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Ireland > Ulster > County Cavan (Republic Of Ireland)

County Cavan is in the Republic of Ireland and is completely landlocked. It is an ethereal place, misty and dreamlike, again quite famous for its coarse fishing, its rivers and lakes (someone once counted 365 lakes - one for every day of the year!) teeming with fish. It has its fair share of ancient castles and pre-historic ruins, woodland and lakes. It is a quiet pretty peaceful place, perfect for quiet reflection even if you are not into fishing. Previously part of the ancient kingdom of Breffni it was ruled by the powerful O'Reilly family. The county was created in 1584 by the British, and was further separated from Northern Ireland in the 1921 division of Ireland, becoming part of the Republic of Ireland at that time.

Click on the headings to find out more: Black Pig's Dyke in County Cavan is a mysterious place. This convoluted earthen rampart near Dowra on the upper Shannon is believed to date back to the 3rd century AD. It winds relentlessly across the land but its purpose remains unclear. Some say it was a fortification, some call it the worm ditch after a giant worm wriggling across the land. Whatever it was, it must have taken an awful lot of effort to build. Black Pig's Dyke is one of the many puzzles of old Ireland!

Oh Ireland, my first and only love, Where Christ and Caesar are hand in glove. - James Joyce


Cavan is the administrative centre and major town in Cavan County. The old ruling O'Reilly family castle Clough Oughter ('Ooter') is approximately 3 miles out of Cavan on an island in Lake Oughter. It is possible to get out to it as it is a pretty castle, however it has a dark and sinister past, being used as a prison in the 1641 rebellion and Eoghan Roe O'Neill the leader of the Confederates died here after allegedly being poisoned by his Cromwellian opponents.


Cootehill, near the county border and approximately 15 miles north east of Cavan is very pleasant market town. Nearby Bellamont House was built for the founder of Cootehill - Thomas Coote - in 1728 by the famous Irish architect Sir Edward Lovett-Pierce, and is one of the finest examples of Palladian architecture in Ireland. After it fell into ruin, (what is it with fine old Irish houses?), it was claimed by an Englishman who beautifully restored it. It has now been claimed by an Australian descendant who is less than happy with visitors, unlike the usual Aussie reputation for hospitality. The gardens however can be still viewed over the wall. It is hoped that the future of it is sorted out in the near future, as the interior is reputed to be quite spectacular and a wonderful treat for visitors.


About three miles southwest of the pleasant village of Ballyconnell (ideal for a base for fishing or walking) which is on the Shannon-Erne waterway, is Killycluggin, a very large stone circle that contains a very large phallic stone that is quite uplifting to behold. (The original is in the Cavan County Museum. - I wonder why?) The ornamentation on the stone is from the early Iron Age, with incised La Tene motifs. La Tene is a term relating to the Celtic culture in Europe from the period around the 1st-5th century BC, which is nearly identical to the curvilinear decoration on the Killycluggin Stone. (The first discovery of this style of decoration were made at La Tene, Lac de Neuchatel, Switzerland.)


The Cavan County Museum is housed in a superb three-story 19th century former convent building in Ballyjamesduff. (Don't you LOVE that name - Ballyjamesduff - it just rolls off the tongue!) Extensive grounds surround the building, offering very pleasant peaceful walks. The museum collection includes some of the pieces from the famous `Pighouse Collection' as well as historical displays and medieval carvings, presenting the story of Cavan from the Stone Age through to modern times.
Ballyjamesduff was made famous as a name by the song written by the writer/singer Percy French who lived in Cavan in the early 19th century. His songs, including Ballyjamesduff are still sung with great gusto by the Irish - and why not with great lines like this:

'There are tones that are tender, and tones that are gruff,
And whispering over the sea
Come back, Paddy Reilly, to Ballyjamesduff,
Come back Paddy Reilly, to me.'



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