Irish Facts and Folklore
(Taken from Irish Information Guide)
Leitrim (Irish: Liatroim) is one of the counties in the west of Ireland and is part of the province Connacht. Its name derives from the Irish Liath Druim – “grey ridge.” In ancient times Leitrim formed the western half of the kingdom of Breifne. This region was long influenced by the O’Rourke family of Dromahair, whose heraldic lion occupies the official county crest to this day. Close ties initially existed with East Breifne, now County Cavan, and the O’Reilly clan seated there. The Anglo-Normans invaded in the thirteenth century and occupied the south of Breifne until the exile of Irish landholders in 1620.
British Lord Deputy Sir John Perrott had ordered the legal establishment of “Leitrim County” a half-century prior, in 1565. Perrott also demarked the current county borders around 1583, enclosing the namesake grey mountains of the northwest and boggy glades of the southeast. Five forests are traditionally said to have stood in Leitrim up till the seventeenth century. Today’s vast marshes likely formed soon after the county’s trees were felled. Dampness quickly permeated the area’s reputation: locals boasted that farmland “wasn’t sold by the acre–it was sold by the gallon!”. With such soil suitable solely for cows and potatoes, Leitrim’s 155,000 residents (1841 census) were ravaged by the Potato Famine. Leitrim was first hit by the recession caused by the mechanization of [linen] weaving in the 1830’s and its 155,000 residents (as of the 1841 census) were ravaged by the Great Famine and the population dropped to 112,000 by 1851. The population subsequently continued to decrease due to emigration. Leitrim now has the fastest growing population in Connacht. Working of the county’s rich deposits of iron ore began in the 15th century and continued until the mid-18th century. Coal mining became prominent in the 19th century to the east of Lough Allen in Sliabh an Iariann and also to the west in Arigna, on the Roscommon border. The last coal mine closed in July 1990 and there is now a visitor centre. Sandstone was also quarried in the Glenfarne region.
Leitrim has a dramatic hilly and mountainous landscape in its northwest and is relatively flat in the southeast, each separated from the other by Lough Allen in the middle of the county. It is an unspoiled, tranquil area of great natural beauty, consisting of lofty mountains, deep valleys, pastures, lakes, rolling hills and rivers. Leitrim is not a landlocked county as it has a short length of Atlantic where Tullaghan lies. Coastline (5 km) between Sligo and Donegal in the northwest. Neighbouring Leitrim are the Ulster counties of Donegal to the north, Fermanagh to the northeast, and Cavan to the east, the Leinster county of Longford to the south and, to the west, the Connacht counties of Roscommon and Sligo. Fermanagh is in Northern Ireland while all the other neighbouring counties are within the Republic. Leitrim offers scenic panoramic vistas of Lough Allen and the River Shannon. The Shannon is linked to the Erne via the Shannon- Erne Waterway.
Lakes in Leitrim
Lough Melvin is internationally renowned for its unique range of plants and animals.
Lough Allen offers amazing views, especially from the road between Leitrim Village and Drumkeeran Lough Gill is to the northwest of Dromahair; Parke’s Castle is located on the lake shore. Other particularly beautiful lakes include Lough Garadice, Lough Glenade, Lough Rynn and Lough MacNean.