Activities Available in the Area
Angling / Fishing
Ross Castle is situated on the shores of Lough Sheelin, one of Ireland’s preeminent Brown Trout lakes. The castle lies also in an area, surrounding Lough Sheelin, which is blessed, within a short drive, with extensive waterways such as the River Shannon, River Inny, Gowna Lakes or Lough Ennel, Owel and Ramor. The region provides many a fine opportunity for some exciting game and coarse fishing. This is simply an angler's paradise !
Wild Brown - and Rainbow Trout, Salmon, Pike, Perch, Bream, Roach and Eel are only some of the more prominent species of fish available to anglers in this area. Guests can hire a boat at neighbouring Ross House or one of the many facilities catering to anglers in the area.
Why not relax and listen to the rare corncrake on the water meadows of the Shannon near the monastic settlement of Clonmacnoise or take a walk through the forests at adjacent Mullaghmeen. Visit one of the many local bogs and shore areas teeming with an abundance of unique birdlife or travel the country roads looking for Irelands unique avi-fauna.
The Shannon-Erne Waterway is the leading and most extensive waterway in the British Isles. Cruising on the River Shannon and the Grand Canal is an ideal way to experience the Irish countryside. Ross Castle is ideally located to serve as base for cruising-day trips on the areas waterways.
Cycling is a unique and fitting way to experience the midlands around Lough Sheelin. The scenery around the Shannon and the loughs forms a beautiful accompaniment and fitting backdrop to any travel by bike. The roads are not busy and amenity areas are a regular occurrence and available to travellers. The Lough Sheelin Region has a particular attraction for the cyclist for its proximity to the dedicated cycling route from Killala in Co. Mayo to Ballinamuck in Longford as well as the Tan Trail, which passes by the lake. These and many small sideroads lend themselves to exploring rural Ireland by bike.
For guests interested in recreational flying, the quaint recreational airport of Abbeyshrule is only 12 kms away.
Ireland is the home of Golf ! Numerous, excellent 18 hole parkland and link courses are situated in this region providing a challenge to golfers of all levels with a multitude of championship courses to choose from. The nearest course is only across the lake at Crover House.
Racing "the dogs" is an Irish tradition, a popular spectator sport where the thrill of the race ensures a thoroughly enjoyable night out. Greyhound Race tracks with frequent races are found in nearby Mullingar, Longford and Navan.
County Meath is horse country and contains four well known horse racing tracks, which hold numerous races during the year. Point to Point events are very popular among local horse racing followers in the area. Horse racing at Kilbeggan is an action packed spectator sport and on racing nights the quiet midland town is transformed into a festival.
Horse Riding / Equestrian
The Ross House Equestrian Centre is found within walking distance to Ross Castle and offers riding in state-of-the-art facilities as well as trekking over farmland, mountain and forest trails. Pony trekking, cross country and show-jumping arrangements can be made at the Equestrian Centre which will meet all your horse related needs. It is possible to stable horses there if required.
The Lough Sheelin region offers horse riding to suit all levels of experience and expectation. The varying terrain and beauty of the landscape paired with the many horse events and facilities make this area a very fitting destination for equine enthusiasts.
Lough Sheelin offers opportunities for sailing enthusiasts on the lake. In the region, Dromineer and Garrykennedy on the River Shannon are ideally suited for those who sail for fun or in competition. Sailing courses are available in some areas.
Walking / Hiking
The Irish Midlands offer an abundance of hiking opportunities: Why not try the Boyne Way - Navan to Slane or the walking trails around the Loughcrew Hills. The Cavan Way offers excellent opportunities for the walker, as do the many unmarked trails and side roads. Mullaghmeen, an extensie forest park only a short distance from Ross Castle, is the most well known in this area and one of the largest hardwood forests in Ireland. With its well developed network of trails and vistas of the surrounding countryside it is a destination and delight for walkers and nature enthusiasts throughout the seasons.
Lough Sheelin is suitable for some water activities during the summer. Opportunities also exist at other lakes in the area, some of which are specialized for certain activities such as sailing, canoeing or motorized uses.
