We recently spent 72 hours in south Monaghan. Here’s our south Monaghan itinerary with everything you need to see and do.
Welcome to our south Monaghan itinerary. For the uninitiated, Monaghan is a beautiful county of Ireland situated in the border region.
Last year, in collaboration with Monaghan tourism, we embarked on a 2-day adventure around northern Monaghan.
After our article performed really well, we were invited back to do another piece. This time, we spent a long weekend in south Monaghan.
After last year’s amazing trip, we didn’t expect this year’s trip to be able to top it, but we were in for a surprise. We had an incredible weekend.
This article is the exact itinerary we followed on our trip. We highly recommend it to anyone who wants to understand Monaghan as a county and is up for a bit of everything.
The south Monaghan itinerary was planned by Monaghan Tourism, so there are no better people to give you an itinerary of the best things to do.
Morning: Rossmore Forest Park – a forest walk to clear the head
Rossmore Forest Park is a national forest park located just outside Monaghan Town. Managed by The Irish State’s forestry organisation, this park is the perfect place to go for a peaceful walk and feel at one with nature.
The trees here are beautiful, notably Scots pine, cedars, and monkey puzzles.
If you are lucky, you might meet some of the local residents, notably otters, badgers, foxes, hedgehogs, and pigmy shrews.
If you are visiting in early summer, look out for the colourful rhododendron and azalea display.
We were lucky to visit at a quiet time, so we pretty much had the whole forest to ourselves, which was pretty special. I’d recommend anyone to go on a Friday morning if you can!
Note that the park is located 3.5 km south-west of Monaghan Town on the R189 to Newbliss. When we went there, Google Maps brought us on a route which ended at the entrance to an industrial business park.
There was an entrance to woodlands around this business park, but this is not Rossmore Forest Park. Make sure you type in this address (the main entrance on the Threemilehouse/Newbliss Road).
Facilities: Forest and lakeside walks; nature trails; viewing points; picnic areas; playground and a car park.
Address: Rossmore Forest Park is located 3.5 km south-west of Monaghan Town on the R189 to Newbliss.
Opening times: From 8am (Daylight hours).
Admission charge: Free
Lunch: The View Restaurant Bar, Concra Wood, Castleblayney – for lunch with a view
After our peaceful walk in the forest park, we were looking forward to a delightful lunch in The View Restaurant Bar at Concra Wood Golf & Country Club.
After sitting down at our table, it was pretty obvious why this place is called The View Restaurant Bar. To say the view was good would be an understatement. Indeed, we previously ranked this place in the Top 10 restaurants with a view in Ireland.
In addition to the view, the menu here had something for everyone, and the food was very nice.
For starters, we had the mushroom soup and a vegan bruschetta. Both were excellent. For mains, we had the hake and the vegan Mexican bean burrito.
We had two courses, but to be honest; we couldn’t finish our portions as the portion sizes were massive. So, if you are going for lunch, we’d recommend just going for one course unless you are starving.
They catered well for a vegan diet here. However, if you are vegan and you want to eat here, then do let them know in advance so they can ensure there are delicious vegan options. There was, however, no dairy-free milk, which was slightly disappointing.
Overall, The View Restaurant Bar is an excellent place for lunch and view on a sunny day, so do stop by if you are in Monaghan.
Address: Concra, Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan, Ireland
Opening times: 9am – 9pm (Monday – Sunday)
Castleblayney Outdoor Adventure – for an adrenaline rush
Located just off Muckno Lake at the edge of Castleblayney is Castleblayney Outdoor Adventure Centre. This adventure centre was next on our list, and it was the perfect way to burn off our big lunch.
On our visit, we climbed a high tree with the assistance of grips and ropes. It was an exhilarating experience. The view from the highest part of the climb was incredible.
We felt a bit nervous about the climb when we saw how tall the tree was. However, we quickly felt safe with the assistance and encouragement from Mark, who was our guide for the day.
After climbing the tree, we had a crack at paddleboarding on the beautiful Muckno Lake. This was an extraordinary moment for us because it was the first time we paddle boarded.
It was also one of the only times in Ireland, we have done something where there were no other tourists around. It was just the two of us on a lake.
I can’t speak highly enough about this place or our instructor Mark who runs the adventure centre.
This centre provides numerous water sports and outdoor activities, which are for all interests and ages. Sailing, stand up paddling, windsurfing, and kayaking/canoeing are just some of the activities they offer.
