I happened to be in Castlerea recently, so I took off exploring. I absolutely love visiting new places, there are always hidden gems – and Castlerea is no exception. Thank you to the twitter folk for all their suggestions, I didn’t get to do everything today but I’ll have to go back another day.
Castlerea also known in Irish as ‘An Caisleán Riabhach’ meaning ‘brindled castle’ or ‘King’s Castle’ is beautifully located on the banks of the river Suck and the river Francis. Castlerea is a small vibrant town steeped in history and is best known for its strong connection to the ancient High Kings of Connaught and Ireland, as well as being the birthplace of Sir William Wilde, a noted historian and Dr. Douglas Hyde, the first president of Ireland.The Suck Valley Way Website
Firstly I had a look around the town, it’s a very colourful town with a good variety of shops, including some great charity shops. Robert Flynn’s shop is well worth a visit, I’ve never seen such a variety of things in one shop, everything from groceries to goldfish.
For food I visited Benny’s Deli, some lovely bits there, including artisan food products, a bakery, deli, and more. I bought ‘The Leitrim Loaf’, it’s gorgeous. I also went to the Bastion K2tchen, I’d been following their social media and they do Biscoff iced coffee and Biscoff truffles! In case you haven’t guessed I have a thing about Biscoff! I loved how friendly the staff were there, they were telling me they opened earlier in the year which I imagine is a tough time to open, but they are great at what they do so give them a visit.
After all that food I thought I’d better walk some of it off, so I went exploring. The Castlerea Demense is just at the back of the town, and there’s loads of places to park – and parking is free. I’m aware I sound like a local radio advert. Anyway the walk is part of The Suck Valley Way – which I’ve linked above. I didn’t do the whole walk but it’s so worth checking out.
I thought at one point I was in Narnia, the fairy village is absolutely magical! Everywhere you look there is something to see. At the centre of it all is the beautiful acoustic sound centre, the kids (and adults) will have a ball here.
The whole walk is just so pretty with the river running in the middle of it, there’s also a little waterfall and an island. I stood watching the birds and the butterflies, it was very relaxing.
The walk continues across a road and you’ll be able to visit the grave of Cindy the Elephant. This is such a sweet story, Cindy took a stroll in Mannion’s bar in Castlerea in 1963, and there’s a photo of her leaving the pub. When she died in 1972, the Castlerea folk offered a plot for her to be buried in. There’s now a lovely memorial dedicated to the little elephant that made a big impression.
I didn’t get as far as the Clonalis Wood Walk, which is also part of The Suck Valley Way, and I’m told is beautiful. I’d also hoped to go on the Clonalis House tour but I left it too late to book, you can take the tour up until the end of August and I’ve heard the house is wonderful. You can also stay there too.
Castlerea is also home to a railway museum. The museum is next to the Hell’s Kitchen Bar which is now closed, but back when it was open it was the only pub in Ireland that had a full-scale train in the bar. The museum is open by appointment and you can find out more here: https://www.hellskitchenmuseum.com/visit-us/
There’s also an outdoor swimming pool which so many people on twitter told me about. There’s more information about it on their Facebook page.
After exploring Castlerea I took the scenic route to Lough O’Flynn which was another twitter recommendation. The road I took was a very narrow bog road, with turf stacks, pretty cottages, and wild flowers – plus the occasional sheep dog chasing the car! The road I took is part of a looped walk and Visit Roscommon have all the information you need https://www.visitroscommon.ie/lough-oflynn-bog-loop/
So there you have it, if you’ve never been to Castlerea it’s well worth a visit.