ireland's early Christian period from the 5th century onwards, abbeys and monasteries were founded throughout this county.
The ruins of Creevlea Abbey, which was built in 1508, can be visited by tourists.
This abbey was one of the last to be founded in Ireland, before King Henry VIII dissolved all the monasteries throughout Ireland and England.
An ancient cross stands in the village of Tullaghan. It was erected here in 1778, but is far older.
Local folklore says it was found on the shore and is from an ancient Irish monastery.
The Costello Memorial Church located in Carrick-on-Shannon is the second smallest chapel in the world and the smallest to be found in Ireland.
Picturesque Towns and Villages
Perhaps, what makes Leitrim so inviting for tourists, are the many picturesque towns and villages dotted around the county. Here are a few examples.
Jamestown, a village of historic significance along the shores of the River Shannon, was once a walled and fortified town built to protect the “planters” who came there to settle from England and Scotland.
The wild Irish who lived around the town, were none too pleased to have their lands confiscated. One of the gates is still standing.
The remains of an old Fraciscan Friary can also be visited in the town.
Mohill, pictured above, is a typical village of County Leitrim.
Rossinver, a small village near the Glenaniff River is surrounded by beautiful walks, especially along the banks of the river to Fowley's Falls.
Ireland's leading organic farming and gardening education center is located near this little village and attracts many visitors every year.
County Leitrim Tourism
And so I hope our quick little tour today will tempt you to someday travel the highways and byways of County Leitrim.
Whether you choose to explore by car, bus, bike or on foot, Leitrim is a beautiful corner of Ireland just waiting for you.
Leitrim Tourism offer a very informative site, with lots of information for planning your trip.
And remember, for anyone wishing to get away from the summer crowds in Ireland's most visited counties, Leitrim offers the very best of hidden Ireland, where you can relax and unwind.
If you enjoyed this photographic tour of County Leitrim, why not check out Ireland's other thirty-two counties.
Up next in the series is County Limerick.
And our previous stop was in County Laois.
Happy armchair travels around Ireland.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Mairéad -Irish American Mom
Pronunciation - slawn ah-gus ban-ock-th
Mairéad - rhymes with parade
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