Monaghan Tourist Information Office Mullacroghery, Clones Road Monaghan Monaghan Republic of Ireland
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The old garrison town of Carrickmacross has two heritage routes, one marked in red (2.7km) and the other in blue (2.5km). Between them, the two routes – taking 35-40 minutes each to walk – are the perfect opportunity to get under the skin of this Co. Monaghan crossroads.
Carrickmacross was developed around a castle built by the Earl of Essex in 1630 (the convent of the St. Louis Nuns stands on the original site). One of the most striking buildings in the town today is St. Joseph’s, a Roman Catholic church dating from 1866. Inside, you’ll find ten stained-glass windows designed by Ireland’s master of the art, Harry Clarke.
Carrickmacross was severely affected by the famine - its population dropping by a third between 1779 and 1891 - and its Poor Law Union workhouse can be found on Shercock Road. Sensitively restored in recent years, it is now home to the Farney Resource and Information Centre.
Further evidence of the town’s famine heritage can be found at Bully’s Acre, a paupers’ graveyard on the Donaghmoyne Road and the old fever hospital, across the road from the workhouse.
Along with St. Joseph’s, religious sites of note include ruins of the historic Magheross Church, St. Finbar’s (Church of Ireland) and the Presbyterian Church. The blue route continues along the Dundalk road to Lisanisk Lake, where roadside angling stands are used to fish for tench and carp.
Carrickmacross is famous for its lace, of course, a tradition that began in the convent and went on to be worn by Queen Victoria and Princess Diana. Carrickmacross Lace continues to be hand-designed in the town today - it can be browsed and bought at the gallery on Market Square.
The “stony grey soil” of Monaghan was where the poet, Patrick Kavanagh, grew up and Carrickmacross is also a perfect base for a tour of Kavanagh Country – from the interpretative centre at Inniskeen to the poet’s family homestead, Billy Brennan’s barn and Inniskeen Road.