Day Trips and Tours

It is possible to do three or four nice day trips from the castle. These let you explore the surrounding area around the castle. All the tours are set out in such a way that you don't have to drive too much at any one time.

The South Tour
The South Tour brings you to Belvedere House, Birr Castle, Clonmacnoise, Athlone Castle, Viking Ship and Tullynally Castle.
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The North Tour
The North Tour brings you to Cavan Crystal, Castle Coole, Ulster American Folkpark, the Marble Arch Caves, Florence Court and the Cavan Museum.
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The West Tour
The West Tour brings you to Strokestown Famine Museum, Castle Coole, Ulster American Folkpark, the Marble Arch Caves, Florence Court and the Cavan Museum.
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The East Tour
The East Tour brings you to:
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The South Tour
This tour can be changed to suit yourself. It includes about four hours of driving with no more than an hour between sites and attractions. The rest of the time you can just take in everything you see. If you think there is too much there, just leave places out.

Belvedere House and Gardens
The magnificent early 18th century stately home of Robert Rochfort, Earl of Belvedere, stands in 160 acres of parkland on the shores of Lough Ennell. The eighteenth century hunting lodge, walled garden and landscaped park have been restored to their former glory and there are also a wide range of facilities to enjoy. 044 42820, Apr - Oct.

Birr Castle Demense and the Great Telescope
During the 1840's and starting from virtually first principles, the third Earl of Rosse designed an d had built the mirrors, tube and mountings for a 72 inch reflecting telescope which was the largest in the world at that time and remained so for three quarters of a century. Birr Castle is home to Lord and Lady Rosse and their family and, as such, it is not open to the public. 0509 22154, daily.

Clonmacnoise
An early Christian site founded by Saint Ciaran in the 6th ce ntury on the banks of the River Shannon. The site includes the ruins of a cathedral, eight churches (10th-13th century), two round towers, three high crosses. 0905 74195, Jun-Aug: 9am-7pm, Sep-May: 10am-6pm, Nov-April: 5.30pm

Athlone Castle and the Viking Ship
A thlone Castle was built in the 13th century to command the ford on the Shannon. It now includes audio-visual presentations on the flora, fauna and the power resources of the Shannon, Count John McCormack and the siege of 1691. There is also a museum and coffee shop. Cruises to Loughrea and historic Clonmacnoise on a replica Viking Ship. Dress up in Viking Costumes, helmets, swords and shields. 0902 92912, May-Oct: daily

Tullynally Castle and Gardens
Romantic woodland and walled gardens laid out in early 19th century. The pleasure grounds include a grotto, two ornamental lakes. Home of the Pakenham family since the 17th century. It was later transformed into a romantic gothic revival castle. It is one of the largest castles in Ireland. 044 61159, Jun-Aug: pm only

Directions to the different sites:

Leaving the castle towards Belvedere House:

  1. Go out to the main road and take a right towards Finea.
  2. Keep going straight until you get to a T - junction and take a left towards Castlepollard.
  3. In Castlepollard go around the square and take second exit at the roundabout towards Mullingar.
  4. In Mullingar go straight at the first roundabout into town centre.
  5. At the hospital take a left at the roundabout, again into town centre.
  6. At the next roundabout take the first exit into town centre.
  7. Keep going straight until roundabout in front of McDonalds and take a right.
  8. At the next traffic light take left onto the N52 towards Tullamore.
  9. Belvedere House is somewhere on your right after three or four miles. 

This section is about 25 miles, 40 minutes drive.

Leaving Belvedere House towards Birr Castle:

  1. Take a right as you come out of Belvedere House.
  2. Stay on the N52 until V in the road, take right towards Kilbeggan, NOT left towards Tyrrelspass.
  3. In Kilbeggan take a left onto the Main Street and then a right onto the N52 towards Tullamore.
  4. In Tullamore take directions towards Birr.
  5. Straight through Mucklagh and Kilcormac into Birr. Birr Castle is near the centre of town. 

