We’ve decided that you need to know a little bit more about the gem of a county that is Monaghan and so we’ve listed off the 15 best things to do in Monaghan. From some of the best golfing and fishing spots in Ireland, to incredible castles and unknown hidden gems, this is one county you definitely need to visit!
Monaghan is well known for its rolling drumlins, and they creates the perfect natural landscape for golf, and the Farney county has embraced that. You’ll find courses for all levels, and some pretty swish club houses to recoup in afterwards. Check out Rossmore, Nuremore, Mannan Castle and Clones Golf Club for some of the best courses!
2. Driving range at Mannan
Maybe you’re of the belief that a golf is only a way to ruin a good walk, but you can’t deny that driving ranges are a hell of a lot of fun. Right beside Mannan Castle Golf Club you can smash away any frustration with a €2 bucket of balls, and of course, aim for the little ball collector when they’re out gathering in your 200 yard Happy Gilmore Drives.
3. Visit Castle Leslie Grounds for some afternoon tea
Take a little step back in time and get your Pride and Prejudice vibes going with a walk around the stately Castle Leslie. Just outside Monaghan town in Glasnevin, the grounds are covered with trees, teeming with birds and the castle itself overlooks a blissful lake and rolling hills. After your slightly stilted conversation with your personal Mr. Darcy, complete the day with some decadent Afternoon Tea in the Castle Conservatory. You’ll be surprised at some of their reasonable prices, especially if you can get there in midweek.
Monaghan is well known amongst fishing fanatics, and a quick google earth look can show you why. There are too many lakes here to list, but they have great coarse fishing, pike fishing and sport fishing! Have a look at this amazing list of places to go fishing in Monaghan
Maybe the life of leisure isn’t for you, and you need something a little more high octane! Luckily for you, the landscape in Monaghan that makes for great fishing and golfing also makes for great quad bike terrain. Quads are great for team building, stag/ hen parties, or even just a day trip with your mates. I don’t think anyone needs much convincing to jump on a quad, so just book it already with Irish Country Quads
6. Forest Trails in Muckno and lunch in Hope castle
If you’re looking for a mix of leisure and adrenaline, then look no further than Lough Muckno. There’s some great forest trails here, much less crowded than the busy, worn trails of Dublin and Wicklow. There’s also a beautiful lake that you can wakeboard, waterski and generally get wet in. Not a bad way to spend a day! The forest that you’ll be walking in is on the grounds of the Beautiful Hope Castle, once in disrepair, but now restored and open as a restaurant where you can fill your empty belly after a day on the water or in the Forest!
7. Lunch in Concra Wood, Castleblayney
One place that could have been mentioned in other sections for its golf course, and its proximity to Hope Castle grounds is Concra Wood. The golf course here is excellent, and arguably the best view of Hope Castle is from Concra Wood. However, I chose to put it as it’s own thing, because the views of the Monaghan landscape from the restaurant are simply stunning. Combine that with great food and you’re definitely taking in the best Monaghan has to offer. Try to get there for sunset, and take in that view.
8. Swimming Pool in Monaghan Town
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If even reading about all this is making you feel like you need a shower, maybe the Monaghan Swimming Pool is more your vibe. Renovated a few years ago this once crumbling shed of a swimming pool now has a slide that goes outside the building before dunking you back in (this used to blow my mind when I was a kid) .
9. Watching a Match in the Squealing Pig
You don’t always have to be involved in the action in Monaghan, in fact, one of the best bars to watch pretty much any sporting occasion is The Squealing Pig in Monaghan Town. Gaelic Football will dominate the TV schedule here, but for atmosphere for soccer and rugby, especially Irish International games, The Pig is hard to beat. They also have a pretty tasty restaurant, check out the menu!
10. Clones for Ulster Final Day
The Crown Jewel of Stadiums in Ulster is right here in the small town of Clones. The experience of going to an Ulster Final here is like no other, mainly because EVERYONE there is going to the game, or at least trying to grab some tickets. Stadiums this size are usually in much bigger towns, so you’ll always have some disgruntled passer-by who forgot the game was on and is barging through the crowd, but not here. The atmosphere is chaotic in the best possible way imaginable. You’ll have flag bearing, face painted people of all ages milling through the pubs and towards the stadium, all of them filled with that strange mix of county pride, province loyalty and fierce competitiveness that only Ulster GAA fans know. The game is usually on in July, but the exact date can change!
11. The Clones Film Festival
We’re staying in Clones, but for a very different reason this time. Not just content in having a few big matches being played in the grounds every year, Clones decided they wanted in on the growing Film Festival scene too. Famous people, big films, and an awesome 48 hour film challenge make this one of the most fun festivals going. They haven’t announced the 2017 schedule yet, but keep an eye on their website for updates!
12. Carrickmacross Festival
Ever wanted to own a cow? Well The Carrickmacross Festival is the place you need to be! That’s not all that’s on offer, this is an all out street party that happens every June Bank Holiday that draws people from Carrick home, no matter where they’re living now. The festival organisers play a blinder every year, packing a booklet with bands that will be playing all over the town, if not on the open truck container that makes the main outdoor stage, then in one of the pubs that line the partying Main Street. You might not recognise many of the bands, but there’s a lot of cover bands playing the classics, as well as local Monaghan bands trying out originals. If you’re looking for a quiet one, this might not be the time or the place. They just had another wildly successful festival this year, so it’ll be a while before they start planning the next one, but again, keep an eye on their website, and block off the June Bank Holiday weekend for next year!
Oh, it’s free by the way, didn’t we mention that?
13. Iontas Theatre in Castleblayney and the Garage Theatre in Monaghan Town
You didn’t think that the county that brought us Dougle McGuide from the infamous Father Ted would be short in theatres, did you? There are so many different types of shows that come through here that it’s hard to keep up. From serious dramas, to local school plays to Internationally renowned comedians. These two theatres are nothing like the traditional hokey local theatre group halls of the past, these places put on some seriously great shows, and often at a much lower cost than found in bigger cities. They also have the advantage of being smaller venues, and more often than not, the artist will stay around afterwards to meet you and sell some merchandise, which you can get signed! Keep an eye on the Íontas Centre Castleblayney and Garage Theatre Monaghan
14. Patrick Kavanagh Centre
Monaghan hasn’t just discovered its creativity now, it was in fact home to one of Ireland’s great poets, Patrick Kavanagh. In his poetry Kavanagh describes Monaghan lyrically, maybe not in the best light all of the time, but we can be sure that the stony grey soil of Monaghan left its mark on Kavanagh as much as he left a mark on it. The Patrick Kavanagh visitors centre was opened in 2014 by Irish President Micheal D. Higgins, a poet himself, who described Kavanagh as one of the most important Irish poets to date.
The centre aims to bring Kavanagh’s work to a younger generation, and you can go explore his hometown of Iniskeen and see if you can recognise the land marks that he has written so eloquently about.
15. Carrickmacross Lace Gallery
Just as intricately and beautifully made as the words of Patrick Kavanagh are the pieces of Carrickmacross Lace. This style of delicate lace became world famous when Princess Diana had her (wedding dress?) Made out of Carrickmacross Lace. Even in the last Royal Wedding, Kate continued the trend of holding this Monaghan-made lace in such high esteem by using it in her wedding outfit. You can go into the Carrickmacross Lace Gallery right in the heart of Carrickmacross from Monday to Saturday 9.30 to 5.30 and see for yourself the arduous and beautiful work that goes into creating even one square inch of this amazing fabric. You can even bring home a piece of the lace, they have several different sizes to match all budgets, that’s your presents for home sorted then!
Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments!