SLIEVE BLOOM MOUNTAINS
Where the hills really are alive
The beautiful thing about the Slieve Bloom Mountains (besides being the most unspoilt and uncongested in the country) is that you’ll find trails to suit every ability; from the experienced hiker to the casual stroller. Whether you take on the long-distance Slieve Bloom Way or opt for one of the shorter looped trails, you’ll be rewarded by spectacular views stretching across the midland´s of Ireland and on a bright cloud-free day you can see the four highest points of each of Ireland’s four provinces.
LOUGH BOORA DISCOVERY PARK
Step into the wilderness
Transformed from its previous incarnation as a commercial bog where peat was harvested to heat homes around the country, today Lough Boora Discovery Park is home to countless species of birds and wildlife, fish-filled lakes and a permanent exhibition of huge outdoor sculptures. These sculptures give the park an other-worldly feel, created using the old industrial materials of the bog such as locomotives, rail-line and timber, all crafted into magnificent works of art.
The raised bogs of the Midlands of Ireland evolved after the last Ice Age, around 15,000 years ago. Mesolithic people wandered through Ireland, and one of the most important Mesolithic sites in Ireland is at Lough Boora. Two sites were excavated in 1977. You can visit the site of the ancient settlement by following the Mesolithic Route.
Conmacnoise Monastic Site
The site is entered through the visitor centre, where a number of cross slabs are displayed. The centrepiece of the visitor centre is the Cross of the Scriptures, and the long and varied history of Clonmacnoise is recounted in an audio-visual presentation. Multi-lingual guided tours of the site are available, plus there are also exhibitions that deal with the flora, fauna and landscape of the region. But you don’t have to be a history buff just to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of Clonmacnoise, nestling as it has done for centuries past, on the banks of the majestic Shannon. No visit to Offaly would be complete without a visit to this most special of destinations – even Pope John Paul II stopped by when he visited Ireland back in 1979.
Steer your own course
If you like the idea of setting your own path and choosing when and where to stop off and explore, then a cruising trip along the Shannon could be just the ticket. Start your riverside adventure in Banagher and cruise on one of the most beautiful natural inland waterways in Europe as the unspoilt River Shannon meanders through beautiful countryside, past historic towns offering the best in Irish hospitality.
MONEYGALL – HOME OF BARACK OBAMA
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA – THE MONEYGALL CONNECTION
The Day an American President Came to Town
The people of Moneygall will never forget the day the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama and the First Lady Michelle Obama visited their village: his Irish ancestral home. President Obama’s late mother, Ann Dunham was a descendant of the Kearney family who left Moneygall after the Famine in 1850 to build a new life in New York. Maybe you fancy a visit to Ollie Hayes’ Bar in the Main Street like Mr President did, or view the President’s ancestral home, where the Kearney Family left from in 1850 and view the old school house where the shoemaker’s family were educated.
You can also call into the nearby Barack Obama Plaza Visitor Centre to see an exciting exhibition that tells the story of how an Irish emigrant, Falmouth Kearney departed a small village in Co Offaly in 1851 in search of a better life and became the 3rd Great Grandfather to US President Barack Obama.