County Monaghan sits far away from Dublin and Southern Ireland's tourist trail. Nestled along the border with Northern Ireland, this region of the Emerald Isle boasts historic castles and beautiful stretches of idyllic countryside landscapes. Surprisingly-few tourists venture here. Those who do find that the authentic history, culture and nature of Ireland is right at their finger tips. For people seeking to immerse themselves in the charming Irish countryside lifestyle, this is the perfect destination. County Monaghan's headlining attraction is Castle Leslie, a huge Victornian estate that oozes historic style. In a little while, I'll tell you how to not only visit the castle, but actually spend the night there (or make it the base for your entire vacation). But first, here are some great reasons why County Monaghan is the best destination for coming face to face with true Ireland.
What To See
It is easy to access the idyllic nature of Monaghan. The Monaghan Way, a trail that weaves through the county, passes some of the most scenic landscapes, while the shorter Sliabh Beagh Trail is a scenic option for both walkers and bicyclists. The Mullaghmore, Carrickmacross and Cloncaw Equestrian Centres offer horseback riding opportunities for people of all skill levels, while the aforementioned Castle Leslie also has a horse stable that offers riders a chance to trot through some of the most beautiful landscapes in the entire county. Also, this is one of the best places in all of Ireland for fishing. On some waterways, a license in not required. I(n short, there is a lot to do in County Monaghan besides simply soaking-in the wonderful rural atmosphere.
The Rossmore Forest Park boasts easy access to Monaghan's landscapes and also offers a taste of the unique history of the area. The ruins of a 19th century castle are located on the park's grounds. Tourists can also get a taste of the deep history of this region at the Monaghan County Museum, which has thousands of artifacts, including some that date back to Neolithic times. Another museum, the Patrick Kavanagh Centre, is named after the county's most famous resident, an acclaimed poet who was known for his passionate poems, his love of his home county and his joie de vivre.
Where To Stay
Castle Leslie is the single biggest attraction in Ireland's northern borderlands. Home to its namesake family since the 1660s, this estate has a wonderful atmosphere. Guests can stay in one of 20 bedrooms in the castle itself, or they can stay in the adjacent lodge. The historic village on the property has even been converted into a collection of guest cottages that offer a greater level of privacy. An onsite restaurant, bar and spa make Castle Leslie a complete vacation estate.
Guests will find a lot of Victorian charm at Leslie. Afternoon tea is served in on of the castle's sitting rooms, and even the luxurious spa's treatment rooms have a turn-of-the-century flair. The lawns and gardens certainly enhance this sense of grandeur that every guest and visitor gets to experience. Enjoying the historic atmosphere is a major part of the allure of this luxury estate. But there is more...
Castle Leslie's expansive grounds boast some of County Monaghan's best scenery. An onsite equestrian center makes it possible to explore the countryside on horseback, even if you are only a novice in the saddle. Walking and bicycling are also options, as is paddling through the nearby waterways.
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