North West Ireland Tourism
Visitor Guide to Mayo, Sligo, Donegal, Roscommon, Leitrim, Cavan & Monaghan
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Historic Sites

Places of historic importance in Mayo, Sligo, Donegal, Cavan, Leitrim, Roscommon and Monaghan.
Ballintubber Abbey is "the abbey that refused to die." Built in 1216 by a local king, it was suppressed and made roofless in the 17th century. But, for over 250 years, it continued to operate as people attended services in the wind, rain, and all kinds of weather, making Ballintubber one of the few Irish churches in continuous use for over 800 years. It was completely restored in 1966. Volunteers provide guided tours and also show a 20-minute audio-visual on history of the abbey.
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Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery is the largest cemetery of megalithic tombs in Ireland, with monuments ranging from 5500 to 6500 years old. Archaeologists have recorded over 60 tombs of which 30 are visible. A restored cottage house along with an exhibition relating to the site are present too. Visitors are advised to wear good walking shoes as the ground is uneven in parts.
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Ceide Fields in Ballycastle, County Mayo has been called the world's most extensive Stone Age site. Discovered less than 20 years ago, it is also one of Ireland's most significant archaeological finds, a 5,000-year-old farm unearthed in a blanket of bog. Visitors can take on-site tours of the field systems, enclosures, and tombs. A visitor center provides helpful background and displays. The nearby Cliffs of Ceide are a special attraction, too, composed on hundreds of layers of rock built up over millions of years.
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Doagh Famine Village tells the story of a family / community living on the edge of Donegal and surviving from Famine times right up to the present day. It also explains the road to peace in Northern Ireland, Ireland in the Celtic Tiger years and the recent economic collapse. Admission includes a guided tour, refreshments and entrance into Donegal Haunted House.
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The Donegal Railway Heritage Centre is a bright and fun museum dedicated to recording the complete story of the narrow gauge railways of Donegal. The County Donegal Railway and the Londonderry & Lough Swilly Railway, at 225 miles, formed the largest narrow gauge railway system in north-west Europe. The story is told through informative large illustrated wall-boards, and on a variety of DVDs shown in two locations on our audio-visual systems which can be watched in comfort while enjoying a hot or cold drink and a snack. The onsite shop sells DVDs and other souvenirs. The museum houses a variety of beautifully constructed models in various scales, some of which can be seen in operation. Donegal Railway Heritage Centre also has the largest digitised collection of Donegal railway photos in the world, a selection of which is on automatic presentation for visitors. There are several items of restored County Donegal Railway rolling stock as well as others in the process of being restored. The museum is open from 10am 5pm all year, with weekends by appointment only. Special opening arrangements can be made by prior booking through 00 353 (0)74 9722655.
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Dunfanaghy Workhouse Heritage Centre is located a short walk from the Market Square in Dunfanaghy, Co. Donegal. The Heritage Centre explores the local history and culture of the area, and features regular exhibitions about the Great Famine, Dunfanaghy and Arts and Crafts. Housed in The Workhouse is an exhibition telling the story of Wee Hannah, who is mentioned in The Famine Graveyard page. Wee Hannah struggled to survive The Famine, and lived for a while in The Workhouse. Opened as a heritage centre in 1995, it also has a coffee shop, art gallery, children’s play area craft and book shop. Admission to the Workhouse is free, and everyone is very welcome, but some of the exhibitions have an admission fee on occasion.
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Falcarragh Visitor Centre (An tSean Bheairic) is housed in an authentic two-storey building, constructed in 1890 and used as the Falcarragh Police Barracks until 1920 when it became the Falcarragh Garda Station. This period in history coincides with the most memorable time in the development of the Irish Republic and therefore the building has witnessed some dramatic events. Permanent exhibits of the history and culture of the Barracks are displayed within the visitor centre, which adds to the uniqueness and authenticity of the centre. Falcarragh Visitor Centre includes a Heritage Centre with exhibits about the history of the area through audio visual displays. It is also a Fáilte Ireland Visitor Information Point where visitors can access information on accommodation, places to eat, routes to take, maps, guides about the area. There is also a craft shop and coffee shop along with conference facilities.
