32 Small Towns In Ireland That Will Take You By Surprise

Looking for a local holiday? This county collection should do the trick

Kinvara Galway

It is a grand little country, this Ireland of ours. Roof or no roof on top of it, there are some fantastic sights to be seen and some wonderful places to visit on this island.

A holiday doesn't have to be a big blow out to another country. When you have some amazing and cosy towns like this just a couple of miles from your front door, why would you want to go anywhere else?

Whether you make it a weekend holiday, a day-long round trip or even if you're just in the general area, you need to visit these towns in each county of Ireland at some stage in your life.

Leinster:

Dublin - Skerries

Skerries is a small coastal village with a largely stoney shoreline (after all it's called Skerries because of the rocks, na sceirí) and is just as lovely in the winter time as it is in the summer time.

Lying north of Rush, it's a fabulous town that has five of its own islands: Shenick Island, St Patrick's, Colt and Rockabill which is split into 'The Cow' and 'The Calf'.

It was named Ireland's tidiest town in 2016 and with the sort of scenes you'll see in Skerries, you'll understand why.

Skerries

Meath - Slane

You may think that Slane has a huge population because of its reputation for having the best concerts of all time in Ireland but you'd be wrong.

There is less than 1,100 people living in this Meath town and its compact and winding road lets you know that it's not a place you fly through and forget about.

Of course, it is home to the famous Slane Castle but there is also another hidden treasure there.

Tankardstown House is just a stone's throw away from the village and is one of the finest places in Ireland, ideal for a wedding reception or a romantic break away.

Tankardstown House

Laois - Stradbally

Located slap bang in the midlands, Stradbally is known for the birth of motor racing, the Steam Rally and of course for Electric Picnic.

See for yourself why thousands of festival goers head to this part of the country every September as they grace Stradbally Hall.

Sb Laois

Louth - Blackrock

Blackrock is a picture perfect town in the wee county. It's a place filled with wind and watersports, ancient architecture and wonderful walks.

The Millennium Sundial is the ideal place for a kooky photo and the famous Promenade wall is a good spot as anywhere to sit down, relax and soak in the views.

Newcastle Down Feb

Photo credit: David Norton Photography

Wicklow - Enniskerry

This "rugged ford" in Leinster is anything but rugged. Situated on the Glencullen River in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains, it's only a half hour drive max from the hustle and bustle of the capital.

Such a picturesque town is Enniskerry, that it may not be the unfamiliar to you. It was the home of Gerard Butler's character in the 2007 film P.S. I Love You and was also the set for Irish television series, Ballykissangel.

Enniskerry Wicklow Feb

Carlow - Bagenalstown

This is the closest you'll get to France without having to get on a plane. Well, that's what founder Walter Bagenal wanted to create when he found this town.

Bagenal wanted the place to mirror the city of Versailles in France but instead he made it his own town, literally.

National Monument, Ballymoon Castle is a must-see.

Fun fact: It's the home of Irish entertainer Richie Kavanagh. So if you keep the eyes peeled, you might get an intimate version of 'Aon Focal Eile'

Kildare - Ardclough

With in or around 700 residents, this place is a small town with a massive history behind it.

Known for its quality of limestone, some of the capital's most iconic structures came from Ardclough.

It's stunning canal bank is the ideal place for a romantic walk and the area is home to more than 35 different species of birds.

It's also a grand spot to do a spot of fishing.

Ardclough Kildare

Photo Credit: Shay Clarke

Kilkenny - Gowran

Known for one of Ireland's finest horse racecourses, Gowran is also the birthplace of one of the greatest Irish sports people of all time, Kilkenny hurler DJ Carey.

It's a constant competitor in the Tidy Towns Competitions each year and in the centre of the village lies St. Mary’s medieval Collegiate Church which features monuments of great beauty from the 14th to 17th centuries.

If you're peckish, Teach Mhuire Enterprise Centre which is opposite the church will make sure your belly is full leaving the place.

Gowran Kilkenny

Photo Credit: peterncox

Longford - Ballymahon

Another picturesque town that has been hidden in the shadows for far too long. Ballymahon is situated on the River Inny and as you can imagine, is full to the brim with water sport activities.

Canoeing, kayaking and water polo to white water rafting, water tubing and zorbing.

You name it (with water) and they do it.

You're also close to The Inny Park and Royal Canal Harbour, both of which are fantastic spots to go for a picnic.

