The Fairies of Lough Allen & Lough Key

Watch Roscommon and Leitrim open up before your eyes, spilling secrets of long-forgotten saints, crumbling castles and fairy-filled forests…​

The secret spa of Cleighran More: Deep within St Hugh's Holy Well and Sweathouse, the water runs orange – a mysterious miracle, or simply an iron-rich water source? All we know for sure is that this spot was the original restorative spa over three millennia ago. Though now crumbling, the originally cosy, cave-like structure of the Sweathouse trapped the heat of its occupants and the mineral-rich water, creating a sauna right here in the Leitrim countryside on the banks of Lough Allen.

If you have more time: If you prefer your water without rainbow hues, try a spot of angling in nearby Drumshanbo on the craggy shores of Lough Allen (pictured) and fish your worries away.

Brave a boat tour to Castle Island: One of 32 islands on Lough Key, Castle Island is that bit special because – you guessed it – it's home to the hulking figure of an 18th-century folly that dominates the tiny island's skyline. Named McDermott's Castle in honour of a local King who lived on the island in the 1100s, this hidden gem is well worth hiring a boat on the mainland for a trip out to explore. []

If you have more time: Treat yourself to a slap-up meal at the AA Rosette Award Winning Douglas Hyde Restaurant in Roscommon's Kilronan Castle Estate & Spa.

Lough Key Forest Park, bring your camera: Towering oak, beech and red cedars; wood anemone and yellow iris scattering the forest floor; fallow deer stepping carefully through the branches – this is a cornucopia of Ireland's most breathtaking wildlife. Once you've had your fill of the local flora and fauna, try out the park's manmade treats: a 47-room puzzle trail, over 100km of walking and cycling trails, a woodland Segway tour – and the only Tree Canopy Walk in Ireland. Keep an eye out for the souterrain and fairy bridge, too! To warm up?  Have a hearty lunch at the Lakeside Café.

If you have more time: Check out Boyle Abbey, the silent, almost ghostly ruin would be unrecognisable to the flourishing monastic orders that dwelt here in the 12th century.

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