I’ve have a few places of interest to tell you about in North Leitrim, they are all a short drive from each other too, and they are all very different. Leitrim may be a small county but it’s full of heritage and history, and the people are so friendly and welcoming.
The Rainbow Ballroom of Romance in Glenfarne is the first place I’ll tell you about. This is not just a step back in time to a showband exhibition, it’s also a Virtual Reality experience! I was very excited about this, I’ve never tried virtual reality before and I thought this was great. The experience tells the story of Bridie and Niall meeting for the first time, you feel like you are part of the dance, at one point you are virtually dancing with the couple – I did get a laugh out of it!
Niall, the manager was telling me all about the ballroom, which first opened it’s doors in 1934, built by John McGivern on his return to Leitrim homeland from the USA. Over the years many dances were held there and various show bands and bands played there including The Dubliners. Dances were a great way for couples to meet and over the years the ballroom has been responsible for hundreds of marriages.
You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time when you visit the extensive exhibition, there’s so much to see including memorabilia from the good old days of the showbands. The Rainbow Ballroom hosted a variety of events pre-covid and they are hoping to start the events again as soon as they can. You can find out more here: https://therainbowballroom.ie/
All around Glenfarne and Manorhamilton you will see signs of the Sligo Leitrim & Northern Counties Railway line, which ran from Sligo to Enniskillen. It was opened from 1880 – 1957 and on occasion the former Glenfarne Station is open to the public so that’s worth looking out for.
Just a short drive from The Rainbow Ballroom of Romance is Glenfarne Demesne which is situated on the shores of Lough MacNean. The lake marks the border of Leitrim, Cavan and Fermanagh. It’s a really beautiful area with lovely forest walks and a sculpture trail. You can read more about the demesne here: https://leitrimtourism.com/treasured-landscapes/glenfarne-demesne/
Another short drive and you’ll find the pretty village of Kiltyclogher. Seán Mac Diarmada was born in Kiltyclogher, he was an Irish political activist and revolutionary leader. He was one of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising and a visit to the Heritage Centre will tell you more about him, you can also visit his homestead, which will give you an idea of what life was like in Ireland over 100 years ago. You can also find a variety of historical items in the centre and some arts and crafts made by local people. Find out more and book your visit to the cottage here: http://kiltyclogherheritagecentre.com/
Kiltyclogher is a great example of community spirit, some years ago the population of the village was declining and there was a worry that the school might lose two of their teachers, so the KiltyLive online campaign was born, to attract new residents to the village – and it worked!
The village goes from strength to strength and most recently they have opened a community garden, which is just fabulous. The last time I was in Kiltyclogher it was just waste ground and now it’s a beautifully landscaped sensory garden, it’s something very special, and it’s overlooked by gorgeous street art, which is of interest for our Street Culture for Regions Project in Momentum. It was a pleasure to chat to Carol, who works in the Heritage Centre and it was just lovely to look around.
On my way home I was delighted to see the Wild Rose Bakery in Manorhamilton. I’ve seen many variations of coffee trucks recently but this has to be my favourite. It’s been transformed into a little thatched cottage, do keep a look out for it. The lemon drizzle cake is fabulous too! https://www.facebook.com/wildrosebakeryleitrim/
So that was my morning in North Leitrim, and there’s so much more to explore there too. So expect more blog posts.