Gowran Kilkenny

Photo Credit: peterncox

Offaly - Edenderry

This place is no new addition to various artists and photographers from around the country. Many of them have tried to capture the beauty of the town either with their cameras or their paintbrushes.

The 4000 year old Giant's Ring is a mysterious tourist attraction that you need to have a look at while in Edenderry.

Edenderry

Westmeath - Tyrrellspass

There is only a couple of hundred people in this Westmeath town but they look after it better than most big towns.

Tyrrellspass has been a Tidy Town winner and a European Architectural Heritage Award winner.

It's named after Captain Richard Tyrrell and a castle in his town still stands to this day.

Wexford - Blackwater

Another Tidy Town regular, the locals pride themselves on their spotless footpaths and roads and colourful flowerbeds.

There's always something going on in the town with drama and comedy one of the biggest outputs in the area.

Caravan parks are nearby if you fancy bringing your home with you on holiday.

Credit: Declan O'Leary

Connacht:

Mayo - Tourmakeady

While everyone goes mental for Westport, about ten miles between there and Ballinrobe lies a truly remarkable little town.

It holds: Four pubs, one shop/post office, a football pitch, two schools and possibly the most beautiful waterfall you will ever see.

Fun fact: Famous actor Robert Shaw adopted this village as his home town and if you get to know the right people, you might be able to get a look at the normally private 'Drimbawn' house.

Tourmakeady

Galway - Kinvara

Hidden between Clare and Galway, Kinvara is one of the most beautiful towns in the west.

There's so much to do and you're only a stones throw away from an adventure. Dunguaire Castle is the feature image of this article and is one of the landmarks that's within the radius of the town.

The Ailwee Caves is a 20 minute journey from here and so is the famous 'Father Ted' house.

It has a 'blink or you'd miss it' sort of feel to it, so keep your eyes wide open if you're every travelling in that direction

Kinvara 2

Sligo - Enniscrone

This scenic Sligo town boasts a wonderful sandy beach which stretches for 5km over a long area of shoreline between Cliff Road and the mouth of the River Moy.

If it's too cold for a dip, you could always try your hand putting and driving at the renowned golf course or if that's not your gig, relax in a seaweed bath for an hour or more.

Ask the locals if they can explain the infamous story of the 'Black Pig' too...

Enniscrone

Roscommon - Strokestown

Pay a visit to The Irish National Famine Museum and Strokestown House where you can take a walk through history.

Or, if you fancy an actual walk, you're situated near the Slieve Bawn mountains which is one of the highest points in the county meaning you get an unreal view of The Rossies in all its glory.

Leitrim - Drumshanbo

This lovely Leitrim place is a scenic area filled with hills, woodlands and lakes as well as pubs, shops and restaurants.

We highly recommend visiting Sliabh an Iarainn and learning about the railway, canal, lakes and iron and coal mining that took place in the town.

It's situated in the heart of Leitrim but is also a 15 minute journey from Carrick-On-Shannon if you want to up the pace a bit.

Drumshanbo

Munster:

Kerry - Dingle

Fungie put the fun in this small little town in the Kingdom and it's never going to leave. It's the ultimate tourist spot but don't be ashamed to start touring just because you're Irish.

You're also a few minutes away from Connor's Pass. It's one of the most scariest and scenic car journeys you will ever go on.


Climbing the mountain at the pull in spot also reveals a beautiful crystal clear lake at the summit called Peddlers Lake which is not to be missed. Plus the view from the top is breathtaking.

Cork - Leap

It's the second biggest village in County Cork but is only home to a couple of hundred people.

If you're a music lover then you need to head to Connolly's which can only be described as a smaller but more crazier version of Whelan's in the capital.

They held 102 gigs last year and have over 4,764 posters on their wall.

Leap

Main image via:

Connolly's website

It's also a ten minute drive to Clonakilty and Skibbereen if you're looking for a bigger adventure.

Clare - Doolin

You'll be kept busy exploring Doolin Cave, The Burren and The Cliffs Of Moher but if you do get a break in play, you need to check out its surroundings where the Atlantic Ocean lies.

It's also a centre for music and you can be sure to find some tunes being played in different pubs each night.

But sure, it would have to pick up its music genes somewhere, considering its neighbouring town is Lisdoonvarna.

Doolin

Limerick - Adare

It is a place filled with thatched cottages and medieval churches with a whole host of activities available such as Horse Riding, trekking and other equestrian action.

