North West Ireland Tourism
Visitor Guide to Mayo, Sligo, Donegal, Roscommon, Leitrim, Cavan & Monaghan
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Museums of Mayo, Sligo, Donegal, Cavan, Leitrim, Roscommon and Monaghan.
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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Donegal County Museum opened to the public in 1987 and is housed in what was once the Warden's house of the Letterkenny Workhouse, which was opened in 1845. The Museum holds a substantial collection of original artefacts representing the history of County Donegal and covering subjects such as archaeology, history, social history and folklife.
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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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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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Fr. Peyton Memorial Centre is a memorial museum dedicated to the life of Attymass born Fr. Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., the "rosary priest" who emigrated to the US in 1928 and founded the Family Rosary Crusade in 1942. Popular with Christian pilgrims who are also visiting Knock, the facility includes a photographic exhibition on the priest's life, an oratory and contemplation garden, restaurant, and craft shop. It is located about 5 miles SE of Ballina and 20 miles north west of Knock.
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Glencolmcille Folk Village Museum is located in the scenic village Glencolmcille in County Donegal. Also known as Father McDyer's Folk Village Museum, it was so named following the tireless work by Father McDyer in helping establish a strong community and basic facilities in the area to help reduce the levels of emigration. Road improvements followed and small business enterprises such as knitting and agriculture endeavors offered hope for the people living in the area. Father McDyer also spearheaded the Folk Village Museum project. The Museum consists of thatched houses representing the cottage types of the area during the previous three hundred years complete with furnishings and artifacts donated by members of the local community. The museum has expanded over the years to include a craft shop, school, shebeen and a teahouse.
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The Inishowen Maritime Museum & Planetarium is housed in the old coastguard building at Greencastle harbour, which is one of the oldest fishing ports in the country. The museum features a large number of interesting maritime related exhibits, showcasing the maritime history of the Lough Foyle area. Lough Foyle is notable for once being the location of a major naval base for the British Royal Navy, in particular during the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II, when British vessels escorting merchant convoys came under German U-boat attack. During the war, records show Allied aircraft crashed in the lough and pilots were rescued from the water by the local coast guard. The area also has seen many shipwrecks over the centuries, where many ships were wrecked on the nearby shores including ships from the famous Spanish Armada.
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The Irish Famine Museum in Strokestown, Co. Roscommon depicts one of the most far-reaching and wrenching events of Irish history, the Great Potato Famine of the 1840's. This award-winning museum illustrates "how" and "why" the famine started and was allowed to spread, reducing the Irish population by almost three million people through death and emigration. The exhibits range from photographs, letters, documents, and satirical cartoons of the time to farm implements and a huge caldron that was used for soup to feed the starving people in a famine-relief program.
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