Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands
For our second post we have accumulated a list of places in Athlone and surrounding areas that are within an hour that we believe encompass the very best of the heartlands. From writing the 10 best things to do when visiting Athlone it got me thinking why not write about the Hidden Heartlands and the best they have to offer. Discover the best of the river Shannon, Lough Ree, and step through the very heart of the Midlands. Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands capture the off the beating track history and beauty of our country and we hope we can captured that in our short list.
1. Rinn Duin: off the beat mystical ruins of Rinn Duin located outside Athlone in a small village of Leecarrow. Rinn Duinn is accessible through permission of the land owners but is a forgotten castle that you must see in all of its glory. Built by King John the third that once lived 1,000 is now a farmed area that has been completely forgotten.
2. Portlick Forest: an off the beating track and tranquil trail that is roughly 5km longer and meanders beside Lough Ree. Near the Southern end of the walk there are located some ruins facing out onto the water.
3. Bay Sports: Ireland’s Largest Water Park perfect not just for families but also ideal for corporate bonding events also. So much fun and excitement you won’t want to leave the water.
4. Lough Boora: Located in the bog lands of Offaly lies the very beautiful Lough Boora. Lough Boora contains everything from renting bikes, a coffee shop, a fairy fort, many trails and beautiful sculptured pieces reused from the bog and rail works that used to go on there. Each of their trails varies in distance so you will be guaranteed to find a trail that suits you best whilst getting to take in all the beauty of Boora
5. Greenway: Also knowns as the Old Rail Trail Greenway a 40km trail leading from Athlone to Mullingar. If you aren’t looking to do the whole cycle there are plenty of stops along the way (see Dún na Síbelow for more information). Surrounded by Flora and Fauna and paved tarmac for the whole journey you are surrounded by the old rails beauty.
6. Dún na Sí: splendid pit stop for a coffee, for the kids to make the most of the playground and even see some animals is Dún na Sí a quaint heritage park just off the Greenway in a town called Moate.
7. Sean’s Bar: Ireland’s Oldest Pub in Ireland is located on the banks of the Shannon in the medieval area of Athlone we really couldn’t have asked for more of a hidden Gem. Creating its own iconic Whiskey and the flash back in time you get from stepping foot in Sean’s Bar is like no other, definitely a place we recommend you pop in to.
8. Viking Boat Tours: Less than a minutes’ walk from both Sean’s Bar and Athlone Castle is Viking Mike’s Boat Cruise that leisurely cruises along the Shannon taking in the beauty that is to offer along the River Shannon, options of tripping down and a round Lough Key or even better discovering the monastic site of Clonmacnoise in all of its glory (especially at sunset).
9. Mote Park: Known for its large forest just outside Roscommon Town, a scenic hike where you can take in all the best of the surrounding areas of the 650 acre forest. The Red Squirrel is known for being found in the location!
10. Lough Key: Looking for a sense of adventure? Then look no further than Lough Key Forest Park in the beauty of a mystical forest surrounded by the beautiful Lough Key. From Zip lining, kayaking, Segwaying and so much more you will be spoilt for choice. Roughly an hour’s drive from Athlone.