This section is about 40 miles, 60 minutes drive.

Leaving Birr Castle towards Clonmacnoise:

  1. Find signposts towards N62 towards Athlone.
  2. Straight until Cloghan, then turn left in Cloghan, left again onto the R357 toward Clonony.
  3. In Clonony turn right onto R444 towards Clonmacnoise. (very bad road) 

This section is about 20 miles, 30 minutes drive.

Leaving Clonmacnoise towards Athlone:

  1. Go back to Clonony and turn left onto N62 towards Athlone.
  2. Straight through Ferbane and Balliahowen.
  3. After this village take a left onto N6 towards Athlone.
  4. At the next roundabout take the first exit into town centre.
  5. The castle is at the end of the mainstreet after you cross the bridge. 

This section is about 17 miles, 25 minutes drive.

Leaving Athlone towards Tullynally Castle:

  1. Take the N55 out of Athlone.
  2. Straight through Ballykeeran, Glassan, Tang into Ballymahon.
  3. Here take a left and in the middle of the town right onto N55 to Edgeworthtown.
  4. Bear right onto R395 toward Granard, bear right onto R395 into Coole.
  5. The castle is on your right just before Castlepollard. 

This section is about 37 miles, 55 minutes drive.

Leaving Tullynally Castle back to Ross Castle:

  1. Take a right as you come out of the castle.
  2. In Castlepollard take a left.
  3. About 8 miles down the road before Finea Chapel there is a sign for the castle to your right.
  4. Drive into Ross, just after the village sign there is a sign to the castle to your left. 

This section is about 10 miles, 15 minutes drive.

Altogether about 150 miles, 3.75 hours drive and 8 - 10 hours of enjoyment :-)


The North Tour
This tour can be changed to suit yourself. It includes about four hours of driving with no more than an hour between sites and attractions. The rest of the time you can just take in everything you see. If you think there is too much there, just leave places out.

Cavan Crystal
Ireland's second oldest glassworks. In April 1999, phase one of a two year development began here in the form of a new visitor centre. Situated on the N3 just minutes from Cavan town, they offer the visitor comfy sofas, open fires and local/nationally produced crafts.

Castle Coole
Castle Coole is one of the treasures of the National Trust. Designed by James Wyatt and completed in 1798 for the first Earl of Belmore. Magnificent State Rooms with their sumptuous Regency furnishings, include the State Bedroom prepared for a visit by George IV in 1821.

Ulster American Folkpark
An open-air museum that tells the story of emigration from Ulster to America in the 18th & 19th centuries and provides visitors with a "living history". Costumed demonstrators go about their everyday olden tasks in authentically furnished Old and New World buildings.

Marble Arch Caves
Marble Arch Caves are one of Europe's finest show caves allowing visitors to explore a fascinating, natural underworld of rivers, waterfalls and winding passages. It is advisable to check if the caves are open, as occasionally due to safety reasons, the caves are closed after heavy rain.

Florence Court
Florence Court is a fascinating example of mid-18th century Irish Palladian architecture. The present house, the former home of the Earls of Enniskillen, was started by John Cole and completed around 1775. It was named after Florence, his wife.

Cavan Museum
If you make it back before 6 o'clock. The Museum traces the history of County Cavan from earliest times to the present day. The collection comprises archaeological finds from the Stone Age to the Middle ages, includes the three-faced pre-Christian Corleck Head and a 1,000 year old dug-out boat.

Directions to the different sites:

Leaving the castle towards Cavan Crystal:

  1. Go out to the main road and take a left towards Mountnugent.
  2. In Mountnugent, take a left towards Ballinagh.
  3. Keep going straight through Kilnaleck and take a right in Ballinagh towards Cavan.
  4. In Cavan take a right at the T until you see Cavan Crystal on your right. 

This section is about 25 miles, 40 minutes drive.