Some more urban activities and entertainment such as bowling, carting, cinemas or pools can be found in the larger towns of Cavan, Longford, Navan or Mullingar, which are all within a 30 – 45 minute drive of Ross Castle.
The following is an article by Julie Bowen
The Fairies of County Meath
If you’re planning a trip to Ireland and have an interest in history, legend, superstition, and myth, you absolutely have to spend a few days in County Meath. The area is primarily known for its ghosts, and for being home to one of the most haunted castles in all of Ireland, but there’s another type of mysterious figure that allegedly lurks along the shores of Lough Sheelin - the fairy. The notion of fairies is deeply rooted in Irish history, but there’s a longstanding debate about whether they are good or evil. Why not spend some time exploring the County Meath area and decide for yourself?
Fairy Sites you Can’t Miss
As one of the most important places in Irish history due to it being the seat of the High King of Ireland, County Meath has long been well placed for tales of myth and legend, and there are plenty of mysterious sites in the area that could keep you busy for weeks. One of the largest sites is, of course, Lough Sheelin, which derives its name from the Celtic Loch Síodh Linn, translated to ‘fairy pool’, or ‘lake of the fairy pool’. Today, Lough Sheelin measures roughly 4 miles in length and just over a mile in width, and is a popular place for fly fishing, but legend has it that hasn’t always been that way. According to Irish myth, the lake was once a small well, inhabited by fairies and used by a local village for fresh water. The arrangement between the fairies and the villagers was that water could be used freely, but the lid of the well must be replaced after each collection. When a forgetful woman failed to replace the lid, the fairies turned on the villagers, releasing the water from the well and flooding the village, creating in the process what is now known as Lough Sheelin. Is there really an entire village submerged at the bottom of the lake? Well, there’s plenty of sailing activities on the lake in the summer months, so you’ll have a great opportunity for spotting any waterlogged ruins.
You also can’t afford to miss the historic Hill of Tara. This archaeological site is mainly known for housing the forts used by the High King of Ireland, but some say it’s a prime spot for discovering more about the infamous County Meath fairies. There’s an easy 2.5 mile walk through spectacular woodland around the hill, so it’s ideal for all fitness types, and one thing you’re sure to notice on your walk is the number of grassy mounds you pass by. What are these? Supposedly, they’re all a part of the fort complex and were used as tombs, but some believe they’re fairy mounds - a place where fairies either hid their treasures, or, more intriguingly, a vortex into the mysterious fairy world! You’ll also pass by the fairy thorn tree, but don’t touch it! Fairy thorns are well and truly surrounded by mystery, from how they originate (nobody knows!) to whether there are dire consequences for those who try to cut them down. There have been reports of verbal warnings, accidents, and even deaths resulting from cutting down a fairy thorn!
Staying Safe in County Meath
Generally speaking, County Meath is a very safe area for tourists and visitors, but if you’re planning on going near a fairy thorn, you may want to ensure you’ve got good, comprehensive protection against accidents and injury, just in case! Other than unruly fairies, you should also make sure you’re careful when you’re on the Lough Sheelin shores. The Irish Coast Guard reports that search and rescue operations are increasing due to travellers ignoring advice about risks, so take some time to read up on what you should and shouldn’t do. Try to always check the weather forecast, wear good, sturdy walking boots, and use sunscreen during the summer months. Stay safe, and enjoy your time discovering the County Meath fairies!
The Best Place to Stay
If you’re chasing legend and fairies, where better to stay than the shores of the fairy pool itself? Choosing accommodation overlooking Lough Sheelin is not only ideal for the superstitious, but even just for couples looking to enjoy a romantic getaway with great views, or families wanting to be close to the summer activities on the lake. Arguably one of the best views of the fairy lake comes from the Upper Tower Bedroom at Ross Castle. Reached only by climbing 65 stairs, guests are rewarded for their effort by unrivalled views across the lake. This isn’t just one of the most unique hotel rooms in County Meath, it’s one of the most unique in the country, and it’s well worth it for a bit of luxury amongst the legend.
written by Julie Bowen