The geography of County Leitrim (from the Irish, Contae Liatroma) is characterized by Lough Allen. Separating the mountainous northwest from the pastoral southeast of the county, it leads into the Shannon–Erne Waterway, a 39 mile-long canal that runs from the River Shannon in the Republic of Ireland to the River Erne in Northern Ireland.
The crossing point of the waterway can be walked from Carrick-on-Shannon, which, despite being the smallest county town in Ireland, is the largest ordinary town in Leitrim. The Costello Memorial Chapel, the smallest chapel in Europe and the second smallest in the world, is also found here. The much smaller village of Leitrim, from which the county takes its name, is notable as a lively avenue of the waterway and is favoured by passing seamen for its facilitative jetty of shops and eateries.
Lough Melvin, to the northwest of the county, proffers a splendid catch to the timely fisherman during the yearly Atlantic salmon run. Lough Gill, situated so far to the northwest it enters County Sligo, is at once diminished and highlighted by the rousing Parke’s Castle on its banks. The Lake Isle of Innisfree, immortalized in the poem of the same name by W.B. Yeats, is one of 20 islands in the lough. The inspiration for yet another poem, The Stolen Child (also by Yeats), can be found in the vaporous mists of Glencar Waterfall, located a few miles north of Sligo Town on Leitrim’s border.
Leitrim’s otherwise idyllic history (the county blossomed as a producer and trader of Irish linen during the early 19th Century) is marred only by the insidious effects of the Great Famine, reeking havoc on the local population in the ten years between 1841 and 1851, during which time census officials noted the absence of 43,000 people from the register.
Unmissable Attractions County Leitrim
1. St. George’s Heritage and Visitor Centre (Opening Times: Wednesday to Saturday from 11.00 a.m. – 5.30 p.m. and Sunday from 1.00 p.m. – 5.30 p.m. in summer) Prices: Adults €5.00 / Children (over 12) €1.50 (children under 12 go free)
2. Parke’s Castle (Opening Times: Monday to Sunday from 10.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m. in summer) Prices: Adults €3.00 / Senior citizens and groups €2.00 / Children and students €1.00 / Family €8.00
3. Cavan Leitrim Railway (Opening Times: Monday to Saturday from 10.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m. and Sunday from 1.00 p.m. – 5.00 p.m.) Prices: Adult €8.00 / Children €5.00 / Senior citizens €5.00 / Family €17.00
4. Fenagh Visitors Centre (Opening Times: Monday to Friday from 10.00 a.m. – 5.30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 12.00 p.m. – 5.30 p.m.)
5. Sliabh an Iarainn Visitor Centre (Opening Times: Thursday to Saturday from 10.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m. and Sunday from 2.00 p.m. – 6.00 p.m.)
6. Glenview Folk Museum (Opening Times: Monday to Saturday from 10.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m. and Sunday 2.00 p.m. – 6.00 p.m.)
7. Manorhamilton Castle is open to the general public all year round.