Cavan is the county town of County Cavan in northwest Ireland. The same name (Irish An Cabhán, the hollow) is used for the county, so on this page it's referred to as Cavan Town wherever ambiguity might arise.
Cavan is a provincial market town astride the Dublin-Enniskillen-Donegal road, nowadays the N3. It grew up from the early 17th century as English and Scots "plantations" were established to keep the Irish in check and promote industry and urbanisation. That process swept away the castle and friary, so the town has little to show of its turbulent medieval period, and its core is 19th century. It was a major bottleneck on the N3 until the bypass was completed in 2006. Cavan's main attraction is the "drumlin belt" - the "basket of eggs" landscape and islet-dotted lakes that stretch across Ireland from Clew Bay in County Mayo to Strangford Lough in County Down. In 2016 the town had a population of 10,914.
Cavan Tourist Office is within the County Council building on Farnham St, open M-F 09:00-17:00.
Expressway Bus 30 / X30 runs every hour or two from Dublin Busáras and Airport via Virginia, taking just under two hours to Cavan. The buses continue northeast to Enniskillen, Ballyshannon and Donegal Town: the X30 is nonstop between Cavan and Enniskillen, but the 30 runs via Butlersbridge and Belturbet.
Leydon's Coach also runs twice M-Sa between Cavan, Belturbet and Enniskillen.
1 Cavan bus station is on Farnham St in town centre.
By road from Dublin follow M3 / N3 via Kells and Virginia. This road continues north to Belturbet then crosses the UK border as A509 to Enniskillen, for routes to Derry and Sligo.
Local Link Bus C1 runs M-Sa every hour or two from Ballyhaise and Butlersbridge to Cavan, then east to the edge-of-town retail park and Kilmore roundabout on N3.
Bus C2 runs M-Sa every hour or two from Ballinagh to Cavan and the hospital.
Bus C3 runs M-Sa every hour or two from Farnham Estate to the hospital, Cavan, then north up R188 to Drumalee and Rocklands. Three buses a day continue to the college, Ballyhaise and Redhills.
But the best of Cavan lies some distance out in the drumlin country, and you really need your own wheels. The sights are within cycling distance.
Car hire: Europcar have a rental base on Century Business Park 1.5 km east of town, +353 49 436 1441.
- Town centre: the historic spine with 19th century low-rise is along Church St and the narrow Main St, one-way traffic southbound. It's flanked 100 m west by Farnham St, broad and modern, leading to the bus station.
- The Friary on Abbey St was founded in the early 14th century by the Dominicans, but in 1393 they were ejected and replaced by the Franciscans. It was wrecked several times (eg one drunken monk accidentally started a fire) but persisted until the Dissolution. It was then rebuilt as a Protestant church, which in turn was demolished in 1820. The old graveyard remains, with a tower thought to incorporate the friary's tower.
- The Water Mill on River St is from 1846. It's been restored to working order as a museum piece, but is closed in 2021.
- 1 Cathedral of Saints Patrick and Felim is RC, a neo-classical white granite building of 1938-42. The interior layout is unusual, and the place is disliked by some as a "disappointing sham-Renaissance structure".
- 2 St Fethlimidh's Cathedral is C of I. It's at Kilmore, 6 km southwest of town. It was built in 1860 but incorporates features of its predecessors, including a Romanesque doorway from 1170.
- 3 Killykeen Forest Park is one of the best places to admire the county's drumlin landscape, here flooded by Lough Oughter to form multiple islets and wetlands. A footbridge west leads through the woods to Gartnanoul, a Neolithic double-court tomb. Cloughoughter Castle to the north is the picturesque ruin of a circular 13th century bastion, perched on an islet. Trinity Island, now a peninsula at the south end of the lough, has the scrappy remains of a medieval friary.
- 4 Killeshandra is another good area: it's on the west bank of the lough, with lots of self-catering cottages.
- 5 Drumlane Abbey: see Belturbet for this ruin and Round Tower at the north end of the lough.
- 6 Cootehill on the boundary with County Monaghan has many well-preserved Georgian buildings. The grandest is Bellamount Castle, built in Palladian style in the 1720s; it's in the forest 1 km northeast of the village. It was sold in 2015 and isn't open for tours, but you can stroll in the forest.
- Cinema: The Odeon is off Main St.
- Town Hall, opened in 1910, fell vacant in 2014 when the Town Council was abolished. It's been converted into an arts centre, but remains closed in 2021.
- Gaelic games: Cavan GAA are the county team, playing Gaelic football and hurling at Breffni Park. Sponsored as Kingspan Breffni, this has a capacity of 32,000 with 6000 seated, and is 1 km south of town centre along R212. It was opened in 1923 by the fascist leader Eoin O'Duffy (1890-1944), who proclaimed it would "save the youth of Ireland from the sea of moral degradation into which they were travelling".
- Astra Bowling Alley next to the Odeon is open M-Th 10:00-22:00, F Sa 10:00-23:00, Su 11:00-22:00.
- Cavan Leisure Centre has a pool, gym and fitness classes. It's on Ardkeen northeast side of town, open M-F 07:00-22:00, Sa Su 11:00-18:00.
- Golf: County Cavan Golf Club is 2 km northwest of town on R198 towards Farnham Estate. White tees 5627 m, par 70.
- Cavan Equestrian Centre is a huge affair, with shows and auctions most weeks. It's 1.5 km north of town off R212.
- Main St is the retail strip, with several ATMs, and Tesco open M-Sa 08:00-22:00, Su 10:00-20:00.
- McMahons Cafe Bar, 97 Main St, ☏ . Su-Th 12:00-22:30, F Sa 12:00-23:30. Lively place for food and drink, live music at weekends.
- Shades Grill is within Imperial Bar at 47 Main St.
- Oak Room is good modern cuisine. It's at 24 Bridge St, open W-Su 17:30-21:30.
- Barducci's is an Italian on Church St, open W-Sa 17:30-21:30, Su 16:00-20:00.
- Abbey Bar is a town institution. It's on Coleman Rd by the bus station.
- Farnham Arms Hotel, Main St H12 Y6E4, ☏ . Reliable mid-range place in town centre. B&B double €120.
- 1 Farnham House, 38 Farnham Rd H12 AY26 (by hospital), ☏ . Clean welcoming B&B north side of town. B&B double €100.
- 2 Cavan Crystal Hotel, Dublin Rd H12 P6E5 (junction N3 / N55), ☏ . Smart comfy hotel east edge of town. B&B double €120.
- 3 Farnham Estate, Coras Point, Cavan H12 H6Y8, ☏ . Plush hotel, spa and golf resort in a grand mansion rebuilt in 1802. B&B double €150.
As of March 2021, Cavan has 5G from Eir, and 4G from Three and Vodafone.
- Belturbet is at the head of the navigable River Erne, connected by canal to the Shannon.
- Carrick-on-Shannon on the main river is a market town for boating and angling.
- Longford means a ship's port yet it's some distance from anywhere a boat could reach. The remarkable Neolithic Corlea Trackway traverses the bog.
- Clogherhead and the sandy beaches of Louth up to Dundalk are where Cavan folk go on fine summer weekends.