Leaving Cavan Crystal towards Castle Coole:

  1. Take a right as you come out of Cavan Crystal
  2. At the roundabout take the first exit towards N3 towards Enniskillen and Ballyshannon.
  3. After about 4 miles take a right onto N54 towards Butlersbridge and Monaghan.
  4. At the roundabout take second exit onto N54.
  5. At the border keep going on the A3.
  6. Turn left towards Newtownbutler. Straight through Newtownbutler and Lisnaskea.
  7. At roundabout take first exit onto A34.
  8. After Maguiresbridge, turn left onto A4 towards Enniskillen.
  9. Castle Coole is on your right before you get to Enniskillen. 

This section is about 35 miles, 45 minutes drive.

Leaving Castle Coole towards the Ulster American Folk Park:

  1. Turn back onto A4 to Enniskillen.
  2. In Enniskillen take the A32 and follow signposts towards Omagh.
  3. In Omagh take the A5 towards Strabane.
  4. At roundabout take second exit onto Beltany road towards Strabane.
  5. Ulster American Folk Park is on your right. 

This section is about 30 miles, 40 minutes drive.

Leaving the Ulster American Folk Park towards the Marble Arch Caves:

  1. Take a left coming out of the park and keep on the A5 back to Omagh.
  2. Take the A32 back to Enniskillen.
  3. Take the A4 towards Sligo for 4 miles.
  4. Then take a left onto A32 to Swanlibar.
  5. The caves are well signposted from here. 

This section is about 40 miles, 50 minutes drive.

Leaving Marble Arch towards Florence Court:

  • Directions should be well signposted 

This section is about 10 miles, 15 minutes drive.

Leaving Florence Court back to Ross Castle:

  1. Go back to the A32 and turn right onto it towards Swanlinbar.
  2. Keep on this road, at the border it changes to N87.
  3. Stay on the N87 until Belturbet.
  4. Follow signposts for N3 to Cavan.
  5. Follow signposts for N55 to Ballinagh.
  6. Take a right in Ballinagh to Kilnaleck.
  7. Straight through Kilnaleck to Mountnugent.
  8. Take a right here until you get to the village of Ross and at the four way cross take a right.
  9. The Castle is at the end of this road. 

This section is about 10 miles, 15 minutes drive.

Altogether about 150 miles, 3.75 hours drive and 8 - 10 hours of enjoyment :-)


The West Tour
This tour can be changed to suit yourself. It includes about four hours of driving with no more than an hour between sites and attractions. The rest of the time you can just take in everything you see. If you think there is too much there, just leave places out.

Strokestown Famine Museum

The Famine Museum is located in the original Stable Yards of Strokestown Park House. It was designed to commemorate the history of The Great Irish Famine of the 1840's and in some way to balance the history of the 'Big House'.

Boyle Abbey
This is an impressive and well-preserved Cistercian monastery, which was founded in the 12th century under the patronage of the local ruling family. Although it was used to accommodate a military garrison during the 17th and 18th centuries, Boyle Abbey still is one of the most formidable of the early Cistercian foundations in Ireland. A restored gatehouse of 16th/17th century houses an exhibition.

Arigna Mining Experience
First Coal Mining Museum, with an exhibition area tracing 400 years of mining and a tour which actually takes you through what was a working mine, the whole experience is both educational and extremely intriguing for kids. All of our tour guides are ex-miners and are therefore able to relate a history of a life that no longer exists in a way which is both educational as well as being interesting.

Carrigglass Manor
This has been the seat of the Lefroys since its construction in 1837. It is a fine example of the Tudor Revival style. The stable block, by contrast, is a grand Neo-Classical building by the same architect as the Customs House in Dublin.
 

Fore Abbey
Established originally in 630AD by St. Fechin and set in the rolling hills of Westmeath, this site now houses the remains of a 13th century Benedictine Priory, an anchorite cell and St. Fechins Church. Also discover the seven wonders of Fore.