Suppose you are in Monaghan with your family or friends. In that case, I’d recommend getting in touch with them to discuss doing an activity some afternoon. It is a great thing to do!
Address: Lough Muckno Park, Onomy, Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan, Ireland
Opening times: 9am – 5pm (Monday-Sunday)
Email: [email protected]
Price: Depends on activity. Available on request.
Dinner and overnight stay: Nuremore, Carrickmacross – a beautiful resort hotel
After our fantastic first day, we were off to check into the Nuremore Hotel & Country Club. Located in the beautiful Monaghan countryside, this hotel overlooks a lake and golf course.
The hotel boasts excellent facilities, including an indoor swimming pool, spa facilities, treatment rooms, and a leisure club.
Golf players can enjoy the beautifully maintained 18-hole golf course, where lessons are also available. We didn’t play any golf when we were here, but it looks like a beautiful course!
After checking in, we went for dinner in the hotel bar, and the restaurant was fantastic. We had the fish and chips and a vegan curry which was cooked on the spot with a request to the chef. He was a hugely talented chef because it was one of the best curries we’ve ever had.
After eating, we heard that the restaurant was once awarded Best Chef, Best Hotel Restaurant, Best Restaurant & Best Customer Service in Monaghan at RAI Irish Restaurant Awards 2010.
Our experience ten years on was not far off this, so we’ve no doubt their next award is just around the corner!
As mentioned previously, the hotel boasts excellent facilities, so it was a comfortable stay here. In particular, the staff were excellent, the food was great, and the grounds were beautiful.
We did feel that the hotel is due a little upgrade. The décor was outdated, the Wi-Fi was poor, the TV was grainy, and the breakfast wasn’t vegan-friendly.
However, these were only minor observations, so if you are looking for a great place to stay in Carrickmacross, we would recommend it.
Facilities: bar, restaurant, indoor swimming pool, spa facilities, treatment rooms, golf course, a leisure club, and much more.
Address: Nuremore, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, Ireland
Email: [email protected]
Morning: Carrickmacross Lace Gallery – home of the famous Carrickmacross lace
After breakfast in the Nuremore, we went to visit the home of the famous Carrickmacross lace.
In case you weren’t aware, Carrickmacross lace is a famous Irish lace which can be considered a decorated net. This distinctive lace is expertly hand-stitched with designs that are pleasing to the eyes.
The lace itself can be traced back to 1820 when it was introduced to Ireland by Mrs Grey Porter. She was inspired by some examples of lace she saw while on honeymoon in Italy in 1816.
Since then, laces have been made through the generations in Ireland with Carrickmacross boasting the best centre for Irish lace.
The detail in this lace is incredible, and it takes a large amount of time to make it by hand. The ladies who work on the nets are highly skilled and produce products which are enjoyed by people from all over the world.
Visiting the centre is a must if you appreciate arts and crafts. When you are here, ask for Elizabeth or Geraldine who will give you a tour of the best lace on show, and they will show you the process of Irish lace.
These ladies have dedicated their lives to keep this tradition alive, so more people must learn about the lace so they can keep the tradition going for future generations.
The centre has different lace on show in different styles, shapes, and sizes. The laces are perfect souvenirs or gifts.
After visiting, we stopped by the Collective at Market Square which is next door. This fabulous arts and crafts gallery showcases predominately artists and craft makers from County Monaghan. It is also worth a visit if you want to see more works from some of the most talented people in Monaghan.
Address: Main St, Drummond Etra, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, Ireland
Opening hours: 9:30am–5:30pm (Monday – Saturday)
Email: [email protected]
Admission charges: Free entry. Please get in touch before booking tours or workshops before visiting.
Lunch: Laragh Tin Church – to enjoy a picnic box made up by Matilda’s Artisan Bakery
Next on our itinerary was a picnic. We stopped at Matilda’s Artisan Bakery & Deli, located on the corner beside Courthouse, Monaghan Street, Carrickmacross. We grabbed a few picnic boxes which included sandwiches and sweet treats.
Everything at Matilda’s is made by hand and from scratch. They use only the best, high quality, local ingredients. This was evident when we ate the food, and it was one of the most delicious picnic boxes I’ve ever had.
They also provide a daily changing deli menu, consisting of gourmet sandwiches, quiches, pies, fresh salads, lasagne, soups, and pretty much anything you’d expect from a good deli.
The coffee here is fantastic so if you are in town and fancy a coffee, be sure to grab one for the road.
Once we packed our picnic boxes and coffees safely in the car, we embarked on a short drive to the Laragh Tin Church.
