Experience in Carlingford
Carlingford & The Cooley Peninsula is Irelands 2008 European Destination of Excellence and the area of myths and legends. There are many activities to enjoy in the town and around the peninsula from crab fishing for the children to golfing or angling for the adults. Other activities include adventure activities including laser combat, sailing, angling, painting workshops, golfing, cookery lessons, beauty treatments, horseriding, birdwatching, cycling (bicycle hire is available in the area), designer shopping and guided walking tours of the town which is a virtual outdoor museum of medieval Ireland.
Walking on the spectacular Cooley mountains will take you strolling past the giant Fionn Mc Cumhaill who lies on the side of the stunning Slieve Foy mountain which is also home to the last leprechauns of Ireland who are now protected by the EU under the Habitats Directive for the Protection for Fauna Flora and Little People. The area has witnessed the building of Neolithic tombs such as the Proleek Dolmen and Clontygora Court Grave, the footsteps of Cuchulainn, the settlement of the Vikings, the fortification of the Normans in the medieval town of Carlingford, the laying of the Long Woman in her grave at Omeath. It has seen the grand opening and sad closure of the Great Northern Railway resulting in the purpose built railway town of Greenore. The new Greenway that was built along the railway line offers the continued and diversified use of our important heritage – all who’s signatures still remain.
In the evening you will discover why the area has an excellent dining out reputation and there is live music and traditional sessiúns available throughout the week.
Folklore and Legend
The Cooley Peninsula is steeped in legends and folklore and became Ireland’s European of Excellence in 2008, based on this intangible heritage. Whispered stories and folklore will enthrall you and transport you to times of giants and Celtic warriors and princess’s.
Not only is Slieve Foy the resting place of the Irish giant Finn Mc Cool but this magical mountain is also home to the Last Leprechauns of Ireland. The mountain was designated as a Special Area of Protection for Little People by the EU in 2010.
This intriguing landscape has witnessed the footsteps of both Cuchulainn and the Long Woman of Omeath and continues to witness cars being pulled UP the hill by the fairies that live under their Magic Hill!
The Underground Leprechaun and Fairy Cavern
Ireland has been synonymous with Leprechauns as far back as anyone can remember. It was no surprise therefore when in 1989 a man from Carlingford Co. Louth informed the world that he had found the first authentic suit and bones and four gold coins belonging to the little people on the Cooley Mountains.
The man P.J.O’ Hare didn’t realise at the time that they had been left there in an attempt to attract human kind to their desperate plight. They would need human help to survive. Millions of the little people had lived in Ireland from the beginning of time but now only 236 survive. P.J. died not knowing why the artefacts were left for him to find. The suit and bones remain in his pub to this day on display but no one knew the whereabouts of the 4 gold coins.
Some years after he died a disbelieving friend of his Kevin Woods was mending a wall on Ghan Road Carlingford and found a leather purse with 4 gold coins in it.
They were the same as those that had been found years before. He brought them to the mountain and to his amazement saw 3 leprechauns. They told him that he must get more people to believe in them otherwise the 236 remaining would not survive.
Woods and a local committee lobbied the E.U.for 6 years and the leprechauns were granted E.U. protection as a species in 2009 under the European Habitats Directive.
The book “The Last Leprechauns of Ireland” is now available and the story provides a timeline of the leprechauns witness to the changes in the geology, mythology, and social history of Ireland and the Cooley Peninsula in particular.
In 2012 Woods was directed to two tunnels along the shoreline one of which ran from Foy Mountain to Ghan Road and another which ran below Carlingford Lough to the Fairy Glen in Rostrevor in Co Down. He claims that each morning as the sun rises leprechaun and fairy spirits travel through the tunnels and meet to dance below the earth, but return each day as the sun reaches half way up in the sky.
This site is now open and offering one hour tours by Wood’s who is known locally as Irelands last Leprechaun Whisperer. The tour offers an insight into every story ever told about Leprechaun’s; it offers a rational explanation to the belief that there is a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow and dispels many of the untruths told about them.
The built heritage of the Cooley Peninsula is extremely varied. Here you will find remnants from practically every period in history. Clermont Cairn, Clontygora Court Graves, and Proleek Dolmen are some of the intriguing prehistoric structures to be found. The ruins of Rooskey Priory, near Carlingford date from the early Christian period. Possibly the most significant period in history in evidence in the area is that of the Medieval and Norman period. Carlingford village, a designated heritage town is practically an outdoor museum of medieval Ireland. Structures such as King John’s Castle, Carlingford Friary, The Tholsel, The Church Tower, Taaffe’s Castle and the Mint are still maintained with impressive post reformation buildings around the peninsula including Grange Church, (1762), Ghan House and a Cláchan at Whitestown to name but a few. The maritime and rail history of the peninsula also play a leading role in the heritage of the area and an ongoing exhibition c an be viewed at Greenore.
The geological heritage of the Cooley mountains and environs is unsurpassed with its origins dating back over 60 million years. Carlingford Heritage Centre houses an on-going exhibition and interpretation on the history of Carlingford Lough and its medieval town. The centre also hosts special events throughout the year.
Carlingford and the Cooley Peninsula is home to a number of craft outlets and quaint antique shops displaying an exciting assortment of high quality craft including pottery, jewellery, and fine paintings. Local gold smiths also offer jewellery making courses. A showcase of local art and design can be viewed at the Tourist Office.
The Cooley Peninsula is the ideal location to take time out and treat yourself to one of the many soothing and revitalising relaxation therapies on offer.
Therapies including reflexology, reiki, aromatherapy, stress management and relaxation dance can be enjoyed in a unique tranquil setting.
