Explore – Roscommon
Surrounded by extensive waterways, immersed in history and heritage. Filled with peace and tranquility, in the heart of Connaught lies County Roscommon. Welcome to the west of Ireland
Things to do
To the East, the Shannon and Lough Ree. To the West, the River Suck. To the North Lough Key. Naturally, County Roscommon is the ideal setting for all sorts of water sports, boats and angling. Or you might just want to relax and enjoy one of the many cruises available. When you decide to set foot on dry land, a magnificent wooded countryside is waiting for you. Woods, forests and wildlife are open to the public throughout Roscommon.
350 hectares of trees, flowers, lakes and medieval buildings, including a castle can be explored at Lough Key Forest Park near Boyle. After you’ve filled your lungs and soul with fresh air you might want to explore some of Roscommon’s rich heritage. Many examples of early colonization can be found all over the county, including burial grounds, kings forts and megalithic tombs. A visit to the magnificent ruins of Roscommon’s Castle is essential. Built by the Normans in 1269, it sustained many attacks by the Irish forces and it stands as testimony to Ireland’s sometimes turbulent history.
On the heritage trail, make sure to include a visit to Roscommon’s County Museum. The museum is set in a former Presbyterian church and has many interesting pieces, including a medieval sheila-na-gig and a 9th century slab from St. Coman’s Monastry.
Roscommon’s most famous native is probably Douglas Hyde. Ireland’s first President and a lover of all things Gaeilge. A writer and a poet foremost, he fought to prevent the decline of the native language by collecting Gaelic poems and Folklore and was the co-founder of the Gaelic League in 1893. His life is celebrated at the Douglas Hyde interpretive Centre.
Also,a visit to Rathcroghan Visitor Centre, Cruachan Aí Heritage Centre, in Tulsk, is well work a visit. For more info: http://www.rathcroghan.ie
A trip to Roscommon would not be complete without a visit to Ireland’s first and last coal mine. The Arigna Mining Experience will have you travelling back in time, and 400 meters deep to the coal face. This 40 minutes tour, lead by experienced ex-miners will give you the opportunity to experience the hazardous working conditions which miners had to endure in the past.
If all this things make you fall in love with County Roscommon and you decide to stay, you might be happy to know that Roscommon has the longest life expectancy of any county in Ireland.
Places to Stay
Hidden Ireland Historic Country Guest Houses
Bed and Breakfast
Castlecoote House, home of the Percy French Summer School, is a fortiﬁed 17th century strong house, converted and classicised in Georgian times. The mediaeval castle here was granted to Sir Charles Coote in 1616 and the house was built between 1690 and 1720 using masonry from the earlier building. Recently rescued from the ruin, the comfortable interior now has stucco ceilings, marble ﬁreplaces, four-poster beds and views over the garden to the ruins of the castle and the River Suck beyond. The ‘celebrated Gunning sisters’ grew up here in the early 18th century and later became the toast of London Society.
Clonalis is the ancestral home of the O’Conor family, direct descendants of Ireland’s last High King and traditional Kings of Connacht. The family has lived on this heavily wooded 700 acre estate on the banks of the River Suck formore than 1,000 years–an achievement unrivaled elsewhere in Ireland. The present Victorian house, the latest in a series on the estate, is a large, comfortable Italianate building on an elevated site. Clonalis is furnished with family portraits and memorabilia, including the harp of Turlough O’Carolan, the famous blind harpist. The spacious bedrooms many with four-poster beds–have beautiful views over the park.
Castlecoote House Self Catering
Castlecoote House is a fortified 17th century strong house, converted and classicised in Georgian times.