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Nestling on the Republic's boundary with Northern Ireland, as the central area of the five Irish counties to share a border with the North, County Cavan is a landscape of lakes and hillsides, interlaced with characteristic drumlin countryside. It is more sparsely populated in the north-west, given the areas more mountainous aspect. There are reputed to be 365 lakes in the county, and the Cavan area is also the source of many of the rivers in Ireland, including the longest, and perhaps most iconic, the River Shannon.
Historically, the watery landscape was also responsible for the area being largely ignored by foreign invaders, who found the scattered networks of lakes and waterways to be too difficult to negotiate. The domination of the local O'Reilly family prevented Anglo-Norman attempts to take control of the county, and it was not until the 17th century that this ruling Gaelic family finally lost their grip on political and territorial power in Cavan.
Agriculture – particularly dairy farming – is a major focus of local industry, although quarrying activities also assist the local economy. Tourism is naturally encouraged, with a number of regular events and well developed visitor attractions throughout the county; in addition to the usual agricultural shows, the town of Virginia hosts Ireland's only annual pumpkin festival, whilst all manner of long-distance hiking routes and way-marked footpaths are to be found around the county, encouraging exploration of the wilder parts of the countryside, as well as the industrial heritage of the local area.
Things to do in Cavan
Cavan – The county town of Cavan is centrally located, and was once at an important junction for two major railway lines; today, road transport has eclipsed anything offered by the former train network. However, although the town is at the crossroads of two major national road routes, the construction of a new bypass has recently allowed Cavan to be released from the heavy traffic which once clogged its main streets.
Kilmore –The imposing walls of Kilmore Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of St Fethlimidh, is situated just outside Cavan, adjacent to Lough Oughter. Its origins are thought to date back to the 6th century, although the first cathedral was constructed on the site during the 12th century, and the current structure dates back to 1858.
Arvagh – A popular spot for anglers, the town of Arvagh hosts an International Fishing Festival every September. For the more energetic visitor, the Breffni Challange is a well-established annual charity event in which funds are raised by participants walking, jogging, running or cycling over a 20km route. An Agricultural Show also takes place each year in the town.
Dowra – A small village to the north west of the county, Dowra was created at the end of the 19th century when the neighbouring village of Tober was tragically washed away by landslides. Today Dowra is a particularly popular area for walkers, being at the centre of a network of way-marked footpaths and hiking routes. A 22km linear hiking trail provides a connection for walkers between the Leitrim Way and the Ulster Way: the Cavan Way begins in the village, and covers mostly quiet roads and country paths on its way to the Shannon Pot (the aquifer-fed source of the River Shannon), and on to the border village of Blacklion. Nearby, the Miner's Way and Historic Trail is a 118km long, figure-of-eight system of tracks comprising of three looped routes: the Miners' Way takes a 62km circular route following the paths used by miners; the Historic Trail is 56km long and is largely concerned with circling Lough Key and Lough Arrow; whilst a third route follows the shores of Lough Allen. The Leitrim Way also passes through Dowra, on its 48km route from the shores of Lough Allen to the uplands of Barlear.
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