An extensive list of health and beauty treatments are also available. Individuals and groups are catered for in the extensive range of services based on the peninsula.
Nestled in the foothills of the Cooley Mountains, overlooking the tranquil Carlingford Lough – this region has always produced the finest! The best of beef is raised here – descended from the famous brown bull as well as growing the best oysters in Europe.
Well known for its gastronomy, the menu’s ebb and flow with the seasons, using local produce skilfully cooked and served in attractive surroundings.
The areas pubs are a real find – the ideal place to linger on a lazy weekend – whether you prefer trendy hangouts or a cosy village local you will be served good food and plenty of “craic”.
Adventure & Activity
Mountains, Loughs and Forest Parks provide the natural terrain for an exciting range of challenges for adventure seekers. Sailing, canoeing, windsurfing, kayaking, abseiling, climbing, archery, orienteering, hill walking and, cycling are just a taste of the activities on offer. Carlingford is also home to Skypark – Irelands newest Zip Line Adventure Park! Its adventure offering caters well for families, schools tours, corporate groups and individuals alike.
Alternatively cookery courses, painting classes and sailing courses at all levels are also available. Hands on cookery classes and guest chefs demonstrations are offered on a year round basis.
Sailing courses for beginners to the experienced, yacht charter and a modern marina with excellent facilities are all available in Carlingford.
Take advantage of the breathtaking views cruising Carlingford Lough – allow the Cooley and Mourne Mountains on either side of the Lough to embrace you.
Carlingford is a day’s sail from Dublin, Belfast Lough and the Isle of Man making it a great stopover location.
Festivals & Events
Carlingford and the Cooley Peninsula hosts an innovative calendar of events every year. At nearly any time of the year you are guaranteed to find something going on! The extensive list includes famous events such as The Carlingford Oyster Festival, the National Leprechaun Hunt, Vantastival, alongside Irish Dancing, Gaelic Festivals and Summer concert series with exciting guests.! Endurance challenge events are also offered to the more adventurous.
The area certainly recognises the idea of having fun in a social setting that is unique in its approach. Running right to the end of the year with its long established Christmas Craft fair, Choral Festival and its popular Discount Christmas Shopping Night, the emphasis on visitor satisfaction is well satisfied.
Please log on www.carlingfordandcooley peninsula.ie regularly for its exciting list of events.
Walking & Cycling
Escape to the Cooley mountains and absorb the most magnificent views on the North East Coast of Ireland. The Cooley mountains, rich in geology, invite you to walk, climb and explore their fascinating landscape.
The famous Táin Way – a national waymarked walking route covers a 40km circuit of the Cooley mountains on forest tracks, mountain paths and country roads. The trail includes a selection of walks, visiting the Windy Gap and Barnavave.
There are also a number of other less strenuous national looped walks available. If you haven’t packed your walking boots, enjoy a stroll along the sandy beach at Templetown or the coast at Greenore & Ballagan with stunning views of Slieve Donard and the Mourne Mountains. Maps, guides and literature on the geology of the area are available from The Tourist Information Office at Carlingford.
The Táin Trail cycling route is the most historic cycling route in Ireland. Spanning 365 miles it runs from County Roscommon to the Cooley Peninsula. The area is becoming a mecca for cyclists with a maze of trails across the mountains. Families are well catered for with the opening of its new 8km Greenway which spectacularily runs along an old railway line from Carlingford to Omeath along the shores of Carlingford Lough. Bicycle hire is available locally.
Equestrian & Trekking
What better way to spend a relaxing day than on horseback, trotting down lanes and over mountain tracks?
For the seasoned rider or the slightly less experienced the Cooley Peninsula offers excellent equine facilities that will have you saddled up and ready to go in no time!
With a full programme including summer camps, trekking, lessons, show jumping and stable management, horse riding on the peninsula is a fantastic activity to be enjoyed by all.
Carlingford Lough and Dundalk Bay provide some of the best sea angling on the East Coast of Ireland. There are fishing stations at Greenore, Ballagan and Gyles Quay offering shore, rock and boat fishing. Game angling for brown trout, salmon and seatrout is to be found on the Ballymascanlon and Flurry Rivers.
Carlingford and The Cooley Peninsula are ideal places to watch birds, both for beginners and experts. A Special Protection Area for birds, they combine a wide area of mudflat and sand-flat in Carlingford Bay with the Lough’s estuarine character and include beaches of both shingle and sand to the south with reedbeds, ponds, mountain and woods in the surrounding countryside. In addition to its natural beauty, the area has interesting birds all year round with wintering waders and waterfowl in winter and breeding terns, birds of prey and passerines in the summer.
Carlingford Lough enjoys visits from Canadian and Brent Geese. We welcome the return of the Little Egret and the Common Buzzard after an absence of over 100 years.
Golfing enthusiasts will be spoiled for choice when visiting the area. The peninsula itself offers two very challenging 18-hole courses at Ballymascanlon & Greenore.
Within an hours drive of the peninsula there is a choice of over 40 other courses including the world famous links at Baltray as well as other top Irish courses such as the Down Royal and Portmarnock.
Golfing packages with local clubs can be arranged with accommodation providers in the area.
Carlingford and the Cooley Peninsula is the perfect venue for your special occasion! Whether you are getting married, having a family gathering, marking a special birthday, or planning a weekend away with your friends – we have everything that you will need – set amidst the most spectacular surroundings! We offer Carlingford Lough, Slieve Foy, medieval castles and the Mountains of Mourne as backdrops for your important occasion – perfect for your photo album!
The area has excellent venues for your company’s important conference or workshop and you can be assured of a comprehensive and professional service.
… all just an hours drive from Dublin and Belfast!!