Cavan has spectacular walking trails, through the Cuilcagh Mountains, which are the source of the 300km River Shannon.
Of course, the county’s quiet charm is best appreciated from the water, which may be one of the reasons that it is a world-famous spot for coarse fishing.
From the tombs and Druidic center on the plains of Magh Sleacht, near Ballyconnell, to the Ulster Plantation and the War of Independence Cavan is steeped in history as well as being stunningly beautiful.
Here is IrishCentral’s list of the county's top five tourist attractions:
Cavan County Museum
The aim of the amazing establishment is to collect, conserve and display the material heritage and culture of County Cavan. Their exhibitions include artifacts dating from the Stone Age right up to the 20th century. Included in the exhibitions are the Killycluggin stone (below) and the three-faced Corleck Head, two of the most recognizable examples of Celtic spirituality in the country.
The museum is housed in an impressive 19th-century building, on extensive grounds, which include lakes and drumlins.
For more visit CavanMuseum.ie.
Dún a Rí Forest Park
Dún a Rí Forest Park is part of what was formerly the Cabra Estate, which was owned by the Pratt family. The legends surrounding the park stretch back to the time of Cuchullain, the Gaelic warrior, who rested in these woods while fighting the armies of Queen Maeve of Connacht.
The Park boasts of incredible wildlife including otters, mink, trout, and even salmon, foxes, badger, stoat, squirrels, hedgehogs, rabbits, and mice..and don’t get us started on the birds. The forest is dominated by oak and ash trees but includes hazel, holly, and rhododendron trees.
There are four signposted walks in the park – the nature trails, village walk, river walk, and access for all trails.
For more information, visit DunARi.ie.
Cavan Burren Park
Three kilometers south of Blacklion and northwest of Cuilcagh Mountains is the remarkable limestone plateau, at an altitude of between 700 and 900 feet, in the Cavan Burren Park. It has only recently been recognized as as one of the finest relict landscapes of its size in all of Ireland.
It is made up of funereal monuments, habitation sites and fields that survive from prehistoric times. The glacial erratics have survived from the last Ice Age, while the dry valley dates back to a pre-glacial river and sink. The fossils embedded in its limestone are the coral of a tropical sea of 350 million years ago.
This is a unique educational resource as well as being absolutely stunning. Today the Cavan Burren is part of the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark, one of numerous UNESCO Global Geoparks found across the world.
For more information visit CavanBurren.ie.
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Farnham Estate Health Spa
Farnham Estate Cavan's Health Spa is located on acres of rolling countryside and includes one of Ireland’s top luxury spa hotels. The property including the house is simply stunning. Located on 1,300 acres of land with three lakes and four miles of woodlawn, this tranquil haven plays home to one of Ireland’s oldest trees.
The estate itself dates back to the 1600s, but this successful retreat is just 16 years old. This one is definitely worth a visit.
For more information visit FarnhamEstate.ie.
Deerpark Forest Walk
The Deerpark Forest covers 160 hectares of broadleaf, conifer, and mixed woodland of variable age classes. Some of the old broadleaf trees were planted by the Marquis of Headfort over 100 years ago. The park river flows through the property and provides a lovely backdrop for all the trails.
There are many built heritage features to be found in the forest. The best examples are along the Golden Way heritage trail and include, Lady’s Cottage, Castle Boat House, and the metal and stone bridges.
There are three trails in the forest. The Lough Ramor loop takes you along by the River Ramor and the shores of Lough Ramor. The Golden Way heritage trail incorporates the best of local built heritage and a beautiful biodiverse broadleaf forest with a rich understory of holly, herbs, grasses, and naturally regenerating trees.
For more information visit Coillte.ie.
*Originally published November 2016. Updated in May 2023.