Drumshanbo is a small town in County Leitrim in northwest Ireland: in Irish Droim Seanbhó means "ridge of the old huts". It's at the south tip of Lough Allen, which almost bisects the county, and is drained by the River Shannon. The area was industrial in the 17th-18th centuries because of local coal and iron, and became connected to Ireland's waterway network. Those links fell into disrepair in the 19th / 20th centuries but have been restored, so Drumshanbo is now a centre for pleasure boating. Its population in 2016 was 902.
Get in edit
The nearest railway station is Carrick-on-Shannon 14 km south, with six trains a day from Dublin Connolly to Sligo. Carrick also has direct buses from Dublin city and airport.
Local Link Bus 568 runs three times M-Sa from Carrick railway station and town to Leitrim, Drumshanbo (30 min) and Arigna (for the coal mines).
Another local bus runs on Tu, Th, Sa from Manorhamilton. It reaches Drumshanbo at 10:20 and continues to Leitrim and Carrick to catch the midday train to Dublin. It sets off back once the train from Dublin to Sligo gets in at 13:00, to reach Drumshanbo at 13:40 and Manorhamilton at 15:00.
Local Link Bus 572 runs three times M-Sa from Sligo to Drumshanbo (70 min).
Drumshanbo's main 1 bus stop is on Main Street.
Get around edit
You can just about tour the sights by bus, but your patience will be sorely tested. You really need wheels.
- High Street, or is it Main Street? Drumshanbo's main thoroughfare, only 100 m long, on its west side is Main St and carries the traffic, while its east side High St is a raised sidewalk.
- Churches are both just north of Main St. St John's Church (C of I) is a gothic structure of 1829. St Patrick's (RC) on Convent Ave is also 19th century, refurbished in 2020. The convent remains active: these are the Franciscan Poor Clare Sisters founded in 1864; they're a secluded order and you can't visit.
- 1 Acres Lough is a small lake below Drumshanbo with coarse angling. The main attraction is the 600 m floating boardwalk, part of the Shannon Blueway.
- 2 Arigna Mining Experience, Dereenavoggy N41 YP48, ☏ . Daily 10:00-17:00. Coal has been mined here since the 1700s, along a very narrow seam. It was used locally to make iron - Dublin's Ha'penny Bridge is made of Arigna iron. The seam was exhausted in 1992 and the mine was converted into an industrial museum. Adult €10, conc €8.
- 3 Sliabh an Iarainn ("Iron Mountain") is the scarp east of Lough Allen. Its iron ores have been mined since prehistory (in the Iron Age they were just what people were looking for) and on an industrial scale from 1600 to around 1780, with a cluster of iron-making villages nearby. The furnaces initially used charcoal, but the local forests became exhausted, with coal filling some of the gap. The top is a very boggy tableland, and near the summit hidden in a gully is a rock where mass was secretly celebrated in penal times.
- 4 Leitrim: see Carrick-on-Shannon for this village at the upper limit of navigation of the River Shannon. A canal rises from Battlebridge 1 km northwest of Leitrim through Acres Lough to Lough Allen, while the Shannon-Erne waterway (here the refurbished Ballinamore Canal) starts from Leitrim itself. See Waterways Ireland map for current navigation status of both.
- 5 Lough Scur is the first lake reached above Leitrim on the Shannon-Erne waterway, and has a marina and a couple of pubs. In the lough (which continues through a channel into Lough Marrave) are half a dozen crannogs, and the Keshcarrigan Bowl was found here. Several "castles" were constructed around the shores - Castle Sean was the most substantial but is now beyond a ruin. In 1605 the same Sean built a jail on an islet, suitably gruesome, but little remains of it. The waterway continues east to three smaller loughs and Ballinamore.
- 6 Fenagh is a tiny village in the east of the county (not to be confused with Fenagh in County Carlow or Fenagh Crater on Mars). It has a ruined abbey, where the Book of Fenagh was composed in 1513. Nearby is a portal tomb and several standing stones, reputed to be pagan druids turned to stone for trying to eject a Christian saint. (Archaeologists think this is unlikely for a first offence.) The visitor centre is open M-F 10:00-17:30, Sa Su 12:00-17:30.
- What's on: check the Leitrim Observer.
- Shannon Blueway starts with the boardwalk across Acres Lake, and conventional waterway and trails continue to Carrick.
- Aura outdoor heated swimming pool is at Acres Lake. It's usually open in summer.
- The Leitrim Way is a 25 km walking trail from Dowra to Ballinagleragh, Drumshanbo and Leitrim village.
- Cowboys and Heroes is a Country & Western festival with music, rodeos, American cars, line-dancing and the like. It's held early summer in Drumcoura, south of Ballinamore. The next event is probably 3-6 June 2022 but tbc.
- An Tóstal ("The Gathering") is an eclectic festival held in Drumshanbo in June / July. The next event is probably 26 June - 2 July 2022 but tbc.
- Joe Mooney Summer School is a week-long festival of Irish trad music held in Drumshanbo. The next is 16-23 July 2021, tbc.
- O'Carolan Harp Festival is held in honour of blind harpist Turlough O'Carolan (1670-1738), best known as the composer of The Star-Spangled Banner. The festival is preceded by a summer school of music and dancing, all in the village of Keadue in Roscommon where he spent his later years; he's buried at Kilronan Church west of there. The next summer school is 25-29 July 2022 followed by the festival 29 July - 1 Aug, tbc.
- Centra convenience store on Main St is open daily 08:00-22:00.
- There's an ATM outside the Bank of Ireland.
- There's a Chinese on Main St, otherwise try the bars or hotels.
- 1 Lough Allen Hotel, Corrachuill, Drumshanbo, ☏ . Smart mid-range lakeside hotel with spa and lots of land-based or water activities. Re-opens March 2021.
- 2 Kilronan Castle, Castletenison Demesne, Ballyfarnon F52 R867, ☏ . Plush hotel and spa out in the countryside by Lough Meelagh. The former Castle Tenison was rebuilt in 1820 then again in 1880 as a Victorian Gothic mansion; it was converted into a hotel in 2006. B&B double €150.
As of July 2021, Drumshanbo has 4G from Three, and you'll manage a mobile call with Eir or Vodafone. 5G has not yet reached the town but is getting close.
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- Longford has a fine cathedral, a mysterious "bog road" and several Neolithic portal tombs.
- Boyle has a grand Georgian mansion and a ruined abbey.
- Sligo is set in the haunting landscape of WB Yeats, with limestone scarps and Atlantic coastline.