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CARRICK-ON-SHANNON

Granted its royal charter in 1607, Carrick-on-Shannon has blossomed in recent years into a bustling hub for cruising on the River Shannon. The town won a gold medal in the 2010 Entente Florale Awards and attractions range from the Leitrim Design Centre to the fascinating audiovisual displays at St. George’s Heritage & Visitor Centre.

Carrick’s heritage trail kicks off on the quays, proceeding past the old barrel store (now housing the tourist office) before crossing a fine arched bridge to skirt around an area known as The Liberty. This was where Catholics were permitted to live during the 17th century, when Carrick was a well-to-do protestant enclave.

Carrick’s somber-looking courthouse dates from 1821, but it has recently been restored for a much merrier use - as The Dock, a gallery, studio and recital space that anchors the scores of artists and craftspeople working in various media throughout County Leitrim.

Another highlight is Costello Chapel on Bridge Street, reckoned to be one of the smallest in the world. This tiny monument has a big heart, however – it was erected by local merchant Edward Costello after the premature death of his wife in 1877. Husband and wife now rest here, under a single stained glass window, in an enduring testament to love.

Costello Chapel is right next to Carrick’s Market Yard, which dates from 1839 but has also been restored – this time to house a restaurant, shops and farmers’ market. From here, you can continue along Bridge Street to the birthplace of Susan Mitchell, the poet and so-called ‘red-headed rebel’ who became a biographer of George Moore.

Carrick has some sweet examples of 19th-century architecture, including St. George’s Terrace and elsewhere on the trail, you’ll find a town clock dating from 1839 and, in
Summerhill, the site of a fever hospital, a restored workhouse attic (where the deaths of 1,896 people were recorded) and a famine graveyard memorial.

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