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The Flight of the Earls Heritage Centre in Rathmullan is housed in an old gun battery on Lough Swilly built in 1810 and one of six around the lough. Although built some 200 years after the Flight of the Earls, the fort is a reminder of Ireland’s troubled history and how Ireland’s history could have turned out very differently. The centre has exhibitions and displays including wax figures in period costumes, weapons, maps and manuscripts which bring the 400 year history to life. The ticket office is located in the cellar where you can also view a DVD made by the Donegal Historical Society telling the story of how Hugh O’Neill and Rory O’Donnell came to make their escape, their journey across the Continent and of their final resting-place in Rome. The story of the build-up to the Nine Years’ War, of Hugh O’Neill’s defeat, and, of course, of the fateful event in September 1607 which has gone down in history as the Flight of the Earls is presented in the gallery.
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Fort Dunree Military Museum is positioned in a wonderfully scenic setting approximately 10km’s north of Buncrana in County Donegal. Situated overlooking Lough Swilly on the on the Inishowen Peninsula, Fort Dunree commands spectacular views of the Lough and its shorelines. The museum exhibits audio - visual presentations providing an insight in the long and interesting history of the fort. The museum displays show how life at Fort Dunree was for the soldiers stationed here and the vital role the fort played in securing the coastal defence of the area. The area surrounding Fort Dunree is rich in wildlife, and the museum includes wildlife exhibits of the sea life and birdlife of the place. Walking paths around the attraction and former military buildings have been extensively restored in recent years to facilitate the wildlife exhibition, more military displays, a shop and a water front cafeteria. Fort Dunree now hosts art exhibitions, wildlife talks, yoga classes and even weddings.
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Glenveagh National Park is one of Donegal’s treasures. It can be found in the heart of Donegal and covers over 16,000 hectares making it the largest National Park in Ireland. In this brief article we take a closer look at what makes this national park one of the top attractions in the north west of Ireland. The Glenveagh National Park can be found about 24km north west of Letterkenny in the heart of the Derryveagh Mountains. With its pristine lakes, mountains, boglands, moorlands, rivers and wilderness, this remote and peaceful national park is hauntingly beautiful and serene. The park consists of three distinct areas; the peatlands of Lough Barra bog, the quartzite hills and the Glenveagh Estate & Derryveagh Mountains. Glenveagh Park was first established as an Estate back in 1861 when John Adair built a castle here and wanted to create an estate as beautiful as Balmoral (the Scottish retreat of Queen Victoria). To do this, he cleared tenants from the lands so as not to obstruct his plans to create a vast recreational and hunting ground. The castle and park fell into private ownership down through the years and was eventually handed over to the State by Mr. Henry McIlhenry. In 1984 the park opened to the public for the first time while the castle opened in 1986. A good place to start your tour of Glenveagh National Park is the Visitor Centre. It’s located at the edge of the park, on the northern end of Lough Veagh. It provides an excellent introduction to the park as well as a detailed history and lots more info on the walking trails, the flora, fauna, events etc. The Scottish baronial style Glenveagh Castle was built between 1867-73. The castle has a breathtaking location in a beautiful remote setting surrounded by mountains, lakes, woods and glens. Access to the castle is by private guided tour only, which lasts 30 minutes. The tour is well worth it to see the beautiful preserved interiors boasting original antiques and furnishings from times gone by. Glenveagh National Park is also famous for being home to one of the largest herd of red deer in Ireland, who graze on the upper mountains during the summer months and come down to the lowlands during the winter. The park also has a number of Golden Eagles, which became wiped out in Ireland over 100 years ago mainly due to over hunting. Other animals to see in the park include the hare, stoat, badger, foxes and a wide range of birds. Visitors to Glenveagh National Park can enjoy a number of walks either self guided or with a tour guide. The most popular trails are the ‘View Point’ trail (2km) and the Tree Trail which takes the visitor from the visitor centre to the castle. With so much to see and do here, visitors should allow an entire day here and even at that, you will only get a glimpse at what this park has to offer.
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