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Discover Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands

In the heartbeat of the country you’ll find magical terrain, vibrant history, and unique experiences waiting around every corner to be discovered. The Hidden Heartlands of Ireland are roads less travelled, a tranquil escape to a different pace of life. Just can’t wait to visit? Book your ferry to Ireland today an experience the country in a way you never imagined you could.

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The Counties of the Hidden Heartlands

Lakeland Co Cavan From Leitrim to Tipperary, Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands encompass a region full of rich history, diverse culture, and stunning natural beauty. Leitrim, Roscommon, Longford, East Clare, Westmeath, Cavan, North Tipperary, Galway, and Offaly are all nestled among this tranquil stretch of the midlands, boasting scores of unique cultural experiences native to each location.

The heartlands have featured prominently throughout Irish history. It was in South Leitrim where the Irish defeated the Normans in 1270 during the Battle of Áth-an-Chip. And in Roscommon, the home of Queen Medb and the site of a 12th century fine metal workshop.

Throughout the region, visitors travelling to Ireland for the first time will be stunned by the stories that fire the imagination.

Walking Trails, Watersports, and the Natural Beauty of the Hidden Heartlands

Walking TrailsWhere the Wild Atlantic Way offers rugged beauty and the Ancient East is steeped in history, Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands eases travelers into a gentle exploration of some of the country’s untouched terrain.

An intricate system of waterways winds throughout the region, serving as the heartbeat of both modern and ancient Ireland. Rivers, streams, and lakes have always attracted wildlife and industry and are now popular spots for sport and leisure. Bike trails, hiking paths, and adventure centres have cropped up around these networks, allowing enthusiasts to experience the land at their own pace.

Natural greenways also offer a tranquil, relaxing way to explore some of Ireland’s less popular scenic paths. Picturesque walking trails gently twist through forests and woodlands, a perfect environment for mindfulness and reacquainting with nature. Picnic spots, photo points, and stunning vistas are plentiful and welcoming, allowing visitors to explore along an itinerary customised to personal preference.

The Beara-Breifne Way

The Beara-Breifne Way

A rich, storied historical tale unfolds along the Beara-Breifne way, Ireland’s longest marked walking trail. After his castle was sieged at Dunboy in 1602, the last great Chieftain of Ireland, Donal Cam O’Sullivan Beare, lead over 1,000 people from the Beara peninsula all the way up to County Leitrim to escape the dangers of Queen Elizabeth I’s forces. This epic 14-day journey saw the party travel from the most southwestern point of the island and directly through the Hidden Heartlands, a trail which is now dotted with relics and commemorations to the foundation from which Ireland rose.

Much of the land is privately held, but over 240 of the local owners have come together to grant public access to walkers and pilgrims eager to soak up the history and experience the mythology and culture unique to the region.

The Suck Valley Way is one of the more popular routes along the walk. Beginning and ending in Castlerea, Roscommon, the 100km circular route flows through sweeping valleys and tours the banks of the River Suck. While the majority of the scenic route passes along gentle farmlands, walkers have the opportunity to experience the “nine friendly villages” of Ballygar, Creggs, Glinsk, Ballymoe, Ballintubber, Castlecoote, Athleague, and Mount Talbot.

The pubs, restaurants, and visitor centres within each of these villages are welcoming to travelers and are always eager to provide refreshment, lodging, or just a friendly chat.

Cuisine and Craic of the Hidden Heartlands

Walking TrailsOf course, no holiday is complete until you’ve experienced the cuisine and nightlife of the regional fare! All throughout the Hidden Heartlands, local farms provide fresh meat and produce to restaurants and shops, bringing an unmistakable flavour of central Ireland to each and every plate.

If passing through Nenagh in southwestern Tipperary, be sure to stop at Country Choice for a meal. The delicatessen and cafe celebrates artisanal food producers and the best natural ingredients. The founder and owner, Peter Ward, is usually on the premises and will always be up for a friendly chat with guests old and new.

Have a sweet tooth? Don’t hesitate to pop into Wilde Irish Chocolates in Tuamgraney, Co. Clare. Guests get to watch as the 80 different types of chocolate are prepared right there in the shop. It’s a great place to buy a souvenir bag for your chocolate-loving friends, or keep them for yourself as a delicious reminder of your Hidden Heartlands adventure!

Blend your love of history and your love of a good pint in one magnificent experience at Seán’s Bar. Established around the year 900, Seán’s Bar in Athlone (Co. Westmeath) is cited as the Oldest Pub in Europe by the Guinness Book of World Records and is still welcoming locals and travelers alike. It’s definitely a “must visit” while in the Hidden Heartlands, as there’s just no way you can pass up joining the thousand years of visitors who have stopped in for a pint, some food, and a bit of music.