So last week it was the turn of county Fermanagh so this week it’s time to cross the border into the stunning lake-filled landscape of county Cavan. And this place really is lake filled! There are 365 in all, one for every day of the year making this county a fisherman’s paradise.
It is also the place where Johnathon Swift wrote his world famous Gullivers Travels. It is said he completed the novel in the village of Mullagh in the east of the county and that the character of Gulliver himself was inspired by a local big fella called Big John Doughty. The tale goes that his strength was so great that he could carry a pony on his shoulders!
Cavan is also the county where the source of Ireland’s mighty river Shannon can be found……
The source of Ireland’s longest river can be found in the west of the county, a few miles from Cavan Burren (more of that later). This is Ireland so of course there’s a mythological tale attached. Legend has it that Síonnan, who was the daughter of Lodan who was the son of Lir, traveled to the Shannon Pot seeking the Salmon of Wisdom. So angered was the salmon that he caused the pot to overflow and drown Síonnan. The River Shannon was born and still bears her name to this day.
Time to visit one of Cavan’s numerous lakes. Lough Oughter (Upper Lake) is one of it’s many jewels, a body of water covering 8931 hectares and dotted with islands and drumlins. It is also the place where you will find one of Cavan’s most ancient and enchanting castles…..
Clough Oughter Castle
This stunning 13th century castle sits on a man made island or Crannog in Lough Oughter. Part of the ancient kingdom of Breifne when it would have been controlled by the O’Rourke clan. The Norman invasion saw it being ruled by the Anglo Norman William Gorm De Lacy before falling to the hands of the mighty O’Reilly clan in 1233 who retained control until the 17th century. O Reilly remains the most common surmane in county Cavan to this day and it is said the phrase ” The life of Reilly” came about due to the immense wealth of this powerful Celtic clan.
This stunning ancient landscape sits at an altitude of 700-900 feet. You can discover 5000 years of history in this Ice Age valley with an array of megalithic tombs, dolmens and stone walls. The views across this unspoiled terrain are simply breathtaking.
In the nearby Cuilcaigh Mountains you will find the spectacular Tullydermot Falls. The falls form part of the Claddagh River and are a real hidden gem. Probably one of the most scenic spots in all of Cavan and the perfect place to stop for a picnic.
Climb to the top of Shantemon Hill in Drumalee and there you will enjoy yet more stunning views over Cavan’s rolling landscape as well as 5 standing stones which according to legend are the fingers and thumb of the legendary Fionn Mac Cumhail after losing a hand in battle.
Dun Na Ri Forest Park
Let’s end with a gorgeous stroll in a true walker’s paradise. Meaning ” The King’s Fort”, Dún Na Rí Forest Park covers 565 tranquil acres just near the town of Kingscourt. Discover the Old Ice House, Cromwell’s Bridge and The Lady’s Lake and keep your eyes peeled for the Irish hare and pygmy shrews who reside in this lush woodland. Yet another legend has it that Ireland’s famous mythological warrior Cuchulain made his camp here by night as he battled Queen Medbh and her army by day in his defense of Ulster.
So it’s goodbye to gorgeous county Cavan for now. Please join me again on the road next week.
In the meantime, keep on shopping the best of Ireland below and get a 10% discount sitewide when you use the code BLOG10 at the checkout.
Slán go fóill!
The Irish Store Founder