Monaghan is the county town of County Monaghan. It's at the northern edge of the Republic of Ireland, close to the border with Northern Ireland. It's a quiet relaxing place: in 2016 the population was 7678. The name derives from Irish Muineachán, a "brake" or overgrown hillock, probably refering to the local drumlins.
The TIC is in the Market House, opposite the County Museum. It's open M-F 10:00-13:00.
- Expressway Bus 32 runs from Dublin Busáras and Airport via Ardee, Carrickmacross and Castleblayney, taking 2 hours to Monaghan, and continuing north to Omagh, Strabane, Lifford and Letterkenny. They're every 2 hours daily.
- Bus 182 runs from Drogheda via Collon, Ardee, Carrickmacross and Castleblayney, taking 90 min to Monaghan. There are 7 M-F and 4 Sa Su. Don't take the 182A which only runs from Drogheda as far as Ardee.
- Bus Éireann 65 runs once M-Sa from Athlone to Ballymahon, Keenagh, Longford, Granard, Cavan Town, Clones and Monaghan.
- Bus 175 runs from Cavan Town via Cootehill and Rockcorry 4 or 5 times a day, and Bus 175A runs via Clones once M-F, both routes taking about 50 min to Monaghan.
- Local Link Bus 176 trundles from Cavan via Scotshouse, Clones and Threemilehouse, taking 80 min to Monaghan, with 5 M-Sa.
- Goldline Express 251 / 270 / 271 runs every hour or two from Belfast Europa Station via Lurgan and Portadown to Armagh; two M-Sa continue to Monaghan (2 hours in all), with one then going on to Cavan Town. On Sunday there's just one through service to Monaghan, terminating here. You can also change onto Bus 70, which plies between Armagh and Monaghan with 4 M-F and 2 Sa.
- Goldline Express 278 runs in university term-time, with one bus Su-F from Portrush, Portstewart and Ulster University via Coleraine, Garvagh, Magherafelt, Cookstown, Dungannon, Moy and Armagh to Monaghan.
- The 1 bus station is on North Rd, at the north end of the town's one-way loop.
- By car from Dublin follow M2 / N2 north past Drogheda and Carrickmacross; maybe an hour. From Belfast follow M1 then A3 through Armagh to the border.
Rossmore Forest Park is within hiking distance, but you need wheels to get around the district.
Two Local Link buses connect nearby villages:
- M1 northside from Tydavnet, Scotstown and Ballinode into Monaghan, with 7 M-Sa.
- M2 southside from Castleblayney, Doohamlet, Ballybay and Tullycorbet into Monaghan, with 3-5 M-Sa.
Through town they follow the figure-of-8 one-way clockwise loop via the library, hospital, bus station and Monaghan Institute, so they're almost hourly M-Sa, but no buses on Sunday.
Single fares within town (as of May 2021) are at most €4.00 adult, €3.00 student and €2.00 child. For route maps and stop locations see the TFI route mapper.
- Town centre is The Diamond. Nearby note the ornate Rossmore Monument, the Dawson Monument and St Patrick's Church. Patena Lake is north side of the centre.
- Monaghan County Museum, 1 Hill St H18 XP82. M-F 11:00-17:00, Sa 12:00-17:00. Excellent local museum with large collection, including the War of Independence in Monaghan. Free.
- 1 St Macartan's Cathedral, 20 Old Armagh Rd. M-F 08:00-16:00. Neo-Gothic RC cathedral built 1861-92 in local limestone, with an 81 m spire. Free.
- Ulster Canal south of town closed in 1931 and is just an overgrown gully. Work is under way to re-open it, perhaps by 2024: see County Monaghan#See for the story.
- 2 Rossmore Forest Park, Skeagarvey (3 km southwest of town on R189). 24 hours. This was the estate of Rossmore Castle, a sprawling Gothic mock-castle abandoned around 1950 and demolished in 1975. It's now a pleasant area for walking and cycling. Free.
