The Emerald Isle

glaciers of the last great Ice Age, is a characteristic of Cavan and Monaghan. Many of these drumlins show signs of prehistoric inhabitation, for the tops of hills were good places on which to build fortified settlements, and the remains of countless ancient tombs and ring forts are dotted over them, most of which have been left undisturbed for centuries. COUNTRY OF RIVERS AND LOUGHS Many of the people responsible for building these settlements were able to penetrate the interior of Ireland by means of its rivers and streams, for this is a region of many waterways, loughs, and canals. The two great canals of the region are the Royal Canal, cutting west across Westmeath and Longford from Dublin to reach the Shannon upriver of Lough Ree, and the Grand Canal, also coming out of Dublin, but further south through Offaly. The Royal Canal has been undergoing major restoration work in recent years, and has some pleasant towpath walks along its banks, from places like Ballymahon and around Mullingar, Westmeath’s county town, which the The Midlands LEFT: A Celtic cross at Drumlane Abbey cemetery, County Cavan. ABOVE: Sean’s Bar in Athlone is said to be the oldest pub in Ireland. OPPOSITE: Birr Castle is a large castle in the town of Birr, County Offaly. It is famous for its beautiful gardens. 158

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