There is no place like Carlingford in the sunshine and if the Summer doesn’t show up we have put together some great ideas of things to do Carlingford for FREE, yes free! At a recent community think tank, we discussed the reasons people come to Carlingford. One that always stands out is, of course, the location of Carlingford and the Cooley Peninsula, a spot of outstanding natural beauty.
However, it is not just what you can see when you get here. There are the smells, the sounds, the feeling and the people that provide a place with its artistry and charm. While we recommend you visit for a few days and enjoy some fine food, culture and fun activities, there is a lot to do in our little town, free of charge. With this in mind, we have compiled (in no particular order) our top ten list for you.
1. Take a drive
Take a spin, this is perfect if the weather isn’t just as sunny as it should be.
Have you ever been to a place where things go backwards?
Less than a 15 minute drive from Carlingford you’ll find a place known locally as Magic Hill. There is a section of road that goes downhill and if you stop the car at the bottom and release the brake, the car will roll backwards up the hill! It needs to be seen to be believed.
To help you on your way; As you leave Dundalk, take the R173 to Carlingford. Halfway along you will spot a Texaco Petrol Station. Take the first left after this, where you’ll see a sign for McCrystals Food Store and signs for the Táin Trail and Oriel Trail. Follow the road around and past McCrystals until you reach a T-Junction. Turn right and immediately left on the other side, again following signs for the Táin and Oriel Trails. Follow the road straight to the brow of the hill, go down into a dip and stop immediately next to the big mushroom.
2. Crab Fishing
All you really need is a piece of string, bait and a weight heavy enough to keep the bait of the bottom. Crabs like bait such as bacon, chicken, fish and the like. You don’t need the good bits – use the bits that you throw away in a big soggy mess. Crabs are not that fussy when it comes to their dinner!
Let your line drop right to the bottom where the crabs live. Wrap a little line loosely around your finger and wait until you feel the crabs pulling.
The two piers of Carlingford Lough are a favourite spot during the busy summer months.
3. Pier Jumping
An all-time favourite and always great fun for adults and kids alike. Although Carlingford Lough is tidal, never fear, Carlingford offers two superb pontoons. This activity is normally done at the end of your water activity if you booked with Carlingford Adventure Centre.
As always with the water, there are some risk concerns that need to be addressed before you dive off the edge, like making sure the tide is in. Like everything, don’t be foolish or careless, take caution in anything to do in the water, make sure you are with people and ensure you have appropriate clothing.
4. Bird Watching
Bird watching is not just for bird enthusiasts. It can be a relaxing and enjoyable pastime for anyone. Carlingford has beaches and mudflats with mountains and woods nearby. Buzzard, Raven and Dipper are found on the Carlingford Mountains, while the forests on Slieve Foye support Jay, Crossbill, Long-eared Owl,Woodcock and Grasshopper Warbler.
From the pier at Carlingford in Winter, scan the bay for Grebes, Divers and Scaup. Rarities have included Black-throated and White-billed Divers and Slavonian Grebe. Continue past the Carlingford Sailing Club, back to the main road scanning for water birds. Harbour seals lounge on the rocks, and Whimbrel and Common Sandpiper occur on passage.
Continue on to a small inlet, Shilties Lough, and from the smaller road, look for Lapwing,Teal,Wigeon, Kingfisher and Yellowhammer. Greenore Port is excellent for Black Guillemots in Spring and for terns, which nest on nearby Green Island. Ballagan Point is good for seawatching (Long-tailed Skua have been seen). At Whitestown beach, Mediterranean Gulls and White Wagtails are regular and Sand Martins nest in the sand-cliffs.
You can download a guide to birdwatching for carlingford.
5. A Cycle Along The Greenway
Book online or on the day with…
6. Collect Sea Shells
Kids will enjoy collecting seashells more than you know and there are so many interesting shells to be found on our shores. Recently Carlingford Lough Ferry shared some wonderful examples from the Carlingford shore, you could make a day out of it, travel across to Greencastle on the Ferry and collect shells from both sides of the Lough. A spin up to Newcastle for even more.
This is a great activity to incorporate your picnic.
Photo credits to @Brónac Mackin
There is a charge on Ferry but Sea Shells are completely free :D, take a dip in the water if the weather is sunny enough.
7. Fun for kids in the Playgrounds & The Leprechaun Cavern
Carlingford has a great playground but aside from this, there is two top of the range playgrounds outside of the village. One in Lordship and the other in Cooley both visible from the main road on the way to Carlingford from Ballymascanlon. Tire out little ones and give them endless amounts of fun in any of these playgrounds.
Everyday at 3pm local leprechaun whisperer Kevin Woods will be participating in 15 minutes of storytelling and an introduction to how the last leprechauns of Ireland became a protected species by the E.U..This is done in the story room, there is a charge for this but you can take a look around at any stage of the day, there is plenty to see.
8. Let the Walking do the Talking!
Fancy a Walk? Well then you’re in luck.
Carlingford is going to spoil you with an abundance of strolling or hiking options. There are lots of maps available for varying abilities or you can keep walking along the signposted routes until your heart is content. Pop into our office for n array of maps and advice.
The routes guide you through the village and up the mountainside of Slieve Foy. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a leprechaun!
Don’t forget that no matter which route you decide to take, always ensure to you have a good pair of trekking shoes, raingear, keep hydrated and have a mobile phone. It is always advised that you make somebody aware where you are going and when you plan to return.
Take the family on a trek. There are many mountain trails, for big kids challenge them to climb to the top of the highest mountain in Louth and don’t forget to bring the sandwiches for the top. Educate little ones with an abundance of nature along the trails from sheep, horses, bugs to the wild heather, bog cotton and waterfalls.
9. Explore the History of Carlingford
Carlingford really has some incredible history to share and behold. The history and stories of Carlingford span right through the ages of Celtic myths and Legends. Carlingford has some of the finest examples of architecture from the medieval period, with Castles and Merchant houses located throughout the town. Each of the locations is adorned with a plaque explaining a brief history of the landmark.
You can also use our website to help find the locations and read the accompanying history.
Carlingford has many castles and historical sites. Explore the periphery of King John’s Castle. Create tales to entertain kids of Thosel Arch, The Dominican Priory and the Carlingford Mint. See how many castles you can count in the village. Locate the Famine village along the Barnavave Loop. Visit the ruins of the church of Cill Mhuire and graveyard situated at Templetown.
The Carlingford Heritage Centre situated in the middle of the village will have an abundance of historical knowledge, a great way to educate the kids and yourself 😀