Nothing to lose but their chains
In the revolutionary fervour following the Bolshevik coup in Russia, several places elsewhere set up "soviets" - communist governing committees of "workers and peasants". Ireland's soviets were against the backdrop of the war for independence from Britain, and the first, in Feb 1919, was in Monaghan Lunatic Asylum. It was more like a staff lock-in, and they won a reduction of their working week from 93 to 56 hours, a pay rise, and the right to go home when their shift ended.
- What's on? Listen to Northern Sound on 96.8 FM or read The Northern Standard published Thursday.
- Market House is an elegant building of 1792, converted into a theatre and arts centre in 2002.
- New Garage Theatre is within the education complex on N12 Armagh Road. Box Office is M-F 10:00-14::00 and one hour before shows, on +353 47 39777.
- Coral Leisure Centre has a gym, pool, fitness classes and tennis courts. It's 500 m west of the centre on Clones Rd.
- Cinema: the Omniplex is on the retail park 2 km west of town along N54 Clones Rd.
- Golf: Rossmore Golf Club is 3 km south of town on R188. Blue tees are 5962 yards, par 71, visitor round €40.
- Harvest Blues is an R&B music festival in September. The next is probably 3-5 Sept 2021, tbc.
- The shopping centre in town has Tesco Metro. Main entrance is off Dawson St.
- The retail park is 2 km west on N54 Clones Rd.
- Andy's Bar & Restaurant, 12 Market St, Monaghan H18 N772 (opposite County Museum), ☏ . Tu-F 16:00-21:30, Sa 14:00-21:30, Su 11:30-20:30. Charmingly decorated bar, the restaurant serves modern Irish / continental cuisine.
- The Diamond and Dublin St is the main strip, with Monaghan Spice, Squealing Pig and various takeaways. Tuscany Restaurant is a block west on Church Square.
- An Poc Fada is a pub and entertainment venue on North Rd, open M-Th 16:00-23:30, F-Su 12:00-00:30.
- Others that side of town are Tir na nOg, Andy's (see above), Terry's, Jimmy's and Courthouse Bar. McCaughey's is an off-licence not a pub.
- Around The Diamond and Dublin St are Squealing Pig (see above), McManus, Shifty Mulhares, McKenna's, Peaky Blinders, Mickey Mick's and Shambles Bar.
- There isn't a hostel, campsite or caravan park nearby. Caravan owners head off to the coast around Dundalk.
- Ashleigh House, 37 Dublin St, Monaghan H18 NY72, ☏ . Friendly B&B in town centre, clean and comfy with all rooms en suite. Free street parking 200 m away. B&B double €100.
- Other B&Bs are south along Dublin Rd and Old Armagh Rd, but they're not open in early 2021.
- Westenra Arms Hotel, The Diamond, Monaghan H18 XA97, ☏ . Trad mid-range hotel in Georgian building in town centre. B&B double €120.
- 1 Hillgrove Hotel, Old Armagh Rd, Monaghan H18 RK15, ☏ . Reliable mid-range hotel with spa. In early 2021 it doubled as the area's covid vaccination centre. B&B double €120.
- 2 Four Seasons Hotel, Coolshannagh, Monaghan H18 Y220 (1 km north of town, west of N2 roundabout), ☏ . Smart modern hotel with good dining, refurbished in 2020; it's not connected to the Four Seasons international chain. The leisure club pool is large, the gym is small but well-equipped. B&B double €130.
- 3 Castle Leslie, Glaslough H18 RX05 (1 km from border with Armagh), ☏ . Grand luxurious Victorian pile, as if Gormenghast did fine decor and cuisine. B&B double from €250.
As of May 2021, Monaghan has 5G from Eir and Three, and 4G from Vodafone. There's a decent mobile signal on the highways around.
- Cavan Town is at the heart of the drumlin belt, with lakes studded with islats.
- Dundalk on the coast is industrial but has good beaches and medieval ruins within a few km.
- Armagh across the border has long been the ecclesiastical centre of Ireland.