Daily Archives: February 13, 2011

A Tour of Ireland ~ Episode 20

Cavan & Monaghan


County Cavan has been inhabited for over 5,000 years and the county has a rich and celebrated history. Missionaries converted County Cavan to Christianity in the 6th Century. St Feidhlim founded a church at Kilmore, while St Mogue set up an abbey at Drumlane.

In the early 17th century, Cavan was settled by planters from England and Scotland who laid the foundations for many towns and villages such as Belturbet, Killeshandra and Virginia.

Located on the southern slopes of the Cuilcagh Mountains, Tullydermot Falls is a place of exquisite beauty and perhaps one of the most beautiful scenic spots in Cavan.  The dramatic waterfalls are situated approximately 6km south-west of Swanlinbar in the direction of the Bellavally Gap.

Moneygashel Sweathouse and Tomb about 15 kilometres west of the town of Swanlinbar, in north County cavan.  This is a high quality portal tomb that has been somewhat neglected over the years.  In front of the chamber there is a low dry-stone wall with a lintelled gap that allows entry inside.  The capstone is a monster – 4m x 4m – and now rests on the rubble at the rear and the sole remaining portal stone at the front.  The portal stone is well over 3m tall, so when the capstone was in place this would have been very imposing.

Irish Sweathouses are generally small, rare, beehive-shaped, corbelled structures of field-stones, rarely more than 2 metres in external height and diameter, with very small “creep” entrances which may have been blocked by clothing, or by temporary doors of peat-turves, or whatever came to hand.  Most of those which survive could not have accommodated more than three or four sweaters.  Some have chinks to let out the smoke, but they were necessarily cleared of fire and ash before use – so any chinks (deliberate or otherwise) in the rough construction would have served as ventilation ducts in a cramped space.

Irish music sessions are commonly encountered across the county. In Cavan town, the Farnham Arms Hotel in the centre of the town hosts a weekly traditional music session on a Wednesday night. Other towns such as Ballyjamesduff, Kilnaleck, Swanlinbar, Belturbet and Killeshandra have weekly music sessions. Fleadh Cheoil an Cabháin is a celebration of Irish music and dance and takes place in a town in the county over the June bank holiday weekend every year.

Ballyjamesduff is famous for being in the Percy French song Come back Paddy Reilly to Ballyjamesduff,  which was written about a man from the area who acted as Jarvy for French and decided to emigrate to Scotland. It is said that he drove his horse and cart to Carrick-on-Shannon, parked the horse and cart outside the railway station and took the train to Dublin. Legend has it that the horse ran all across Ireland looking for Paddy, until Paddy Reilly was said to have returned. Paddy Reilly is now supposedly buried in St Joseph’s graveyard, in the town of Ballyjamesduff.


County Monaghan has unspoiled landscape, wildlife, beautiful scenery, and a variety of things to do from fishing, walking, cycling, horse riding or playing golf. If you are interested in history, poetry, lace making, music and art there are many hours of entertainment in store. Monaghan Harvest-Time R&B Festival & The Annual Patrick Kavanagh Weekend 2011 are just two examples.

Clontibret is situated close to the border with Northern Ireland, between the towns of Monaghan and Castleblayney, along the N2 National primary road, which links Dublin and Derry. Recently the village has been in the media spotlight due to the discovery of a major gold resource in the locality estimated in excess of 1 million ounces.  Perhaps the local Wildlife and Heritage Centre would be easier to find! 😉

Castle Leslie Estate & Castle Hotel in County Monaghan was once home to an Irish branch of Clan Leslie, it is adjacent to the village of Glaslough, 11 km north-east of Monaghan town.

Clones lace making is a strong and vibrant tradition in the Drumlin countryside of West Monaghan and south Fermanagh. This beautiful and intricate art form has been passed from mother to daughter since the post-famine period of the 1850’s, when there were over 1,500 lace makers in these small areas, supplying markets in Dublin, London, Paris Rome and New York.  You will find plenty of images here

The Rally School in Scotstown offers leisure courses, safe driving courses, rally licences and hosts regular events for charity etc.

Castleblayney is steeped in a strong tradition of music, with people like Big Tom, Paddy Cole and Anna Mc Goldrick. Having enjoyed acclaim over the years. Similarily Castleblayney amassed a wealth of Show Bands who enjoyed success on the various circuits both here in Ireland and abroad.  These bands included the Maurice Lynch Showband, Paddy Cole All Stars, The Regal Showband, Everglades, Travellers, Big Tom and the Mainliners, The Outlaws, Emmet Celi Band , Gerry Black and the Seasons Ginger Morgan Band and the Mc Guigan Accordian Band.  Today, many new and emerging bands are also enjoying huge success namely Ben Reel Band and Speedking.