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Few people think of the flat farmland of the Midlands when they imagine quintessential Ireland, but the region comprising the counties of Monaghan, Cavan, Westmeath, Laois, Offaly, Roscommon, Longford, and Leitrim has a lot going for it. The rich plains are dotted with historic towns and grand country-house hotels and castles. The Northern Lakelands of Cavan and Monaghan and the River Shannon that meanders through the Midlands offer Ireland's - and some of Europe's - best fishing, and the flat landscape is ideal for cycling. On the Shannon just 12 miles south of Athlone in County Offaly lies Clonmacnoise, Ireland's foremost monastic site. ...

Few people think of the flat farmland of the Midlands when they imagine quintessential Ireland, but the region comprising the counties of Monaghan, Cavan, Westmeath, Laois, Offaly, Roscommon, Longford, and Leitrim has a lot going for it. The rich plains are dotted with historic towns and grand country-house hotels and castles. The Northern Lakelands of Cavan and Monaghan and the River Shannon that meanders through the Midlands offer Ireland's - and some of Europe's - best fishing, and the flat landscape is ideal for cycling. On the Shannon just 12 miles south of Athlone in County Offaly lies Clonmacnoise, Ireland's foremost monastic site. The ruins date to 545 and were virtually impregnable because of their isolation in the boglands. The bogs themselves are worth exploring for their abundant bird and plant life, and six miles south of Clonmacnoise in the town of Shannonbridge the Bord na Móna Bog Rail Tour takes visitors into the bogs on a narrow-gauge railway. Even better, get a "self-drive" boat for a tour on the Shannon and stop at small ports whenever the whim surfaces for a taste of pub life.

Larry Habegger
About the Expert

Larry Habegger is Triporati's editor-in-chief and executive editor of Travelers' Tales, where he has edited or coedited dozens of books including Travelers' Tales Australia and Ireland.

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Larry Habegger for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Northwest of Continental Europe. It is surrounded by hundreds of islands and islets. To the east of Ireland, separated by the Irish Sea, is the island of Great Britain
  • Language: English and Gaelic
  • Currency: Euro
  • Research: Midlands of Ireland | County Meath
  • Weather: Rainfall

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Summer, early fall, late spring, Christmas/New Year's holiday season