The Swiss-Gothic design of the church was inspired by travels on the continent in the 1800s by Laragh Tweed Mill operator James McKean and his wife.
The church was built in 1890 and consecrated as Church of Ireland on 13 August 1891. It was de-consecrated in 1962 but restored to its former glory in 2012.
It is one of the most unique churches we’ve ever seen in Ireland and the perfect place to have a bite to eat at the foot of the church steps, next to a beautiful stream.
Address: 1 Monaghan St, Drummond Etra, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, A81 X066, Ireland
Opening hours: 8am-5.30pm (Monday- Saturday) (9am-5.30pm on Sunday)
Laragh Tin Church
Address: Dooraa, Laragh, Co. Monaghan, A75 E448, Ireland
Opening hours: Closes 6pm
After Lunch, 2pm: Patrick Kavanagh Centre – learn all about one of Ireland’s most famous poets
Next, we went to Iniskeen to learn about the life of a Monaghan legend, Patrick Kavanagh.
Kavanagh was a poet and novelist. His best-known works include the novel Tarry Flynn, and the poems “On Raglan Road” and “The Great Hunger”. He was acknowledged for his accounts of everyday Irish life in the 20th century.
A recently relaunched €1 million visitor centre is located in Iniskeen at the site of a former church where Kavanagh used to go to worship.
The Centre preserves, interprets, and celebrates the life and works of Kavanagh through collections, exhibitions, research, and events that embrace the area’s evolution and spirit.
An impressive part of this ‘mini-museum’ is a small cinema-style room where Kavanagh’s poems are read by actors in locations where Patrick was writing about in each poem.
The self-guided tour was excellent. After asking the staff a few more questions about Kavanagh, we were shown the grave of Patrick and his family, which is at the back of the church.
We were told some of the local gossip which you won’t hear unless you visit!
The staff here are helpful and passionate about Kavanagh’s work and the story of his life.
After experiencing the Centre and reading his poetry, we have been discovering more of his poems. We would now consider ourselves big fans of his work.
This place is a must if you love language or poetry, even if you are not aware of the life of Kavanagh.
Opening times: 10am – 4.30pm Monday – Friday (11am – 4.30pm Saturday only)
Email: [email protected]
Admission charges: €10 (free for children six and under)
Tours: can be arranged at any time by prior appointment. Contact 042 9378560 for details.
3:30pm: Brehon Brewhouse – the craft beer brewery of Monaghan
Next on our tour of Monaghan was the Brehon Brewhouse, which is a small brewery is housed on the farm just a short drive from the Patrick Kavanagh Centre.
This small brewery produces a range of delicious beers with well-balanced and flavoursome flavours.
Here we met Seamus McMahon, the founder and mastermind behind Brehon Brewhouse.
Seamus is a dairy farmer by trade and described his idea for brewing beer as a side project which was just an idea for “a bit of craic after a few pints which ended up being a success.”
After launching in 2014 at the Carrickmacross Festival and selling out all their supplies, they knew they were headed for steady growth.
The name of the beer is named after the old Irish Brehon laws, and The Celtic Tree of Life inspires the logo.
They have a range of beers including the popular Killaney Red, Crann Beatha (Stout), and Brehon Blonde. My favourite was the Killaney Red, and it is a beautiful beer.
The tour is a refreshing, excellent, and intimate experience. The tasting rooms are in an old Irish cottage at the back of the farm where Seamus grew up. Seamus is a knowledgeable gentleman with a passion for beer.
I’d recommend a trip to this brewery for anyone who loves beer! If you’d like to take a tour here, you can get in touch with the brewery before visiting.
The beers made here are sold nationwide in Aldi, Dunnes, and Super Valu. They are certainly a brand to keep an eye out for!
Address: Dunelty, Co. Monaghan, Ireland
Opening times: 9.00am-5.30pm (Monday-Saturday)
Phone: 086 8230914
Email: [email protected]
Tours: Contact the Brehon Brewhouse to arrange a tour before visiting
6:30 pm: Courthouse – possibly the best restaurant in Monaghan
Following our fantastic tour of the Brehon Brewhouse, we had dinner booked at Courthouse. Courthouse is well-known as one of the best restaurants in the area, so we were looking forward to visiting.
Courthouse is situated in Carrickmacross and cooks up high-end quality food at affordable prices.
The restaurant is run and owned by Conor Mee and Charlotte Carr, both of whom have combined years of experience in numerous award-winning establishments.
