Visiting County Cavan? This part of the Irish Province of Ulster
(which is not identical to Northern Ireland) has a number of attractions you will not want to miss. Plus some interesting sights that are slightly off the beaten path. So why not take your time and spend a day or two in Cavan when visiting Ireland? Here are some ideas to make it worth your while ...
Cavan Town - Life in the HollowCavan literally means "the hollow" ... and driving into Cavan Town you know the name fits. It is downhill, whatever direction you are coming from. But only in a geographical sense, as Cavan Town has the charms (and odd traffic layout) of a traditional county town to offer. From a bustling commercial centre with large chain stores and small local enterprises to a large Catholic cathedral with an only slightly smaller Church of Ireland church opposite. From a graveyard with historic connections to cafés with a welcoming atmosphere. From the bustle of the local college to the otherwise sedate pace of life. Well worth a stopover, if only to get provisions ...
Cavan County Museum - Border Life
The Cavan County Museum in Ballyjamesduff
is a hidden gem - not on any main road (and not very well sign-posted from the N3), it hides behind a modern church and holds the key to understanding the border counties history. From megalithic monuments with puzzling imagery to the bold images used by semi-secret societies and fraternal brotherhoods on both sides of the sectarian divide. Not a big museum, but packing a bit of punch nonetheless.
Belturbet - Boater's Delight
Stopping on Belturbet is, frankly, not a welcome prospect - the N3 winds its way from Cavan Town to Enniskillin
through the middle of the town in a tortuous way, with locals parking willy-nilly and trucks barely able to pass each other. What a contrast off the beaten track, at the waterfront, where cruisers
moor and families enjoy a stroll. Here the waterways almost intersect, with the Shannon and the Shannon-Erne-Waterway within easy reach. And defining the border to Northern Ireland - just out off Belturbet to the north an old bridge had been blown up decades ago, only replaced by a new one during the peace process. Stark contrasts. You may also note the unassuming memorial next to the old Post Office, commemorating two local teenagers that dies in a bomb attach on the small town.
See the Source of the ShannonBoth the Shannon and the Erne have their origins in County Cavan - and the Shannon Pot near the village of Glengavlin is interesting enough for a short visit. An almost tiny (but deep) pond filled from an underground stream. And the source of the mighty Shannon, though it is a mere trickle here. Great for a picnic on a sunny day!
Pumping It Up for the Pumpkin
The Virginia Pumpkin Festival
combines rural traditions, hard-core gardening and Halloween. Taking place on the October Bank Holiday Weekend
, it is a town-wide party with street entertainment for all ages. And some interesting performances. And with pumpkins - not at least during the weigh-in for the largest pumpkin on show. Spooky, funny and varied, a definitive highlight in the Cavan calendar.
The Aughrim Tomb - Money Away with the Fairies?Can it be true? The Aughrim Tomb in the grounds of the Slieve Russell Hotel has its own history ... lying undisturbed for many millennia, it was in the way of commercial expansion. And moved. At great cost. And maybe at a greater cost than ever imagined by the movers and shakers of the ancient tomb, as Ireland's richest man is rumoured to have become a pauper as a result of the ill-advised interference with the otherworld ...
Virginia Show - A Rural Highlight
The annual Virginia Show
is definitely a rural highlight, though seeing cows battling it out for the price of the best-looking one may seem strange to many. There is more to it than hair-styling and well-scrubbed feet. You will also see the cows that provide the cream for Bailey's ... so it is educational too. Of sorts. Definitely fun, but dress for changing weather and not-so-clean terrain.
More Information on County Cavan and the Province of Ulster
Moving On ... Beyond Cavan's Borders
Enough time spent in County Cavan? Then carry on in the neighbouring counties: