Legend has it that a young giant fell to his death trying to win over a girl, giving Giant’s Leap chasm in the Cavan Burren its name.
This is just one of the tales that make this land so fascinating. Lapped by ancient tropical seas then frozen through several ice ages, early man made his home and stayed here for thousands of years. Neolithic tombs, hut sites and ancient rock art live alongside 19th century ruins. Nearby is the Shannon Pot
, source of the River Shannon and named after Síonnan, granddaughter of Lir, god of the sea, who came here looking for the salmon of wisdom and was drowned for her trouble. An even nastier death befell St Oliver Plunkett, whose head is splendidly enshrined in St Peter’s Church
in Drogheda, our next stop. After a blatantly corrupt trial, Plunkett was found guilty of treason and hung, drawn and quartered. Gruesome rumour has it that his beard still grows. For a slightly cheerier history lesson, head through pretty lanes west of Drogheda to Beaulieu House and Gardens
, a 17th
century jewel of a house that has been home to two influential families, the Plunketts and the Tichbournes, for more than 800 years.
If you have more time:
Stop for a bite at Scholar Townhouse Hotel
in Drogheda, a welcoming spot with open fires, a fresco of the Battle of the Boyne and a menu that uses fantastic local ingredients, including Coolattin cheddar, Stagrennan farm apples and homemade breads.