Take a stroll around Lake Muckno, cycle around secret Drumlin trails and have afternoon tea in Castle Leslie! Here are six fun things to do in Monaghan!
I have visited many counties in Ireland but until recently, Monaghan had escaped me. It wasn’t a place that was on my bucket list, in fact it wasn’t really on my radar at all. However after spending a few days there with my family, my eyes were opened. It’s not the Wild Atlantic Way, or the Causeway Coast but the cliché ‘hidden gem’ sprang to mind on numerous occasions during my visit. The towns of Monaghan and Castleblaney are full of life and have a wide variety of dining options. In fact, Monaghan finished in the top 10 of Irish foodie destinations, run by the Restaurants Association of Ireland. Known as the land of drumlins, Monaghan’s rolling hills enhance the dramatic landscape and it’s proximity to the border with Northern Ireland ensures locals have some great stories to tell. We found lots of fun things to do in Monaghan during our quick visit, check them out below.
Spend a day at Lough Muckno.
I would drive to Monaghan again just to visit Lough Muckno. It should be top of your list if visiting Monaghan. Located in Castleblaney, this lake is undoubtedly Monaghan’s finest, with spectacular scenery from all sides. Take the time to do the Black Island walk. This is a leisurely 2km walk that is suitable for all the family. My kids loved the forest trails with fairy doors and being able to walk along the waters edge was an added bonus. Wilbert’s adventure playground is located here too which is packed with ziplines and large slides.
Visit Castle Leslie and Glaslough Village
We were fortunate to stay at Castle Leslie’s Village Cottages which are situated in the picturesque village of Glaslough. Take time to pay a visit to Castle Leslie and you will see why Paul Mc Cartney and so many other celebrities chose to get married here. You can dine at the Lodge or have Afternoon Tea in the Castle but if you fancy eating in the town, Ambledown Cottages is a unique find. Read my blog on my stay at Castle Leslie for more details.
Have lunch in Dinkins
After spending the morning playing pitch and putt we worked up a healthy appetite for lunch! We visited the family run restaurant, Dinkins, which is located in the heart of Monaghan town. Traditionally a bakery, it is also home to a full delicatessen and a restaurant. The passion and pride in which our host April described the menu was incredible. “There isnt a cake downstairs that I wouldn’t eat myself” – April’s enthusiasm was a pleasure to watch and I knew immediately we were in for a treat. We enjoyed a marvellous selection of sandwiches, paninis and salads and there were clean plates all round. Of course we simply had to try some of their delicious cakes too. Check out my son’s happy face below, that says it all!
If you are in #Monaghan town you have to try @dinkinsbakery Everything is made on site, lunch was fab and check out how happy my boy is with his desert!! . . . . #mymonaghan @monaghantourism #cake #cakestagram #foodie #happyboy #familyfun #family #familytravel #familytime #travelblogger #travel #ireland #irelandsancienteast
Visit Monaghan Museum
Although I wouldn’t necessarily class this as a fun thing to do in Monaghan, the Monaghan County Museum is definitely worth a visit, and you may have some fun along the way too! Located in the centre of Monaghan Town this award winning museum has been open for 40 years. Although not particularly a children’s paradise, there are plenty of interesting artefacts from the Stone and Ice age that kept them amused. Local man, Irish rugby international and all around nice guy Tommy Bowe, has kindly donated his various rugby jerseys to the Museum and they were a big hit with my son too. There are numerous exhibitions on throughout the year and we were fortunate to see ‘The Watchman’, which tells the story of 200 years of policing, crime and punishment in Ireland. The kids enjoyed trying on the jail scrubs and pretending to get arrested! The latest exhibition ‘The Monaghan Spitfire’ centres around the remains of a WWII Spitfire that was excavated last Summer as well as an original set of nazi invasion plans for Ireland. The exhibition will run until the end of June 2019. Open Mon-Fri, 11am-5pm and Saturdays 12pm-5pm with free entry.
Have dinner in Monaghan Spice
As I mentioned earlier Monaghan is becoming widely known as a foodie destination. There is a wide selection of dining options and Monaghan even has its own Taste of Monaghan, food festival at the end of September. We ate in Monaghan Spice, an Indian restaurant that has recently been named as one of Ireland’s top 50 World Restaurants. Both the service and quality of the food was impeccable. The menu is extensive with plenty of options for adults and children alike, from mild to spicy dishes. Portions are large so if opting to share you should take that into account. The kids loved the sharing platter that we had for starters which came with chicken tikka, tandoori chicken and kebabs. For main course I opted for one of the house specialities, prawn chingri chaloo and it didn’t disappoint. For more details click here.
Rent a bike and ride through the drumlin townlands
Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to try this myself but it is something to plan for my next trip! Drumlintrails.com, has trails and bikes to suit all ages and fitness levels. Choose a short 6km trail, or if you are feeling adventurous, try the a 57km Carleton/Kavanagh trail. Visit viking forts, monastic settlements and the pretty town of Glaslough. Prices from €15 per day for a regular bike or €35 per day for an electric bike.
Although I have only listed 6 fun things to do in Monaghan, trust me there are lots more! Our visit was a quick one, we only stayed for two nights so I would definitely recommend you stay longer. I’m not sure why it took me so long to visit but I have no doubt that it won’t be long before I’m back 🙂