Directions to the different sites:

Leaving the castle towards Cavan Crystal:
  1. Go out to the main road and take a right towards Finea.
  2. Keep going straight up to a T - Junction, there take a right to Finea.
  3. The far side of Finea (about 1 mile), at a V take a left towards Granard.
  4. As you get into Granard take a left onto the Main Street and left onto the N55 at the end of town towards Edgeworthtown.
  5. Here take a right and when you get to the roundabout take a right onto N4 towards Longford.
  6. In Longford follow signposts for the N5.
  7. Straight through Termonbarry and arrive in Strokestown. 
This section is about 36 miles, 55 minutes drive.

Leaving Strokestown Famine Museum towards Boyle Abbey:
  1. Keep going on the N5 towards Tulsk.
  2. At the crossroads turn right onto N61 signposted Sligo.
  3. Bear right onto N61 coming into Boyle.
  4. You should be able to see the Abbey in the distance. 
This section is about 23 miles, 30 minutes drive.

Leaving Boyle Abbey towards the Arigna Mining Experience:
  1. Turn left onto the N61. Bear left onto the R294.
  2. At T- Junction turn right onto N4.
  3. After another 2 miles or so turn left onto R285 signposted Knockvicar.
  4. After another 6 miles or so turn left onto R284. Entering Keadew.
  5. Turn right onto Keadew West, left onto Stonepark. You should be able to see signposts to the Mines from here. 
This section is about 14 miles, 35 minutes drive.

Leaving the Arigna Mining Experience towards Carrigglas Manor:
  1. Turn right onto R280. Turn right onto R280 again signposted Carrick on Shannon.
  2. Bear left onto R280 signposted Carrick.
  3. Straight on into Carrick on Shannon.
  4. Follow signs for N4 to Longford. (through Roosky, Newtownforbes)
  5. Follow signposts to R194 to Granard/Ballinalee there should be signs for Carrigglas Manor. 
This section is about 34 miles, 60 minutes drive.

Leaving Marble Arch towards Florence Court:
  1. Get back onto N4 towards Edgeworthstown.
  2. Turn left at the roundabout and left in Edworthtown towards Granard.
  3. Shortly after that turn right onto R395 signposted Castlepollard.
  4. Turn left as you enter Coole.
  5. Straight through Castlepollard out the Oldcastle Road.
  6. Turn right on this road signposted Fore. 
This section is about 27 miles, 55 minutes drive.

Leaving Fore Abbey back to Ross Castle:
  1. Go back to Castlepollard and take a right towards Finea .
  2. Stay on this road until you pass the signs for the castle about 9 miles and take a right.
  3. When you pass Ross village signs turn left at the 4-way cross to the Castle, its signposted. 
This section is about 15 miles, 25 minutes drive.

Altogether about 150 miles, 4.5 hours drive and 8 - 10 hours of enjoyment :-)
 

The East Tour
This tour can be changed to suit yourself. It includes about four hours of driving with no more than an hour between sites and attractions. The rest of the time you can just take in everything you see. If you think there is too much there, just leave places out.

Newgrange and Brú na Bóinne
Do this first, there can be long queues. The Megalithic Passage Tomb at Newgrange was built about 3200 BC. Covers an area of over one acre and is surrounded by 97 kerbstones, some of which are richly decorated with megalithic art. The 19m inner passage leads to a cruciform chamber. Estimated construction would have taken a work force of 300 at least 20 years. In the summer the last tour is at 5.30

Mellifont Abbey
The first Cistercian monastery in Ireland founded in 1142 by St. Malachy of Armagh, its most unusual feature is the octagonal Lavabo c.1200. The Visitor Centre houses an interesting exhibition on the work of masons in the Middle Ages.
 