Trout and salmon fishing is also big down that part of the country and it is widely known for its amazing architecture that makes its manors and abbeys stand out among the rest.

Why not visit Adare Manor while you're there? One of Ireland's five star hotels.

Adare

Tipperary - Roscrea

It's a long way to Tipperary but making your way to Roscrea is totally worth it. There's century-old towers and monasteries that date back as far as 13th century that are there for your viewing.


Damer House is an absolute mansion and is home to the town's heritage centre while Roscrea Castle is also worth a visit.

Waterford - Dungarvan

This is one of Ireland's largest coastal towns and is very popular among those who like the outdoors so climbers and hikers, take note.

It's a thriving seaside market town nestled beneath the Comeragh mountains and there is a causeway and bridge across the river Colligan which is known to be fastest river in Europe.

Dungarvan

Ulster:

Donegal - Buncrana

Recent multinational investment has seen this seaside resort on the shore of Lough Swilly blossom.

It is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the northwest of Ireland and is known for its well-developed tourist facilities.

It is the main town for the Inishowen peninsula and its 'Blue Flag Beach' is a must see.

Monaghan - Castleblayney

A new by-pass for this town connected it to the motorway back in 2007 and it hasn't looked back since.

It's home to Lough Muckno which is one of the largest and beautiful lakes in the north of the country.

It is well known for its fishing and on the grounds of the lake stands Hope Castle which is situated on hundreds of acres of wooded land.

Also home to the biggest country western singer Ireland has ever produced. When you're in Big Tom country, you know there's going to be plenty of music too.

Castleblayney

Image via: Volunteer Monaghan

Derry - Portstewart

Known for its scenic coastal route, this place is popular with those who love having fun in the sun and sand.

Portstewart Strand is absolutely gorgeous and when you're finished with activities there, why not head to Morelli's for one of their famous, award winning ice creams.

Portstewart

Antrim - Bushmills

If the place name sounds familiar, it's because it could remind you of one of your favourite drinks.

If so, why not do the tour of the Old Bushmills Distillery, one of the world's oldest, legal whiskey distillery.

You're also very close to the Giant's causeway and Dunluce Castle

Antrim Bushmills

Down - Newcastle

This town in Down is a little northern delight. There are plenty of activities to do in this wee place.

Donard Forest, Dundrum Castle and Tollymore Forest Park are on hand to show off their beauty to any visitor of this lovely place.

Any time of year is ideal for the Tropicana Outdoor Heated Fun Pool complete with a giant waterslide and paddling pools for toddlers.

Newcastle Down Feb

Photo credit: David Norton Photography

Armagh - Jonesborough

This small village is often overlooked because its big brother, Newry is just one mile away but it is a treat.

It is home to one of Ireland's biggest open markets which attracts massive crowds each Sunday and has done for the last 30 years.

Kilnasaggart Pillar Stone and Moyry Castle should also be checked off your list while here.

Cavan - Shercock

Once you step inside this townland, you're in 'Drumlin Country'. It borders with Monaghan, Louth and Fermanagh but Shercock still manages to stand by itself.

It gets its nickname because of its landscape of small hills and lakes formed at the end of the ice age.

Located on the beautiful, Lough Sillan, there are no words.

Fermanagh - Belcoo

Just over 10 miles from Enniskillen, Belcoo is a small town that is ideal for tourist who want a quiet town for moments in between sightseeing.

It's within touching distance of the Marble Arch Caves, Florence Court House, Ulster Way and Ballintempo forest.

The Cladagh Glen Walk is the ultimate way to start a lazy Saturday or Sunday morning, or any morning for that matter.

Tyrone - Moy

Renowned for its great horse fair, Moy once held the massive event which lasted for over a week. Forget Electric Picnic, this is type of festivals that were being showcased back in the early 1900s.

Let's cut the bullshit though, if you're in the town of Moy, you really need to get yourself a snorkel and head for the bog.

Five miles out the road, just outside Dungannon is Peatland Bogs which caters for this outrageous sport that you need to try.

Happy travelling.

Meghan Markle gets political about Repeal the Eighth... Here's where it gets interesting. Subscribe to Before Brunch podcast here

Written By

Darragh Berry

Darragh is a Mayo GAA fan for all his sins. He taught himself how to play guitar at the age of 11 and hasn't stopped playing Wonderwall since. Gets lost on the streets of Dublin as frequently as Mayo lose All-Ireland Finals. Contact - darragh@lovin.com

Comments