“And now we’re bringing you back into the wild.” On a warm July afternoon, I’m lying on my back, floating on my “drum chamadon” paddleboard. This is a canal with overhanging trees that connects Lake Allen with Lake Acres on Leitrim Island. Things are going in an unexpected direction.
Our instructor, Dwin Gray, owns the Rough Allen Adventure Center and also teaches a Wim Hoff Method masterclass that combines deep breathing and ice immersion. freeze the fear.
According to Hoff’s theory, we’re losing our connection with nature and ourselves, but simple remedies like breathing and swimming in cool water can help calm an over-busy mind, release trauma, and reconnect with the body. You can regain your balance and reconnect.
Luckily my husband, our teenager, and I haven’t tried the freezing bit, except for a weird unplanned dunk into the cold waters of Lake Allen when we messed around with our paddleboards. .
Instead, Edwin speaks to a soundtrack of chirping birds, the sigh of wind in trees, and lapping waters through breathing meditation. When she regains consciousness after 10 minutes of swimming, she feels like she’s had a good night’s sleep.
2 of the trips to explore the northern part of what Fáilte Ireland calls the ‘Hidden Heartland’, an area surrounding Roscommon and Leitrim, Longford, Clare and Galway and along the coast of the River Shannon and its tributaries. It’s the day. I have previously driven straight through this area when heading to the coast of Sligo, Connemara or Clare. However, I am learning that there are many things that keep visitors here.
Our trip into the wild began the day before at the beautiful Carrick-on-Shannon wharf. The county town of Leitrim is the starting and ending point for water villas cruising along the Shannon-Elne Waterway, with rental boats lining the wharf and marina.
But we are traveling at a more moderate pace. We rent a motorized dayboat and ride in the afternoon breeze while learning to moor and after a demonstration and some comedy we head to Leitrim village.
The countryside is lush and the waterways are fringed with rushes, water lilies, driftwoods of meadowsweet and tall pink spikes of toad flax. With our teenagers at the helm, we pass families of swans, spot herons, and keep our eyes peeled for the flashes of kingfishers. Learn to turn.
It’s magic. Glide silently like a giant swan. Had it been a little warmer, we would have swam across the side. Instead, tie it on a pontoon and bag a small table for dinner and a sundowner on the terrace of her Marina Hotel (Leitrim).leitrimmarinahotel.com).
We’re not the only ones with this idea.A nearby couple insists they swap our table for a bigger one.
We stayed that night at the Bush Hotel, a 55-room Warren where Michael Collins once stayed, and the walls are hung with photos and news clippings of the town and its history. As well as being centrally located, the parking lot has chargers for electric vehicles.
Monday night, the streets are quiet, walking to Di Vino (divino.ie) Italian restaurant. But the inside is hopping. We’ll see why in a moment. As the food is delicious, set aside a large plate of bruschetta and flavorful homemade pasta. Her husband even manages to fit into tiramisu, the litmus test for good Italian food, and his smile says it all.
The next day we tried another form of slow travel, renting an e-bike on Leitrim’s Electric Bike Trail. Here you can enjoy a 20 km car-free cycle from his Battlebridge Lock a short distance from Leitrim village to his Drumhauver Bridge near Drumshanbo.
Riding an e-bike for the first time as a teenager, she takes off like a rocket and cheers with joy. We followed her dust trail along the towpath and were welcomed along the way by dog walkers and runners enjoying the leafy route.
It’s all about water here. Lakes, canals, cruisers, towpaths. Stop by the Lake Acres Water Boardwalk for a passerby to snap your picture.
“We have the highest water table in Ireland,” he tells us, remembering the old joke that Leitrim land sells by the bucket. increase. “I’m trying to dig a garden to plant a wildflower meadow, but the ground fills up with water.”
Climb the steep hill to Drumshambo and refuel at the Jackalope Café, part of the stylishly designed Shedd Distillery (thesheddistillery.com). Serve a generous serving of carrot cake on a plate with salad, falafel and carbs.
At the 11th hour, a visionary county council voted for restoration.
You can take a tour of the distillery, but we decided to order a gunpowder gin at the bar instead. For his hour of 10 minutes, the bartender tells us stories about the distillery, trying gunpowder teas and different gins his spices before mixing his G&Ts to perfection.
Wobble. We stopped on the other side of Drumshambo and asked the locals for directions. “Come inside,” the man tells me. “I’ll give you a map and show you the right way.”
The next morning, we say goodbye to the lovely people at the Bush Hotel for a 10-minute drive to the King House, the town of Boyle in Roscommon.
This stately four-story Georgian home was built in the 1700s by the up-and-coming King family. The King family later moved into the grander Rockingham House in Rough His Quay, presumably to signal that they had “arrived.” In the 1980s, our guide, Mary Rabin, told us that the site was to be demolished and replaced with a parking lot. I threw
Today, the King’s House serves as the community’s cultural hub, with 300 years of history on display, from the King family’s story to the time when the building was a barracks for the Connaught Rangers.
Exhibit about Hollywood star Maureen O’Sullivan. His father was a Ranger. There is a charming room full of items donated by the Head of State to former President Mary McAleese, as well as Boyle’s Civic Arts Collection. It’s a heady mix and well worth a look.
However, no trip is complete without a visit to nearby Lough Key Forest Park. We booked a two-hour slot to solve 47 mental and physical challenges known as Boda Borg. Age is not an advantage here either. Climb ladders, traverse swinging boards, answer quizzes, press buttons in the right order…
It’s a brilliant test of creative thinking and family dynamics, and we emerge at the other end, exhausted but exhilarated.
we head home Zipit Forest Adventures and a boat trip to Castle Island in Lough Key are still a lot to do. But we think it’s good to put a few things on hold until our next visit to the Hidden Heartland.
Fran Power was a guest of Fáilte Ireland. Fáilte Ireland’s ‘Keep Discovering’ campaign encourages people living in Ireland to experience the joy of discovering the many hidden gems the country has to offer. For inspiration on where to go and what to do, visit: Discoverireland.ie
Fran stayed at the Bush Hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon. Bush Hotel.com
Drumshamazon Stand-Up Paddle Board Expeditions are held twice daily at 11:30am and 3:30pm at the Lough Allen Adventure Center and are €35 per person. roughallenadventure.ie
E-boat rental from Carrick Day Boats, €120 for 3 hours. moonriver.ie
Electric bike rental from Electric Bike Trails, 30 euros for 3.5 hours. electricbiketrails.ie
Boda Bogue at Lough Key Forest Park from €25 for 2 hours (minimum 3 people). rough key