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10 Free Things to do in Carlingford

Carlingford has enjoyed some fantastically positive media over recent months and we’re confident when we say, it really is not surprising. 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. Steeped in History

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 have been 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.


2. 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 sign posted routes until your heart is content.

One of many 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.

3. The Magic Hill

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.

Have fun!


4. 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.


5. 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. There was a great piece written by Jack of Lifeguards Ireland about the safety concerns of pier jumping.   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.

6. 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.

7. The Greenway

Following on from point two and a very recent project to open, the Greenway has already proved a fantastic addition to our local walking routes. The 6.2km greenway cycle & walking path from Omeath to Carlingford follows the route of the old DN&G Railway line between the Carlingford Marina and Griers Quay continuing on to the village of Omeath.

It allows cyclists and walkers to enjoy a safe track along the scenic coast of Carlingford Lough.

8. Folklore Park

Just along the shore, beside the underground replica tunnel of the Last Leprechauns of Ireland you’ll find local leprechaun whisperer, Kevin Woods. Kevin (affectionately known as McCoillte) and his family have created Folklore Park, an admission free park for people to visit and enjoy.

A donation is welcomed. Dotted throughout the Folklore Park you can learn about local myths and legends and view art pieces representing them.


9. Cycling Routes

The mountains surrounded Carlingford town boast some of the finest open mountain XC trails in the country amongst stunning scenery and exciting descents. The routes can be accessed via Carlingford town or Ravensdale Forest. Slieve Foy has fantastic XC trails ranging from one to six hour routes and if you can concentrate on both, you can take in some superb scenery on the way down.

10. Heritage Centre

The aim of the Carlingford Heritage Centre is to give the visitor a deeper exploration of the narrow streets and antiquities of this venerable, charming place. Located in a beautifully restored medieval church, the Heritage Centre houses exhibits the development of the town from its Norman origins.

The building has retained its original function as a place of assembly and, as such, is ideal for weddings, concerts, exhibitions, recitals and small theatrical productions.

The Heritage Centre has, on permanent display, the documented history of the town with the first references to the Vikings in the area circa 850 AD, through the Anglo Norman and Medieval eras right through into modern times. This historical exhibit is embellished with maps, drawings, illustrations, photographs and a DVD presentation for all to enjoy.

So whether you want to brush up on your medieval history or just wish to drink in the scenery, we promise you a great time when you arrive in Carlingford. For any information you require, don’t hesitate to contact a member of the Visit Carlingford Team.

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