Drogheda (St. Plunkett's Head)
St. Oliver Plunkett's head rests in a glass shrine in St. Peter's Church, in Drogheda. He was recently beatified, but will probably still be referred to as 'Blessed Oliver' - his previous title. A native of Loughcrew, Co. Meath, Ollie was a 17th century Archbishop of Armagh, and was martyred at Tyburn in 1691. Whatever the charges against him, he was executed for contravening the penal laws.

Slane Abbey and the Hill of Slane
Tradition has it that St. Patrick lit a paschal Fire on the Hill of Slane in defiance of Loegaire, the King of Tara. This symbolic act brought the light of Christianity to this part of pagan Ireland. Ireland's first Round Tower was recorded in Slane in 950. Around this time a small College was set up opposite the Franciscan church. Today the college provides a dramatic ruin full of stairwells, passages and stone recesses.

Kells Heritage Centre and Round Tower
This 90ft tower is located on the grounds of St Columba`s church, where the Book of Kells was kept, and was built in the 10th century as part of the early Christian monastery. It was a bell tower, but would have been used as a lookout tower and refuge. The tower has a long and troubled history, including murder of local chieftains to the theft of the Book of Kells in 1007.

Directions to the different sites:

Leaving the castle towards Newgrange:
  1. Go out to the main road and go straight across the junction.
  2. Keep going straight until you get to a T - junction and take a left towards Kells.
  3. 100 yards later take a right again towards Kells.
  4. In Kells keep going straight until you have the Headford Arms Hotel in front of you.
  5. At the the T take a right. Keep going straight until you get to Navan.
  6. In Navan follow signs to the left for Slane onto the N51.
  7. In Slane take a right onto the N2.
  8. After about 2km turn left, the Brú na Bóinne (Newgrange) Visitor Centre is 7km (4.5 miles) east towards the village of Donore 
This section is about 45 miles, 1 hours drive.

Leaving Newgrange towards Mellifont Abbey:
  1. Go Back to Slane via the N2. Stay on the N2 towards Derry.
  2. After about 2 miles turn right towards Tullyallen.
  3. Before you get to Tullyallen you see Mellifont Abbey on your right. 
This section is about 10 miles, 20 minutes drive.

Leaving Mellifont Abbey towards Drogheda:
  1. As you come from the Abbey turn right towards Tullyallen.
  2. Take Right onto the R168 towards Drogheda
  3. St Peters Catholic Church is on Main Street. 
This section is about 6 miles, 15 minutes drive.

Leaving Drogheda towards the Hill of Slane:
  1. Go out of Drogheda on the N51 towards Slane.
  2. From Slane take a right on to the N2 north for about 500m.
  3. Take the first left. Follow the road until you reach the car park.
  4. From here cross the field to the church and oratory. The motte lies beyond. 
This section is about 8 miles, 15 minutes drive.

Leaving Hill of Slane towards Kells:
  1. Go back to Slane. Turn right onto the N51 towards Navan.
  2. In Navan turn right onto the N3 towards Kells.
  3. As you enter Kells, Kells Heritage Centre is on your right.
  4. As you leave there, take a right onto N3, then take a left opposite the Headford Arms Hotel.
  5. Keep straight until you see the Round Tower of Kells on your right.
  6. Take a right here, go behind the round tower to see where the Book of Kells was kept. 
This section is about 17 miles, 25 minutes drive.

Leaving Kells back to Ross Castle:
  1. Take a right as you come out of the Round Tower out the Oldcastle Road.
  2. Straight on through Ballinlough.
  3. Don't take the right hand turn to Oldcastle, go straight on to T-Junction.
  4. Take a left at T and 100 yards further on take a right towards Lough Sheelin.
  5. Drive straight past Katsie Brown's Supermarket, straight through four way cross.
  6. Keep right at the next V and the one after that. Signposted for Ross.
  7. Keep going straight through four cross until you arrive at the castle. 
This section is about 25 miles, 40 minutes drive.

Altogether about 110 miles, 3 hours drive and 8 - 10 hours of enjoyment :-)

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