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Roscommon: 82km (51 miles) NE of Galway, 147km (91 miles) NW of Dublin; Longford: 129km (80 miles) NW of Dublin, 44km (27 miles) NE of Athlone; Carrick-on-Shannon: 56km (35 miles) SE of Sligo; Cavan: 105km (65 miles) NW of Dublin

The northern region of the Republic sprawls across three counties, with vast green parks and luxurious manor houses dolloped generously across it like clotted cream on a scone.

In County Roscommon you can spend days wandering through places like the grand Strokestown Park House, which, with its sobering Irish Famine Museum, tells of both the haves and the have-nots of Ireland's recent past. Head to the town of Boyle to wonder at the ancient carvings on the worn walls of Boyle Abbey and explore the green and pleasant baths within the wilds of Lough Key Forest Park before heading off to discover the lost worlds of Roscommon Castle.

In County Leitrim the town of Carrick-on-Shannon sits beautifully at one of the great ancient crossing places of the Shannon River. While County Cavan is a lovely place to drive through, with thick forests, miles of farmland, and a distinctive form of local crystal that makes a memorable souvenir.