10 must see culture & heritage spots on the Shannon Blueway

Added: 12/10/2018
10 must see culture & heritage spots on the Shannon Blueway
Strokestown Park House is an 18th century mansion that has been faithfully restored. It is unique in that it retains its original furnishings and professionally guided tours allow visitors to experience Georgian Ireland in its purest form. The Famine Museum uses a combination of original documents and images from the Strokestown Park collection to explain circumstances of the Great Irish Famine of the 1840s.

2. Elphin Windmill, Co. Roscommon
With its sails standing out against the skyline, Elphin windmill is a striking reminder of how the 18th-century Irish landscape would have looked, just before the agricultural and industrial revolutions. Built in the 1730s to grind corn, it is the oldest, fully restored and working windmill in Ireland and the only one of its kind in the Blueway region.

The Arigna Mining Experience will appeal to those looking for a day out with a difference. This visitor centre preserves the mining heritage of the Arigna area and allows visitors an insight into coal mining life as it was in the Arigna valley for centuries. With an ex-miner as your tour guide, the visit to the museum includes access to an exhibit area where there is a DVD presentation and a wonderfully authentic photographic exhibition. The highlight of the visit is an underground tour to the mine’s coalface where lighting and sound effects add to the reality of the experience. The hardship of the miners’ working lives is brought home to you in the chilly, underground mine shaft. This world-class centre is situated in a beautiful, scenic location overlooking Lough Allen. The centre has a coffee shop and a gift shop on site. It is surrounded by the Miners Way walking trails. Arigna Mining Experience has a large car park. The centre is fully accessible and is an all-weather facility.

Founded by St. Caillin in the 6th century Fenagh Abbey is a ruined, late medieval church but it stands on one of the oldest Christian monastic sites in Ireland, dating back to the 5th century. The monastic school was said to have drawn students from all over Europe. Services ended in the abbey in 1729. The main ruins of the Gothic church have (among other features) an east window of unusual design and a relief-carved 17thcentury penal cross. Standing stones in the vicinity represent the petrified bodies of druids who tried to expel St. Caillin from Fenagh. There are a number of other prehistoric remains located in or near the village including a portal tomb. A display in Fenagh Visitor Centre explains the history of the abbey and guided tours can be booked.

5. Sliabh an Iarainn Visitor Centre, Co. Leitrim
This centre, located on Acres Lake, Drumshanbo near the floating boardwalk. It provides audio-visual displays and interactive information on the Sliabh an Iarainn, Arigna and north Leitrim areas. There are features on both the landscape and the geology of Leitrim with special emphasis on the industrial and musical heritage of this area.

6. The Dock Art Centre, Co. Leitrim
Tragic life stories may have unfolded in this building when it functioned as a county courthouse. Now it is a modern art space, theatre and gallery. There is a varied programme from visual art, music and dance to theatre, comedy and performance art. The gallery space is housed in three graceful rooms and there is a performance space, an art room and a café.

7. Ardagh Heritage and Creativity Centre, Co. Longford
You may explore, be inspired and create at this heritage centre, which is home to Creative Ardagh. The heritage exhibition ranges from the ancient gaelic legend of Midir and Etain through early Christian to Famine times. Ardagh itself is a model estate village. There are group art, craft, drama and creative writing workshops based on the history and natural heritage of the area plus art and craft galleries and woodlands for walking close by.
8. Corlea Trackway Visitor Centre, Co. Longford
Beneath the bog at this rural visitor centre runs a massive, oak-plank road laid down over a single year in 147BC–148BC and perfectly preserved in the bog ever since. In the centre, an 18m-stretch is preserved and on display along with material explaining the trackway and the life and culture of the people who built it. Outside, a boardwalk across the bog follows the route of the road hidden below the surface.

9. Rathcroghan Visitor Centre, Co. Roscommon
Cruachan or Rathcroghan was the ritual and royal inauguration centre of ancient Connacht. Today there are over 240 archaeological sites, many of them important national monuments, scattered over several kilometres. Rathcroghan Visitor Centre uses models, costumes, armour, weaponry and aerial photographs to explain the history and archaeology of this astonishing area. There are tours within the centre and of the key  sites by expert guides.

Now ruined, the 12th century Cistercian abbey was built on an earlier 9th century monastic site. It was suppressed during Elizabethan times. The ruins today are only a small part of what once was there but you will still see a ¬ fine pointed doorway. Abbeyshrule village is a Tidy Town award winner and the nearby Royal Canal and the Inny river are great for ¬fishing, boating and exploring.