Updated On: January 03, 2024 by Eman Sameh
Monaghan is an often overlooked small county in the heart of Ireland’s Ulster province. Yet, beneath its unassuming exterior lies a whole lot of experiences waiting to be discovered. From ancient castles and mystical bogs to vibrant festivals and culinary delights, Monaghan promises an adventure for everyone.
Hike through the enchanting woodlands of Rossmore Forest Park, kayak across the glassy surface of Muckno Lake, or tee off on one of the county’s championship horseriding courses. So, get your backpack on and be ready to discover the top things to do in Monaghan.
Top Things to Do in Monaghan
Monaghan, a hidden gem in Ireland, offers a range of activities for everyone. Explore ancient castles like Castle Leslie, delve into history at the Monaghan County Museum, or have a blast at Coral Leisure Monaghan. From outdoor adventures to vibrant festivals and mouthwatering cuisine, Monaghan promises an unforgettable Irish escape.
Rossmore Forest Park
Rossmore Forest Park is a 320-hectare wonderland waiting to be explored. Unravel history’s whispers by exploring the ruins of Rossmore Castle, following the Priestfield walk past the family crypt, and standing in awe before the ancient Wedge Tomb and Court Tomb dating back to 3000-1800 BC.
Unleash your inner explorer with hikes or bike rides through a network of forest trails, encountering hidden waterfalls, ancient ruins like the intriguing Rossmore Castle, and breathtaking viewpoints overlooking the five glistening lakes. Paddle across the tranquil waters, casting lines for hungry fish or simply enjoying the serenity of the moment in a kayak or canoe.
Lough Muckno Leisure Park
This 800-hectare freshwater giant isn’t just pretty; it’s a cove for water sports enthusiasts. Cast your line and see if you can snag one of the park’s renowned pike, perch, or bream. kayak or canoe, soaking in the tranquil beauty of the surrounding landscape. If you’re feeling adventurous, try your hand at windsurfing or wakeboarding – the perfect way to get your adrenaline pumping.
For a touch of history, visit the Hope Castle Estate, nestled on the shores of the lake. This 19th-century mansion, once home to the wealthy Hope family, now houses a visitor centre and tea rooms. Step back in time as you explore the grand interiors and learn about the fascinating history of the estate.
And when it’s time to refuel, you won’t be disappointed. The park offers a variety of eating options, from the Lakeside Bistro with its panoramic lake views to the Trailer Cafe, which serves delicious coffee and snacks. Pack a picnic and enjoy your lunch on the grassy shores, or gather your friends and family for a barbecue overlooking the water.
Coral Leisure Monaghan
Grab your friends or family and challenge them to a strike-tactic showdown on the state-of-the-art bowling lanes. With cosmic bowling available on weekends, prepare for a glow-in-the-dark good time! Dive into the nostalgia of arcade games such as classic air hockey or modern racing simulators; there’s something for everyone to get competitive with.
Backpackers will appreciate the affordable prices and friendly atmosphere. Luxury travellers can indulge in spa treatments and relax by the poolside. If you’re a foodie, you’ll love their on-site cafe, which offers delicious snacks and refreshments. Embark on a thrilling laser tag mission. Navigate the intricate maze, strategise with your team, and tag your opponents for ultimate bragging rights.
Bragan Penal Cross
In Monaghan, Ireland, Bragan Penal Cross remembers a priest shot during Christmas Mass in 1754 under oppressive Penal Laws. This stark symbol of Irish persecution stands against the Sliabh Beagh mountains, a reminder of past hardships and enduring faith. Though precise details remain unclear, the cross and its inscription offer a window into a dark chapter, urging reflection and preserving memory.
Mullaghmore Equestrian Centre Limited
Nestled in Monaghan, Ireland, Mullaghmore Equestrian Centre caters to horse riders of all ages and abilities. With indoor & outdoor arenas, qualified instructors, and fun events, they offer tailored lessons, birthday parties, and more. Mullaghmore, a welcoming haven for horse lovers, connects riders with these majestic creatures in a friendly and professional environment.
Busy Bee Ceramics
Opened in 2009 by Fiona McEntee, a passionate artist with a love for clay, Busy Bee Ceramics has blossomed into a vibrant hub for pottery enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels. This charming pottery studio in Monaghan, Ireland, offers a unique experience where visitors can try their hand at creating beautiful ceramic pieces. Their shop features a curated selection of handcrafted ceramics, jewellery, and artwork, all made with love and attention to detail.
Patrick Kavanagh Centre
The Patrick Kavanagh Centre in Inniskeen is a must-visit for all literature enthusiasts and fans of the famous Irish poet. It offers a unique opportunity to take a closer look into the life and works of this celebrated writer. The centre showcases exhibitions, displays, and interactive installations that bring Kavanagh’s poetry to life. Visitors can explore his childhood home, immerse themselves in his words through audiovisual presentations, and even participate in creative writing workshops inspired by his legacy.
