The DUBLIN Directory

EXTEND YOUR STAY IN IRELAND’S HIDDEN HEARTLANDS Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands encompasses nine counties that hug the majestic River Shannon and the Beara Breifne Way stretching from Leitrim to Lough Derg. As a destination, the Heartlands have long been a much-loved secret among many local Irish people, who enjoy the natural beauty and expansive panoramic views of its calm lake waters, inland waterways, rolling hills, vibrant green pastures and vast woodlands. An absolute haven for hikers and walkers, true enthusiasts aim to tackle part of Ireland’s newest long-distance walking route, with 500 kms of breath-taking scenery along the Beara Breifne Way. This route is also broken up into easy to navigate trails with looped walks also on offer throughout the Hidden Heartlands. There is also an abundance of golf courses available across the nine counties. A step into Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands represents a step away from busy, crowd filled lives into a place that offers so much to discover where a traditional and restorative way of life continues to thrive. Attractions Arigna Mining Experience, Roscommon Experience within the village of Arigna, with its panoramic views over Lough Allen, lies the fascinating Arigna Mining Experience. Visitors enjoy a first-hand experience, of a coal miner’s life and the 400-year- old mining heritage that belongs to this picturesque rural village. Leaving the rural views of Lough Allen outside, visitors are guided underground, to the very coal face, by a local, former miner. From this miner’s personal experience, they learn what it was like to work within the mine’s cramped spaces; what being a miner meant for family life; the superstitions and religious rituals observed by miners; their camaraderie and unique coded language; and the community inspired initiative that sought to preserve Arigna’s 400-year coal mining heritage. Athlone Castle, Westmeath Discover Athlone Castle where History Comes Alive at the heart of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands. First built in the 13th century as a timber fort, Athlone Castle evolved into a bold, defensive building. Its most significant architectural features, such as the keep, have now been harnessed to act as a dramatic backdrop to its diverse and fascinating story. The eight newly designed exhibition spaces pursue both a chronological and thematic sequence combining hands-on and fun experiences that will appeal to both children and adults. Bold sculptural forms help to convey human figures and historical milestones. 3D maps, audio-visual installations and illustrations by renowned illustrator Victor Ambrus (best known for his work on Channel 4’s Time Team), bring the stories and characters of Athlone to life. Portumna Castle, Galway Enjoy a tour of the semi-restored Portumna Castle, its Formal Gardens and working 17th Century Walled Kitchen Garden for a taste and experience of what it was like to live during the 17th Century in the West of Ireland. Tours are suited to all ages and group types. Having heard the history of the wealthy and powerful de Burg (Burke) Family, exposed all your senses in the beautiful gardens, finish your tour by watching a short informative DVD. Sit back and relax with some wholesome local food treats in the new Tea Rooms. IRELAND’S HIDDEN HEARTLANDS 227

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