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County Leitrim is situated in the northern and western regions of Ireland. The northwestern areas of the county are characterized by mountainous and hilly terrain, while the southeastern land is relatively flat. A marine west coast climate affects Leitrim, as temperatures in Carrick-on-Shannon range throughout the year from 36 to 66 degrees Fahrenheit. For the majority of days, cloud coverage is a fairly common occurrence and summers tend to be cooler. Tourists are recommended to visit Leitrim from late June to late August, especially those who plan on engaging in warm-weather activities. Outdoor recreation is abundant in the county, namely horseback riding, kayaking, and various types of tours. A number of tourists also visit the historic sites in Leitrim such as Parke’s Castle, which was first constructed in the seventeenth century. Additionally, Carrick-on-Shannon, the largest city in Leitrim, is home to some attractions that several visitors may take an interest in.
Located in the province of Connacht, County Leitrim occupies land in the northern and western regions of Ireland. The name, Leitrim, derives from the Irish words Liath Druim, which translates to "grey ridge;" however, County Leitrim itself was named after the village of Leitrim near River Shannon. As reported by the 2022 census, approximately 35,087 residents make up the general population in Leitrim, ranking it the smallest county on the island in regard to population. By area, County Leitrim is ranked 26th largest of Ireland’s 32 counties. Many of the towns that can be found within the county are small market centers, and some of the industries include textiles, automotive parts, and electrical accessories. Less than one-fifth of the population resides in such towns. Carrick-on-Shannon is presumably the largest city in Leitrim.
A wide range of outdoor recreation can be found in Leitrim, many of which are lake activities. Kayaking is one particular activity that a fair amount of tourists in the area have been found to engage in. The Paddle Shack in Carrick-on-Shannon offers kayaking tours that are led by a guide who has nearly 15 years of experience with paddling. Equipment is provided for each tour, and experience with kayaking is not required for visitors. Typically these tours last around two hours. Another kayaking tour in Leitrim is the Lough Rynn Kayaking Tours, which teaches visitors about the history of Lough Rynn Castle in addition to kayaking. Similarly, equipment is provided and these tours last about an hour and a half. Aside from lake activities, golfing tends to be popular among tourists as well, with a couple of the most popular golf courses being Ballinamore Golf Club and Carrick-on-Shannon Golf Club. Other attractions include guided alpaca walks, boat tours, and historic sites.
The Shed Distillery is relatively popular in Leitrim, as the distillery is most commonly distinguished by its botanical glasshouse. According to the Shed Distillery’s official website, it is “the first distillery in Connacht in 101 years.” The attraction offers a tasting tour of Drumshanbo Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey, created by PJ Rigney, the original owner of the distillery.
County Leitrim is bordered by County Donegal to the north, with Northern Ireland and Cavan to the east, Longford to the south, and Roscommon and Sligo to the west. The county’s western border follows the River Shannon, where boats can travel to the county’s town seat, Carrick-on-Shannon. Leitrim’s topography is fairly mountainous and hilly in the northwest, contrastingly to the southeast, which has a more flat landscape. Out of any Irish county that touches the sea, County Leitrim has the shortest length of coastline, extending to about 4.7 kilometers at Tullaghan. Considering the abundance of rivers and loughs in Leitrim, the county has a combination of natural and man-made habitats. A few of the more dominant habitats in Leitrim to the north of Lough Allen include blanket bog, heath, pasture, conifer plantations, and natural grasslands. The county’s land is comprised of a number of hedgerows that provide an additional source of food and refuge for wildlife inhabitants.
Characteristic of a marine west coast, warm-summer climate, County Leitrim is located at an elevation of 190.48 meters above sea level. Nearly 76.22 millimeters of precipitation occurs throughout the year, adding up to an average of 189.63 rainy days annually. Leitrim’s annual high reaches about 53.38 degrees Fahrenheit, while the annual low drops to 41.58 degrees Fahrenheit. Carrick-on-Shannon, a city within the county, tends to have cool summers and long, cold, and wet winters. Cloud coverage is a relatively common occurrence throughout the course of the year. Temperatures range from 36 to 66 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. For visitors who are hoping to engage in warm-weather activities, the best time to visit Carrick-on-Shannon, based on tourism scores, is from late June to late August.
In 1791, it was recorded by a geographer known as Beaufort that there were about 10,026 homes and around 50,000 inhabitants in County Leitrim. Cattle production had been the primary agricultural sustainment of the economy, and the growth of flax aided the linen industry. During the 1830s, the population had reached about 155,000 inhabitants, but when the Great Famine began to affect County Leitrim, the population dropped to 112,000 people by 1851. Emigration caused the population to continuously decline as well. Throughout the previous century, the agricultural aspect of Leitrim has continued to improve and recover from the Great Famine. Currently, Leitrim has the fastest growing population in Connacht.
Parke’s Castle occupies an expanse of land in County Leitrim on the northern shores of Lough Gill. The structure dates back to the early seventeenth century when it formerly served as a home for Robert Parke, who was an English planter. Evidence of a tower house that may have been owned by Sir Brian O’Rourke can be found on the grounds of Parke’s Castle. The castle had fallen into disrepair when Robert Parke experienced tragedy in his life as two of his children drowned in the lake. Eventually, in the late twentieth century, the restoration of the castle began. The combination of traditional Irish oak and craftsmanship ultimately revived the castle, and the site is now open for visitors to tour.
Another popular historic site in County Leitrim is the Creevelea Abbey. It was one of the last abbeys to be founded in Ireland before all of the monasteries were dissolved in Ireland and England during the ruling of King Henry VIII. It was utilized by the Franciscans until the seventeenth century when they were forced by the Cromwellian army to leave. In today’s time, the site comprises a church, a cloister, and domestic buildings. A tower that [is]was erected above the church and was originally used as a bell tower; however, this tower also functioned as living quarters in the 17th century. The cloister features several stone carvings, one of them being Saint Francis of Assisi preaching to birds. The site as a whole is now protected as a national monument.
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