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Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands
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Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands encompasses eleven counties that hug the majestic River Shannon and the Beara Breifne Way stretching from Leitrim to North Cork.

As a destination, the Heartlands have long been a much-loved secret among many local Irish people, who enjoy the natural beauty and expansive panoramic views of its calm lake waters, inland waterways, rolling hills, vibrant green pastures and vast woodlands. 

Your Area & Other Areas

Around Carrick On Shannon

  • Intriguing castles, lakeside trails and endless blueways – the delights around Lough Allen are yours to uncover.
  • Cruising and Carrick-on-Shannon are synonymous allowing you to experience panoramic views of the local countryside that simply cannot be accessed through any other form of transport.
  • Just ninety minutes or under from Dublin lies Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, a region packed with beautiful places, but so undiscovered it’s easy to see why it’s considered a “hidden treasure”.
  • If you are looking for a short getaway out in nature but close to home, the waterways of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands are a haven of tranquillity – brimming with wildlife and diverse scenery. The forests, open moorland and impressive castles offer a wide choice of outdoor adventures. Uncover the rich history of this beautiful landscape, starting bright and early underground in the quaint village of Arigna.

Around Athlone

  • You don’t have to travel very far in Ireland for truly breath-taking sights and scenery, secret places full of life and bursting with charm.
  • Hidden landscapes, a ‘subtropical paradise’, captivating stories and vibrant towns; the central area of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands is ready to uncover
  • The number of heritage and cultural sites dotted around Athlone as well as the beauty of its waterways keep visitors coming back to this historic town.
  • Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands is close to all the main cities of Ireland; yet feels far away from it all. Dip your toe into not only the lakes of this region but also the culture, immense historical significance and, most importantly, the spectacular nature on offer.
  • Did you know that when you are in at Athlone you are at the centre of Ireland, the very heart of the Island? Athlone, yours to uncover.

Around Lough Derg

  • Take to the shores of Lough Derg dotted with picturesque villages, the chance to unwind on a spectacular boat trip and soak up all the area has to offer. The gentle shrug of water across the surface of Lough Derg makes you want to put down anchor and just float for a few hours. The legendary lake kisses the sides of Claret Galway and Tipperary before it spills into the Shannon, so it’s easy to find a solitary spot to lap up the quiet, cast out a line, or unbuckle your picnic basket for a lazy lunch.
  • This is Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands and the key to it all is the Shannon itself. For millennia it has been the traditional boundary between ‘the West’ and the rest of Ireland. The waterways of Ireland’s midlands aren’t always the most obvious choice for tourists, and that’s part of their enduring charm. You may be only 90 minutes from the country’s main cities, but once you connect to the serene and scenic network of lakes and rivers, you could be a million miles away.
  • Rural roads wind their way around stone-walled pastures, bogs and woodlands, historic towns, and seat of Ireland’s most notorious High King – all this and more awaits around spectacular Lough Derg
  • The lakeshore is dotted with picturesque villages offering boat hire, mooring and leisure facilities and an excellent variety of restaurants and pubs, many with live traditional music sessions. Whatever you choose, a visit to the magical Lough Derg will leave you relaxed, inspired and re-energised!

Activities & Attractions

View Wilde Irish Chocolates
Wilde Irish Chocolates

Wilde Irish Chocolates artisan chocolatiers produce an array of delicious delights. We encourage you to take a free tour and you may even have a free tasting - if you're lucky!

View McKernan Woollen Mills
McKernan Woollen Mills

Visit McKernan Woollen Mills where colourful accessories are woven according to age-old techniques. Chat to the charming owners, Eugene and Anke, and hear the story of how they began their handweaving business.

View Athlone Castle
Athlone Castle

No trip to Athlone is complete without a visit to the 13th century Athlone Castle. The castle's keep is a national monument, and the visitor centre brings to life the stories of the town and its people from ancient through to modern times.

View Rathcroghan Visitor Centre
Rathcroghan Visitor Centre

Rathcroghan Visitor Centre interprets the rich archaeology and mythology of a prehistoric royal site, which was home to the fearsome Iron Age Warrior Queen Medb (Maeve), and starting place for the Tåin 86 Céailnge (Cattle Qaid of Cooley), the oldest vernacular epic in European Literature.

View Clonalis House
Clonalis House

When you are visiting Roscommon make sure you get to visit Clonalis House, an elegant Victorian residence owned by the O'Conor family who are direct descendants of the last High Kings of Ireland.

View Moon River Cruises
Moon River Cruises

Options to get off the beaten track are never far away in Ireland's Hidden Heartlands and a cruise with Moon River Cruises delivers on panoramic views of the softly undulating horizon that simply cannot be accessed through any other form of transport!

View Spirit of Killaloe
Spirit of Killaloe

Spirit of Killaloe: Sit back, relax and enjoy a sightseeing cruise on the River Shannon and Lough Derg from the heritage town of Killaloe in County Clare, nestled in Ireland's Hidden Heartlands. A commentary is provided as you gently cruise along the calm sheltered waters of Ireland's finest waterway.

View Viking Mike
Viking Mike

'Combine history with fresh air by taking a trip downriver with Viking Mike on a replica Viking longship. As you soak up the untouched beauty of the waters, hear tales of Viking hoards and epic battles from 795AD when these Norse seafarers sailed our coasts and rivers.

View Ballinahown

In the quaint village of Ballinahown take a tour of Celtic Qoots Studio. Hear the fascinating history of bogs when Ireland was covered with trees and Iry your hand at carving or fashioning your own personal wish stone out of bogwood that is over 5000 years old.

View Holy Island
Holy Island

Holy Island, Lough Derg: This monastic settlement brims wilh history. For insiders' knowledge on this ancient monastic settlement seek out local historian, Ger Madden. His tours from Mountshannon give justice to this ancient monastic settlement with his massive wealth of knowledge, and storytelling prowess.

View Baysports

Baysports, just outside Athlone, is a great spot for families with its inflatable water park, kayak tours, and pedalos. It also holds the Guinness World Record for the largest floating slide in the country.

Stay & Play

Stay & Play in the Hidden Heartlands with a choice of some top four star hotels

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