We felt that, from the start, the vibe was excellent, the staff were fantastic, and the food was incredible!
This restaurant was named as the RAI Best Restaurant in County Monaghan as well as a Michelin Bib Gourmand which denotes good food for good value.
Courthouse offers excellent value midweek menus along with a la carte choices. Services are provided by their superb local team who will look after all of your needs.
The food was incredible. We particularly liked the cauliflower starter, which was cooked in a tasty chicken and chorizo sauce. For main, the monkfish was incredible. We genuinely only had positive things to say, and we’ve covered our thoughts in full in our review, which you can read HERE.
Address: 1 Monaghan St, Drummond Etra, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, A81 X066, Ireland
Opening hours: Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Morning: Awesome Coffee Beans – for coffee and cake
After a light breakfast at the Nurmore hotel, we headed up to Awesome Coffee Beans on Main Street in Carrickmacross for some coffee and some cake.
Here we were greeted by owner Brian and his staff, who were very accommodating. This coffee shop is the newest one in town and is already a popular spot for food and coffee with the locals.
On our visit, we tried their coffee, lemon drizzle cake, and vegan cake. All were excellent. Vegan options are available for coffees and foods, which is impressive as it can be uncommon in towns across Ireland.
Address: 17 Main St. Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan
Facebook page: Awesome Coffee Beans
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday
Late morning: Liz Christy craft studio – behind the scenes at a well-respected designer and handweaver
Next stop on our itinerary was a tour of Liz Christy’s craft studio in Annyalla, Castleblayney.
Liz is a well-respected designer and handweaver in County Monaghan. We came across many of our products on our travels around Ireland, so it was a pleasure to meet her in person and to see first-hand how she goes about making her incredible products.
Liz showed us how her handwoven scarves and other products are made. One thing that we loved about Liz’s products is their vibrant colours which are inspired by everything from Irish landscapes to poetry.
We loved a scarf she made which was inspired by a Patrick Kavanagh poem, so we had to buy one after the tour!
I’m looking forward to wearing it in winter.
One of Liz’s top sellers is the ‘LizzyCSheep’, mini sheep objects covered in vibrant colours. They can be found in souvenir and craft shops around Ireland, including the Giant’s Causeway’s giftshop.
If you’d like a behind-the-scenes tour of Liz’s studio, I’d recommend getting in touch with her directly on the phone and organising a tour.
Address: Swallow Studios, Annyalla, Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan, Ireland
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday (10am–6pm)
Afternoon: Ballybay Wetlands Centre – for another peaceful walk
After visiting Liz’s studio, we went for a peaceful walk around Ballybay Wetlands. This walk took us about half an hour at a slow pace and was the perfect way to break up the day.
This park is located just outside the town of Ballybay, on the Clones Road. The area is beautiful and has dozens of acres of wetlands, recognised as being regionally significant as a site for birds such as the whooping swan and the Siberian widgeon.
These wetlands are also home to a wide range of plants and animal life.
Facilities: Conference Suite, Toilets
Address: Clones Rd, Derryvally, Ballybay, Co. Monaghan, Ireland
Admission charges: Free
Afternoon: Streat-Yard – for a late lunch and a beer
Last but not least, on our trip was a trip to Streat-Yard. This has to be Monaghan’s quirkiest venue. The focal point here is an old barn which has been converted into a bar and music venue.
Streat-Yard specialises in great local beers, cocktails, and tacos. Outside the barn is a massive beer garden with a taco truck run by the Blasta Steet Kitchen which serves incredible tacos.
We tried the duck tacos, which were cooked up by the main man Josh. According to Josh, the truck was listed as one of Ireland’s top 20 food trucks by The Times, and they also won the award for the best taco in Ireland!
Overall, Streat-Yard is a cool venue, and it was the perfect place to relax and look back on our fantastic trip to Monaghan.
The staff here are fantastic, and it is good to see such a cool venue in rural Ireland.
Facilities: Bar, food van, outdoor seating area, toilets
Address: (Behind) Hughie’s Pub, Leck Road, Co. Monaghan, Ireland
Phone: +353 89 245 4367
What an incredible weekend in south Monaghan that was! We’d like to thank Jill and the Monaghan Tourism team for organising this trip. We’d also like to thank GMG Creative for taking the majority of the photos on this trip.
Monaghan is, in my opinion, Ireland’s most under-rated county so make sure you experience it if you haven’t already. If you follow this south Monaghan itinerary, you will have a great weekend as it has something for everyone.