Muckno Lake, in Monaghan, measuring about 4 kilometres long and 1 kilometre wide, boasts tranquil waters perfect for various water sports. Paddle across the charming water in a kayak or canoe, soaking in the serene beauty of the surrounding countryside. Cast your line and see if you can snag one of the lake’s renowned pike, perch, or bream. Windsurfers and wakeboarders can take advantage of the prevailing winds and get their adrenaline pumping.
Muckno Lake Park offers a playground for families seeking fun and relaxation. You can also gather your friends and family for a barbecue overlooking the water. Children can let loose in the dedicated playground, while older kids can test their skills on the pitch-and-putt course. Visit the Hope Castle Estate, a 19th-century mansion resting on the lake’s shores. Step back in time as you explore the grand interiors and learn about the fascinating history of the wealthy Hope family.
Monaghan County Museum
One of the top things to do in Monaghan is visit the Monaghan County Museum. Founded in 1974, the museum isn’t just a repository of dusty artefacts; it’s a dynamic space that showcases the fascinating story of County Monaghan from prehistoric times to the present day.
Immerse yourself in the lives of Monaghan’s earliest inhabitants as you marvel at archaeological finds like flint tools and pottery dating back thousands of years. Witness remnants of the Norman era through fascinating weapons, jewellery, and even fragments of religious buildings, whispering tales of medieval battles and conquests.
Delve into the complex story of the Plantation of Ulster, a pivotal moment in Irish history that dramatically shaped the region’s demographics and cultural landscape. The museum sheds light on this contentious period with meticulous historical narratives and insightful exhibits. Explore intricate lacework, listen to enchanting folk music, and learn about customs passed down through generations, gaining a deeper understanding of the region’s vibrant cultural identity.
Roberto’s Coffee Shop
Forget sleek modern cafes; Roberto’s takes you back to a bygone era with its unique architectural flair. The corrugated iron exterior, painted in a cheerful green, evokes nostalgia, while the timber beams and stained glass windows inside create a warm and inviting atmosphere.
While Roberto’s boasts a menu full of aromatic coffees, teas, and hot chocolates, it’s more than just a place to get your caffeine fix. Their freshly made sandwiches, from classic BLTs to inventive vegetarian selections, are sure to tantalise your taste buds. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a filling lunch, Roberto’s has something to satisfy every appetite.
Peter’s Tin Church Laragh
St. Peter’s Tin Church in Laragh in Monaghan, Ireland, is a unique historical site that attracts visitors from all over. This charming church is made entirely of tin and is one of the few remaining structures of its kind in Ireland. Built in 1890, St. Peter’s boasts a fascinating history. Legend has it that the church was a gift from mill owner James McKean to his wife after their honeymoon in Switzerland, inspired by the country’s chalets. This story adds to the church’s charm, weaving elements of romance and international influence into its tale.
St. Peter’s Tin Church Laragh is open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Visitors can explore the interior, admire the architecture, and soak in the peaceful atmosphere. Whether you’re a religious seeker, an architecture enthusiast, or simply curious about this unusual landmark, St. Peter’s offers a unique and memorable experience.
The story of Leslie Castle begins in the 17th century. Built by the Leslie family, a powerful Gaelic clan, the castle initially served as a fortified tower strategically positioned to defend against raiders and rebellions. The thick stone walls, narrow windows, and even a murder hole still whisper tales of battles and sieges.
With the changing times, the Leslies embraced a more peaceful life. The castle underwent extensive renovations, shedding its purely defensive character and evolving into a luxurious residence. Elegant State Rooms adorned with intricate plasterwork, a grand staircase, and expansive gardens replaced the stark features of the older tower.
Discovering the best things to do in Monaghan guarantees an unforgettable experience. This exceptional county offers something for everyone, from exploring Rossmore Forest Park and Lough Muckno Leisure Park to immersing yourself in culture at St. Peter’s Church and the Patrick Kavanagh Centre. Don’t miss out on the unique attractions, stunning landscapes, and rich history that make Monaghan a must-visit destination.
Is it free to visit Rossmore Forest Park?
Yes, it is free for all visitors, and it is open all day hours from 8 am.
Is Monaghan County North or South Ireland?
Monaghan County is located in North Ireland. While it doesn’t lie in the geographical Northern Ireland (which is part of the United Kingdom), it is considered part of the Ulster province, traditionally one of the four provinces of Ireland.
How far is Monaghan from Belfast?
Monaghan is 93 km from Belfast, Northern Ireland, which takes about 1 hr and 15 mins by car.
How much is the Monaghan County Museum ticket?
You do not need to pay, as admission is free.